Back In The U.S., Sex, Lies And Audiotape: p.15

By: Editorial Staff Hard News Goes Soft-Core
IT'S BEEN A wacky few weeks for the press. Here are some developments in recent press coverage of the White House sex scandal:
u An errant word. On Jan. 26, the Dallas Morning News printed, and almost immediately retracted, a story that Monica Lewinsky and President Clinton had been seen in a "compromising situation" in the White House by a Secret Service agent who was being deposed by independent counsel Kenneth Starr.
Two days later, it ran a story correcting the correction. Though no agent had been questioned, the paper said its original report was "in essence" true ? except for the word "compromising," which was corrected to "ambiguous."
u Tainted sources? Former White House aide Linda Tripp, who surreptitiously taped Lewinsky, may have violated Maryland law, which prohibits taping phone calls unless both parties consent, the Washington Post and New Yorker magazine reported. Tripp also tried to peddle a kiss-and-tell book about her White House days. Asking price: $500,000.
u Local angle. The Portland Oregonian, the local paper in Lewinsky's college town, reported that she had a long-running affair with a local teacher ? who happened to be married. She sensationalized stories about celebrities she knew and may have forged a letter on college stationery, the Oregonian reported.
The man, forced to go public, held a press conference to announce that Lewinsky bragged about having oral sex with a White House figure and that she was sexually obsessed.
u Fabric-ation? Reports that FBI agents seized a semen-stained dress from Lewinsky's Watergate apartment turned out to be greatly exaggerated. CBS News reported that the FBI found no DNA evidence on any clothing. And Lewinsky's lawyer said the closest thing to a dress she got from the White House was a T-shirt.
u Skin deep. Penthouse magazine has offered Lewinsky $2 million for "modest, semi-nude" photos ? and her story, of course. The magazine ? which seems to specialize in presenting peeks into the reputed objects of the presidential libido ? published a 1992 spread of Gennifer Flowers, along with her tale of Clinton romance, and a 1996 layout of presidential accuser Paula Corbin Jones.
u Lost in space. Though widely ignored during the scandal frenzy, a congressional report cleared the White House of allegations it sold Arlington National Cemetery plots.
u Tabloid connection. Politics does make strange bedfellows: David Kendall, best known as one of President Clinton's lawyers, also represents the National Enquirer, a supermarket tabloid that has made hay out of the latest affair. Typical headline: "Clinton's steamy sex sessions." Though Kendall's firm advises the tabloid on libel, editors say stories about Clinton are vetted by a different firm.
u No subborning here. In a refreshing burst of candor, the Oregonian apologized to readers for being late with scandal news, noting that its coverage appeared a day after the nearby Salem Statesman Journal had the story.
"Why didn't The Oregonian publish a story as soon as reliable news-service accounts were available?" public editor Michele McLellan wrote in a column. "The answer is short and embarrassing: The newspaper screwed up."
?(E&P Web Site: Htt://www. mediainfo. com) [Caption]
?(copyright: Editor & Publisher February 7, 1998) [Caption]


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