Indis Hall of Fame: We Have a Winner!

The editorial page of the Wall Street Journal today enters Chatterbox’s Indis (i.e., Intellectual Dishonesty) Hall of Fame for its persistent refusal to make note in its coverage of Juanita Broaddrick’s rape allegations that a key corroborating witness has a serious potential grudge against Bill Clinton: Her father’s murderer had his sentence commuted by one Gov. Bill Clinton.

“You will note that my piece reported four witnesses,” the Journal editorial page’s Dorothy Rabinowitz writes Chatterbox today. Er, whoops, that’s right. (Previously Chatterbox had suggested that the existence of the additional witnesses had gone unreported until last week’s NBC broadcast. Chatterbox acknowledges and regrets this error.) These four witnesses told NBC they heard Broaddrick talk about the alleged rape around the time it allegedly occurred in 1978. Four witnesses is better than one, and the number does diminish, somewhat, the significance of any potential grudge that may be held by one of them. (Or, actually, two of them; Chatterbox will get to that in a bit.) Still, the Journal editorial page should have mentioned the potential grudge–if not in its initial story then in one of the two follow-ups that have appeared since–just as the Washington Post, the New York Times, and NBC News did in their more responsible coverage.

(This might be a good moment to review Chatterbox’s scoring procedure. The Journal’s editorial page scored one point for the original omission in its Feb. 19 piece; four points for the continued omission in two follow-ups; and six more points for every day of publication since the original offense. That’s eleven. Ten gets you into the Indis Hall of Fame. Twenty points gets you a faxed likeness of Joseph Stalin.)

Incidentally, in overlooking Rabinowitz’s mention of the four witnesses, Chatterbox also overlooked Rabinowitz’s inaccurate description of them. “They [i.e., NBC] had four witnesses giving corroborating testimony–citizens with nothing to gain [italics mine] and possibly much to lose by going public,” Rabinowitz wrote on Feb. 19. Nothing to gain? What about vengeance? One of these witnesses was Norma Kelsey, the woman whose father’s murderer had his sentence commuted by Gov. Clinton. (Kelsey is the only witness who allegedly saw Broaddrick on the day of the alleged rape, and witnessed the bruised lip, torn panty hose, etc.) Another was Norma Kelsey’s sister. Based on what we know, then, only two of these citizens can really be said to have “nothing to gain.”

Anagram update: William Tunstall-Pedoe, who maintains the Anagram Genius site (and whose own name sounds like an anagram for something else) informs Chatterbox that the author of the anagram praised in this space last week (see “Beyond ‘God’ and ‘Dog’ “) is one Martin Eiger. Apparently Eiger published his discovery in the November 1998 edition of the National Puzzlers’ League’s journal, The Enigma.

As a tribute to Mr. Eiger’s achievement, and to the distinguished reportage today ranked–by Dorothy Rabinowitz and several other New York University judges–as the 100 best works of 20th century journalism, Chatterbox offers the following anagrams for “Harvest of Shame,” CBS’s justly celebrated 1960 documentary on migrant workers (anagrams courtesy of Anagram Genius):

Hash Fearsome TV

Haves Hate Forms

Oh! Save the Farms

–Timothy Noah