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1 March 2001

Smile-a-while: It’s the lying

Synopsis: McCord and the I-man helped us recall. It isn’t the sex. It’s the lying.

Commentary by Don Imus, Charles McCord, Tom Oliphant
Imus in the Morning, MSNBC, 2/27/01

Denise Rich Cleared for White House Jan. 19
Susan Schmidt and Peter Slevin, The Washington Post, 2/27/01

When last we met, the Beltway Eighth-Graders were rubbing their thighs, putting some sex in the story (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 2/28/01). We were quite puzzled to see this occur, because as anyone good with a script will recall, it isn't the sex. It's the lying. Whatever—by Tuesday, killjoys were spoiling the fun; the Post and the Times were both reporting that Denise Rich hadn't been at the White House all those times. So now, new excitement was bruited about—she had been there on January 19!!! The last evening!!! Right when the pardon was decided!! Hay-yo! At 6:35 EST Tuesday morning, Charles McCord, the I-man's sidekick, shared the report with the nation:

IMUS: We've now learned that those two pigs, Denise Rich and Beth Dozoretz, who, back in the 80s, drunk, coked up at Elaine's, you wouldn't take a pass on—you would take a pass on—were at the White House—what's this story, Charles?

MCCORD: They were at the White House on Clinton's final night when a raft of the pardons were being decided on, including the one for Denise Rich's ex-husband, Marc Rich. This is according to Secret Service logs just obtained by the Washington Post. They were there on the last night, President Clinton's last night in office, Denise Rich and Beth Dozoretz, both at the White House.

IMUS: I'll be darned.

And we were darned too, because, right in the Post, the principals had flatly denied the report. An analyst had already brought us our Post. Schmidt and Slevin had authored the story:

SCHMIDT AND SLEVIN: Dozoretz's husband, Ronald Dozoretz, said last night that although she was cleared to enter the White House, his wife did not attend the party and was in a plane in California with him at 5:30 P.M. on Jan. 19, a minute after Secret Service logs show she entered the White House complex.

While the logs indicate that Denise Rich arrived at about the same time, a source close to her said that while she was invited, Denise Rich did not go to the White House.

You didn't have to read far to reach the denials—we have just reprinted paragraphs 2 and 3. In fact, the denials were reported right in the sub-headline: "Source Says Financier's Ex-Wife Did Not Attend Party on Eve of Clinton Pardons."

Chuck never mentioned the denials. Maybe he just hadn't noticed. That's why we were pleased when Imus spoke with Tom Oliphant, by telephone, from the capital. You know the rules about these exchanges. Imus stopped saying "those two pigs" for a time, and the O-man got to offer this comment:

OLIPHANT: We had an episode here last night, for example, on visits to the White House. Have you heard about this yet?

IMUS: Yes.

OLIPHANT: Now, OK. Maybe there are logs, maybe there aren't logs, about Beth Dozoretz and Denise Rich coming to the White House in the last couple of days. Certainly associates of them were telling reporters last night, Look, I don't know what the logs say, but they did not go to the White House on the days in question, in the last couple of days.

That's what's so exciting about this "information" age. Thanks to instant, world-wide communication, info travels around the globe just as fast as its electronic "legs" take it.

Unless the media are involved, of course; they often just stick with bad stories. By 8:15, with Oliphant gone, Imus was back to the "pigs" and the "hags." Bernie, after chatting about "the ho's," said the "integrity level" was better with Bush. And then, without a hint of irony, Charles came back on and said this:

MCCORD: That other thing, big story in the Washington Post this morning, that Secret Service logs now provide the first evidence that Denise Rich and former Democratic Party Finance Director Beth Dozoretz were both at the White House during President Clinton's final night in office, when he was deciding on all these controversial pardons including the one for Marc Rich, Denise's ex.

And that was the end of Chuck's report. He gave the preferred story one more good go. Even though he was citing the Post, he again didn't note the denials.

By now, of course, everyone seems to agree: Denise and Beth weren't at the White House. The press corps has moved on to other top stories. But we couldn't help chuckling as we watched Tuesday's show. It helped us recall what we've said all along. Around here, it was always the lying.


Tomorrow: HOWLER hermeneutics! How can their work be so stunningly bad? We revisit the world of the founders.