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9 February 1999

Life in this celebrity press corps: Reporting the news that they like

Synopsis: The Blumenthal flap drives home the point--CelebCorps must stop suppressing the truth about their beloved Kathleen Willey.

Commentary by Rep. Lindsey Graham (R, SC)
Hardball, CNBC, 2/8/99

Commentary by Dick Morris
The O’Reilly Factor, Fox News Channel, 2/8/99

Another Clinton Human Sacrifice?
Christopher Hitchens, The Washington Post, 2/9/99


Yep. There they were, all over the airwaves, tying the Blumenthal “stalker” flap to the sainted Kathleen Willey. Congressman Cornpone was right there on Hardball, peddling the palaver to Chris:

GRAHAM: The polling numbers of Kathleen Willey. That occurred on the meeting with Mr. Hitchenson [sic]. [Blumenthal] said that her polling numbers are high, but they’re gonna go down. It’s a crime in our country, I believe, for a politician to look at potential witnesses against him, check their polling numbers out, and orchestrate a campaign to drive their polling numbers down by fabricating lies and passing them on to grand jurors and the public. [Our emphasis]

The very feline Morris the Cat was rubbing the leg of O’Reilly:

MORRIS: And then Hitchens, the writer, says that Blumenthal dumped on Lewinsky and spread the story through him at a luncheon. But more importantly than that, his wife says that Blumenthal said that Kathleen Willey’s ratings were high in the polls and were going to come down very soon.

And Hitchens himself was mentioning Willey in the Post this morning. He imagines a possible outcome of the impeachment trial, in which Clinton is acquitted in the Senate, and Blumenthal is pursued by Ken Starr:

HITCHENS: The U.S. Senate then finds out, having “put everything behind us and moved on,” that everything we could even suspect in the Kathleen Willey case turns out to be true. A perfect victory for justice.

Why is Willey now part of the Blumenthal flap? Because Blumenthal allegedly mentioned Willey to Hitchens at lunch, saying that Willey--who had just made her Sixty Minutes appearance--would soon start to lose public favor. As such, Willey enters the public debate in another role, cast as the victim of White House smearing. She was the victim of “fabricated” stories, says Cornpone; Hitchens implies his assent.

But what if something that Hitchens doesn’t “suspect” turns out to be true--what if Willey lied on Sixty Minutes? What if the White House wasn’t fabricating tales about a sainted victim, but was telling the truth about someone who had lied? The thought doesn’t seem to have entered Hitchens’ head, but that’s because of press corps news management--the remarkable spinning of the Willey story we have decried since October 5. (For HOWLER archives on Willey, see below.)

As we’ve reported again and again, on October 2, in his “document dump,” Ken Starr released Linda Tripp’s grand jury testimony, and it became apparent that Tripp has contradicted every aspect of Willey’s Sixty Minutes account. Tripp’s detailed, sworn testimony is there to see; we’ve described it here again and again. But, if what Linda Tripp told the grand jury is true, it is impossible to believe Willey’s Sixty Minutes account. It is impossible to believe that Kathleen Willey was candid in her claims of assault back in March.

Why has it never entered Hitchens’ head that Willey may have been lying? Again, because of the remarkable black-out of Tripp’s detailed testimony that has been executed by the celebrity press. Essentially, only the Washington Post, among major papers, has uttered a word of what Linda Tripp said. And we have never seen a mainstream pundit refer to Tripp’s startling account. (It is most likely, of course, that Rep. Graham knows all too well what Linda Tripp said, and is simply not betraying his knowledge, to juice up public rage against Vile.)

Kathleen Willey is now an active element in three ongoing, significant stories. Aside from the Blumenthal matter, her former friend, Julie Steele, has been indicted by Kenneth Starr, for contradicting some of what Willey has said. And Nathan Landow is now being pursued for allegations that he may have improperly investigated Willey; allegations swirl, based on Willey’s word alone, that she was threatened by unknown agents.

In all of these stories Willey’s credibility is right at the heart of a substantial news story. Yet the mainstream press refuses to report what the public so plainly should know--that Willey’s accusations against Clinton were contradicted, under oath, by her former friend and co-worker, Linda Tripp.

Julie Steele faces time for contradicting Willey--yet Tripp has also called her a liar. Willey's tales of threats are all over the airwaves--and no one is told what Linda Tripp has said. At THE HOWLER, we ourselves have no way of knowing what has or hasn't occurred in these matters. But we can tell you this: the press corps has absolutely no business doing what they have done since October-- refusing to tell you when evidence surfaces casting doubt on the word of their treasured friends.

You know that we’ve told you, again and again: the press corps simply loves those accusers. And we can’t help noting, as the impeachment vote nears: the press corps’ refusal to report what Tripp said is a stunning abuse of their power. Three ongoing stories now plainly turn on the credibility of Kathleen Willey. And the press corps refuses to let you judge her credibility in the light of what Linda Tripp said.


Visit our incomparable archives: Since October 5, we have now offered ten treatments of Linda Tripp’s striking testimony. For a synopsis of articles through January 8, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 1/8/99 (full links at end of article).

We also covered Tripp-on-Willey in reports from January 9-12. Those articles can be found in our archives.