The Starr Report: “We Left In The Salacious Parts Because The Public Has A Right To Know” – Past Daily Reference Room
The Starr Report – in case you missed it the first time around, a cliff-notes version via Wikipedia:
Originally dealing with the failed land deal years earlier known as Whitewater in 1994, Starr, with the approval of Attorney General of the United States Janet Reno, conducted a wide-ranging investigation of alleged abuses including the firing of White House travel agents, the alleged misuse of FBI files, and Clinton’s conduct during the sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former Arkansas government employee, Paula Jones. In the course of the investigation, Linda Tripp provided Starr with taped phone conversations in which Monica Lewinsky, a former White House Intern, discussed having oral sex with Clinton. At the deposition[clarification needed], the judge ordered a precise legal definition of the term “sexual relations” that Clinton claims to have construed to mean only vaginal intercourse. A much-quoted statement from Clinton’s grand jury testimony showed him questioning the precise use of the word “is.” Clinton said, “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is. If the—if he—if ‘is’ means is and never has been, that is not—that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement”.
After the four year investigation of Clinton, the Office of the Independent Counsel delivered its 445-page report to Congress on September 9, 1998.
For two days, the report sat unread in the Ford House Office Building as Democrats and Republicans in the House of Representatives debated what to do with it. On September 11, the House voted 363–63 to release the report to the public. When the report was uploaded to the internet, it became a sensation, with twelve percent of adult Americans — 20 million people — browsing the web at once to browse the document. “It’s probably the single highest number of people who have ever used the computer to access a single document,” David Webber of the Frank Luntz polling company told CNN.
Needless to say, nothing was redacted or held back out of fear of offending anyone, exposing the impressionable to lurid sexual descriptions or leaving anything to the imagination. What the American public got was the stuff of Jackie Collins; every word, utterance and depiction was on display in bodice-ripping detail.
The White House condemned the release as a very conscious smear of the Presidency and an embarrassment of Clinton in particular. The Republican Majority in the House voted unanimously to release the report and a call for Impeachment came days later. It seemed a strange twist, as the last big scandal involving a sitting President resulted in the impeachment of Richard Nixon, that it was now the Republicans turn to “impeach themselves a Democrat”. The spirit of IGEYSOB* was alive and well on Capitol Hill (*I’ll Get Even, You Son Of A Bitch).
Here is a one-hour commentary from National Public Radio on the release of the Starr Report from November 19, 1999.