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1213 Bolton Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21217
November 23, 1998

Margaret Carlson

Dear Ms. Carlson:


Anyway,                                                        . I thought I’d send along some materials concerning a strange ongoing decision by the national press--the decision not to report Linda Tripp’s grand jury testimony contradicting Kathleen Willey’s claim that President Clinton groped and assaulted her.

Quite appropriately, Willey’s charges against Clinton received massive press coverage when she appeared on Sixty Minutes in March. As the enclosure dated November 2 recalls, a large number of major columnists immediately made it clear they believed every word Willey said.

Now, Tripp’s detailed, sworn testimony challenges Willey’s account--and readers of most major national papers and magazines have never been told that the testimony exists.

To state the obvious, I have no way of knowing what may have occurred between President Clinton and Mrs. Willey. But, when such wide attention is given to accusations, it is troubling when impeachment of accusers goes down a memory hole. Everyone still cites Tripp’s 1997 statement to Newsweek that Willey seem “joyful” after her encounter with Clinton. Now, when Tripp’s account of the matter is detailed and sworn, why are readers kept from hearing about it?

For the record, I’m no defender of Clinton’s sexual conduct, which I think has been reckless and disturbing. I think a good case could be made that his behavior is so troubling that he should be asked (or forced) to leave office.

But I also think there is a large difference between consensual conduct, and sexual assault. And the tendency betrayed by the press corps here--the tendency to cover up for accusers--has also been displayed in other areas that go beyond the matter of sex.

On my web site, THE DAILY HOWLER, I recently completed a set of articles about the press corps’ ongoing love affair with accusers. Why is it that readers of major publications are not told when an accuser is severely contradicted? By any normal standard, shouldn’t at least some attention be paid to the impeachment of a charge as serious as this?

I’m including a set of articles about the press corps’ surprising treatment of Tripp-on-Willey. For the record, the Post was the only major paper of which I am aware to report Tripp’s testimony when Starr released it. Post coverage has slid in this matter of late. These issues are covered in the enclosed materials.

To all intents and purposes, the public has never been told about what Tripp said. But there’s no excuse for burying her testimony. I think it’s well past time to try to deal with it.

I hope you find this to be of interest.

Yours truly,

Bob Somerby

Overview of materials (Tripp on Willey)

  1. The article dated OCTOBER 26 provides an overview of press coverage, to that date, of Tripp’s testimony concerning Willey.

  2. The article dated OCTOBER 5 describes immediate reaction to the release of Tripp’s grand jury testimony.

  3. The articles dated NOVEMBER 9, NOVEMBER 16: Updates on press coverage of the Tripp account.

  4. The article dated NOVEMBER 2: Review of press reaction back in March, when Willey appeared on Sixty Minutes.

  5. The SEPTEMBER 30 article describes press corps reaction when Howard Kurtz’s Spin Cycle seemed to describe a consensual event between Clinton and Willey.