The Truth, Mainly - 02/23/1998

And still more Naughtygate innuendo, half truth and rumor
by Leon Satterfield

Oh sure, I know what they're saying about media coverage of Naughtygate. That it's full of sleazy innuendo, smarmy half truth, and unsubstantiated rumor. For example:

•The Wall Street Journal story that a White House steward said—in the supposed secrecy of the grand jury chamber—that he saw the President and Monica alone in a room where he later discovered Kleenex covered with lipstick and "other stains." But the steward said he didn't tell the grand jury that at all.

•Matt Drudge's internet report that Monica's dress had "dried semen" on it, a story he later told NBC was based only on "what I've just heard."

•The Dallas Morning News web site story that a Secret Service agent was about to testify he'd seen the President in "a compromising situation" with a young woman. After the story had been printed and broadcast many times, the News retracted it.

And so on.

A lesser investigative reporter might be intimidated by the negative reaction to all that, but I've run across some sleazy innuendo, smarmy half truth, and unsubstantiated rumor too juicy to keep to myself.

It took extensive research, too: I dug all the way down to p. A 11 of last Monday's New York Times.

But my sleazy innuendo, smarmy half truth, and unsubstantiated rumor isn't about the President, Monica, or even Monica's mother.

My sleasy innuendo, smarmy half truth, and unsubstantiated rumor is about the Special Counsel, Kenneth Starr, and I pass it along to revive your sated prurient interest. Remember, in keeping with Naughtygate tradition, I have no real knowledge of any of this.

So buckle your seatbelts.

Kenneth Starr, the Times says, "drew his inspiration from Richard Nixon."

Yes! Did you ever?

We don't have to spell it out, do we? We don't have to make explicit Mr. Starr's implied approval of Nixon's appalling profanity, his disgustingly dirty tricks, his astounding hypocrisy, his chilling enemies lists, etc., etc., etc.

This is the man who's investigating the morality of others? Let's be shocked.

And that's not all. The Times also reports that for two years, Mr. Starr was a student at Harding College in Searcy, Ark., where he was a classmate of Robert Rader, the very same Robert Rader who now represents Paula Jones in her suit against the President.

Coincidence? Or conspiracy? It's something to think about, folks.

And get this: In 1964 while Mr. Starr was a student there, Harding College was, according to the Anti-Defamation League, "the academic seat of America's radical Right."

It's all falling into place, isn't it?

But it gets worse. Or better, depending on your point of view.

Mr. Starr sat out the Vietnam War because he was classified 4-F—for what the Times calls his "chronic psoriasis." We all know what causes that, so there's no need to mention it in a family newspaper.

Heh, heh, as Rush Limbaugh would say.

Guess what else Mr. Starr did during the Vietnam War. Just guess.

No, he didn't inhale. Something much scarier than inhaling.

"Mr. Starr," the Times reports, "always wore a coat and tie."

A college student during the Vietnam War who always wore a coat and tie! Ring a bell? You know who else always wore a coat and tie during the Vietnam War?

J. Edgar Hoover. Mafia hit men. Richard Nixon. That's who.

And still more sleazy innuendo, smarmy half truth, unsubstantiated rumor.

When Mr. Starr jogs, he told a Christian men's group a couple of years ago, he always stops at a nearby creek "to sing a hymn and offer a prayer."

What would you think if you came upon a pudgy 51-year-old lawyer in running shorts and Nikes, sweat dripping off the end of his nose, standing alone by a creek offering a prayer, then singing "Shall We Gather at the River?"

You'd think it's time to give the boys at the booby hatch a call, that's what you'd think. And then you might start looking around for the bodies.

But all that pales alongside a revelation by Mr. Starr's 90-year-old mother, Vannie. Here I quote the New York Times quoting Time magazine quoting her saying that "her son's hobby in junior high school was 'polishing shoes.'" Sure he was going through puberty at the time, but has he been treated? Do the American people want someone with a shoe fetish passing judgment on our Chief Executive?

Or do I go too far? Do I myself overstep the bounds of fairness and decency?

It's dirty work messing about with sleazy innuendo, smarmy half truth, and unsubstantiated rumor, but as we in the media know, somebody's got to do it.


Lincoln English Professor Satterfield writes to salvage clarity from his confusion. His column appears on alternate Mondays.

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