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Special accusations edition

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Next: Monica vs. Bill

According to a forthcoming book by law professor Ken Gormley, Politico reports, "Lewinsky now believes Bill Clinton lied about their relationship during his grand jury testimony. 'There was no leeway [there] on the veracity of his statements because they asked him detailed and specific questions to which he answered untruthfully,' she wrote to Gormley earlier this year." Gormley also paints "a harsh portrait of [Ken] Starr as a man out of his depth and who lost all sense of proportion."

The author makes news on Susan McDougal: "Confirmation of a long-rumored romantic affair between Clinton and McDougal, an Arkansas woman who spent 18 months in jail for refusing to answer questions from Starr's prosecutors before a grand jury, and later received a presidential pardon from Clinton. Gormley writes he is now certain 'some intimate involvement did occur,' though he will not say precisely how he knows it to be true."

Conclusion: Fascinating if true. Lewinsky's comments are hardly surprising. And yet the whole thing must seem like ancient history to lots of folks, although not those of us who followed every twist and turn.

Next: The NYT-WSJ feud.

It began with this Times column by David Carr, saying that top Wall Street Journal editors under Rupert Murdoch are nudging the Washington news coverage to the right. Carr used a number of unnamed sources, and his report was anecdotal. Best example: that the pejorative phrase "death tax" was repeatedly used in an article about the estate tax, and not in quotes.

The Journal's top editor, Robert Thomson, responded with a blistering statement, calling the column "yet more evidence that the New York Times is uncomfortable about the rise of an increasingly successful rival while its own circulation and credibility are in retreat. The usual practice of quoting ex-employees was supplemented by a succession of anonymous quotes and unsubstantiated assertions. The attack follows the extraordinary actions of Mr. Bill Keller, the executive editor, who, among other things, last year wrote personally and at length to a prize committee casting aspersions on Journal journalists and journalism."

Casting aspersions? How did we miss this?

Turns out Keller wrote a letter to the Polk Committee, challenging a press release saying that after the Journal's award-winning series on the Three Gorges dam, "China acknowledged that it must relocate as many as 4 million people." This was wildly overstated, the letter said. Keller noted in closing: "We acknowledge that we call attention to it in part because it involves an entry that competed with one of ours. We don't know what action it might require on your part."

In the next round (you still with me?), the Journal released a letter to Polk, defending its work, by Marcus Brauchli, then the paper's top editor. Brauchli, now The Washington Post's executive editor, told Politico: "I have to say I wondered, since when do newspaper editors take it upon themselves to correct what they in their righteousness perceive as factual errors in other peoples' press releases? That must keep them very busy."

Conclusion: Journalists love to feud. Keller's letter had a respectful tone. The Journal is entitled to defend its work. And none of this proves that Carr was carrying out any kind of agenda.

Obama and the Left

Is the president inadvertently energizing the liberals? The Daily Beast's Reihan Salam thinks so:


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