Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros says the news media damage the presidency and the country by reporting Arkansas state troopers' allegations that they helped President Clinton pursue extramarital affairs.

"One really has to ask the fundamental question of the press itself `What is the point here? What are we trying to do?' " Cisneros said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press.""Is it that we believe there is some illegality and therefore there's the kind of thing that would somehow bring down the presidency? Is that the point? There's no suggestion that such a thing is possible, that there's any truth to these things," he said. "So, why jump so fast?

"Or, on the other hand, is it just to search and destroy, slash and burn, and follow every lead that ever comes along about anyone in public life. If so, it seems to me, we do great damage to the presidency, and in so doing, to the country."

"What's the point of slashing up the president, with three years to go in an administration, when the American people voted for him knowing that he was not a perfect person. None of us is," Cisneros said.

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Clinton has denied the allegations, and the credibility of the state troopers making the accusations has been called into question.

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