Yahoo News correspondent Michael Isikoff is retreading old news to once again try to thrust Whitewater into the national political debate, continuing an obsession of his that dates back more than 20 years.
Isikoff dramatically touted the "first extensive public comments" made by Robert Fiske, the federal prosecutor initially appointed to investigate the failed Whitewater land deal, in which the Clintons lost money but were at first falsely accused of criminal conduct. Fiske spoke to Isikoff during a recent interview about his soon-to-be-released memoir and Whitewater, which Isikoff warned "seems likely to be revived by political foes if, as is widely expected, Hillary Clinton runs for president."
This is a convenient dodge for Isikoff, who has spent two decades helping political foes use Whitewater to try to bring down the Clintons.
But nothing in Isikoff's latest entry in his Whitewater saga about the Clintons is new.
"For years, the Clintons have sought to portray the entire investigation as a politically inspired witch hunt, pushed by partisans hunting for any ammunition they could find to damage the president and first lady," Isikoff wrote. "But the new account of Fiske, a pillar of the New York legal community, offers a more complicated picture."
Isikoff doesn't back that up.
In fact, Fiske himself undermined the claim that Whitewater could be used against Clinton, noting that he never uncovered any evidence that Bill or Hillary Clinton were connected to any crimes:
He describes how he had quickly uncovered "serious crimes" in the Whitewater investigation but that his probe was cut short after conservatives falsely accused him of a "cover up."
"There were indictments, there were convictions," said Fiske when asked about claims that there was "nothing" to the investigation. "People went to jail. There was never any evidence that was sufficient to link the Clintons to any of it, but there were certainly serious crimes."
Isikoff suggests that one new detail is Fiske's claim that he was prepared to bring indictments against individuals connected to the land deal. But this hardly noteworthy, given that it has been publicly known that indictments were brought against individuals connected to the land deal.
Isikoff even tries to revive the ancient news that billing records connected to the investigation were at one point found in the White House residence, an aspect of the story the right has long attempted to twist into a scandal.
"One of [Fiske's] first moves was to subpoena Hillary Clinton's law firm billing records," Isikoff writes, "documents that were later found under mysterious circumstances in the White House living quarters." What Isikoff never mentioned is that those billing documents actually backed up what Hillary Clinton had long maintained, that she did very little work for her law firm on behalf of the land deal -- nor does he note that Kenneth Starr, the investigator who ultimately replaced Fiske, found no evidence that the billing records were ever mishandled.
Isikoff's Yahoo News piece, devoid of relevant new facts, lacking in critical details, and filled with insinuations of wrongdoing that he actively undermines, is troubling given the praise conservatives media figures have showered him with for his inadequate Clinton reporting in the past. At one point in 1998, Sean Hannity spent four consecutive days lauding Isikoff for his reporting.
In contrast, Jeffrey Toobin, currently a legal analyst at CNN, told Salon in 2000 that Isikoff acted as "an uncritical water-carrier for the anti-Clinton forces."
It's a history worth remembering as Isikoff warns how Clinton's political foes might attack her.
Media coverage of nuclear power often suggests that environmentalists are illogically blocking the expansion of a relatively safe, low-carbon energy source. However, in reality, economic barriers to nuclear power -- even after decades of subsidies -- have prevented the expansion of nuclear power. While nuclear power does provide meaningful climate benefits over fossil fuels, economic factors and the need for strict safety regulations have led many environmentalists to focus instead on putting a price on carbon, which would benefit all low-carbon energy sources including nuclear.
Has any politician's imminent political rebound been (wrongly) foretold more often than George W. Bush's? Recall that throughout 2005, with Bush's approval ratings in free-fall, the media kept insisting he was just about to turn things around. He never did. David Broder, the dean of the Washington press corps, even predicted that Bush's handling of Hurricane Katrina would enhance his standing with the public. Oops. A year and a half later, Broder was at it again, writing that Bush was "poised for a political comeback." Didn't happen. And who could forget Chuck Todd's declaration that if Democrats took control of Congress in 2006, Bush's approval rating would hit 50 percent by the following July? Democrats did win Congress -- but Bush's approval rating barely cracked 30 percent the following July.
Now Yahoo! News and McClatchy have decided the time is once again ripe for George W. Bush to convince Americans he wasn't a complete disaster of a president after all. But in order to do so, they have to fudge a few things. Like this:
Oh, really? There's an "apparent shift in public opinion" of Bush? Let's just click through to the article and see what the evidence is:
Yahoo! News writer Brett Michael Dykes wrote:
Yet another controversy appears to be brewing around Fox News host Glenn Beck. Some are accusing him of a blatant conflict of interest concerning his frequent on-air promotion of an investment sold by one of his main advertisers: Gold.
For some time Beck critics have cried foul over his relationship with Goldline International, a precious metalsvendor that features the TV and radio host's endorsement prominently on their website. Critics charge that Beck is guilty of misleading his audience by often advising them to purchase gold in advance of the potential collapse of the value of the dollar on the world currency market, without disclosing that he is in fact a "paid spokesman" for Goldline. Beck's on-air promotion of gold, which includes advising viewers to construct "fruit cellars" and to rely on a "three G system" of "God, Gold, and Guns" in the event of America's collapse, dates back to his time as a host for CNN Headline News.
Dykes also wrote:
Beck's promotion of gold presents a potential problem for Fox News, which strictly prohibits on-air personalities from making paid product endorsements. Whencontacted by Daily Finance for a comment on the matter, Fox News senior vice-president for development Joel Cheatwood said the network "makes an exception for its commentators who are also radio hosts," adding that they knew upfront that hiring Beck came with the understanding that he was also a radio host and that they "had to be accepting of certain elements of that." Nevertheless, a Fox spokeswoman said that the company is addressing the matter with Beck's agent, George Hiltzik.