When onetime White House intern Monica S. Lewinsky broke her silence with a major speech this week, one subject brought her nearly to tears.
Lewinsky's voice cracked as she recalled the moment in January 1998 when she was first confronted by FBI agents and lawyers working for Kenneth W. Starr's Office of Independent Counsel, who threatened her and her mother with criminal prosecution if she did not agree to wear a wire against President Bill Clinton.
Lewinsky, now 41, has long felt that she was mistreated by authorities in the 12-hour marathon session, which began as an ambush at the food court at the Pentagon City mall and then moved to a hotel room at the mall's adjoining Ritz-Carlton hotel.
Sounds pretty bad, right? I mean, this behavior has to be a gross violation of Ms. Lewinsky's constitutional rights.
When first approached at the food court and told that she was the subject of a criminal investigation, Lewinsky immediately told an FBI agent to "go f--- yourself" and then told him to speak to her attorney, according to the report.
She agreed to go with the agents to a room at the adjoining Ritz-Carlton only after she was told that she would learn more about the situation without an attorney present.
For hours, according to the report, Lewinsky tried "in various ways" to consult with, speak to or visit Frank Carter, a lawyer she had hired to assist her when she was [previously] deposed in the Paula Jones [civil] sexual-harassment case against Clinton.
Of course, the right thing for a former White House aide to do when approached in a public place by an FBI agent is say, "Go f--- yourself."
Anyway, yet further down the page, for the minuscule number of readers still interested in a "news story" from the 1990's, we find this:
Lewinsky was told repeatedly that she could speak with whomever she wished but was then warned that her cooperation would become less valuable if she consulted with anyone, including Carter, before agreeing to assist prosecutors, the report says.
In exchange for her cooperation against Clinton, prosecutors offered her immunity from charges that she had lied in a sworn affidavit in the Jones lawsuit by falsely claiming she had not had an affair with Clinton.
Oh, OK. So what we have here, introduced by WaPo to quickly steer the reader to believe that the FBI all but beat a confession out of her, is this: Ms. Lewinsky, the daughter of a wealthy Beverly Hills couple, a full adult and a college graduate, was questioned in
a dungeon cell the Ritz Carlton about her charity work perjury in an affidavit submitted in court. The agents told her that, if she attempted to call anyone, she would be shot she could speak with anyone she wished, and that her dog would be killed if she left she was free to go anytime.
There is yet more to how this story is spun, but I think readers get the point by now. I might add that Ms. Lewinsky was never arrested, taken into custody or charged with anything whatever. I acknowledge that she was taken advantage of -- by the President of the United States. Wasn't I just hearing about a "war on women"?
Kent notes that the WaPo is generally more reliable and honest than "certain other major newspapers," and that is my experience as well. But its spin on the Lewinsky story, together its with spin on the Gallup poll story the day before, is a tip-off about how amazingly skewed against law enforcement the press in this country actually is.
Full disclosure: I know Ken Starr slightly and was a debate partner with him in a death penalty debate at the National Press Club several years ago. I am also friends with other members of the Independent Counsel staff that investigated the Clinton-Lewinsky affair.