Monday, November 22, 2004

Clinton Talks Back to the Right-wing Media

For those of you who thought ABCNews wasn't right-wing, this just in from Eric Boehlert at Salon.

But Clinton flashed real irritation when Jennings suggested some historians thought that Clinton's presidency had lacked "moral authority," without mentioning its having been tarnished by independent counsel Kenneth Starr's multiple investigations.

"You don't want to go here, Peter," snapped Clinton, who proceeded to criticize the reporting of ABC News, in particular, in the 1990s. "Not after what you people did and the way you, your network, what you did with Kenneth Starr. The way your people repeated every little sleazy thing he leaked.
A number of independent observers judge [ABC's stories about Whitewatever, by reporter Jackie Judd and producer Chris Vlasto] to have failed journalistic standards. Some have even suggested that Vlasto took on a unique role as a kind of unofficial advisor to the Starr legal team as he worked behind the scenes and confronted fellow journalists who did not hew to Starr's line.
other scoops from unnamed "sources" did not stand up. On Jan. 25, 1998, Judd appeared on ABC's "This Week" and reported, "Several sources have told us that in the spring of 1996, the president and Lewinsky were caught in an intimate encounter in a private area of the White House." The revelation set off a month's worth of cable TV chatter, but the report that Clinton and Lewinsky were found out proved to be fictitious.

The Los Angeles Times later reported, "Judd did not say who her sources were, how many sources she had or what the sources' affiliations or allegiances were. She had not spoken to the alleged eyewitness herself and didn't know who the eyewitness was or even, as she conceded on the air, whether the alleged witness was a Secret Service agent or a member of the White House staff."

Although Vlasto was covering the Whitewater story on an ongoing basis for ABC, he took the unusual step in April 1996 of writing a conspiracy-minded Op-Ed for a competing news outlet -- the right-wing editorial page of the Wall Street Journal. The column, which opened with key Whitewater figure Susan McDougal telling Vlasto off the record, "I know where all the bodies are buried" (a claim McDougal denies ever making), ran the same day McDougal appeared before a Little Rock, Ark., grand jury to answer Whitewater questions or face a criminal contempt indictment. Starr's prosecutors entered Vlasto's column as evidence to bolster their assertion that she was withholding information.

There's plenty more.


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