Accuracy in Media

After Monica Lewinsky had been interviewed by House impeachment managers on February 1st, the news leaked out that there was nothing new, that Lewinsky had stuck to her previous testimony. This was portrayed as good news for Clinton and bad news for the case for impeachment and conviction. But Lewinsky?s previous testimony had included some dramatic information that we have talked about on this broadcast—the fact that she had said that President Clinton confided to her that their telephone conversations were being monitored by a foreign embassy. This surfaced for the first time on a Sunday talk show just one day before Lewinsky?s interview by those same House managers.

Fox News Sunday host Tony Snow cited that part of Lewinsky?s testimony in the Starr report and asked Senator Joseph Lieberman what he thought about it. Lieberman replied, “Yes. It?s worried me all along. It?s one of the parts of the story that not too many people have talked about.” When Lieberman attempted to go off on a tangent, Snow interjected, “Could that not have compromised national security?” The Senator responded, “It might have. I mean, as far as we know, thank God it did not. …And I don?t know what phone he was using and whether it was scrambled or not.”

Lieberman said it was part of the story that most people hadn?t talked about and yet, as far as we know, it did not compromise national security. But how on earth could he come to that conclusion? Have any official investigations been conducted into President Clinton as a security risk?

Later in the broadcast, Senator Orrin Hatch said he had been called by a former top Democratic Administration official who had seen the same part of the Starr report. He told Hatch that Clinton?s reference to a foreign embassy monitoring his phone conversations was “terrible,” and that “It?s the type of thing that could really compromise our country. It?s the type of thing that could allow foreign nations to be able to blackmail a person over. And he was very alarmed and very concerned when that happened.” Hatch said Clinton?s relationship with Lewinsky was clearly “reckless.”

For the first time on one of the Sunday talk shows, this issue had finally been raised. But it?s not enough to raise the issue and let it drop. Washington Post columnist James Hoagland mentioned it just a few weeks ago, and said that the Senate ought to take a hard look at it during Clinton?s impeachment trial. We agree. Both Clinton and Lewinsky ought to be asked about it, for the sake of the national security of the United States.

If Clinton was being monitored, that raises the issue of blackmail. If he wasn?t, and if his comment to Lewinsky was just another lie, that should be exposed as well. Clinton would probably deny he was under any kind of foreign surveillance, but that claim could not be taken at face value either. As Hoagland suggested, the Senate should take a hard look at this matter before dismissing the case against Clinton. And the media should not let this matter die.




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