Saturday Chatterdump

Ingratitude Watch, Part One: The Starr report pinpoints the Washington Post as the publication that broke the Monica Lewinsky story–not the Drudge Report, which dribbled out key portions of the story in the days immediately proceeding the Post piece, and which has been Starr’s staunchest media ally.

Ingratitude Watch, Part Two: Sidney Blumenthal is arguably Bill Clinton’s most ardent defender on the White House staff (and before that was surely his most ardent defender in the press, a role that actually entailed some personal sacrifice because it harmed his prestige within the journalism profession). Yet Clinton lied his head off to Blumenthal about his relationship with Monica, saying he rebuffed her sexual advances, and (in a sly appeal to Blumenthal’s intellectual vanity) comparing himself to the protagonist of Darkness at Noon.

Dick Morris is arguably Bill Clinton’s most disloyal sometime ally. He bad-mouths Clinton and, especially, Hillary, to the press all the time, schemed to write a tell-all memoir at the height of the 1996 presidential campaign, and caused that campaign intense embarrassment when his own romps with a prostitute turned up in the tabloids. Yet Clinton came closer to telling Morris the truth about his relationship with Monica than he did with anyone else we know about: According to Morris’ grand jury testimony, Clinton told him on Jan. 21, “I mean, with this girl, I didn’t do what they said, but I did…do something.”

Moral: Treat Clinton nicely and he’ll treat you badly. Treat Clinton badly and he’ll treat you nicely.

Offline Journalism Watch: Chatterbox tosses a Columbia Journalism Review-style Dart at the New York Times for failing to include footnotes in what it (falsely) calls its “Full Text of Findings Sent to Congress.” Far from being nitpicky and tedious, as the Times editors probably guessed, the footnotes are essential to understanding the document, since frequently it’s impossible to tell whose testimony is being quoted without consulting them. (Chatterboxes apercu watch would be impossible without frequently consulting the footnotes.) They are also often very entertaining. Chatterbox particularly covets Footnote 439, which quotes Monica’s letter draft to Clinton thanking him for Leaves of Grass (“All of my life, everyone has always said that I am a difficult person for whom to shop….”) and Footnote 445, wherein our heroine initially mistakes the now-famous semen stain on her cocktail dress for “spinach dip.”

Timothy Noah and Walter Shapiro