Media Attacks Clinton Critics

One day after the November 1996 election, USA Today reported that President Clinton “has told political reporters in Arkansas that he will devote a lot of time going after detractors” who pursued him on Whitewater and other ethical questions. He also called his attackers “a cancer” and vowed to “cut them out of American politics.”

The weapon chosen by the president appears to be a cabal of friendly newspaper reporters.

On February 15, 1997 the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette printed a brazenly false story on its front page stating that independent prosecutor Kenneth Starr conducted four mock trials in which juries acquitted the Clintons of all charges. This was made more curious by Starr’s announcement, hours after the release of the bogus mock trial story, that he was resigning as independent council. (He has since changed his mind). The following week, the Gazette printed a retraction stating that its unidentified source got it wrong: There had been no mock trials.

Strangest of all, former Clinton campaign manager, James Carville, publicly announced he would orchestrate a high-profile campaign to discredit Starr.

During the weekend of February 22, two more dubious stories were printed. Claiming an unnamed source, the Los Angeles Times stated that Starr’s office would soon release a definitive report concluding that White House counsel Vincent Foster did, indeed, commit suicide. The story was carried by every major U.S. news service and network. Yet Starr’s office has emphatically stated that the investigation into the circumstances surrounding Foster’s death are ongoing, and that no such report is forthcoming.

On the same weekend, the February 23 issue of the New York Times Sunday Magazine published a twelve-page script, “The Clinton Haters,” in which author Philip Weiss takes on: Pulitzer prize winner Evans Ambrose-Pritchard; Pittsburgh Tribune reporter Christopher Ruddy; the entire Wall Street Journal editorial staff (but especially reporter Micah Morrison); former Clinton crony-turned-tell-all, Larry Nichols; assorted Arkansas state troopers; radio talk show host (and President Reagan’s son) Michael Reagan; Arkansas investigative journalist Gene Wirges; conservative philanthropist and publisher Richard Scaife; Midge Decter; and, grass-roots activist, Hugh Sprunt. Weiss omits his own special relationship with former White House Whitewater counsel, Mark Fabiani.

Weiss’s uncharitable effort to label as a conspiracy theorist anyone who asks questions about the growing list of Clinton scandals has only increased the distrust of many Americans for the current administration.


  • Karen Iacovelli

    Ms. Karen Iacovelli is Member of Board at The Philadelphia Trust Company. She is Director of Communications and a member of the Executive Board at Dispoz-O Inc. She produced and hosted the NY based radio and cable television program "Inside Education", and has assisted in drafting several city and state school choice programs.

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