Notable Quotables - 10/05/1998


The Slut Made Him Do It

"But, do you give the President at least a little, not credit, but a little sympathy, when you read details like snapping the straps of a thong underwear, her thong underwear to entice him, asking for a job. Do you think that it mitigates our view of the President in any way?"
- Good Morning America co-host Lisa McRee to conservative columnist Betsy Hart, September 17.


But Wasn't It His Stain?

"Has the President been tainted forever as a result of all this? Will he never, ever be able to remove the stain of Monica Lewinsky and their relationship and his, what many people believe, is his dissembling in describing the nature of that relationship?"
- Tom Brokaw to historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, after NBC's playback of Clinton's grand jury testimony, September 21.


Deep Thought in the Morning

"Senator, he brings up an interesting point. If there were no major revelations in the Starr report about all the gates - Filegate, Travelgate, Whitewater - why shouldn't Ken Starr then pick up the other portion of the tab?"
- Matt Lauer to Sen. Frank Murkowski, who had suggested making Clinton pay the tab for the Lewinsky probe, after a clip of Mike McCurry urging Starr be made to pay the cost of the probe incurred before Lewinsky, September 16 Today.


More Ken "Gone Too Far" Starr

"In Depth: What many people are asking. Did Ken Starr go too far?....Did the Ken Starr report to Congress go over the top? Still ahead tonight NBC News In Depth. Were all those graphic and intimate details about the President's Oval Office affair really necessary?....When we come back, NBC News In Depth tonight. Did Ken Starr go too far and reveal a lot more than Americans needed or wanted to know?"
- Tom Brokaw plugging a Sept. 16 NBC Nightly News story.

"As the nation studies the complete Starr report now in bookstores as an instant paperback, many Americans, even Clinton opponents, accuse Starr himself of going overboard, going too far in the level of detail....Another question: Did Starr go too far in pursuing the Lewinsky affair in the first place. Is a sexual affair worth impeachment? Many constitutional scholars say no, that it's a punishment meant for a much graver offense against the nation."
- NBC's Pete Williams in the subsequent story.


Eleanor Clift's Alter Ego

"I wish the right, which never cared in the slightest about sexual harassment, would stop trying to stretch this into sexual harassment and concentrate on something else."
- Newsweek's Jonathan Alter on CNBC's Hardball, Sept. 22.

"History will eventually record that Washington's excruciating investigative culture of perjury traps and sexual witch hunts was a greater threat to the republic than Clinton's illicit sex and lying, no matter how sordid and stupid they were."
- Newsweek's Jonathan Alter, October 5 issue.

"Charming" Hatred of Tripp

"This was a setup from the beginning wasn't it?....How can it not be a set up if you're recording conversations, you're taking notes?....Linda Tripp said in a press conference that she's really just like the rest of us, in essence, but is she really?"
- Questions from Dan Abrams of Court TV to Lucianne Goldberg, September 23 Today.

"After reading the transcript of her testimony to the grand jury, some of it was absolutely charming. I mean I don't know if that's the word or not. To me, the highlight quote in all of that is at the very end of her grand jury testimony, Tim, when the grand jurors said, 'Do you have anything else you would like to say?' And she said 'Yes, I'm sorry this has happened,' and so on and so forth, and her last sentence was, 'I just hate Linda Tripp.'"
- Bob Schieffer, host of CBS's Face the Nation, on CNBC's Tim Russert, September 26.

"Ken Starr's investigation was predicated on Linda Tripp manipulating Monica Lewinsky to implicate Vernon Jordan, an implication that has not been borne out. So this whole investigation was built on a legal fraud."
- Newsweek's Eleanor Clift, September 26 McLaughlin Group.


But Extreme Bias is Okay

"Judging from what we have heard so far and what we have been exposed to in language and description, the difficult days ahead would be well served by two elements missing up to this point: a viable political center to serve as a common ground for the extremes and a little discretion to serve as a substitute for the feeding frenzy in a debate of this magnitude. These are sobering times. Big questions. It should not be politics as usual."
- Tom Brokaw ending the September 21 NBC Nightly News.


Suppress the Tape

"But what happened? A week ago the Republicans were saying: 'We're going to handle this in a bipartisan manner. It's not going to be politics, just the law.' What could be a reason, other than just partisan politics, to release this [videotape]?"
- Matt Lauer to Tim Russert, September 17 Today.

"Is there anything anyone can do to stop this? Could a grand juror say, 'I don't want my questions released.' Could the President do it, could anybody stop this release?....As a lawyer, is this a terrible precedent we're setting?"
- Good Morning America co-host Lisa McRee to ABC News legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, September 18.

"The Republicans of course are coming out and saying this was serious, bipartisan, collegial, cooperative, respectful conversation, and the Democrats are coming out and saying they rammed it down our throats. There was never any discussion. This is a rush to judgment purely to embarrass this President. My question at the get-go is already it smells. It's the weightiest thing they do, to remove a President from office, and already it smells."
- MSNBC host Edie Magnus on the tape release vote, Sept. 18.


No Nonpartisan Niceties at Time

"You don't have to care much for Clinton to know that any number of things about Starr's inquiry feel unsound. His indifference to the niceties of nonpartisanship, his way of delivering the evidence without the exculpatory alternatives that prosecutors generally offer would be enough. What's really unsettling is the larger dynamic. At a time when the notion of a protected personal realm is beginning to seem quaint and sepia toned, even people who don't expect government investigators on their doorstep sense that Starr has breached more than just the President's tattered defenses."
- Time Senior Writer Richard Lacayo, October 5 issue.


GOP Helping the Mafia Get Off

"Secrecy in the grand jury is so sacred prosecutors never disclosed what the testimony was about disgraced former President Nixon, or thug dictator Manuel Noriega or Mafia kingpin John Gotti. No such luck for Bill Clinton. One of the few people in America whose grand jury testimony can be made public.... Legal scholars warn all this could have a bad effect on the legal system. Said one, the next time a prosecutor tells a Mob informant that his grand jury testimony will be secret, he'll answer, 'Oh yeah, look what happened to Clinton.'"
- Beginning and end of CBS Evening News story by Eric Engberg, September 17.


The Starr Report: Unimpressed by Its Disgusting Overkill

"Senator, a Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, Zoe Lofgren, told CBS News Friday night the President should be impeached for threatening the Constitution. She says you can't impeach a President because he's a bum, or you ought not to. Hasn't this come down to just about that? I mean, once you get through the Starr report - and I, like you, sat down yesterday and read it from start to finish, all 400-plus pages - once you get past all the sex and the nasty business, there's not much there besides a President who's trying to, and he did lie, to get around a marital infidelity."
- Bob Schieffer to Sen. Orrin Hatch, Sept. 13 Face the Nation.

"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. The independent counsel's 445-page report to Congress, packed with almost pornographic sexual detail and damning commentary on the President's motives, is the most glaring example of prosecutorial overkill, some of Mr. Starr's associates acknowledge."
- New York Times reporters John M. Broder and Don Van Natta Jr. in a front page story, September 20.

"Again, I don't think it's so much what Clinton did as the overkill aspect of this. My, when I was watching the tape, in the first couple of minutes, you could just see the prosecutors were going to go overboard on what is a sad, tawdry little thing, that just doesn't deserve the massive machinery of the Constitution to resolve it."
- Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas on the TV talk show Inside Washington, September 26.

Ted Turner: We're Just As Bad

"We are often judgmental about people that are different from us...and we don't even understand what their problems are...A lot of students got killed at Tiananmen Square, but I remember several students got killed at Kent State. And, remember, they have a lot more students than we do. We shot down our own students."
- Ted Turner promoting the new 24-part CNN documentary series Cold War, September 24 Washington Post.


Kids, This Ain't the Teletubbies!

"Now, just a reminder, to those of you in the audience: If you're usually watching Teletubbies at this hour, you probably shouldn't be watching this now. Ask your mother's permission. You go ask her right now."
- Dan Rather before airing of Clinton video, Sept. 21 at 9am ET.


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