A top administration official blasted the media Sunday, suggesting that they used "search and destroy, slash and burn" tactics by reporting allegations that President Bill Clinton had extramarital affairs while he was governor of Arkansas.
In his attack, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros said the charges by two of Clinton's former bodyguards were "uncorroborated allegations of two persons whose credibility is very, very questionable."
On the NBC News program "Meet the Press," Cisneros speculated what the motivation was for the reporting, and whether it was "to bring down the presidency."
"Or, on the other hand, is it just to search and destroy, slash and burn, and follow every lead that comes along about anyone in public life?" he asked.
Cisneros' counterattack was the strongest defense of Clinton and the harshest attack on the media by someone outside the president's family since two Arkansas state troopers raised the allegations Dec. 18.
Cisneros underwent scrutiny himself about allegations of extramarital activity while he was mayor of San Antonio, Texas.
State troopers Larry Patterson and Roger Perry said that while protecting Clinton when he was governor of Arkansas, they helped him arrange and cover up numerous extramarital sexual encounters.
The allegations, first published in a conservative political journal, American Spectator, and by the Los Angeles Times, were subsequently reported by other publications.
Hillary Rodham Clinton, the president's wife, denied the allegations as "outrageous" and said they "will end up in the garbage can."
Clinton has tried to remain above the fray. He denied he had telephoned troopers while president with job offers in exchange for their silence.
In his comments, Cisneros took careful aim at the media.
"What's the point of slashing up the president with three years to go in an administration when the American people voted for him knowing that he was not a perfect person; none of us is," he said. …