Hillary's Hired Guns Continue to Shoot (with Bad Aim) at 'Whitewash'

January 6th, 2008 7:50 AM

The Hillary-lovers continue to attack our book "Whitewash" as full of lies. On his website ConWebWatch, Terry Krepel claims the book "ignores context and exculpatory evidence." His article is headlined "Brent Bozell’s Blackwash." His liberal take is quickly advertised when he attacks the concept of interviewing leading conservatives for the book, from Rush Limbaugh to Sean Hannity to Laura Ingraham to Mark Levin: "The problem with such an approach is that very few of these people -- Bozell and Graham included -- have no real interest in ‘the truth’ about the Clintons; they only want to attack and will forward any claim, accurate or not, to achieve that goal."

That broad-brush allegation is a weird place to begin if you want to establish your own bona fides as disinterested or non-ideological. But Terry Krepel’s not disinterested. He’s a senior editor at Media Matters for America, which was started at the urging of Hillary Clinton. They originally pledged it would be a liberal version of the Media Research Center.

His article began by recycling the limp noodle that we were somehow inaccurate to say that Time magazine or Margaret Carlson introduced her to the country as an "amalgam of Betty Crocker, Mother Teresa, and Oliver Wendell Holmes." Aha! The liberals said. Carlson wrote: "Friends of Hillary Clinton would have you believe she is an amalgam of Betty Crocker, Mother Teresa, or Oliver Wendell Holmes."

But to say these words were contained in Time magazine is not inaccurate. To say that they were written by Margaret Carlson is not inaccurate. What is inaccurate and out of context is to claim that Margaret Carlson didn’t believe Hillary was worthy of this accolade. When you read the entire article (and pretty much everything Margaret wrote as a White House reporter and columnist on Hillary in the early Clinton era), it’s quite clear that Carlson was swooning in God I Admire You mode. (See my original takedown of Greg Sargent here. It is the liberals who are ignoring context on this matter.)

Did this Time magazine staffer suffer from Feminist Cheerleader Syndrome? Later in 1992, in September’s edition of Redbook, Carlson would write: "The day after two women, Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, won their California primaries for the U.S. Senate, there was a rush, an exultation, that surpassed any political moment I have ever known -- better even than Geraldine Ferraro's vice-presidential candidacy."

To borrow Gloria Borger’s description of Newt Gingrich for the occasion, Margaret Carlson was a "frisky chipmunk" for feminist power brokers.

The other limp noodle in Krepel’s bowl is the Travel Office scandal. Krepel claims that one of our passages on this lacks context. He noted that we wrote:

The independent counsel who reviewed the whole Travelgate mess, Robert Ray, would offer this stark conclusion in his final report, issued several years late in 2000: "With respect to Mrs. Clinton, the overwhelming evidence establishes that she played a role in the decision to fire the employees and provided input into that decision. ... Thus, her statement to the contrary under oath to this Office was factually false."

Krepel says we ignored what Ray wrote immediately after that sentence:

The evidence, however, is insufficient to show that Mrs. Clinton knowingly intended to influence the Travel Office decision or was aware that she had such influence at this early stage of the Administration. To a real degree, her interest in the matter was first generated by [Harry] Thomason's intervention, and then overstated by him to others. Thus, absent persuasive, corroborated, and admissible evidence to the contrary, there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mrs. Clinton's statements to this Office or to Congress were knowingly false.

To repeat: Bozell and Graham suggested that Ray claimed that Hillary knowingly lied about her role in the travel office firings, and failed to mention that Ray added there's a lack of evidence to support that claim. That's what happens when you rely on conservatives to back up your assertions.

In his article, Krepel is playing the same old Not a Crook card to exonerate his heroine. We said Ray found her testimony to be factually false. He notes that Ray declined to prosecute, citing "insufficient evidence." The Clintons and their Arkansas toadies like Krepel athletically raise the bar, implying that the Clintons didn’t lie unless they were indicted for it. But our goal in the book was not to establish that she should have been indicted. It was the simple fact that she lied when she claimed to be uninvolved in the Travel Office firings.

As we note in the book, Hillary’s lawyers baldly claimed to the General Accounting Office: "Mrs. Clinton does not know the origin of the decision to remove the White House travel office employees...She had no role in the decision to terminate the employees." That's not how Robert Ray saw it.

Our book isn’t claiming Hillary should be behind bars. Our book is claiming that the media cannot be relied upon to investigate the Clintons with any vigor, especially the television networks. See our very next sentence after we quote the Ray report: "Why didn’t any reporter unearth anything about Hillary’s direct involvement in the Travelgate scandal on his or her own? Why did the public have to wait more than two years to learn this critically important aspect of the story?"

We’re referring to congressional reports in 1995 that found staffers said there would be "hell to pay" if the travel office staff weren't canned. But the congressional reports came from a Republican Congress, so you can understand why the media didn’t want to report on them much. Ray’s report came much later than that, in 2000 (and was largely ignored by the media). Here’s where the argument of "ignoring context" can be turned around on Krepel.

Ray declined to prosecute the Clintons on anything. Throughout 2000, he dropped out of all the Clinton scandals, declining to prosecute. The president had been impeached (if not removed). Hillary was running for the Senate to media huzzahs. If Ray had used any political calculation in these prosecutorial decisions, it was the calculation that the Clintons and their media friends would punish him severely for any indictment. (He’d been in Ken Starr’s office for years. He knew how that would work.) They would claim he was a partisan Republican trying to ruin her "historic" Senate candidacy. Clearly, these probes had dragged on so long that the public could be convinced that it was all "old news."

So recall what happened. Ray drops all the probes, and makes a deal with Clinton on the last day of his presidency (that at least included disbarment). Within days of walking out of the independent prosecutor’s office in March 2002, he announces he’s running for the U.S. Senate in New Jersey as a Republican. So couldn’t it easily be alleged that Ray declined to prosecute not just out of political savvy....but to protect his own perceived political future?

The larger battle here is over Hillary’s image. In the current campaign, the Democrats and their media friends are trying to assert that Hillary will be a force for integrity and against corruption. Howard Dean is sending around fundraising letters claiming the GOP is the party of Scooter Libby pardons, while "We believe in widespread ethics reform legislation to clean up the mess in Washington." (At the very least, the Democrats don’t want ethics in government to be a major subject of the campaign, or treat those corruption charges as "personal attacks," like Krepel does.)

Our argument in the book and elsewhere is that any anti-corruption campaign led by Hillary Clinton should be greeted by giggles and guffaws, but the media’s apparent allergic reactions to the Clinton scandals have left her with a more wholesome image than she deserves.