Accuracy in Media

Larry Klayman’s Judicial Watch has been conducting depositions in the FBI Filegate case, trying to determine which current and former White House officials had or have access to FBI files on Republicans. In mid-April, Klayman revealed that President Clinton’s lawyers, who had hired private investigator Terry Lenzner, had intervened in the case to stop Lenzner from disclosing who he was investigating and how he is doing it. Lenzner also refused to answer a question about whether he had been asked to use information from FBI files against opponents of the Clintons. This is extremely significant given the fact that two former FBI officials, Larry Potts and Howard Shapiro, are now working for Lenzner.

These extraordinary revelations came 8 days before NBC’s Dateline program aired a story about the use of private investigators by political campaigns. Incredibly, reporter David Bloom ignored all of these disclosures, making it appear that Clinton’s use of private investigators was in the past. He said that President Clinton’s campaign operatives had used a private investigator in the 1992 campaign to “look into allegations by women claiming to have had affairs with Mr. Clinton.” Former Clinton adviser Dick Morris was briefly interviewed, saying he thought this kind of practice would backfire. But he also anticipated the day when every political campaign would employ a private investigator. Bloom said Morris believed that such operatives wouldn’t be hired outright by the campaigns but by “prestigious law firms” representing the candidate.

That almost perfectly describes Clinton’s outside counsel, David Kendall of Williams and Connolly and Bob Bennett of Skadden, Arps. Yet NBC’s Dateline completely ignored the fact that the president and his lawyers were engaging in the very behavior that they were supposed to be scrutinizing.

Instead, Jane Pauley, in her introduction of the piece, made it appear as if President Clinton was a victim of such practices. She declared, “Where should a politician’s life end and his private life begin? Certainly that’s one of the issues at the heart of President Clinton’s recent troubles.” But Clinton has been the subject of an investigation by an independent counsel, not a private investigator. It turns out that Clinton, through his law firms, is the one who is using a private investigator to go after his enemies. This is the story that Dateline suppressed.

Dateline also ignored a new development in this scandal – the leaking by the Pentagon of confidential but misleading information on Linda Tripp, the woman who came forward with details about the Monica Lewinsky affair. Tripp’s lawyer has said that she fears losing her job because of her role as a whistleblower in the Lewinsky affair, although Secretary of Defense William Cohen claims there is no plan to fire her.

Former Clinton adviser Dick Morris recently wrote that the treatment of Tripp lends new credibility to allegations “that the White House’s possession of confidential FBI files on GOP leaders and potential adversaries was no “mistake’..[and that there is] mounting evidence of a secret police at the White House’s beck and call…” Larry Klayman of Judicial Watch calls it a “private CIA.”

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