Skip to comments.Bob Mueller vs. Ken Starr: A Classic Media Double Standard
Posted on 12/11/2017 11:27:02 AM PST by Kaslin
Liberal reporters are scandalized by what they say is President Trumps effort to discredit and undermine special counsel Robert Mueller, worried that it could presage an attempt to remove Mueller, or end his investigation. But when President Bill Clinton was being investigated by Ken Starr, journalists applauded Democratic and White House attacks on the independent counsel, and frequently joined in themselves.
Todays journalists seem appalled by attempts by the President and his allies that question Muellers credibility. Washington Post reporters Devlin Barrett and Sean Sullivan sounded the alarm in a front-page story on December 7: Several law enforcement officials said they are concerned that the constant drumbeat of conservative criticism seems designed to erode Muellers credibility.
Youre seeing an all-out effort by people close to the President to try to discredit the special counsels investigation, ABCs Jon Karl agreed on Thursdays Good Morning America. On MSNBCs Hardball that evening, USA Today White House reporter Heidi Przybyla claimed the President is clearly trying to discredit the investigation, trying to discredit Mueller....They are trying to undermine this investigation.
An hour later, with the words THE PLOT TO STOP MUELLER on screen, MSNBC host Chris Hayes announced his opinion that there is a pretty concerted effort to lay the groundwork to essentially remove Mueller, or end his investigation.
Later on CNN Tonight, host CNNs Don Lemon found it embarrassing that journalists would participate in criticizing Mueller, complaining to media reporter Brian Stelter about Fox News: There has been a huge rise in anti-Mueller and FBI rhetoric from right-wing media recently....Its just been shocking to watch.
Is this a concerted effort to discredit Mueller? Lemon asked. Stelter instantly replied, Yes.
The medias fierce protectiveness of the investigation into Trump is the utter opposite of how they reacted in 1998, when the Clinton White House openly challenged independent counsel Kenneth Starr. Back then, many liberal reporters enthusiastically joined the effort to discredit the prosecutor and save their hero.
ABCs Cokie Roberts at one point marveled about the effectiveness of Clintons campaign to undermine the Starr investigation. Its fabulous. It is so good. It just unbelievably good, she exclaimed on CNNs Larry King Live on April 28, 1998. Look at how theyve managed to turn around this whole question about the Presidents behavior to one of Ken Starrs behavior, you know, just taken the whole focus off of the President and put it onto the prosecutor. Thats remarkable.
In stark contrast to their supportive coverage of Mueller, the medias treatment of Starr in the 1990s was savage. Almost as soon as he was named and long before the Lewinsky story broke Clinton-friendly journalists tried to discredit him as an unfair partisan. There is growing controversy tonight, about whether the newly named independent counsel in the Whitewater case is independent or a Republican partisan allied with a get-Clinton movement, CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather impugned on his August 8, 1994 broadcast.
Rather kept up the innuendo, four days later suggesting: Starr is an ambitious Republican partisan backed by ideologically-motivated, anti-Clinton activists and judges from the Reagan, Bush, and Nixon years.
The medias Starr-as-partisan mantra was merely the first step. At the same time Bill Clinton was running for re-election in 1996, Starr was putting his ex-business partners, James and Susan McDougal, on trial for fraud uncovered during the Whitewater investigation. Again, Clintons friends in the press raced to innoculate the President from the damaging scandal.
If Ken Starr is a credible prosecutor, he will bring this to a conclusion and the Clintons will be exonerated, Newsweeks Eleanor Clift insisted on the February 10, 1996 McLaughlin Group.
Have you any doubt that Kenneth Starr and his deputies are pursuing an agenda that is purely political? NBCs Bryant Gumbel gently asked Susan McDougal, who had already been convicted of four counts of fraud and conspiracy by the time she appeared on the Today show on September 17, 1996.
By pandering to Clinton-haters, Mr. Starr appears to be abandoning all pretenses of impartiality. He went into this job with a reputation as a fair-minded conservative. He now looks more like a political hit man desperately eager for a future Supreme Court appointment, Wall Street Journal columnist Al Hunt growled on CNNs Capital Gang on October 5 of that year.
The liberal medias real war against Starr began in January 1998, after the Drudge Report revealed a bombshell Newsweek report that Clinton had had an affair with a White House intern, Monica Lewinsky, and then denied it under oath when deposed as part of Paula Jones sexual harassment suit. Clintons own Attorney General, Janet Reno, had agreed to assign the Lewinsky case to Starr and his team, but Clintons defenders in the media chose to paint the special prosecutor as the villain.
Given Kenneth Starrs track record, Bryant Gumbel (who by this time had left NBC for CBS) sneered on the January 21, 1998 Public Eye, should we suspect that hes trying to do with innuendo that which he has been unable to do with evidence?
What Starr is doing is trying to construct the truth according to Ken Starr, Newsweeks Clift asserted on the February 7, 1998 McLaughlin Group. Hes the one who is suborning perjury here in my view. He has gone way beyond the pale in term of his treatment of witnesses.
The question now is whether Starrs tactics will prove more offensive to the courts and the public than any alleged wrongdoing by the President that Starr is investigating, correspondent Michel McQueen suggested that day on ABCs World News Tonight.
You dont have to be a conspiracy buff to have trouble with how the Whitewater investigation ended up focused on the Presidents pants, Times Richard Lacayo and Adam Cohen fretted in the magazines February 9, 1998 issue. Going after the Presidents sex life, wiring Linda Tripp to secretly tape Lewinsky, trying to persuade Lewinsky to tape Clinton are those the actions of a conscientious prosecutor or a political hit man?
NBCs Tom Brokaw picked up that theme on the February 16 Nightly News: A growing backlash against independent counsel Kenneth Starr. Is he out of bounds or just tone deaf?...Has Starr gone too far in his pursuit of Monica Lewinsky and the President?
The media clearly preferred talking about the backlash against Starr rather than the sordid details of Clintons own conduct. On February 24, top CNN anchor Bernard Shaw wanted to know if by calling before the grand jury people such as [Clinton White House aide] Sidney Blumenthal, is Ken Starr acting illegally? Two days later, Shaw challenged a panel of legal experts: Should Ken Starr resign?...Should Starr pack his bags?
As Starr continued to investigate the President, the media continued to snipe at him. If he doesnt come forward very soon with credible evidence of lawbreaking, he will go down in history as the Peeping Tom prosecutor, Newsweeks Jonathan Alter smirked on MSNBCs The News with Brian Williams on April 1.
Starr has stood Watergate on its head, U.S. News & World Report editor-in-chief Mort Zuckerman complained in his magazines April 6 issue. It is not the President who is involved in the politically-motivated abuse of power; it is the politically-motivated counsel.
Has Ken Starr overstepped his bounds? Is this a fishing expedition? NBCs Maria Shriver asked an ex-Secret Service agent during a July 16 Today show segment. Turning to another guest, she continued
Geraldo Sings: "Twinkle, Twinkle, Kenneth Starr, Now We See How Crude You Are"
CNBC host Geraldo Rivera even commandeered a nursery rhyme to show his disgust with the independent counsel. Twinkle, twinkle Kenneth Starr, now we see how crude you are, he awkwardly crooned on his July 21 show. Up above your jury high, like the judge up in the sky /Twinkle, twinkle little Starr, now we see how wrong you are.
In the medias campaign to demonize Starr, no insult, apparently, was out of bounds. Facially, it finally dawned on me that the person Ken Starr has reminded me of facially all this time was Heinrich Himmler, including the glasses, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann sneered on the August 18 Big Story, referring to the head of Nazi Germanys feared SS divisions.
On September 9, 1998, Starr delivered his report the Starr Report to Congress. During MSNBCs live coverage, Gwen Ifill likened it to a terrorist attack. When someone drives, as one House Judiciary Committee member put this some weeks ago, a truck bomb up to the steps of the Capitol and just dumps it on them....it is in some ways, politically, a very violent action for Ken Starr to leave this on them weeks before an election when theyre trying to decide how to deal with it.
The next morning, ABCs Good Morning America co-host Lisa McRee proposed accepting the Clinton talking points at face value: Couldnt this be just a witch hunt? Couldnt the Democrats and President Clintons people whove been defending him all these months be right?
Lets not pretend for a moment that the Starr Report is a balanced, judicious presentation. Its not. It is a partisan prosecutor with some zealous aides whos trying to make a case against a guy he despises, the Wall Street Journals Al Hunt fumed on CNN, September 12.
After nine months of badgering Starr, by mid-October 1998 many in the media clearly believed their own spin. If this reminds you of George Orwells novel, 1984, it should, CNNs Bruce Morton complained on October 11.
As much as Clinton stained the dress, Starr stained the country, Times Margaret Carlson whined in her October 12 Public Eye column.
For most of 1998, CNBCs Upfront Tonight was obsessed with discounting Starrs investigation. So why did it last for four years and cost $40 million? A look at the money and the men behind Ken Starrs Whitewater investigation indicates that Hillary Clinton may have been right when she said there was a right-wing conspiracy to bring down the President, co-host Diane Dimond insisted on October 23.
Today co-host Matt Lauer tossed this softball to longtime Clinton crony James Carville on October 26: Remember when the First Lady was here back in January and she talked about the vast right-wing conspiracy. You agree with a lot of what she had to say. If there is a hierarchy in that conspiracy, like a military hierarchy, where does Ken Starr fall? Is he a private, is he a general, what is he?
What about the image and impression of Ken Starr as the sort of evil puppeteer behind this entire investigation? NBC/MSNBC host John Hockenberry wondered on MSNBCs InterNight, November 19.
ABCs Diane Sawyer conducted a lengthy interview with Starr for 20/20 on November 25. She undoubtedly spoke for many of her colleagues as she scolded him to his face for the content of the Starr Report: This has been called demented pornography, pornography for Puritans.
Sawyer also pushed the idea that President Clinton had more important things to do than be held accountable for his conduct: Did you think to yourself, here is a man who has to deal with Saddam Hussein and bin Laden and whats going on in Russia, and were putting him through this?
It is, of course, impossible to imagine one of todays journalists scolding Robert Mueller for distracting President Trump from important national business, or suggesting his investigation has become a partisan mission to destroy a President whom the Washington Establishment has never liked.
The double standard is obvious to anyone who will look.
Has anyone seen Ferris Mueller?
Don’t expect anyone on the left to look for double standard
Jeff Bezos is just as much a Demagogic Party shill as anyone who works for him at the ComPost. **** Amazon, **** Blue Origin, **** Richard Shelby. Thanks Kaslin.
The Starr investigation was sleight of hand by Clinton. Starr was authorized by Clinton to investigate Clinton’s sex life. He was not authorized to investigate anything substantive.
If you brought up anything about Chinese money, Chinese espionage, missile guidance technology transfer to China, nuclear targeting codes transferred to China, encryption technology transferred to China, they would just say, its being looked at within the Justice Department... we can’t comment.
But details you didn’t want to know about his sex life? That was all over the news every day.
I guess Mueller has to come up with something to give to Paul Ryan to start impeachment proceedings. Otherwise all they will have to go on is the unsubstantiated claims of women who say Trump harassed them sometime long, long ago...It will take some chutzpah for Congressmen who have done worse things to vote to impeach him on those grounds.
If the left didn’t have double standards, they wouldn’t have any standards at all.
Seems to me a case could be made that it needed to be studied how, what, when, where, and why.
Mueller is more corrupt than Trump by a country mile.
I think Mueller was ‘too inside’ to be investigating these matters.
Lot of work and effort in that report. Good find.
But it will be ignored by Clinton’s ABCNNBCBS national press corpse.