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Tuesday, September 23, 2008
MRC's Double Standard on Partisan Prosecutors
Topic: Media Research Center

A lengthy Sept. 23 NewsBusters post by Jason Aslinger defends Sarah Palin's decision to stonewall the "so-called" Troopergate investigation, citing "the obvious bias underlying the entire investigation" and "a series of biased statements" made by "[t]he democrat legislator in charge of the probe, Hollis French." That's a big flip-flop on the part of the Media Research Center, which a decade ago defended Clinton-era independent counsel Kenneth Starr from accusations that he was acting in a partisan manner -- and seem to indicate a partisan prosecutor was a good thing (at least, if that partisanship benefited conservatives).

A January 1998 CyberAlert, for example, complained that "Dan Rather has spent four years incessantly tagging Starr as 'the Republican special prosecutor.'" A September 1998 CyberAlert asserted that raising questions about Starr's conduct as a "White House diversionary strategy."

An April 1998 column by Brent Bozell was annoyed that "For years, liberal media figures have drubbed independent counsel Kenneth Starr as a partisan, carrying every James Carville attack, pointing fingers at Starr's speect as Pat Robertson's Regent University, his thoughts of filing an amicus brief in the Paula Jones case, his legal representation of tobacco companies and school choice advocates." He then jumped to Starr's defense by painting him as, if nothing else, less partisan than special prosecutors investigating Republicans:

But if the public doesn't know all the facts about Bill Clinton, how can they know all the facts about Ken Starr? How can a polling sample of 1,000 average Americans judge the fine legal points of the Starr team's (unknown) case?

[...]

Who do the people in these polling samples have to compare Kenneth Starr to? The media never asked about partisanship by Lawrence Walsh who indicted Caspar Weinberger four days before the 1992 election.

[...]

Nor was this a tactic whe media used for Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox, who invited Ted and Ethel Kennedy to witness his swearing-in ceremony in 1973, and loaded his staff with former aides of Robert Kennedy's Justice Department and people who ran for office as Democrats and served as chairmen of Robert Kennedy's 1968 presidential campaign. In all their stories questioning Starr, the networks have never once explored the partisanship of Starr's predecessors, whose partisanship was demonstrably more pronounced.

So, it appears that the MRC believes it was a bad thing for the Clinton administration to cite Starr's partisanship as a reason to be less than cooperative with his investigation because of his partisanship, it's a good thing for Palin to stonewall Hollis French. That just pretty much screams "double standard," doesn't it?


Posted by Terry K. at 2:25 PM EDT

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