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Caveat lector

11 February 1999

Life in this celebrity press corps: Keeping it all in the family

Synopsis: Time said Starr doesn’t trust Kathleen Willey. The press didn’t notice or care.

The ‘Process’ Begins
William Safire, The New York Times, 10/5/98

Waiting for Willey
Robert Novak, The Washington Post, 10/8/98

A Bit Player Gets a Bad Case of the Willeys
Viveca Novak, Time, 1/18/99

Those pundits! They’ve put their faith in their beloved, Faire Willey, through every step of this arduous process. Merciless indictments by the avenging Starr were predicted by some last fall:

SAFIRE (10/5/98): My surmise is that an indictment may be forthcoming about what was done to [Willey] by aides [of Clinton] after the alleged pass. Prosecutors, under Justice guidelines, tend to delay indictments until after elections.

Bob Novak could see what was coming too:

NOVAK (10/8/98): On the contrary, Kathleen Willey constitutes the other shoe that Ken Starr almost surely will drop soon. He continues to investigate her case, which is still before his grand jury.

Novak provided some comic relief later on in his column. He described what happened in the Starr grand jury when Clinton was asked about Faire:

NOVAK: When Jackie Bennett took up the questioning Aug. 17 and raised Willey’s complaints...that Clinton sexually harassed her in the Oval Office, the president’s tone and body language were transformed. No longer carefully parsing Lewinsky answers, he offered affirmative, declarative, even defiant answers.

To anyone but the lady’s vassals, that might be evidence that Faire spoke false. But up is down when a lady’s men ride great steeds in defense of her honor.

At any rate, months went by and not a peep from the avenging IC about Vile. Not a word of the “parallel case” concerning sexual harassment Novak said would be sent to the Congress. And wouldn’t you know it, there came the day when the knight’s own daughter would pen these remarks, written for all the world to see, right there in the pages of Time:

VIVECA NOVAK (1/18/99): House managers met to consider Willey as a witness. However, she may not be one for Starr himself. Sources tell Time he has had concerns about the veracity of some of her statements. He met with Willey after he sent his impeachment referral to Capitol Hill but apparently did not feel he could build a strong enough case to send a follow-up referral based on her allegations. [Our emphasis]

Really! “Concerns about the veracity of some of her statements!” Imagine that! If Viveca Novak was right about that, then even Starr now doubted the lady. Why, even her charge against Clinton might fall! No doubt word of this spread through the press!

But no, we’ve never seen a single word about what V. Novak wrote. None of the breathless pundits or scribes passed on her intolerable slander. Now Willey’s credibility lies right at the heart of at least four major ongoing stories. But no one dares mention what Viveca said--that even Starr thinks the lady speaks false.

Of course, here at THE HOWLER we have no way of knowing if Viveca had it right. Here at the DAILY HOWLER World Center, we can’t say what Starr thinks about Willey.

But we’d guess that, if Viveca had reported it different--if she’d said that Ken would soon indict--we’d guess that some of the faire lady’s men would have shouted the message from various turrets. We’d guess even a dad might have quoted a daughter, had that been what the daughter said...

Hey Bob! You’ve begun to remind us of Lear, back turned when a daughter speaks boldly!

One more time, for the record: Kathleen Willey’s credibility lies right at the heart of these significant, ongoing stories:

  1. The upcoming trial of Julie Hiatt Steele
  2. Pending charges against Nathan Landow
  3. The charge that “secret police” have threatened Willey
  4. The charge that a sitting president has committed an assault
Given these circumstances, is there any good reason why V. Novak’s statement wasn’t explored by the rest of the press? And again: is there any good reason why the public isn’t told about the striking things Linda Tripp said?