Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Starr: I Goofed on Press Access

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Starr: I Goofed on Press Access

Article excerpt

If Kenneth Starr knew then what he knows now, he would have hired a public information officer to give the press broad access to his investigation of the scandals surrounding President Clinton rather than briefing a few selected reporters.

"I think we handled the press quite poorly in that we decided we would carry on as we had before and not hire a public information officer because we understood our duties to be temporary," the former independent counsel told an overflow crowd of journalism students and others at Northwestern University Feb. 21. "It was a mistake not to have created a more systematic function. The public interest certainly would have been better served if we had, when appropriate, made more information available."

The remarks were Starr's first public evaluation of the press' role in the investigation into the Whitewater, Filegate, Lewinsky, and other scandals that he took over in 1994. Press interest was always intense, Starr said, but it became overwhelming with the revelation of Clinton's sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky.

As the scandal revelations unfolded, the White House in particular and Democrats in general frequently accused the independent counsel's office of improperly leaking information to a few reporters. …

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