Plamegate-Obsessed Nets Yawned Over Potential Indictments of Hillary...And Bill

As we prepare for any Patrick Fitzgerald moves today on Plamegate, and the press gets out its bottle of Clinton's Milk of Amnesia, don't just remember, as Rich Noyes did, that the media yawned when it came out that Robert Ray could have indicted Hillary. From the cobwebs of the April 1999 edition of our old paper newsletter MediaWatch, a reminder that the media also yawned when the grand jury forewoman felt she would have supported indicting President Clinton:

A silent but important figure in Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr’s Lewinsky investigation briefly broke her silence last month. Grand jury forewoman Freda Alexander revealed that she would have voted to indict President Clinton for perjury, if given the chance, and characterized attacks on Ken Starr as "grossly unfair." But the networks showed little interest in her revelations.

In an exclusive televised interview with the Washington, D.C. CBS affiliate, WUSA, aired on March 25 and March 26, Alexander told reporter Mark Lodato that Starr "was well within his right to investigate the President.... ‘His approval rating is the lowest of anyone. I don’t think Linda Tripp’s rating is as low as Ken Starr’s is and I think it’s grossly unfair because he didn’t have a job description.’" The Washington Post ran a front page story on Alexander and her comments on March 26. Reporter Susan Glasser detailed how even though Alexander admitted she "absolutely love[s] Clinton," she put her feelings aside and applied the law: "She was convinced he lied to the grand jury in his August 17 appearance. ‘I took offense to it.’...But Alexander...also reflected the ambivalence many Americans felt about Clinton’s behavior. ‘I believe he lied,’ she said. ‘But I also believe he had no other choice."

Only ABC’s Good Morning America and NBC’s Today included Alexander’s comments in their March 26 broadcasts, albeit very briefly during their 7am news updates. Both mentioned that she would have voted to indict Clinton and that she thinks his activities should never have become public. Neither mentioned her defense of Starr. That same evening, it was the networks’ turn to go silent, even on CBS, not bothering to show some of its own affiliate’s interview footage.

The day after the Post story ran, AP reported Alexander had her lawyers tell media outlets she would no longer talk to reporters. Just as well, since the networks did not show any interest anyway.

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