Friday, May 8, 2009

The Clinton Impeachment:

William Clinton was impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice December 20, 1998. The story appeared on front pages throughout the nation in most publications’ final editions that day. The Washington Post and The New York Times both featured this story on their front page each varying in length, 3,145 words and 1,978 words respectively. Both articles clearly stated the results of then Republican-led House decision on enacting the first article of impeachment: 228 to 206.

Although a minuscule difference, The Washington Post lists the time of the House’s decision at 1:25 p.m., whereas The New York Times gives the time as 1:22 p.m. Otherwise, the facts given throughout each article are consistent. Each publication touch on Clinton’s affairs with Monica Lewinsky and make evident that he is the second president in national history to be impeached, the first being Andrew Johnson. One difference worth pointing out is The New York Times comparisons between this impeachment and the near impeachment of past President Nixon.

From a stylistic standpoint, the two pieces strongly deviate. The article from The New York Times is a very fact of the matter piece, telling the facts as they are and making nothing more of what the impeachment really was. The Washington Post however, seems to tell the story rather theatrically. Through their word-choice The Post gives a dramatic edge to the story, making the information more interesting to the reader. As an example The Washington Post wrote:

“At 1:25 p.m. on a day of constitutional drama and personal trauma, the Republican –led House voted 228 to 206 largely along party lines to approve the first article of impeachment accusing the Democratic president of perjury before a grand jury.”

Opposed to a similar sentence written by The New York Times:

“At 1:22 P.M., the House of Representatives approved, 228 to 206, the first article of impeachment, accusing Mr. Clinton of perjury for misleading a Federal grand jury last Aug. 17 about the nature of his relationship with a White House intern, Monica S. Lewinsky.”

The Post and Times pieces are clear to state the time, vote totals and reasons for Clinton’s impeachment, however unlike the Times, the Post uses words such as drama, trauma and accusing to accentuate its sentences. In this way, The Washington Post’s writing-style makes the piece significantly more interesting to read than The New York Times’ version.

Another difference between stories, are the sources each provide. The Washington Post states each source’s party affiliation and features primarily republicans from both the House and Senate whereas The New York Times offers a wider array of both democrats and republicans in both the House and Senate and does not mention party ties.

1 comment:

  1. Jonathon,

    I enjoyed reading your analysis of the similarities and differences in the two articles. I like that you picked up on the use of language and how it affects the tone of the story. I would have liked to see more excerpts from the stories, but otherwise, job well done!