Ken Starr Gets His Day; Media Had All Year

Will Media Continue To Resemble James Carville's Marionettes as Starr Finally Speaks on Capitol Hill?

Kenneth Starr arrives on Capitol Hill to finally speak in public. For years he's quietly refrained from answering trash-talking Clintonites like James Carville, and for years he's been handicapped by the media's Carvillesque incantations that he's a partisan Republican. This year, the media added regular polls asking if he was partisan and then asked for an approval rating for him, an unprecedented step for an officer of the court. If there's any doubt about how the media will spin his testimony, consider some highlights so far:

  • "New disclosures are fueling questions about whether or not Starr is an ambitious Republican partisan backed by ideologically motivated anti-Clinton activists and judges from the Reagan, Bush, and Nixon years." - Dan Rather on August 12, 1994, days after Starr took the job.

  • "Have you any doubt that Kenneth Starr and his deputies are pursuing an agenda that is purely political?" - Bryant Gumbel to Susan McDougal and her attorney, September 17, 1996 Today.

  • "By pandering to Clinton-haters, Mr. Starr appears to be abandoning all pretenses of impartiality....He now looks more like a political hit man desperately eager for a future Supreme Court appointment." - The Wall Street Journal's Al Hunt on CNN, October 5, 1996.

  • "Given Kenneth Starr's track record, should we suspect he's trying to do with innuendo that which he has been unable to do with evidence?" - Bryant Gumbel to CBS reporter Scott Pelley on Public Eye, January 21, 1998.

  • "The question now is whether Starr's tactics will prove more offensive to the courts and the public than any alleged wrongdoing by the President that Starr is investigating." - ABC's Michel McQueen, Feb. 7, 1998.

  • "By calling before the grand jury people such as Sidney Blumenthal, is Ken Starr acting illegally?" - CNN's Bernard Shaw to Pierre Thomas, February 24, 1998.

  • "If Kenneth Starr is withholding full immunity because Monica's 'truth' [makes quote mark with fingers], doesn't go far enough, is that legal blackmail?" - ABC's Lisa McRee to lawyer William Ginsburg, February 25, 1998.

  • "If he doesn't come forward very soon with credible evidence of law-breaking, he will go down in history as the Peeping Tom Prosecutor." - Newsweek's Jonathan Alter on MSNBC, April 1, 1998.

  • "It is not the President who is assembling the dossiers and leaking dirt on the intimate practices of an ideological opponent; it is the prosecutor. It is not the President who is involved in the politically motivated abuse of power. It is the politically motivated counsel." - U.S. News & World Report owner Mortimer Zuckerman, April 6, 1998.

  • "Starr is regarded as an occupying army in Little Rock. It's sort of like...the French talk about the Germans." - Newsweek's Evan Thomas, April 25, 1998.

  • "There are important developments tonight in Ken Starr's prosecutorial attack against President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky." - Dan Rather, June 2, 1998.

  • "People are expecting detailed questions to leak out of that grand jury testimony, questions that make Kenneth Starr and his attorneys look like zealots who are on some sort of witch hunt." - ABC's Lisa McRee, August 19,1998.

  • "It is, in some ways, a very violent action for Ken Starr to leave this on them weeks before an election when they're trying to decide how to deal with it." - NBC's Gwen Ifill as Starr's evidence arrived on Capitol Hill, September 9, 1998.

  • "Mr. Starr's defenders admit that he, too, has been blinded by his distaste for Mr. Clinton and has committed excesses in his desire to hold the President accountable." - New York Times reporters John M. Broder and Don Van Natta Jr., September 20, 1998.

  • "If this reminds you of George Orwell's novel 1984, it should. The government in that book poked and pried everywhere. Its slogan was 'Big Brother is Watching You'....Welcome to Orwell's world." - CNN's Bruce Morton on Starr's invasion of privacy, October 11, 1998.

  • "LARRY FLYNT: Wants to spend big money to publish pols' dirty secrets. Say, isn't that Ken Starr's job?" - Time's "Winners and Losers," October 19, 1998.