A Drama Without Heroes

Friday night, the people at the CBS News bureau in Washington did the traditional thing that reporters do when a big story is over. They retired to a nearby bar.

I've been a reporter for 42 years now, so I've been to a lot of these of post-story gatherings. This one was different. For one thing, in a more health conscious America, even journalists don't drink like they used to and the older folks like me nurse diet sodas these days.

But something else was different. Sure, we all understood this would wind up in the history books, but I didn't hear one person exclaim what a great story this was as reporters usually do after a big one.

The overwhelming emotion was simply a feeling of exhaustion, relief that it was finally over. No Woodward and Bernstein emerged from the press on this one; no Clarence Darrow's rose from the lawyer ranks; and no Mr. Smiths going to Washington to take on the high and mighty.

Perhaps because the nasty little story at the core of all this was too familiar to be interesting for very long: powerful man becomes involved with the office tart and lied about it.

In other offices both probably would have moved on, one way or another. But this was the oval office, so it couldn't be ignored because it became a story about overturning an election, a most extreme act the constitution allows, an act the senate saw as too extreme in this case.

The system worked and it was good.The president finally admitted it was all his fault. After we what we came to know about him, he had no cause to celebrate, nor did the rest of us.

There were no heroes here. This story helped no one.

Reported by Bob Schieffer
©1998, CBS Worldwide Inc., All Rights Reserved
  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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