Who's who among talking heads
in the Starr vs. Clinton "trial by media"
This Guide was featured on the PBS Lehrer NewsHour special 10-19-98,
"Television Lawyers" and on the associated PBS website.
NOTE :If talk news pundits are the judges and jury in the current "trial by media," what are their backgrounds and agendas? Nobody in the debate is truly objective or unbiased but letting audiences know the ideological baggage carried by pundits at least allows viewers to adjust their filters.
Most of these experts fall on either side of a political stance regarding Clinton and Starr. A few will mix it up and stick to objectives of law and ethics in media and politics while being more skeptical of Starr than cheering. These few -- a small handful -- argue reasonably and are not strident. They exemplify the best on the talk news circuit in the impeachment debate. You may not agree with our selections. In the battle of biases we have ours, too. From our perspective a short list of the best would include :
* Cynthia Alksne
* Elizabeth Arnold
* James Cole
* Joe Conason
* Gene Lyons
* Jeralyn Merritt
* Wendy Murphy
* Gerry Spence
We commend these people for speaking up, for educating us, and for reminding us that the impeachment debate has gravity far beyond hidden agendas, partisan power-grabbing or "news as entertainment."
This Viewer's Guide was pulled together by Jane Prettyman, editor of TRNP, who is a member of the Green Party of California (which has nothing whatsoever to do with TRNP). The notes on each talk news personality are gathered from skimpy news reports, words blurted out on the air, and from researchers. You might want to start your own Viewer's Guide and keep track of them yourself. Some entries here may be outdated in fast-moving events. We respond quickly to errors or omissions. If you haven't already, you might want to skip down to additional "Notes" before winding through the whole list.
Also see Tough Chat by Joshua Micah Marshall.
ABC legal analyst. Defense attorney to Erik Menendez and the young man who killed a girl in a Las Vegas casino. Vehemently argues the defense position on most cases. A very intelligent woman who is loved and hated for speaking up for (and practicing) the principle that every accused has the right to a good defense.
"Former federal prosecutor," "Independent Women's Forum" (Scaife-funded), pro-Starr, anti-Clinton. See full details about IWF in Starrletts and Scaife Babies.
“Former federal prosecutor.” Smart, level-headed, argues against Starr's tactics but critical of Clinton too. Believes Starr gives prosecutors a bad name.
Alksne's bio on the MSNBC website indicates an impressive background. She began her law career as an assistant district attorney for Kings County, New York in 1985. As an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Texas from 1987-1991, she represented several of the state’s universities in employment discrimination cases; state mental institution cases involving patient abuse and civil rights violations; and racial discrimination at various state agencies. She was a DOJ prosecutor 1991-96 where she prosecuted street crimes in the District of Columbia . She wrote and argued criminal appeals on constitutional issues, including search and seizure; investigated and prosecuted police officers for brutality; and eventually returned to full-time prosecutions of sex crimes.
Now this is a real prosecutor for you. No wonder she's so critical of Ken Starr.
Her latest gig (as of Feb 1999) is holding down the liberal end of the argument on MSNBC's "Equal Time" opposite Ollie North.
"Trial attorney." In news talk debate, she's fair to Clinton and worried about Starr's tactics.
Newsweek reporter, doesn’t like Starr and skeptical of Clinton.
Panelist on Washington Week in Review. Usually quite sharp and objective as a political analyst. In Clinton v. Starr, calls it either way as she sees it.
"Former Clinton White House spokesman." Comments along the lines of his title.
Official spokesman for Ken Starr, hired late April 1998.
Recently suspended, then resigned columnist Boston Globe. Bright guy. Doesn't like BC, not fond of Ken Starr either.
Editor-in-chief of Reader’s Digest which has a distinguished history of breaking cockamamie GOP smears, notably Willie Horton, as news. Conservative, dislikes Clinton, backs Starr all the way.
"Criminal defense attorney," pro-Starr.
Boston Globe. Argues against Starr's tactics.
Former press spokesman for Newt Gingrich, now a writer for George Magazine. Pro-Starr, strongly anti-Clinton. Snide, like his former boss.
CNN White House correspondent, persistent underminer of anything Clinton says or does, because he is President and Wolf would like to be, ever since he got a taste of glory in CNN's coverage of the Gulf War.
Moderator of Washington Week in Review (PBS). Replaced Paul Duke a few years ago and ruined the show by consistently finding a “hot line” to introduce each program and focus on scandal. Too full of himself by half.
Meet the Press, US News & World Report.
After Attorney General Richardson and Deputy Attorney General Ruckleshouse had refused Nixon's order to fire Watergate Independent Prosecutor Archibald Cox and been themselves fired by Nixon, Bork (who was Solicitor General, third in hierarchy at Justice) stepped up to the plate and fired Cox in the “Saturday Night Massacre.” Bork is a former appeals court judge and unsuccessful Supreme Court nominee of Ronald Reagan.
"Media analyst," director of the hyper-conservative Media Research Center. See article about MRC on this site.
"Former RNC general counsel" (gray hair, beard). He's the attorney for Richard Porter, a Starr law partner who has reportedly worked for years to scuttle President Clinton on any cockamamie grounds he can find.
Conservative journalist converted to objectivity although still conservative and that’s fine, now a somewhat “Reasonable Republican.” Recanted his Troopergate story in American Spectator, apologized to Prez in April 98 Esquire. Came out as gay. Has been getting hit hard by hard right since he discovered admirable qualities in Hillary Clinton, hence his swing away from arch-conservatism.
Co-host of CNBC “Equal Time,” (conservative counterpoint to co-host, the very funny Steffanie Miller), sister and campaign manager of Pat Buchanan.
Perennial presidential candidate, advocate of economic nationalism, formerly on CNN's "Crossfire." So conservative, he's liberal.
Criminal prosecutor of murderer Charles Manson. Author of bestseller “Helter Skelter” and the recently published “No Island of Sanity” about SC’s decision to let the Jones case proceed; he thinks it was a grave mistake and his book is worth reading (skip first chapter). See summary and review on this site.
"GOP consultant" also labeled as a "legislative attorney" which is a sobriquet for his role as Senate Republican counsel on Alfonse D'Amato's Whitewater Committee where he "coordinated questioning of Webb Hubbell." Fiercely pro-Starr, anti-Clinton. Avid for Dan Burton.
Former Paula Jones attorney. Consistently anti-Clinton, of course. Paula stiffed him with a huge legal bill.
Weekly Standard, bow-tie, looks like recent high school grad. Vehemently anti-Clinton, pro-Starr, pro-Jones, pro-Burton. God help us if this is the face of the New Right.
Time Magazine, young, anti-Clinton.
1992 campaign manager of Bill Clinton. Married to conservative Mary Matalin. James is the leading “outspoken” anti-Starr voice in the Starr-Clinton debate. Not a fan of Paula Jones either. His book on Ken Starr, "The Horse You Rode In On," has just hit bookstores, loaded with explosive facts about our "Independent" Counsel. Read it.
Time Magazine, Capital Gang.
Lead prosecutor of O.J. Simpson, sub-in host for Rivera on CNBC.
Was special counsel in the Gingrich ethics inquiry of 1996. One of the straightest shooters in Washington, very fair minded, a skillful negotiator.
Journalist writing for the New York Observer and the online web magazine, Salon. Conason is a major investigative reporter on alleged payments to Starr’s star witness David Hale from funds of Richard Mellon Scaife. He broke several other stories in the past year, including the Peter Smith payments to the Arkansas troopers, the role of George Conway in the Paula Jones lawsuit (in February 1998, he was first to suggest collusion with Starr of Federalist Society types), and the existence of the Arkansas Project.
Conason is cool-headed and fairly objective although also fairly consistently pro-Clinton in his talk-news commentary, citing exculpatory information in Whitewater , for example. He was an investigative reporter for years on the Village Voice where he covered three Presidential campaigns, the Iran-Contra affair, and also served as a foreign correspondent in the Philippines and China.
Roger Cossack & Greta Van Susteren
Co-hosts CNN “Burden of Proof.” Sharp, fair, objective, no nonsense.
Identified as a “legal expert” or "Constitutional lawyer." Was employed by the Center for Individual Rights which received $100,000 from the Scaife Carthage Foundation in 1997 (Source: EditWest). Long blond hair, sarcastic fast-talker, sounds like she's on speed. Wildly anti-Clinton, pro-Starr, a proud member of the "Freepers" cult who hold up Lucianne Goldberg and Linda Tripp as heroines. Ms. Coulter wrote a column for Human Events, a Scaife-funded conservative magazine, until October 1998 when she became too busy promoting her book "The Case Against Bill Clinton" which argues that "It's enough for the President [to be impeached] to be a pervert. " Her book was published by the hard-right Regnery Publishing House, which has put out other anti-Clinton tracts by Clinton-haters Gary Aldrich and Ambrose Evans-Pritchard. Her background includes founding the conservative Cornell Review (see Laura Ingraham below, another Blond Bomber, who co-founded the conservative Dartmouth Review -- one wonders whether there was a shower of "Body Snatcher" pods that landed on college campuses in about 1979). Coulter founded a local chapter of the Federalist Society, a libertarian-style legal group to which Ken Starr also belongs. Coulter is known more as a Libertarian than a Conservative. She was reportedly fired by MSNBC for insulting a Vietnam veteran on air and now flits around other venues of the shout-news circuit promoting her book and explaining her involvement with the Paula Jones legal team, her acquisition of one of Tripp's tapes before it ever got to Starr, and ... stay tuned. Overall, Coulter is a quintessential example of an active player in the get-Clinton crowd posing as a legitimate "legal analyst" on talk news while her background outlined here is unknown to viewers until she is finally cornered and pinned to the mat with the facts.
See Starrlets and Scaife Babies for more on Coulter's background.
Former WH counsel to Pres. Clinton. The most ubiquitous supporter of President Clinton's position in the Clinton-Starr debate.
"GOP consultant." Commentary according to her label.
Joseph diGenova & Victoria Toensing
Husband & wife. Currently working as a team of prosecutors investigating alleged election improprieties in the Teamsters union. Toensing (who speaks with her head tilted away from camera) spoke at length on Brian Williams “The News” show on 4-28-98 about allegations defined as "proven" about union activities not yet proven; Toensing discussed these on air at length while still actively involved in the probe, thus completely blowing her objectivity and perhaps tainting the outcome of the investigation. Democrats have questioned whether diGenova & Toensing have really been doing the work they're paid for on the Teamsters investigation, since they spend so much time appearing as pundits on talk news shows. They have refused to allow committee Democrats to see their time sheets. Both are long-time conservatives, consistently pro-Starr (reportedly socially close to Starr), anti-Clinton.
Former deputy assistant attorney general under Reagan.
Independent counsel who, some say, whitewashed the Bush admin's monkey-business in the Clinton passport scandal.
Update May 8, 1998 : Because of criticism noted above, diGenova & Toensing abruptly withdrew from their contract with MSNBC where they have appeared nearly daily as paid legal political analysts on various talk and news programs, and vowed to forgo all public commentary on Starr vs. Clinton debate, limiting comments to their clients' cases. Too late. Over the past 6 months they'd already done most of the damage they could do in the Starr-Clinton media trial. Update October 1998: With the impeachment issue, suddenly DiGenova & Toensing are BAAAAAAAACCKK and spouting their gloating opinions all over talk news.
Washington Post columnist. Wrote a "censure and move on" column 10-10-98.
ABC “Prime Time” and “This Week with Sam & Cokie.” Full of himself.
Billed as "constitutional lawyer," wrote for the conservative Moon-owned Washington Times, heads up something called Operation Integrity. [More info on this outfit to come] Source : EditWest
Newsweek reporter. Smooth, glib, self-serving.
ID'd as “Republican pollster” (blond), owner of The Polling Company which some people call "the Woolworth of polling firms." Conservative, ubiquitous on talk news circuit. Pro-Starr, anti-Clinton.
Former Assistant Attorney General in Clinton administration. "President Clinton must defend the Presidency and let the courts decide about his assertion of executive privilege ... Starr neglects the Seal case which holds that evidence he seeks beyond executive privilege must be critical and unobtainable by any other means." See transcript from "Burden of Proof," CNN 5-1-98.
Writer for conservative Weekly Standard (owned by Rubert Murdoch). Typical quote : On MSNBC Big Show with Keith Oberman 4-1-98 he said : "Bill Clinton has teams of goons roving around the country silencing witnesses."
Wall Street Journal. Conservative. Pro-Starr. A nasty little pipsqueak who hates Bill Clinton with a purple passion.
“Criminal defense attorney,” thinks Paula Jones is a crock. Excellent mind, fierce debater.
Former Deputy Assistant Attorney General under Bush and, for a short time, Clinton. Senior Fellow at the Heritage Foundation which received $475,000 from combo of two Scaife foundations in 1997 (billed as a former Republican policy advisor) (Source : EditWest). Began appearing often on CNBC and MSNBC in April-May 1998. Hands flailing in the air, Todd takes on the appearance of a shrill man desperate to denounce Clinton while praising Starr to the skies.
Attorney for Susan McDougal, convicted Whitewater figure who served 18 months in prison for refusing to testify before Ken Starr's Grand Jury, re-indicted for criminal contempt for continuing to refuse to testify because she believes that if she tells the truth that Clinton did not pressure Hale to make the $300,000 loan to her, Starr will use Hale's testimony otherwise to charge her with perjury. Geragos is a tough scrapper who vows to call Starr and his top prosecutor Ewing as defense witnesses at Susan's trial. "Stand Up to Starr" is the McDougal Legal Defense Trust Fund (201 N. Figueroa St., 5th Floor, Los Angeles CA 90012. 888-785-1885). Geragos tried to describe Barbara Olson's (screen 2) Starrian political connections on air during a Rivera Live show in April 1998 and was abruptly cut off.
"Former GOP consultant."
Former attorney to Monica Lewinsky. Loose cannon.
Former counsel on Alfonse D’Amato’s Senate Whitewater committee. Pro-Starr, anti-Clinton.
Former dirty trickster for Richard Nixon’s political campaign, fronting for her then-husband's Intelligence-connected newspaper. Rabidly conservative, anti-Clinton, pro-Jones, Queen of Free Republic website ("The Freepers " whom che calls "my sweeties"). Book agent, lately the literary muse of Linda Tripp. Having a blast since Clinton admitted his Great Mistake with Monica.
The Charles Grodin Show. Consistently anti-Starr and pro-Clinton. His show has been the oasis of sanity among all news talk programs during the Clinton-Starr Wars.
CNN correspondent (formerly at ABC). See “Debate with Jeff Greenfeld on Grand Jury Leaks” on this site.
MSNBC White House reporter , young, blond, bushy haired. Sometimes participates in news talk opinion exchanges. Says what he knows people want to hear.
Seldom identified at all onscreen. Former speechwriter for Bush. A high official of the conservative Cato Institute. Appeared on Larry King (CNN) in mid-July 1998 saying she was a "friend of Linda Tripp" and allowed as how "Tripp may have been coached by Bruce Lindsey" to write her Aug 1997 letter to Newsweek's Michael Isikoff in which Tripp expressed doubts about Kathleen Willey's credibility. The significance of this is that the Gillis-Fox analysis of the "talking points" shows that the document could not have been an effort to suborn perjury, in part because Tripp had already expressed doubts about Willey. Grossman appeared to be sent forth (by whom we don't know) to counter this tenet of the Gillis-Fox analysis.
Former Clinton political adviser. Predictably pro-BC.
"Former deputy associate attorney general," vigorously anti-Starr.
Susan McDougal's fiance.
Susan McDougal's brother.
"Independent Women's Forum" (Scaife-funded). Haven't heard her views on Starr vs. Clinton yet, only on Viagra (5-11-98 MSNBC) : "Women should be concerned about Viagra. It may ruin marriages because men may stray. Insurance shouldn't pay for men's recreation." She has no patience for the idea that Viagra might enhance marriages or compassion for working class men who suffer impotence. She's young, cute, prim.
Arianna Stassinopolous Huffington
Self-appointed muse of GOP. Author of “The Goddess;” a trash-job on Pablo Picasso; and most recently a trash-job on the Clintons called “Greetings from the Lincoln Bedroom.” This trash-jobber, who was founder of the ill-fated Center for Effective Compassion, is ineffective in conveying compassion in her columns or on the air. Formerly very hot on Jerry Brown and a close follower of a New Age guru John-Roger. Then she married (and had two children with) Michael Huffington, a millionaire Texas oil heir who served in the House for the 22nd Dist. of CA (Santa Barbara). In 1994 Mr. Huffington ran for the Senate in a bruising and expensive race against Dianne Feinstein and lost. Arianna shortly thereafter divorced the hapless Mr. Huffington but kept his name. She owns palatial homes in Georgetown (D.C., may have sold this one by now) and L.A. As of late 1997 she was sued for libel by Shelia Lawrence (widow of late ambassador Larry Lawrence whose remains were removed from Arlington Cemetary because of questions about his military service); the $25 million libel suit alleged that Arianna maliciously wrote a statement in her column that Shelia Lawrence and Bill Clinton were lovers.
The editor of TRNP met Arianna in NYC many years ago during her Jerry Brown phase and found her then to be a fast-talking climber, skilled at sophist rhetoric, i.e., a B.S.'er who was likely to go far. She did.
But give her some credit : in July 1998 on a radio talk show with Robert Scheer she called for de-criminalization (but correctly, we think, not legalization) of drugs. Maybe it was her intellectual opportunism at work but who cares? She was right. No follow-up, though; bad sign.
Lately (Feb 1999) she has carved out a niche for herself as a Republican who drops insignificant criticisms on her own party and thus enjoys a somewhat undeserved status as "bipartisan" pundit. She's landed a spot on McLaughlin Group and pops up on Rivera and elsewhere with stunning regularity.
See Paula Poundstone's Republican Field Guide for a hilarious and astute description of the Arianna species of political pundit.
While a continuing presence during the Year of Monica 1998, she was ID'd as "MSNBC political analyst," sometimes "Independent Women's Forum" (Scaife-funded). IWF label dropped after a couple of guests began mentioning Scaife-funding. Fervently pro-Starr, snidely anti-Clinton. Surly, thin intellect, a lot of bluff. She clerked for religious conservative Clarence Thomas during his extremely brief "judge period" before he was elevated to the Supreme Court. She was one of the founders of the conservative Dartmouth Review, edited by Dinesh D'Souza, who presided over a regular column written in Ebonics (per Ishmael Reed on Salon, 1-23-99). In January 1991, Richard Glovsky of the Anti-Defamation League cited the Dartmouth Review for a "malicious pattern of anti-Semitic acts." We don't know what those alleged acts were. According to FAIR (April 1996), "in line with the paper's bigotry-building tradition, Ingraham sent a writer to infiltrate Dartmouth's new Gay Students' Association, published transcripts of the meeting and sent secretly recorded tapes to the parents of the members of the group (CounterPunch, 9/95)." Reportedly (per Ishmael Reed on Salon, 1-23-99), she denounced the GSA as "cheerleaders for latent campus sodomites." After over a year as a constant pro-Starr, anti-Clinton commentator on MSNBC, during which time she took snideness to new lows (nearly to the level of Ann Coulter, her virtual twin), she has been institutionalized with her own morning TV show entitled "Watch It!" We're not sure if that's a threat, a warning, or merely arrogance .
It's a shallow show, that's all we know.
For more info about Ms. Ingraham and full details about IWF, the media booking agency that launched Ingraham into the mediastream, see Starrletts and Scaife Babies.
Also see a Salon piece on Laura Ingraham by Eric Alterman.
Newsweek reporter who once worked for the Washington Post but left when the Post felt he was too zealous about Paula Jones. Consistently anti-Clinton, pro-Jones & pro-Starr in his talk-news commentary, altho recently (early Oct 1998) wrote a blip in Newsweek flicking away Ken Starr's four-year investigation of the various "-gates" after spending almost that much time breathessly glorifying them in Newsweek. Watch for the "blip" to disappear when Congress regurgitates the old Whitewater and other "-gates" on the pretense of (more) "truth-seeking" in the impeachment inquiry. Isikoff maintains a "crumpled reporter" look with crooked tie and slides his words out of both sides of his mouth, exactly the way he writes for Newsweek.
“Criminal defense attorney,” appeared on MSBNC 4-29-98 vs. Barbara Olson, argued against Starr.
Editor, conservative Human Events magazine (published by Scaife-funded Heritage Foundation) , strongly pro-Starr, anti-Clinton.
Sexual harassment attorney. "Paula Jones has no chance in prevailing on appeal, even if Supreme Court rules favorably on the Burligton case."
“Judicial Watch.” Hyper-conservative. Has multiple lawsuits pending against Clinton White House and various WH aides on Filegate, Travelgate and campaign finance matters. He reported on air that Judicial Watch was funded with $550,000 from Richard Mellon Scaife last year (1997). Latest Klayman lawsuit: Dolly Kyle Browning v. Bill Clinton. Joshua Micah Marshall reports in his essay Tough Chat that while careful never level a direct accusation, Klayman "believes that Ron Brown [the late Commerce Secretary who died in an Air Force plane crash in Croatia in April 1996] was murdered so he wouldn't spill the beans about the administration's campaign finance shenanigans." Klayman apparently also thinks another Commerce employee's death (Barbara Wise) should be probed. He's petitioned a federal three-judge panel to appoint an independent counsel to investigate both deaths. See Marshall's article on Salon "The conservative Ralph Nader" which Klayman calls himself. Especially pertinent to the rationale for this Viewer's Guide to Talk News, Marshall interviewed producers who invited Klayman on air, pursuing the question of "why viewers of Clinton-scandal talk shows aren't given a better idea of who they are listening to." He elicited this response from Rick Davis, senior executive producer of "Crossfire" : "If we made points or clarifications about every guest on the show, we'd get in the way of the 22 minutes of debate."
Translation : "We'd get in the way of the ruse of presenting wackos as objective commentators."
Nightline. Although he has an occasional great moment, over the years since the Hostage Crisis (which launched Niteline), Ted have evolved into one of the most self-absorbed and over-rated newsmouths in media.
William (“Bill”) Kristol
Son of one of the founders of modern conservativism Irving Kristol , Bill was a handler of Dan Qualye during Bush era. Author of the 1994 statement "There is no health case crisis!" Now editor of Rupert Murdock’s “Weekly Standard.” Was a pundit on ABC’s “This Week with Sam & Cokie” until canned in Dec 99.
Media critic at Washington Post, author of “Media Circus” and “Spin Cycle.” Undermines Clinton with self-serving commentary. Touted as a "media critic" on "Reliable Sources," in fact he acts as a cover for less-than-stellar performances of the Washington Post.
[Get ID]. Quote 5-98: "David Bossie [Dan Burton's chief investigator whom he fired/scapegoated for slanted editing of Hubbell tapes] is at the epicenter of virulent anti-Clintonism." He's right.
Former Reagan cabinet adviser , head of the hyper-conservative Landmark Legal Foundation which received $330,000 from Scaife's Carthage Foundation in 1997 and $150,000 from the Scaife Family Foundation in 1997 (Source: EditWest). Landmark Legal Foundation recently filed a letter in the Paula Jones case encouraging Susan Webber Wright to hold Clinton in contempt. Strongly pro-Starr.
NPR. We don't know how much to credit this, but David Brock did an article a few months ago in New York Magazine about the Fox News channel, in which he said that Liasson had to give the Fox people an assurance that she's a Republican before they'd hire her for her pundit gig. Being a Republican isn't news, but being willing to give a partisan guarantee in order to get a job is. However, we’re not sure if this is true. Brock said that Liasson wouldn't comment. Keep on eye on her.
G. Gordon Liddy
Convicted Watergate burgler, talk show host. Hyper-conservative. Chris Matthews loves him and glorified Liddy on the 25th Anniversary of Watergate. That's Hardball(s) for ya!
"Trial attorney," anti-Starr, defender of Clinton and, more important, fairness and due process. Often appears on Charles Grodin's show.
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette columnist (every Wednesday), appears on Salon and Consortium for Independent Journalism. Author of “Fools for Scandal: How the Media Invented Whitewater” (1996). Probably the best writer on the Whitewater matter and most persistent critic of the NY Times' involvement in perpetrating the story. His Sept 1998 column "A Legalized Coup Attempt by Starr?" split open the initial grounds for Starr's extension of authority to pursue the Lewinsky matter, finding serious questions about their legitimacy. Long before the NY Times and Washington Post began sniffing around.
Washington Post, author of "First in His Class" which psychoanalyzes Clinton from an armchair. Consistently undermines Clinton on the air, paints him as a pathetic figure. We find Maraniss smug, smooth, self-important, not because he doesn't like Clinton but because he has little understanding of psychology (although often brought onstage to address the "psychological dimension of Clinton") and he has no compassion.
Former assistant campaign manager for Bush, married to James Carville. Had a CBS radio show but recently off the air, raising a daughter with James. We like Mary, in an odd sort of way, granting her open-mindedness to have married James (and vice versa). She's a worthy adversary -- at moments . Mary is probably one of the brightest of the anti-Clinton crowd but her glibness gets the better of her and she loses the weight of her argument.
Host of CNBC “Hardball.” Strictly junior high. Bills himself as former aide to Tip O'Neill, but we'd love to know what his actual staff position was. He allowed John Whitehead (Rutherford Institute, Paula Jones' legal backer) to ramble on for 13 air minutes about an alleged Clinton "rape" which had already been firmly denied by the woman involved months before. Chris a Catholic, as are several others hyper-critical of Clinton's sexual escapades. Don't know if there's a connection. Can't blame them. But it would be nice to know what's underneath the incessant nastiness and undercutting. If Matthews is trying to say, "Clinton sinned!" then we wish he would say it and get it over with. But then he would have no show.
Reporter for The New Yorker, formerly at Wall Street Journal. Co-author of “Strange Justice” chronicling the Supreme Court nomination hearings of Clarence Thomas and the Anita Hill allegations (worth reading). Prolific investigative reporter, straight shooter, although she tends to defend the White House position. A recent target of yet another superfluous lawsuit brought by Larry Klayman's Scaife-funded Judicial Watch; suit got tossed out.
Susan Carpenter McMillan
Spokesman for Paula Jones until she was eased out by Jones’ Rutherford Insitute attorneys. Had been reportedly overheard saying she was saying in the media everything she could think of to taint to Jones jury pool against Clinton; she responded by saying she was talking about a different case. Oh? Which case was that?
Criminal defense attorney and legal analyst for MSNBC since 1997. An effective debater against the Starr line, she argues objectively for due process of law. She has been a federal and state criminal defense attorney since 1974. Graduated from Univ. of Denver Law School in 1973. She appears often on Rivera, Internight and other MSNBC and NBC programs. She comments on all criminal cases, most often from the defense point of view. Great smile.
Pro-Clinton co-host with anti-Clinton Bay Buchanan on "Equal Time." Very quick, bright, funny. Easily the best humor in political talk news.
Former political consultant to Pres. Clinton, fired after affair with hooker became public, turned against Clinton, now trying to market himself as a media pundit and writer. The worst.
"MSNBC legal analyst." Former District Attorney in Middlesex County, MA; a lecturer on law at MIT in 1997; since 1992 an attorney in Boston law firm. One of the wisest observers ever to appear on national television as an analyst. Although Wendy Murphy often argues against certain of Starr’s tactics, she is fairminded and not a Clintonite. She resonates an astute, nearly professorial clarity in explaining concepts of law. Politically she keeps her mouth shut most of the time, but once said of the Jones case : “Conservatives selected a women’s issue by fronting the Jones case in order to use the women’s movement -- and manipulate women in general -- against the President. This was deliberate and I have personally decided to refuse to be manipulated in this fashion.”
Was both Clinton's campaign press secretary from its start and his White House Press Secretary for the first two years. She was Mike McCurry's predecessor at the press room podium -- and seems to have an intensely conflicted relationship with her former boss. She's often one of his most quick-witted and articulate apologists -- when she's not scolding him. Catholic, very queazy about BC's sexual conduct (see Chris Matthews comment above). Currently a "contributing editor" for Vanity Fair.
"Criminal defense attorney." "Starr is pushing too far."
John Nields, Jr.
Former prosecutor in Iran-Contra investigation of Reagan administration, lead questioner of Oliver North (brilliant, we thought). Recently defense attorney of Webster Hubbell in his indictment by Ken Starr on tax issues; appeals court reversed against Starr.
"GOP strategist," viciously anti-Clinton, effusively pro-Starr, ultra-conservative. Founder of the Wednesday Group, 20-30 leaders of national right-wing organzations (from taxpayer and term-limit groups to the NRA and the Christian Coalition) who have gathered weekly since President Clinton's election to discuss ways to "stop Bill Clinton." Rep. Bob Barr's House impeachment resolution against the President was hatched here in early 1997. The PR campaign to sabotage Clinton's health care plan was a major effort of Norquist's Wednesday Group, called by some the "Command Center of the New Right." A key Norquist strategy is the alliance of think-tanks like Cato and Heritage, et al., and conservative media figures like Rush Limbaugh, Rupert Murdoch and William Kristol.
Former Marine colonel and convicted Iran-Contra conspirator, sentence overturned on immunity glitch. Radio talk show host. Founder of the hyper-conservative Freedom Alliance [info on this org to come] and the Religious Right leadership group, the National Council on Policy. Sells bullet proof vests. Called “Colonel” by avids like Chris Matthews.
CNN “Capital Gang,” Evans & Novak. See article about Robert Novak on this site. Now working for the discredited (formerly Scaife-funded) ultracon monthly "The American Spectator."
Staff writer for Roll Call. Somewhat moderately anti-Starr. Spoke up for Bill Clinton rather adamantly on a May 1998 "Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher" (ABC).
Harvard law professor, represented the attorney who was Monica Lewinsky’s first attorney when his notes were subpoenaed by Starr (Starr prevailed). Ogletree advised Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas hearings.
Ted & Barbara Olson
Barbara died aboard hijacked airliner that crashed into Pentagon on 9-11-01. Wife of Ted Olson, Bush Sol. Gen. Formerly a stealth spokesman for Ken Starr in Lewinsky matter, worked full-time for the Scaife-funded Starr Fan Club known an Independent Women's Forum. Lead counsel to Congress committees probing "Filegate," “Travelgate” and other matters including Dan Burton's committee.
Barbara Olson was a member of the ultra-conservative Federalist Society (Scaife-funded $175,000 in 1997; source: EditWest) along with Judge Lawrence Silberman and Ken Starr. Until spring 1998 Barbara Olson was staff counsel to ultra-conservative Oklahoma Senator Don Nickles, she then took a "leave of absence" to appear almost nightly on most major news talk shows, always identified benignly as “former federal prosecutor” or “Independent Women’s Forum,” for which Ken Starr had offered to serve as a pro bono lawyer to file a SC brief for Paula Jones. Olson had committed herself full-time to IWF which received $450,000 in the 1992-1997 period from foundations of Richard Mellon Scaife. The IWF was never identified as Scaife-funded. Barbara functioned as a leading spokesman for Ken Starr with whom she and her husband Ted were socially close and to whom always refered reverently as “Judge Starr .” Sen. Nickles refused to say how much he paid any of his aides, including Olson. But Tulsa World reporter Jim Myers found that Senate disbursements indicate Olson was being paid $91,500 a year before taking a leave to work for IWF. She now apparently is drawing a minimum of $147 a month from Sen. Nickles, the amount needed under Senate policy to continue to receive insurance benefits. The senator appeared to be using his office and taxpayer money to contribute to Ms. Olson's efforts to defend Mr. Starr.
Barbara was married to Theodore Olson who was an attorney for David Hale while Hale was cooperating with Congressional Whitewater probes. Her husband Ted Olson is a former law partner of Kenneth Starr, is on the board of American Spectator and Director of Amer Spectator Educ Foundation (rec'd $345,000 from Scaife in 1996), and is said to be responsible for firing Spectator publisher Ron Burr who wanted to audit Scaife's Arkansas Project at AS, yet Olson was put in charge of Spectator's in-house probe of the Arkansas Project. Ted Olson is a board member of the CIR (an employer of Ann Coulter, a member (along with Kenneth Starr) of the Legal Advisory Councils of two groups, National Legal Center for the Public Interest (received $75,000 from the Sarah Scaife Foundation in 1997 and $30,000 from the Scaife Family Foundation in 1997), and the Washington Legal Foundation (received $75,000 from the Scaife Carthage Foundation and $100,000 from the Sarah Scaife Foundation; source on these two groups : EditWest).
Roger W. Peters
“Morality in Media” [info to come]
“Former federal prosecutor.” [info to come]
Head of the National Assocation of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Fairly consistently anti-Starr.
Arthur Charles Raul
Washington lawyer, former Reagan White House counsel during Iran-Contra investigation, consistently pro-Starr, anti-Clinton.
Host of "Rivera Live" on CNBC, arguably the best tit-for-tat show on the Clinton-Starr Wars. Rivera, a former attorney himself, does his homework and he's tough as nails on Starr.
ABC’s “This Week with Sam & Cokie.” Married to Steve Roberts, daughter of legendary Demo Congressional leader Hale Boggs. Used to be fairly feisty reporter about 10-15 years ago. Now Miss Smug.
New York Daily News. Married to Cokie Roberts. Was fired by US News & World Report under James Fallows' aegis, reasons unknown (Fallows himself fired by US News in June 1998).
Top editor at Insight Magazine (owned by Sun Myung Moon). Insight invited Paula Jones to WH Correspondents Dinner 1998. Also said to be responsible for the Arlington Cemetary hoax. Publicized surveillance videotapes of Governor Roy Romer. "In Sights" better title.
Professor of Law, Georgetown University. Hard to tell whether he says what his host wants to hear or shoots straight. More often than not critical of Starr.
Columnist NY Times. Speech writer for Nixon and Agnew. Fiercely anti-Clinton : “Where there’s smoke, there’s Safire." Famous for harping on Hillary Clinton. Much of his work as a columnist has been in the service of Israel's Likud Party. His disaffection from George Bush was largely due to Bush's relatively harsh treatment of the Shamir government. Did a good job probing Bush's involvement in arming Iraq ("Iraqgate"). Said by some to act as a message-bearer for the present Netanyahu government.
Washington Bureau Chief of CNN. Has often knocked Clinton in his "journalist panel" commentary but has shown occasional moments of frank self-reflection regarding out-of-control news media.
Appears often on MSNBC. "Republican Consultant." Was fair and objective until Gingrich launched his verbal tirade in April 1998. Now Jay has gone far afield into pro-Starr territory.
"MSNBC political analyst," "GOP political adviser," "Former advider to Bob Dole." Strongly anti-Clinton, pro-Starr.
CNN news anchor.
Former WH counsel to Pres. Clinton. Soft spoken, reasonable, pro-WH.
LA Times reporter, one of the regular writers on the Clinton scandals.
Chicago Tribune. Argues against Starr's tactics. Doesn't like Dan Burton's style either.
Host of Fox News Sunday, subs in on Rush Limbaugh's radio show. Was involved in getting Linda Tripp and Lucianne Goldberg together. Thanks, Tony.
“Criminal defense attorney.” Probably one of the most reasoned and objective commentators on television talk news shows. Very down to earth, common sense type of guy. Consistently anti-Starr and somewhat pro-Clinton within the Clinton-Starr debate, but only insofar as Clinton is an individual citizen with rights like the rest of us. Recently debated conservative Ann Coulter on CNN and asked her point-blank why she was “so hateful towards Clinton” to which she rolled her eyes at him. Spence has also suggested (as has TRNP) that the news media should be held ethically if not legally accountable for publishing illegal Grand Jury leaks because they are analogous to “stolen contraband.” Gerry's new book is called "Give Me Liberty."
Former WH adviser to Pres. Clinton, marketed himself into position as commentator on ABC’s “This Week with Sam and Cokie.” Peter Principle in action. Says what Cokie and Sam and Bill want to hear. Between George and that Morris character, we have the essence of "spun" personalities.
Author of “Blood Sport,” an anti-Clinton chronology, persistently anti-Clinton.
Host of MSNBC “NewsChat.” Far more reasonable host than John Gibson who interrupts callers and chews up their 20 seconds with his own opinions.
“Former federal prosecutor.”
Former prosecutor and currently a defense attorney. Pro-BC, anti-Starr with an accent on the latter. Effective debater, well informed.
"MSNBC legal analyst," "Attorney," "Law professor" (where?). Usually argues anti-Starr.
Relectantly turned down Starr job offer to be his official spokesman, decided to remain unofficial. National Journal columnist who drew his editor's wrath with his asteroidal close-call over the Starr offer. Strongly pro-Starr and pro-Paula Jones. Collaborated with Michael Isikoff to resurrect Jones in Newsweek cover story. A key player in early developments that turned the Jones complaint into a federal case , leading to the present impeachment inquiry. Seems mild and unassuming on air. He's not.
Deputy managing editor, Newsweek. Works closely with Isikoff on pro-Jones stories. Thomas was largely responsible for the pursuit of the trivial story about Admiral Boorda's medal, a story that turned out to be weak on the facts but which, in the meantime, led to Boorda's suicide.
See Joseph diGenova to whom she is married and with whom she works as a team. (see diGenova entry above for more on Victoria)
Time Magazine. Fairly neutral observer, well-informed.
Law professor at George Washington University. Known for founding Project for Older Prisoners (POPS), his official biography says "Turley has been a leading force for sentencing and prison reform in the United States. He has worked with various state legislatures on new approaches to prison overcrowding and continues to speak before industry groups ... POPS encourages legislatures to release low-risk prisoners to help relieve overcrowding and improve prison conditions."
When it comes to the impeachment debate, many say Turley is too pompous by half. He was invited by GOP majority on House Judiciary Committee (11-9-98) to lecture us about how an impeachment trial of President Clinton in the Senate would be "Constitutional redemption." His arguments are consistently anti-Clinton and pro-Starr.
But Turley has a big hidden agenda : He has clashed with the Clinton Administration offstage over "environmental crimes" at the secret Air Force base called Area 51. An environmental activist with GWU's Environmental Law Advocacy Center (funded in part by Barbra Streisand), Turley regards the human health consequences of hazardous waste disposal at Area 51 a crime and has defended injured workers exposed to toxins at Area 51 on a pro bono basis. His grandfather was a mine worker who died of black lung, hence perhaps his fervor to defend injured workers at Area 51 exposed to toxic smoke from burning expended toxic materials that can't be taken off base for security reasons. Has expressed enmity for Clinton for being the head of an administration that upholds the secrecy. Apparently has a naive view of how government works, personalizes everything to Clinton. Reportedly very careful when he moves around the Broom Lake area of Nevada because he is convinced he is being followed by military investigators. Very protective of his clients ("John Does") whom he believes the government wants to haul in for revealing national security info.
The Washington Post reported that "A few months after Turley sued the EPA, environmental officials conducted their first-ever inspection of Area 51. It was a victory, but a hollow one." Turley said that the Air Force, "backed by Clinton, " refused to disclose the results of the inspection -- meaning the workers couldn't know what hazardous wastes might have been incinerated there so they can seek proper medical treatment. Turley wants disclosure, disclosure, disclosure about the most secret place on earth.
The Washington Post, 7-20-97, describes this scene :
Turley represents more than 25 workers at Area 51 who claim that they were injured there. The government contends there is no "there" there.The Post reported that Stewart L. Udall, secretary of the interior during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, shares Turley's obsession with trying to penetrate government secrecy to get the truth about "environmental crimes." "I don't like to be discouraging, but I fought these lawsuits for 15 years and we failed" because the government consistently raises "national security." Said Udall, "You have to ask which is more important : grave damage to this vague concept of 'national security' or grave damage to American democracy?"
As a condition of conducting the interview [with his client], Turley says we can't describe the man or his work in any way. The lawyer believes the Air Force's Office of Special Investigations (OSI) is trying to photograph or otherwise hunt down the "John Does," to bring charges against them for breaching national security.
Turley paces nervously, drawing aside the curtains on the room's only window, checking the peephole at the door. He turns up the television -- a precaution, he says, against electronic eavesdropping.
"I'm sure the room's clean but that window bothers me," he says. Laser microphones can pick up conversations from vibrations on glass, even from the ice in a drink. Turley keeps up on spook technology. He once did a stint in the general counsel's office of the National Security Agency.
At Mr. Turley's office at George Washington University, a federal court order is posted on the door : students and others are not allowed to enter because the government says Turley's files hold documents that are classified.
A story in the Las Vegas Review Journal, 11-6-97, was headlined "Lawyer Hopes to Take Area 51 Dangers Public." Turley has had a national spotlight on him for nine months as a star of the impeachment debate, yet has said not a word about Area 51 on the air when he might easily try to interweave his perceived view of Clinton's nefariousness about Area 51 with the need to remove him as President for his "crimes." Here is what he was saying only a year ago to the local press in Nevada :
Turley alleges the government violated federal environmental laws by its open burning of hazardous chemical wastes at the base. "If American people knew what is stored at Area 51, they would be outraged," he said after the hearing. "It has nothing to do with national security." In an interview on the courthouse steps, Turley said President Clinton is the first president in American history to cover a crime by making a national security declaration to block a trial. "There is no question President Clinton is responsible," he said. "President Clinton was given a formal briefing (on the burning at the base)."
When Turley argued the case before an Appeals court, he was chastised by the judge who said Turley should not make arguments about the "cosmic significance" of the case. This is reminiscent of his "Constitutional redemption" rhetoric when he appeared before the House Judiciary Committee in November 1998 to argue with grandiosity for Clinton's impeachment and removal from office.
None of this Nevada stuff is ever mentioned on air about him, nor do any of his biographies mention his legal battles over Area 51. Instead, he's presented as a "law professor" and that's it. Called a "liberal" by the Washington Post, he says he voted for Clinton but has obviously taken a sharp turn away , arguing against Clinton's position in other areas, never mentioning Clinton regarding Area 51 on air where he might gain sympathy for his cause from a huge audience. He is pro-Starr on every issue, arguing for Starr with more depth than a mere grudge against BC. He has therefore become a fave of the right.
Turley drafted a letter supporting Starr's position that the Secret Service should be forced to testify in the Lewinsky case. The Secret Service maintained that such disclosure would lead to an assassination. The Supreme Court ultimately aligned with Starr on this issue.
The Post story quoted Turley as saying, "Clinton doesn't want these crimes [at Area 51] made public. ... When we finally prevail in this case and the truth comes out, I think the public is going to want to burn the Justice Department to the ground -- followed quickly thereafter by the White House." This vindictive sentiment is completely unspoken when Turley pronounces his lofty opinions about how the President should be canned by the House for "impeachable offenses." Clearly he is biased in his view as few others are, even the most overtly conservative of Clinton's opponents such as Rep. Bob Barr.
Jonathan Turley has an ax to grind -- perhaps a worthy one, even if he may be psychologically motivated by his grandfather's black lung death and given to exaggerated rhetoric and what appears to be a developing paranoia, perhaps with real enemies -- but he has gone after Clinton in a completely indirect manner and his way of sharpening his ax is about as passive-aggressive as one can imagine.
Also see "Turley's Gig" in The New Republic, 12-8-98.
"Former federal prosecutor," also called "GOP consultant." Walpin is an important member of the Federalist Society, an ultra-conservative lawyers group mentioned above under "Olson." Other Federalist Society members include Kenneth Starr, Theodore Olson, Joseph diGenova and Barbara Toensing, appeals court judge Laurence Silberman, Sen. Orrin Hatch, and the man who is head of the Christian Coalition. Walpin is the head of a special litigation project at the Federalist Society. As noted under "Olson" above, the Federalist Society receives donations from Richard Mellon Scaife. Walpin is glib, pro-Starr.
MSNBC, cool-looking dude who "monitors MSNBC online chat board." ID'd as associated with New York Online. He "reports on chat" in MSNBC's chat room and does a good job summarizing contents. Hopefully, Mr. Wasow and MSNBC will someday investigate and/or report on the phenomenon that chat rooms and phone polls appear to be disproportionately representative of conservative views, that is, disproportionate in comparison to scientific polls of the public at large.
Director of the conservative Rutherford Institute [See detailed info on this org in "Elder at the Gates"] which backrolled the Paula Jones case, Whitehead is the leading spokesman for Paula Jones. Famed for lying to national news talk television audiences when he said, “Clinton touched her [Paula's] genitals.” This allegation had never been made in all the four years of lead-up to the formal filing of her charges and appeared nowhere in her civil suit charges which were thrown out by Judge Wright on April 1, 1998. Yet Whitehead made this statement twice since then in an effort to stir up public furor against Clinton during the period the case will be appealed and to taint the jury pool should the case ever come to trial. A slanderer who recyled an old and firmly denied story about a Clinton "rape" on Chris Matthews' "Hardball" in August 1998. Profiled on "60 Minutes" (Oct 4, 1998). He'll toss in anything he can think of to slur Clinton. A leader in the Reconstructionist Christian movement that wants to replace American civil and criminal law with "the law of God."
Conservative columnist , commentator on ABC’s “This Week with Sam & Cokie.” Steel fist in a velvet glove, delivers deep undercuts. What a waste of good brains on tricky intellectualism, known to the Greeks as "sophistry." However, after the "November Surprise" elections 11-3-98, Will waxed realistic and wrote (paraphrased) that "government has been attacked and attacked and government won."
"Criminal defense attorney." Concerned about Starr's effect on judicial system.
Washington Post. Main claim to fame was his half of the Woodstein team that cracked Watergate. Downhill since then, now a glorified (over-rated) gossip reporter, demonstrated by his story about Jean Houston and Hillary Clinton a couple of years ago, absurdly implying "seances" and trashing the reputations of two exceptional women. His career parallels descent of modern journalism in general. Exception : He and Bernstein came out against Starr's tactics in August 1998, about 4 years too late.
Writer for the conservative American Spectator, once financed in part by Richard Mellon Scaife.
“Former independent counsel” (object of investigation to be identified, believe it was the probe into Bush White House pawing over Bill Clinton's passport; this to be verified). Fairly consistently anti-Starr and pro-Clinton within the Clinton-Starr debate.
NOTES : TRNP is biased in our review of talk news. We favor fairness, due process of law and the Bill of Rights. We are more anti-Starr than pro-Clinton. We believe Ken Starr's investigation, culminating in the pornographic Starr Report, has been aimed toward a bloodless coup now evolving in Congress. The Starr Report on the Lewinsky matter was a pretense: 1) to get the far right's foot in the impeachment door so as to gather into one basket all the older "-gates" (already dug into inconclusively by Starr and Congress and by self-appointed independent counsel Larry Klayman); 2) to fish around further under the perilous process of impeachment (implying each charge to be "impeachable") with intent to cripple the President.
We believe the print media as well as radio and television "talk news" shows have by and large (many, not all) collaborated with Starr and Congressional GOP leadership to promote their own commercial ends. We notice (since early Oct 1998) they are becoming somewhat equivocal as they perceive the outlines of awesome GOP majoritarian partisanship about to jam impeachment down the throats of a majority of Americans.
There are a few good debaters against the Starrian position whose agendas are fairly easily discerned; former WH counsel Lanny Davis is an example. But the agendas, activities, and axes to grind of those who vigorously defend Starr's actions are hidden and far less visible. Almost none of this information is given on the air; when someone tries to speak up and blurt out this information (as happened once on Rivera to Mark Garegos), they are cut off. If the media insist on giving these people the most powerful forum on earth to mouth their opinions ex cathedra , a Guide like this is needed.
This list is a start. Some names are missing because we don't yet know much about the backgrounds of some pundits. Titles in quotes are the labels you see flashed momentarily under faces with no further ID mentioned. Write to TRNP with corrections and additional information. You have your own opinion. This Guide is our opinion, intended to wake up consumers of "talk news " to pay attention to who populates the Starr vs. Clinton "media trial "--and what sorts of ideological baggage they carry not revealed by the media who present them with straight faces.
More research is being done on groups like the media-focused conservative Independent Women's Forum (IWF) funded by Richard Mellon Scaife ($450,000 1994-1997) for which Ken Starr had offered to serve as a pro bono lawyer to file a Supreme Court amicus brief for Paula Jones in 1996. Keep an eye on the "stealth spokesmen for Ken Starr" who often (coincidentally?) happen to be members of the IWF or other Scaife-funded groups.
See more about IWF in the entry on Barbara Olson. IWF appears to be part of Starr's (and certainly Scaife's) media propaganda machine. In the small-world department, according to the reporting of Joe Conason of the NY Observer, Rosalie Silberman, wife of Appeals Court Judge Laurence Silberman (who sat on the 3-judge panel with Judge Sentelle that appointed Ken Starr as IC) is, along with her husband as well as Barbara Olson and American Spectator board member Ted Olson, socially close to Ken Starr. Mrs. Silberman was the individual who asked Starr to take on the amicus brief for Ms. Jones.
The incestuous nature of Starrian interconnections does not necessarily show a "conspiracy" but it does show an alignment of common agendas, all steered along passively (and sometimes actively) by the mainstream newsmedia. We know the Clinton White House has their propaganda machine, too, but the press is aware of this and naturally resists it in nearly every sentence of coverage by way of "unmasking government abuses." Mr. Starr is part of government yet the media have -- until recently and too late (as of Oct 1998) -- treated this mass of government power with kid gloves. The conservative propaganda machine is stealthy and one to which the media too easily lies down (and doesn't inform the public). This "accidental alliance" among the Starrians, the Scaifians and the Newsoids is probably the tip of the iceberg. Is America the Titanic?
Notes dated October 1998.