Wednesday, February 4, 1998 | Vol. Two, No. 6 | Media Inquiries: Keith Appell (703) 683-5004
Media Buy into the Battle Plan Alleging Starr is Tainted by Conservatives
Shooting Down Starr's Credibility
Employing a tactic favored by drug cartels and mobsters, the Clinton Administration
decided to intimidate Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr. Clinton flack James Carville
declared "There's going to be a war," against Starr. Hillary Clinton
insisted "This is a battle." Instead of reacting with shock and outrage at this
bald attempt at bullying a prosecutor, the media quickly enlisted in this war on Ken
Starr's credibility. Tomorrow night, for instance, CNN will run a special, "Ken
Starr: Investigating the Investigator."
The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. After Hillary Clinton suggested there
was a "vast right-wing conspiracy against my husband," every network responded
with stories. Very few challenged her claim.
That night, CBS Evening News listed a handful of alleged conflicts Ken Starr
had in the Clinton investigation. ABC's Michel McQueen provided an overview of all the
alleged conspirators involved, concluding: "There are unusually close relationships
among the players." While Ted Koppel didn't buy into the whole theory, he did find
the underlying idea plausible: "There is a considerable body of circumstantial
evidence at least connecting several of those players with the right-wing...When the first
lady complains of a right-wing conspiracy, it rings true even though there is little or no
evidence that right-wingers have done anything."
The few reporters who have looked below the surface of the charge found it does not
hold up. NBC's Lisa Myers did a reality check noting that the three judge panel that
decided Starr's jurisdiction included a judge appointed by Lyndon Johnson. As writer Marc
Fisher reported in yesterday's Washington Post: "A look at voters' rolls and
interviews with members of Starr's staff indicate that many, if not most, of the lawyers
on this investigation are registered Democrats." None of the networks picked up on
this point last night.
Justice by Public Opinion Polling? After days of trashing Ken Starr's
motives, most media outlets ran polls showing the public bought into the strategy.
On the January 26 CBS Evening News Dan Rather suggested "As for special
prosecutor Republican Ken Starr, by nearly five to three people say he is conducting a
partisan rather than an impartial investigation."
The Magazine Wars. The newsmagazines prominently feature the war theme
on their covers this week. Inside, both Time and Newsweek lend credence
to Hillary Clinton's bizarre charge of a vast right-wing conspiracy by publishing graphs
detailing links between Starr and different figures and groups in the conservative
movement. Oddly, in a sign that Johnny Cochran may be doing a little free-lance writing on
the side, Newsweek included former LAPD officer Mark Fuhrman in their
anti-Clinton conspiracy graph.
Girlfriends Don't Tattle. The networks have treated Starr witness
Linda Tripp as a villain not a whistleblower. Both Today and CBS This Morning
broadcast segments on Monday lambasting Tripp. Today co-host Ann Curry teased the
segment that morning by announcing "A lot of women were really horrified to hear
about Linda Tripp...secretly tape recording Monica Lewinsky. We're gonna find out this
morning that that's not what real girlfriends do."
Curry began the segment lecturing that "Friendship means different things to
different people. But few people expect to have their friendship betrayed by having their
private conversations taped as Linda Tripp did to Monica Lewinsky." -- Steve
L. Brent Bozell III, Publisher; Brent Baker, Tim Graham, Editors;
Eric Darbe, Geoffrey
Dickens, Gene Eliasen, Denise Froning, Steve
Kaminski, Clay Waters, Media Analysts; Kristina Sewell, Research
Associate. For the latest liberal media bias, read the
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