Albion Monitor /Commentary

Ken Starr, "Special Persecutor"

by Russell Sadler

"The Press Corps is just consumed by it."

-- Bill Greenwood, ABC News White House Correspondent

In the midst of serious economic crisis, the White House Press Corps works the Bimbo beat
ASHLAND -- It is considered one of the plum jobs in journalism, the pinnacle of a career in political reporting. To work out of the White House Press Room was to work in one of the great seats of power of the 20th century, a great prize. But today, in the midst of one of the most serious economic crises of the last half of the 20th century, the White House Press Corps works the Bimbo beat.

Being a Washington lawyer can mean appointment to the Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, the court that handles most of the cases that involve the federal government. It provides judges who appoint "Independent Counsels." It is considered a stepping stone to the Supreme Court or more often the capstone of a distinguished legal career.

In one of the world's most powerful cities the world's business came through your courtroom. Today, in the midst of some of the most challenging legal issues of the last half of the 20th century, a three-judge panel in Washington presides over court orders permitting august special prosecutor's to wire women's bras so wannabe august lawyers can eavesdrop on gossip about their sex lives -- the Bimbo beat.

The special prosecutor office mocks the founders carefully designed system of checks and balance
The latest Washington sex scandal is a deliberately contrived sideshow to divert an effete, lazy press corps from other shady business and divert the public from the deteriorating standard of living of nearly one-quarter of the nation's population. It's Geraldo! It's Oprah! It's Sally Jessie! It appeared on the Drudge Report web page. It must be worthwhile.

It's hearsay. It's gossip. It's rumors. It's "confidential sources." It's wiretaps. It's he said, she said. It's copy so poorly documented no respectable news medium would have published in 20 years ago. Journalism standards have plummeted since the media became subsidiaries of vast "entertainment conglomerates."

Forget the personalities involved -- a President who cannot keep his pants zipped, a meretricious "special prosecutor" who makes a mockery of the "presumption of innocence," appellate judges who are either clumsy partisans or extraordinarily naive -- they are all transitory.

The special prosecutor installed during the Nixon administration and refined though the Carter, Reagan, Bush and Clinton presidencies has become a permanent part of the political landscape. It mocks the founders carefully designed system of checks and balances among the legislative, judicial and executive branches of government.

Appointed at the beginning of every administration the resident "Special Persecutor" roams through the government issuing subpoenas for the scandal de jour -- real and imagined -- deftly entrapping government officials and handy bystanders by calling discrepancies in testimony often takes months and years apart as weighty-sounding "perjury"and "obstruction of justice."

The Clinton-haters who cheer the incumbent "Special Persecutor" will wail like banshees about "the liberal media" when the shoe is on the other foot when the political pendulum swings the other way as history teaches us it surely will.

There is no doubt this is just the latest contrived partisan scandal. During the media's year-enders, the conservative machine in Washington was pumping out the promise that this year public opinion would change toward Bill Clinton.

"Special Persecutor" Kenneth Starr would find something -- anything -- to provoke impeachment proceedings against Clinton in revenge for the Democrat's threatened impeachment of Richard Nixon -- elephants never forget
They made no secret of the fact that "Special Persecutor" Kenneth Starr would find something -- anything -- to provoke impeachment proceedings against Clinton in revenge for the Democrat's threatened impeachment of Richard Nixon -- elephants never forget. When Starr tired of the sideshow and tried to retire to a sinecure at the law school of a Southern California surfers' university he was whipped back into line and reminded who his masters were.

Whitewater proved a dud. Democratic fundraising abuses did not catch on. When Republican fundraising irregularities began getting media attention, the congressional leadership quickly shut down their inquiries. The partisan sideshow has been rescued by a direct pipeline to the lawyers in the Paula Jones case. Starr and his ambitious young partisans are crosschecking testimony they collected years ago and gaily leaking hints of suborning of perjury, perjury and obstruction of justice.

The next victim of Washington's raging partisanship is likely to be Monica Samille Lewinsky. She attended Portland's Lewis & Clark College where local reporters regretfully conclude she spend "an unremarkable two years." The 24-year-old former White House intern was either confessing or boasting about her presidential exploits to her erstwhile mentor- with- the- court- ordered- wired- bra, Linda Tripp, who is called "strange" and "erratic" by reporters who queried the usual "reliable sources."

It would be tragic if Lewinsky got the Susan McDougal treatment. McDougal, the wife of one of the few people convicted in the Whitewater scandal, refused to testify about her conversations with Clinton claiming her Fifth Amendment right to avoid incriminating herself. Starr gave her immunity from prosecution and demanded her testimony. McDougal still refused. Declared in contempt of court, McDougal has been shuttled from one federal prison to another for the last 18 months and kept in solitary confinement, a transparent political prisoner of the dysfunctional snakepit we call the Nation's Capital.

The latest stories say Lewinsky is likely to be hauled in front of Starr's grandjury to testify about the alleged affair with Clinton. Her lawyers say she may take the Fifth.

Will "Special Persecutor" Kenneth Starr grant Lewinsky immunity? Will Lewinsky still refuse to testify? Will Starr give Lewinsky the McDougal treatment and shuttle her from prison to prison until the 24-year-old cracks?

Stay tuned for the latest installment of Washington's longest running soap opera. It is a closely scripted tale fit for the tabloids. The august White House press corps at the pinnacle of their careers and bored to death by real work have leapt on the raw meat like Pavlov's dogs.

Veteran columnist Russell Sadler served 18 years in the Capitol Press Room in Salem, Ore. He teaches journalism and environmental studies at Southern Oregon University in Ashland

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Albion Monitor January 26, 1998 (

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