On October 26, ABC's political newsletter The Note included in its daily list of "Must-Reads" a column by American Spectator founder and editor-in-chief R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. -- originally published by the Spectator on October 18 and reprinted by The New York Sun on October 26 -- that, as Media Matters for America previously documented, advanced an anonymously sourced allegation that Hillary Rodham Clinton eavesdropped on a phone conversation involving Bill Clinton's political opponents during his 1992 presidential campaign. Sen. Clinton's (D-NY) presidential campaign has said the allegation is "categorically untrue."
In the book Her Way: The Hopes and Ambitions of Hillary Rodham Clinton (Little, Brown & Co., June 2007), co-authors Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta Jr. cited a single anonymous source to claim that during the campaign, Hillary Clinton "listened to a secretly recorded audiotape of a phone conversation of Clinton critics plotting their next attack." Gerth and Van Natta wrote that "Bill's supporters monitored frequencies used by cell phones, and the tape was made during one of those monitoring sessions" and described the tape as having been "obtained under questionable circumstances." According to the endnotes of Her Way, Gerth and Van Natta's only source for this claim is an "[a]uthor interview with former campaign aide present at the tape playing in 2006." As Media Matters noted, in his column, Tyrrell did not address the sourcing of the allegation or note the Clinton campaign's response that "[t]he story is categorically untrue." Tyrrell wrote:
This week it was reported in the authoritative Capitol Hill newspaper, The Hill, that Don Van Natta Jr. and Jeff Gerth included some unsavory news about Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in Her Way, their recent book on her. Hillary, during the 1992 presidential campaign, "listened to a secretly recorded audiotape of a phone conversation of Clinton critics ..." Washington observers appeared shocked. Mein Gott, where have they been all these years? The Clintons have engaged in brute behavior for decades, much of it a matter of record.
Tyrrell's columns are regularly published by The New York Sun, of which he is a contributing editor.
Additionally, as Media Matters noted, The Note itself highlighted the eavesdropping allegation on October 16 by linking to the Hill article that Tyrrell referenced, published that day, headlined "GOP targeting Clinton on phone-call snooping." The Hill article quoted an anonymous "GOP official" accusing Clinton of "hypocrisy" because she allegedly eavesdropped on political opponents but opposes the Bush administration's efforts to expand the government's authority to conduct electronic surveillance of communications involving people in the United States without a warrant. The Note said of the Hill article, "Here comes the next piece of the RNC assault on Clinton," and added: "Republican source tells The Note that the Arkansas Republican Party today will be asking the state attorney general to investigate that allegation." The Note made no mention of the sourcing of the allegation. The Drudge Report website then linked to The Note with the headline "GOP Asks Arkansas AG to Investigate..." As Media Matters noted, on October 17, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported on (subscription required) legal impediments to the Arkansas Republican Party's effort to have Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel investigate Clinton's purported eavesdropping. According to the Democrat-Gazette, "There were at least two problems with the complaint, however. The law that [Arkansas] GOP Chairman Dennis Milligan said that now-U.S. Sen. Clinton of New York may have violated [during her husband's 1992 presidential campaign] wasn't on the books until 1993. And the complaint was filed 14 years too late."
In addition to its link to Tyrrell's column, The Note has in the past eight days highlighted among its list of "Must-Read[s]" an October 23 Boston Herald editorial on the Clintons' "off-loading of Socks," their cat, and, on October 18, an October 17 column by American Spectator senior editor Quin Hillyer titled "Crooked Hillary." The column claimed that there was a "vast record of Hillary's joint misdeeds with her spouse" but, as Media Matters noted, offered false or misleading examples as evidence of these purported "misdeeds." For instance, Hillyer falsely asserted that "the Clintons both benefited financially" from Whitewater -- a failed land deal in which the Clintons actually lost money, according to a report prepared for the Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC) by the law firm Pillsbury, Madison, and Sutro.