Taking the Intellectual Honesty Test

A friend writes in response to my post yesterday about the Libby case:

Agreed, but were you just as concerned about Ken Starr? Were the media also interested in discrediting an administration at that time? (This is the intellectual honesty test.)

And I respond:

The whole Clinton/Lewinski thing was a mess and truth be told, it probably would have been better for the country had it been kept private. But there are big differences between Clinton/Lewinski and the Libby case, such as:

1) Ken Starr was operating under a special prosecutor law. Starr had a constitutional basis for his activities and the corresponding legal controls. Fitzgerald does not, and often seems to act that way.

2) Clinton perjured himself, suborned perjury and admitted to doing so. Libby seems to have simply remembered insignificant details differently from reporters who have a clear interest in contradicting his testimony. Now even the prosecutor admits that much of what Libby supposedly lied about is irrelevant.

3) The press covered up the Monica Lewinsky story for months before Drudge put it out in public. Alternatively, the MSM has pushed the Plame thing from day one. They continue to publish the lies of Wilson as fact. They continue to report the Plame "outing" as if it were a crime, which even their own amicus brief to the court says was not. They continue to act as if the supposed outing was done by someone in the White House, which it clearly was not. And they continue to report the story as if the effort to discredit Wilson was a partisan witch-hunt, which would suggest that defending yourself against the lies of political adversary is criminal.

Wilson and Plame are guests of ABC News at the Washington Correspondents Dinner. Need I say more?

Frankly, if this whole thing had been reported honestly, it would have been a one week news story and been put to bed when everyone realized there was nothing there. Instead, it has been running for three years and included the destruction of a good career (Libby) and the jailing of an accomplished reporter (Miller). It clearly has done the most damage to the press – an institution that cannot afford to lose any more credibility.

So no, I don't think the cases are comparable. That said, I've never been a supporter of the Special Council provision or special council like prosecutors. The Republicans abandoned the concept after the Bush I witch-hunt. The Democrats abandoned it after the Clinton/Lewinski mess. If the powers that be in the press have any sense, they will soon give up on it, too.