Journalist's affidavit against White House aide stirs ire p.12

By: Kelvin Childs A journalist's affidavit that White House aide Sidney Blumenthal leaked denigrating comments about Monica Lewinsky at a private lunch ? an account at odds with Blumenthal's deposition in the presidential impeachment trial ? drew anger and condemnation from journalists who hold to the rule that you never burn a source.
"I think it's outrageous," says Jack Nelson, chief Washington correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, of Christopher Hitchens' filing the affidavit. "I think he violated a friendship and violated a professional code."
Hitchens, who writes for The Nation and for Vanity Fair magazines, stated that he and Blumenthal had lunch March 19. During the lunch, the affidavit states, Blumenthal called Lewinsky a "stalker" several times and said Clinton was "the victim of a predatory and unstable, sexually demanding young woman." Hitchens further declared that Blumenthal had repeated those remarks to other journalists.
Hitchens did not return a phone call asking for comment.
Clinton is on trial before the Senate on a House indictment of perjury and obstruction of justice. The obstruction of justice charge accuses him of making false and disparaging comments about Lewinsky to Blumenthal and other aides with the expectation the aides would repeat those comments to a grand jury.
In his deposition Feb. 3 to the Senate, Blumenthal testified that he did not discuss with anyone a conversation he had with Clinton about Lewinsky shortly after Clinton's extramarital affair became public. He further testified he had no knowledge of any White House effort to smear Lewinsky.
In a statement, Blumenthal's lawyer, William A. McDaniel Jr., says, "Mr. Blumenthal's grand jury testimony was true and any implication or statement to the contrary is mistaken."
Andrew J. Glass, senior Washington correspondent for Cox Newspapers, questions the timing of the disclosure. "Why now, other than to stir the pot?" Glass asks. "If this was a legitimate story last weekend, it was when the Starr report was released."
Jules Witcover, a political columnist for the Baltimore Sun, also questions Hitchens' timing. "He seems to be a bit of a publicity hound. He seems to be reveling in it," Witcover says.
Witcover also is dismayed that Hitchens filed an affidavit. "I wonder whether he understands the code of not revealing your sources," Witcover says. "It seemed that it didn't take much for him to tell," although other journalists have been subpoenaed and gone to jail to uphold the code.
At The New York Times, Michael Oreskes, Washington bureau chief, says: "We don't talk about our sources. We don't talk about our sources even if our sources talk about us."

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