It's unbelievable. Once again my friendship with President Clinton has made me an unwitting player in the biggest news story in the world. As bad as I felt when the President injured his knee in a fall at my home last March, this is worse.
When I was first asked whether someone named Monica Lewinsky had stayed with the President at my home, I was so surprised I almost laughed. The President had been alone with me; my wife, Laura; my daughter, Morgan-Leigh; and my son, Gregory. But never mind the facts, this new angle was too hot for the press to let go of, and what seemed funny at first became an unnerving experience for me and my family.
Aggressive newspeople have now peppered me with questions about Monica Lewinsky for a solid month. Will it ever stop? I keep telling the truth, but I'm feeling more and more like some Watergate figure engaged in a terrible cover-up—all because people love gossip about the President's private life.
I say it has gone too far. The media have crossed the line between bona fide news and pure gossip. When I came to the U.S. in the 70s, America had higher journalistic standards than the London tabloids, but now there seems to be less and less difference. Nowhere else have I seen such rabid interest in the private lives of leaders. And nowhere else, perhaps, do so many reporters invade people's privacy at any time and place, treat rumors as facts and write stories without substantiating them.
Those stories hurt people, real people. This shameful state of affairs—shameful to the press, I mean—has hurt me and it has hurt my family, just as I'm sure it has hurt the Clinton family.
Life in the public eye can wear you down, the way a steady drip of water can eventually split open a rock. I used to be quite gregarious, but in recent years I've gotten more cynical, more guarded, more stone-faced. As a result I often hear that I'm arrogant. But it's not arrogance you're seeing, it's defensiveness.
Laura and I talk about this all the time. We know we have been lucky. Success in golf has brought us money, security and great happiness. But as much as I love the game, this latest episode has me wondering about the price of success.
Enough is enough. Please join me in putting the next big tabloid scandal where it belongs: in the trash can.