Sawyer's 20/20 Starr Slam; Hating McConnell; Starr = "Pure Evil"
1) Diane Sawyer portrayed Ken
Starr as an out of touch square, arguing with him about why he raised
Clinton's comment about small breasts and use of a cigar, contending he
mistreated Lewinsky, and giving credence to the VRWC by alleging a
"one degree of separation" from Scaife.
2) Al Hunt and Margaret
Carlson despise Mitch McConnell so much that they support a conservative
to replace him. Hunt declared: "Mitch McConnell, every bit as much as
the Clinton campaign in 1996, personifies the addiction to sleazy big
3) Washington Post TV reviewer
Tom Shales on Ken Starr: "Perhaps beneath the dullness lies pure
Diane Sawyer's 20/20 interview with Ken Starr turned out even more
slanted than suggested in the preview delivered in the November 25
CyberAlert. Go to the November 25 edition to read the promos and some
preview excerpts run on the ABC News Web page: http://www.mediaresearch.org//cyberalerts/1998/cyb19981125.html#1
Though Starr and his deputies, including Robert Bittmann and Julie Myers,
got a few chances to make their points without being discredited, Sawyer
spent most of the hour not only putting Starr and associates on the
defense by forcing them to respond to Carville-like criticisms, but she
often took the anti-Starr side by arguing with him.
instance, to the details about the cigar and other sexual matters Sawyer
insisted it "cannot be denied that they are there to outrage and they
are there to shock." After Starr said he was sure of the propriety of
his decisions, Sawyer responded: "There is something about certainty
that scares a lot of people."
For a flavor of
the November 25 show, which dealt solely with Starr for the entire hour,
here's a plug run during one break:
Announcer: "Did Kenneth Starr go too
Diane Sawyer to Starr: "I think there were
62 mentions of the word 'breast,' 23 of 'cigar,' 19 of
'semen.' This has been called demented pornography, pornography for
puritans. Were there mistakes made in including some of this?"
Announcer: "The tables are turned. Now
it's the prosecutor's turn to be grilled, when 20/20 Wednesday
continues after this from our ABC stations."
ten months of being pounded by the media, culminating in this kind of
treatment in his one and only TV interview, the media establishment really
believe they've helped Starr. In a November 30 Newsweek piece on the
similarities between Starr and Clinton, Jonathan Alter asserted:
"A backlash against the 1960s led to Ken
Starr's interest in the President's sex life; a backlash against that
backlash allowed Clinton to escape. To make matters more complicated, the
Washington media establishment has switched teams. Once liberal but always
fickle, the press clearly sided with the prim, conservative Starr for much
of the year, while the once conservative 'Silent Majority' backed the
hip, liberal Clinton, or at least the way he has handled his job."
assessment with the reality of Sawyer's interview. Below are some of the
more illustrative exchanges and questions I observed:
focusing on the irrelevant as if personality should matter most:
"What's your favorite movie?"
Starr: "A movie that I just found
extraordinarily riveting was-was Saving Private Ryan. That was really
-- Sawyer on his
childhood as the son of a minister: "Because a childhood friend was
quoted as saying of you alls life then in the church, 'If it was fun,
you couldn't do it.'"
Starr: "Oh, that's absolute
Sawyer: "What did you do for fun?"
Starr: "Oh, we just did all kinds of things.
What did we do."
Sawyer: "What was the most rebellious thing
Starr: "I'd have to stop and think. I was
not rebellious. I really was not. Sorry. I kind of played by the rules,
and that's the way I lived my life."
-- Sawyer on Starr
as out of touch: "So what happens when this man becomes independent
counsel and begins investigating a President charged with covering up,
lying under oath about a sexual relationship? [To Starr] Do you think in
that sense, you were out of touch with the political judgment of the
American people who say everyone was covering up sex. There was gambling
in the casino in Casablanca and you are the only one who is shocked. We
are not shocked."
-- Sawyer, making
David Kendall's case: "Which brings us to the question of the
team's highly criticized tactics. Did they cross the line? First with
Monica Lewinsky, when nine federal officers took her to a room at the
Ritz-Carlton and put pressure on her to turn on the President? People
see a young girl who was in tears, who was threatened with 27 years in
prison possibly, who was told that her mother might be prosecuted based on
things she had said about her mother, who was to wire herself or tape the
President or Vernon Jordan. And they say this isn't John Gotti. This
isn't Timothy McVeigh."
-- Sawyer, making
Hillary Clinton's case: "Which brings us to Linda Tripp, the woman
people love to hate, and the accusation that Ken Starr was not what he had
seemed. Are you part of a right-wing conspiracy?"
Starr: "No. I don't know that there is
Sawyer: "His key witness, Linda Tripp, is
now a recognized soldier in the army of Clinton haters -- among them
Tripp's friend and svengali, Lucianne Goldberg. Among them, the lawyers
for Paula Jones. Before he became independent counsel, Starr gave them
advice. And among them, millionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, who hired
people to dig up dirt on Bill Clinton and funded a chair at Pepperdine
University for Ken Starr. Starr says he's never met or talked to Scaife.
[To Starr] This one degree of separation, lawyers in your firm to the
Paula Jones attorneys, Richard Mellon Scaife and Pepperdine University,
and these are the President's enemies. And they're just outside your
door, some people think inside. Do you at least see what that looks
Starr: "What I see is how easy it is to find
one or more connections, as in six degrees of separation, that you and I
are probably third cousins, you know, five times removed. What counts
ultimately are facts."
Sawyer: "But people have argued that with
the President, you have many circumstantial facts and that you always read
them as suspicious. But in your own case, the facts are above
Starr: "I've been living in this town a
long time. My life has been open for people to see in this community for a
long time. And I think that a fair observer would say, 'He's a lawyer.
He's a former judge.' Too many formers."
Sawyer: "A conservative, a Republican?"
"But fairness. Fairness to be asked about all of the people that you
Starr: "Well, then we should, Diane, if that
is unfair, then we should, in fact. And society is free at any time to
change the law."
Sawyer: "Is lying about sex different from
lying about murder?"
Starr: "In a legal sense, if it's in
court, the answer is no."
Sawyer: "But I mean a prosecutorial judgment
level, a discretion level, because prosecutors have discretion."
Starr: "A witness comes and says, 'I have
additional information and, by the way, I am being importuned to commit
perjury. I am being offered financial assistance if I will submit a
perjurious affidavit.' Any prosecutor would say this is serious. This is
weighty. It would have been a dereliction of duty to just say, oh, well,
you know, who cares? Go right ahead and do whatever you think you need to
Sawyer: "Think sometimes you're too
literal in reading the statute?"
-- Sawyer on
Clinton and America as the victims: "Driving to the White House that
day, for what was -- for all intents and purposes -- a lot of people think
your trial, the only trial you were going to get. Did you think to
yourself, here is a man who has to deal with Saddam Hussein and bin Laden
and what's going on in Russia, and we're putting him through
-- Sawyer arguing
that the Starr report was inappropriate: "I'm trying to imagine you
deciding to include in those footnotes, footnotes you will not hear on TV,
that cannot be denied that they are there to outrage and they are there to
Starr: "I totally disagree."
Sawyer: "You put them in a referral as
narrative, as story telling. Everybody knows how a soap opera reads, and
it reads like a soap opera."
Starr: "Diane, we didn't create these
facts. These were [cut off]"
Sawyer: "But the tone was created.
Sixty-two mentions of the word 'breast,' 23 of 'cigar,' 19 of
'semen,' and that there is a way of summarizing these things and
talking about the dates and the times."
-- Sawyer, after
Starr said he was just following the statutes: "But explain to me
what possible relation it has to anything, that the President discussed
whether a woman was small-breasted or not."
Starr: "Diane, I think you could keep going,
and I don't think that it serves any purpose to continue to, to read
things that makes us all uncomfortable."
Julie Myers: "I think at the end of the day
we agreed that that detail was necessary, given the President's
testimony. And Ken, who is the ultimate, I mean, the ultimate decision,
and he signed off on every word, every footnote, every sentence. And I
think we agreed with him that the tone used was appropriate."
Sawyer: "I still don't understand what a
cigar has to do with whether the President should be impeached."
Starr: "It has to do, and you may just
disagree with this, but this was a professional judgment by men and women
that these issues go to credibility. Who is telling the truth?"
Sawyer: "Were there mistakes made in
including some of this?"
Starr: "We felt, and we made a professional
Sawyer: "But looking back?"
Sawyer: "I want to ask you about doubt,
because it seems to me, listening to you, that you have no doubt that what
you did in the referral was the right thing. You have no doubt that
proceeding against the President in the way you have proceeded is the
right thing. There is something about certainty that scares a lot of
Sawyer: "Any doubts at all that you went too
Starr: "I don't think that we went too
-- Sawyer wrapped
up arguing that justice would have been better served if Starr bent the
law. Playing clips from the movie To Kill a Mockingbird, Sawyer explained
that for the hero lawyer in the film "his commitment to duty is one
lesson of the story. But we reminded Starr that there's another. He
says, to his daughter Scout, 'sometimes it's better to bend the law a
little in special cases.' At the end of the story, Finch [the lawyer]
compromises on the law to preserve the delicate balance of justice."
Starr: "I don't like the idea of bending
the law. I love the model of Atticus Finch of doing what he thought was
right when everybody was saying, 'Why are you doing this? This is a
terrible thing.' There is truth, and the truth demands respect. And
maybe in the fullness of time, after the heat of battle has subsided, that
will be the abiding lesson of this episode, that the truth was important
and don't compromise the truth."
Maybe in the fulness of time the networks will
give as much weight to Starr's view of the importance of truth and the
law as they do to self-interested political spin spun by Clintonistas.
To read the
transcript of the entire show, go to:
Al Hunt and Margaret Carlson advocating the election of a conservative?
Yes, apparently they hate Senator Mitch McConnell so much for fighting
their beloved "campaign finance reform" that on Saturday's CNN
Capital Gang they actually advocated the election of Senator Chuck Hagel
to take over the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Hunt even
equated McConnell's quest to gather and distribute legal donations with
the 1996 Clinton and Democratic effort which raised money improperly.
Asked about the
challenge to McConnell by Nebraska Senator Hagel, Wall Street Journal
Executive Washington Editor Al Hunt declared:
"It'll be an uphill fight, but it's a real
test of whether the Senate Republicans mean what they say when they talk
about ethics and clean politics. You know, Mitch McConnell, every bit as
much as the Clinton campaign in 1996, personifies the addiction to sleazy
Review's Kate O'Beirne then observed: "The media loves this race
because they love no one better to beat up than Senator Mitch McConnell
because he has so courageously stood in the way of this unconstitutional
campaign finance reform you all favor....And so this might be a chance to
somehow get licks in against Mitch McConnell. But it seems to me good
Senator Hagel is running a campaign designed for liberal media
sensibilities, criticizing soft money while ignoring how much the
Democrats get from unions and environmentalists and talking about negative
Margaret Carlson soon chimed in:
"It shows the hypocrisy of Republicans on
campaign finance reform. They want an independent counsel to investigate
Democrats but when they have their hearings and when they get a chance to
move someone out who fought Russ Feingold only because he's the McCain-Feingold
campaign finance reform bill."
Shields soon tried to go to a commercial break, but before he could
Carlson announced: "I'm with Hagel." Hunt seconded her: "I
like Hagel, too."
"Perhaps beneath the dullness lies pure evil," syndicated
Washington Post television reviewer Tom Shales suggested of Ken Starr
after Starr's November 19 House Judiciary Committee appearance. Catching
up with a post-Starr hearing item, here's a look at what Shales had to
say in his November 20, top of the "Style" section, column. In
addition to aligning Starr with "evil," in the excerpts that
follow Shales denigrates Starr's presentation as "a mealy-mouthed
diatribe" and dismissed as a "myth" the idea that Henry
Hyde earned a reputation for fairness:
Ken Starr may have disappointed his enemies
by coming across as primarily calm and collected in his appearance before
the House Judiciary Committee yesterday, but say, how'd you like to get
stuck next to this guy at a dinner party? Good Lord, what a bore.
America got its first long look at Starr
during his hours and hours of testimony, and it's very unlikely there will
be a huge public outcry demanding another one.
Perhaps beneath the dullness lies pure
evil. Or perhaps just more dullness. He may have reminded some viewers of
the most tedious teacher they'd ever had in high school -- in shop class,
maybe, or algebra. The teacher whose classes you were most desperate and
likely to skip....
He was supposedly offering up the facts as
gathered at great expense by his costly posse of investigators, but the
speech really consisted of Starr attacking Clinton and defending himself.
He's a coy, sly and even coquettish attacker, however, so what he
delivered was unique in its way: a mealy-mouthed diatribe. He seemed
alternately mousy and weaselly.
In the course of his long monologue, he
tried to make Linda Tripp sound like a courageous and public-spirited
citizen; insisted that the President's affair with Monica Lewinsky was not
the heart of the matter -- but still managed to bring it up again and
again; and tried to equate perjury, which he claimed Clinton had
committed, with bribery, which Starr said is an impeachable offense....
Everyone, meanwhile, appears to have bought
into the myth that Hyde is the noblest and fairest creature ever to grace
the unworthy marble halls of the Capitol. He certainly didn't seem fair on
TV yesterday. He would snap angrily at Democrats when they refused to take
Starr's evasive obfuscations for answers. He introduced Starr with a
glowing and fawning biography. He even cut Starr off when it looked as if
Starr was going to go too far in denigrating Monica Lewinsky and thus
saved the independent counsel from looking bad....
Too bad an editor
didn't cut off Shales before he turned in a liberal diatribe instead on
an even-handed analysis. -- Brent Baker
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