Foreign Media Blame It All on `Monicagate'

Article excerpt

Hours after missiles fell on Iraq, a media organization in nearby Qatar reported, "For Monica's eyes, they hit Baghdad."

"Monicagate strikes again!" headlined a leading Arabic daily.

Since the White House scandal began almost a year ago, the global media has followed it with zeal, their perceptions often tinted with the nuances of culture or changing political alliances.

There has been a marked evolution in the content of coverage, however.

In the early days of the scandal, a gleeful international press reported the Lewinsky matter as an American farce, crowding accounts of the Pope's historic visit to Cuba and the Asian money crisis off the front page.

In England, it was called "Naughtygate." The world, according to another story, had been snared in the "loose presidential zipper."

A Swedish newspaper ran a photo essay called "The Women Who Make Clinton's Life Sour," while the Danish daily Politiken admonished Americans themselves for a "childish obsession with smut and scandals not compatible with a well-functioning democracy."

Meanwhile, Switzerland's largest daily announced, "Clinton, Always New Affairs" while the French newspaper Liberation noted, "many French people are laughing about what they see as a lot of noise for a few illicit frolics."

One sensational story eventually surfaced in a Chinese language paper which claimed that Miss Lewinsky was actually a spy planted in Washington years ago by the former Soviet Union.

Eleven months later, the scandal follies have disintegrated. Media reports on Mr. Clinton, the affair and the impeachment have become grave indeed.

This week, many European dailies said the situation had compromised America's political stature in the world, with possible dire consequences.

It was "foreboding," according to the Times of London earlier this week. …