Larry King Live
Investigating the President: Ken Starr Fights Back
Aired June 16, 1998 - 9:00 p.m. ET
Corrected copy. This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight: Ken Starr fights back, defending the tips he's fed reporters about the Monica Lewinsky investigation. We'll hear from Steven Brill, whose magazine, "Brill's Content" exposed Starr; plus Clinton strategist and friend James Carville; in Los Angeles ABC News legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin; in New York the veteran Republican strategist, Ed Rollins; here in Washington, our very own Wolf Blitzer. What a panel all ahead on LARRY KING LIVE.
Good evening, if the gentlemen will excuse me, we'll spend our opening moments with Mr. Brill, but as based on all the news today on the Starr letter.
First, Steven on the new magazine, how did you and Mr. Starr get together for this interview? How was this arranged?
STEVEN BRILL, "BRILL'S CONTENT": I've known him for a long time and I called him some time in early April, as I was finishing, or I'm in the middle of my research for the article, and told him I needed to talk to him, he said, well he's usually only been talking to people on background and I said, well this interview has nothing to do with the substance of the investigation.
What it has to do is the press coverage and issues related to your relationship with the press, and Ken, I needed it to be on the record and he said, well, okay, we'll make an appointment and I want to see him, I think, on tax day, April 15th, and spent about, oh, I'd say an hour and a half with him.
KING: The interview was done in his office?
BRILL: In his office. We talked a little bit in the hallway after that and before that.
KING: Was anyone else there?
BRILL: For about 2/3 of it, his spokesman, Charlie Bakaly was there and I think, ironically, that was his first day on the job.
KING: Was it taped?
BRILL: No, it wasn't taped. I took notes as I was going along and my notes correspond directly with the quotes that are in the article, and as you know, Judge Starr hasn't disputed any of those quotes.
KING: And if there were a lawsuit, you do have notes that you could present because he semi-threatens that in the letter? I'll get to that in minute.
BRILL: Well, I think that's a little far-fetched, but sure, I do.
KING: But basically you do have the notes.
KING: What about those who are saying you and he were close friends and you, for want of a better term, stabbed him here?
BRILL: No, we weren't close friends. We've known each other for a while -- I think of us as friends -- I hope that when this is all over, I hope we can still be friends. This has been portrayed today, yesterday in the media as Ken Starr versus me or me versus Ken Starr.
I have no brief against Ken Starr, except some criticism with how he has conducted himself in this particular matter and I think, frankly, the press is focusing a lot and maybe Judge Starr is focusing a lot on this battle between me and him, when, in fact -- I think wolf would agree -- the more important points I'm trying to make in this article have to do with the press's coverage of these events.
Prosecutors have been leaking since they've been prosecutors. The issue is how the press deals with that kind of information? Are they skeptical about it or do they just run to the television or the typewriter and go with it.
KING: We will get Wolf into as well as our entire panel. A couple other things in that area. Were you surprised at a letter that begins from him to you -- it doesn't even mention your name, it just says editor.
BRILL: Well, I was a little bit surprised...
KING: Dear sir, let me read the opening line. Your reputation suffers grave damage with the publication of "Pressgate." It is reckless and irresponsible attack, bordering on the libelous. Rough opening.
BRILL: Well, sure it was. The first thing I was surprised was that I had to get the letter from CNN and I didn't get it from Judge Starr, even though it was addressed to me, until of 6:30 p.m., or 7:00 p.m. this evening, after I wrote him a hand note to and said to him that I can't publish it in my magazine as I intend to unless I know that he really meant for me to get it.
KING: You mean you got it from seeing it on CNN or did...
BRILL: No, I got it from CNN calling me for comment about the letter and I said, what letter? And then I got it from CNN, at about 3:00, 3:30 in the afternoon, 4:00 sometime about then. I prepared a brief statement as you know responding to it, as quickly as I could
and then I sent Judge Starr my statement, responding to it before I sent it to the press, with a note saying that if he needs me to publish the letter, he really ought to send it to me instead of having me get it from CNN.
KING: There are so many pages to this letter and there are other letters flying around today.
BRILL: It is kind of rough reading.
KING: You've got one from Dave Kendall of Williams and Connolly to Starr. This is getting to be kind of a war. Overall, though, he does say that you have treated him poorly. You've damaged him -- if he's not saying miss quotes, maybe he's implying that you came to see him for a philosophical discussion and wound up with a hammer job.
BRILL: Well, I think he's saying, frankly, something much more substantive that I didn't treat him the way he wanted to be treated. I think he's saying two things. First, he's saying and he's quoting some of the reporters -- saying that I've misinterpreted or mischaracterized what they said about the information that they got from him and as I responded to him in my statement.
And the easy way to clear that up, the simple way to clear that up, is for him to release logs of all the context he's had whether by telephone or in person -- that he and his deputies have had with all the reporters and tell us, in fact, what he told all of them and second, since he says in the letter that there is no significance to the fact that he did all of this in secret on background. He wasn't quoted on the record in any of these "briefings."
Then, what he could do is release all those reporters from the promises of confidentiality that he apparently extracted from them and I mentioned one of them, which is on the record, which is "The New York Times" explanation that they -- that early on, they were getting much of their information from him, but that they had been extracted with a promise that they had to keep all the sourcing confidential, so he could release everyone from those promises.
The second thing he says, Larry, is that he disagrees with my interpretation of the law, and that's not for me to fight with him about. I have a view of that, which I've expressed in the magazine. I have a reputation, as usually being pretty good about figuring out what the law is in disputed cases like this, but ultimately a judge is going to have to decide that.
KING: Since your magazine was as you told us before it started, it would look into the media, the things media does, doesn't do, it would investigate, it would be a kind of ombudsman for the public in a sense?
BRILL: That's correct.
KING: First, should you have told us the reader that you were a Democratic campaign contributor?
BRILL: I absolutely should have, but let me give you a little context on that. What you're referring is a contribution, which, of course, is public, that I made to the Clinton campaign, I think in 1995.
KING: Public, but the general public didn't know it?
BRILL: That's right, and I should have disclosed that. My thinking about it, and I actually did think about it, was the only thing that I had done that affected national politics during that period was, as you know, a few months later, I instigated and edited and published the Stuart Taylor piece in the Paula Jones's case in the "American Lawyer," which a lot of people think is what started this whole thing off in the first place. So I don't think of myself as someone who is a Clinton partisan and I certainly don' think of myself that way.
KING: Are you disappointed with those who say -- I heard some say the other day -- this article that you wrote, could have been written in the White House?
BRILL: Well, listen, people can say all kinds about it. When I think of myself as a journalist and I think of my reputation, I remember that I wrote a book on the teamsters union which I think was the first time I met you and I was accused then of being some right wing, anti-labor, pro-big business person.
I wrote an story about the Rodney King trial and published a larger story which said that the verdict was right in the Rodney King case and I was accused of being some right wing racist. And now with this piece there saying I could have written this from the west wing of the White House and I didn't. You know, you have to let the chips fall where they may and I can understand people who are unhappy about it.
KING: More in a moment, we'll come back our panel will be included shortly, this might turn into a press conference, but it will get into a general discussion as well. Everybody's chomping at the bit. Don't go away.
KING: Steve Brill -- and everybody will get into this in a moment -- some of the critiques: "Newsweek" issues a statement, denying it said what you implied: the magazine had covered up some quotes. "Newsweek" reporter Isikoff called it "garbage," your story. "Time" managing editor Walter Isaacson said he was mischaracterized. "Washington Post" reporter Susan Schmidt said, "By claiming disclosing sources to you, you have defamed and damaged her." "The Washington Post" managing editor Robert Kaiser said it was silly for you for you to suggest that Schmidt, who often collaborates with other reporters, has a personal agenda. You said that David Bloom was part of the story in some manner, and Bloom told "The Washington Post" it was "total hog wash."
And these are some pretty respected people, "Newsweek," "Time," "The Washington Post," NBC. How do you react?
BRILL: Well, silly, garbage, hogwash -- I forget what the other one was. I guess, my first reaction is, I'm still waiting for the specifics. My second reaction is, these not only are highly-respected news organizations, but they deserve, in most instances, the respect that they get, and the purpose of this magazine is to look at and write about news organizations, especially those that are highly- respected, and attempt to point out where they do a good job, which much of this magazine in this issue does, and also to point out where they do not such a good job.
But, I guess, if we're gonna publish this stuff, I have to expect that, y'know, people, y'know, who have access to printing presses and air waves, are not gonna like it, and I have to be willing to take it. But if there are specific complaints and specific facts, we intend to look at them. And by the way, I don't assume that this article is perfect; I don't assume that our magazine is perfect. There's a statement of ideals in the front of the magazine, about the things that we think the nonfiction media should do and obviously, we want to try to live up to those ideals.
KING: Is there anything...
BRILL: We fall far short of them, too, every once in a while, but...
KING: If you had to do that article over again tomorrow, would you change anything?
BRILL: I would do two things: I know I would spell Victoria Tonsig's (ph) name correctly. I know I would take out what I think now is a gratuitous slap at David Bloom, where I just -- I think I call him a name, which is now -- which really doesn't fit into the article when I look at it again. But y'know I have a habit of reading stuff that I've written a week later and a year later, and I can always find things that I think I could do better.
KING: Was there any pro-Starr person quoted at length?
BRILL: I assume Ken Starr's a pro-Starr person.
KING: No, I mean, but yeah, anyone -- everyone else would seem to be in Clinton's corner...
BRILL: Well, no, I mean, the people who are quoted most in that article, as you know, are the news people, who I don't assume are pro- Starr or pro-Clinton. Well, y'know, I quote Tom Brokaw at length, and Dan Rather. I quote you. I quote Tom Johnson.
KING: How come talking papers are never mentioned?
BRILL: I'm sorry.
KING: Talking papers.
BRILL: The talking points are mentioned, but remember, the focus of this article is not whether Bill Clinton, quote, "did it or didn't
do it." The focus of this article is not who's right or who's wrong. The focus of this article is how
KING: All right.
BRILL: In the beginning of the story -- let me complete my answer -- and in the first three weeks of the story, how the press handled the story and the crux of the story in the first three weeks were: what was on the tapes, supposedly, the stained dress, the supposed witness and those things, and that's what is covered in this article.
KING: All right. Jim Carville, then, why, on balance and fairness is the White House so happy over this article?
JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I don't know, Mr. Brill, I presume he's rich enough and smart enough to take care of himself. I mean, but I find really interesting about this, is all these reporters, the "Washington Post," and "Newsweek" and everybody, they're squealing like a bunch of stuck pigs. I mean, you know what it is? They don't like anybody covering them. They want to cover everybody, they wanna roughshod over...
KING: Why is there...
CARVILLE: ... let me finish.
KING: Why is the White House...
CARVILLE: I don't know the White House's ecstatic. I haven't talked to anybody who said the White House's ecstatic.
KING: You don't think they're ecstatic?
CARVILLE: I think they're ecstatic that Starr did it -- that he confessed that he leaked things. I think they're ecstatic that he's just about confessed that he's in violation of rule 6(e). I don't know what the judge did yesterday; I'm not privy to that. But I know that the White House -- I know one thing: he's under investigation right now by the Justice Department; probably going be under investigation about something else.
But don't make this into -- I've got nothing to do with this man. I don't know him, but what I find interesting is, is all of these reporters sitting here like I say, y'know, yelling like a hit dog -- my God, what he's doing is, is he's covering these people, and they don't like it. And what they're doing is, "Oh, they misquoted me. Oh, he didn't do this. Oh, he didn't do that." And you got Starr over there, what kind of a spineless, gutless weasel would write a man a letter and not even send it to him -- and he's got to find out about it four hours later from CNN and write him a handwritten note. I mean, that's, let's face it America, that's the kind of clown that you've got in there: spineless, gutless, weasel.
KING: Let me get a break...
BRILL: Can I...
KING: Hold it, Steve.
BRILL: I wouldn't agree with that characterization of Ken Starr.
KING: I know. I'll have you respond to it, and then everyone will be in the discussion: I'm just gonna be the referee. Don't go away.
KING: All right, Steve Brill, everyone's gonna get into it, but you want to comment on what he just said, because this is a man who called you -- not Mr. Carville, Judge Starr -- "reckless and irresponsible."
BRILL: Judge Starr might have called my article reckless and irresponsible; I don't think he thinks I am. And I certainly don't think he's gutless at all. Listen, you have to say one thing for him -- you asked me at the top of the show if my interview was tape- recorded, I told you it wasn't. Judge Starr could have denied those quotes, and I could have showed you my notes and it could have been he said-she said, he has the integrity not to have denied them and I admire him for that, as I've admired him for lots of things in the past.
I'm also a little uncomfortable being, y'know, anybody's hero for doing this. I have no agenda in doing this, and I am certain that in two or three months, y'know, I'll have an article published in our magazine that Jim Carville'll be attacked.
CARVILLE: I never said you're a hero of mine. I thought having the now-disgraced Stuart Taylor write that story in your magazine that said that Paula Jones really had a case was clear. But I never said you're a hero of mine, Mr. Brill, I don't know you.
KING: There's more than two people on this show. Mr. Blitzer, do you have a question of Mr. Brill or a statement?
WOLF BLITZER, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think what Judge Starr in his statement -- in his 19-page letter, single-spaced, did say was that you took his comments in the interview that he gave you out of context. Wouldn't it have been prudent to have a taped inter -- if this is an on-the-record interview, any serious journalist would have tape-recorded an historic 90-minute interview with Ken Starr, I would guess.
BRILL: I disagree with your notion that any serious journalist would have -- I'm a serious journalist and people like Stuart Taylor are serious journalists. I know that lots of journalists find that if they take contemporaneous notes it's less intimidating to people than having a tape recorder on the desk...
BLITZER: But don't you wish you would have had a tape now so that you could've said...
BRILL: Yeah, I absolutely do, but one of the things I learned when I moved from print to television, "Court TV," is that people in the television business just assume that it's not intimidating and it's par for the course to have, in that case, a camera and lots of light, but my point was that he hasn't dissatisfied the quotes. I don't even think he's saying that I took them out of context, as much as he's saying that my interpretation of the law, in other words, what the quotes mean vis-a-vis the law, is wrong.
KING: Jeffrey Toobin, as a writer and a lawyer, what did you think about the Brill piece and the Starr letter?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, ABC NEWS LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I assume you should probably discount everything I have to say because Steve said something nice about my work in his -- in the article. I think it's a tremendous contribution to give the Press the same kind of scrutiny that we give others, and as Steve is discovering and as James pointed out, we are more thin-skinned than anybody. But I think the real lesson of this whole controversy is that, you know, prosecutors, by and large, ought to stick to doing their work in court. You know, this letter -- this 19-page letter is so bizarre. I mean, Ken Starr is going on...
TOOBIN: It's totally bizarre because it's him basically taking the part of Mike Isikoff and "Newsweek" and saying, "Well Isikoff said this and you said that" -- what business is it of Ken Starr about some dispute between "Newsweek" and "Brill's Content"? Y'know, he ought to stick to doing his job. He shouldn't give interviews. He oughtta write his report, prosecute people, if he feels it's justified, but do his work in the courtroom, not in the Press.
KING: On the other side, we'll hear from Ed Rollins in a moment and we'll be picked up, but there's lots of time to go, they're with us the full way. We'll change direction tomorrow night; Ringo Starr will be here. We'll hear from Ed Rollins and then the panel. Don't go away.
KING: Our panel is complete now. Sorry so late in getting to you. Ed Rollins what are your thoughts from the Republican side of the ledger, both as a reporter and as a consultant?
ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I don't think I'm a reporter.
KING: Well, you're an analyst?
ROLLINS: The reality is when anybody gets a bad story, and certainly I have been as guilty of having bad stories as anybody, usually you're the one that did the damage. Ken Starr clearly did the damage to himself in this particular case by sitting down and having the first on the record interview, having it with Steve's magazine, and obviously, saying things that he probably shouldn't have.
But I think the reality is Ken Starr has been in a street fight since the beginning of this. He's been fighting of Marcus of Queensbury (ph) rules, and I think Carville is one of the best street fighters and hand grenade throwers ever -- he's been throwing hand grenades at this guy since day one. He decided to take one glove off, sit and guide some reporters who he felt were saying things incorrectly early on in this case.
I think the real story here is this has not been purely a judicial action. This has been an all out campaign. Starr has been fully assaulted by all sides, and I think to a certain extent, he's been made his share of mistakes. Ultimately, he's going to be judged on the report on the president. If he finds evidence, the rest of this is all going to be trivia.
KING: Then, do you think the Brill story is an attack?
ROLLINS: I don't -- I don't know enough about what went on inside the room. I mean, my sense and certainly, Steve had a perspective the way he wanted to write it and I think to a certain extent, ken gave him the information. I agree that he's not argued that he was misquoted. That's the easiest thing in the world to do, but Ken Starr has something that I have fallen victim to in the past, which is why we should never deal with the media.
I think that Ken Starr trusted Steve Brill, basically sat, and probably had reason to, sat down, gave an honest answer to questions that were asked and certainly doesn't like the article today, and it certainly damaged his PR case today. And certainly has given the White House a round here to fire back, but the reality is that he shouldn't have been there. If he had a guy like Charlie Bakaly, early on, who worked in the White House with me, who is a first-rate -- who is his PR guy now, he probably would have never set this interview up.
KING: But Steve said that Bakaly was in the room?
ROLLINS: On his first day.
BLITZER: I think it was his first day.
ROLLINS: I would have predicted to you, if Charlie would have been there a while, this interview wouldn't have taken place. That's the bottom line. This interview shouldn't have taken place. In all honesty, I don't think Ken Starr, in the position he was in, should have been backgrounding reporters.
KING: Wolf, do you think that was an agenda article or just good reporting
BLITZER: By Steven Brill?
BLITZER: I think there was some good reporting there, but I think there were some flaws, that I would guess that even Steven Brill would concede right now. For example, what I didn't see in the
article -- and I think that an editor -- I don't know if you submitted it to another editor above you, but some historic context about how other independent counsels dealt with the news media?
Did Lawrence Walsh meet regularly with reporters during the course of his investigation -- did other independent counsels do so. We're now told that other independent counsels that they did. I didn't see anything in the article giving a historic context, comparing what Ken Starr is now doing, or was doing with his predecessors.
Also, we didn't get anything in there about how the White House leaks stuff, and other lawyers leaks stuff voluminously, so I think that could have been just put in there to protect himself, suspecting that there could be a barrage of criticism at some point down the road.
KING: We'll find out why Jim's laughing. But Steve you want to respond?
BRILL: I did say in the article, and I took some pains to say that prosecutors always leak. I -- you know, I didn't say anything about Lawrence Walsh, because I didn't know it; I didn't say anything about the practices of a prior independent counsel, though, I did know -- because I read the same piece in "Time" magazine, you did wolf about -- of the sessions of -- I guess it was Cox or Jaworski or both used to have with the press, and I probably should have said that.
But what I was focusing on, and I think there is a difference here, is the kind of press coverage that happened in the first three weeks of this case, which I think doesn't compare, in any way, shape or form, to the kind of press coverage and the kind, frankly, of presumption of guilt, that is associated with those other investigations.
This was a piece about the press and the press coverage. It is not a piece about Ken Starr. Frankly, in some respects, if I had never interviewed Starr, I think I would have had much the same piece. As for the White House leaks, as you know, wolf, towards the end of the piece -- again, this piece runs to about the tenth of February.
During that time, the substance of the story is what is supposedly on the tapes; it's the stained dress who doesn't exist, it's the witness who so far hasn't surfaced, who supposedly interrupted them during the act. But toward the end, I do criticize Rahm Emanuel for trying to spill and tar unfairly, "The New York Times" story, which I cite, as far and away, the most damaging piece to Bill Clinton, and a piece that no one -- not the White House, or Carville, or anybody else, has been able to refute, which is a pretty damaging piece. And that is in the story.
KING: Why, James, were you laughing?
CARVILLE: It is the absolute -- I love this thing, well the White House leaks; why can't Ken Starr leak? Because it's against the law for Starr to leak. See Ken Starr -- he can intimidate; he can interrogate; he can indict; he can incarcerate. We pay him $40
million. We give him unlimited power. He can subpoena anybody; harass anybody; subpoenas children at school; he subpoenas people's mothers. He does all of that stuff. He gets a chauffeur going back and forth to work, and all that people ask him to do -- "hey, man, follow the law." The White House and the reporters -- I love that. "Well, the White House leaks, why can't Ken Starr leak? Because it's against the law. He has unlimited, unchecked power.
KING: But the White House, like Ken Starr, also works for us. And it said sooner rather than later, more rather than less, and we haven't heard since.
CARVILLE: Again. Hold on just a second. The president testified under oath. The president denied this. We're trying to get away from the thing.
KING: Get away from what? Why would you want to get away from it? That's the point.
CARVILLE: The point I'm making is it's against the law for him to leak. It's not against the law for me to leak.
KING: But one of us should take care of him.
CARVILLE: So far, they've got a man investigating him for his witnesses being paid off. I suspect that there will be some kind of an investigation about this. He's the first independent counsel in history to be investigated, probably will be investigated twice.
KING: And Steven has published the first magazine which may lead to another magazine that deals with his magazine.
We'll be right back and we'll include your phone calls. Don't go away.
KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE.
We're here with Steven Brill, editor of the new magazine "Brills Content"; Clinton strategist and friend James Carville; in Los Angeles, ABC News legal analyst and "New Yorker" reporter Jeffrey Toobin; in New York, the veteran Republican strategist Ed Rollins; and here in Washington, our very own Wolf Blitzer, who is everywhere, 24 hours a day.
Steve, are you surprised by all of this?
BRILL: Well, who wouldn't be?
KING: OK. But you're happily surprised, aren't you? You've got a magazine that basically some people say -- I don't want to quote him incorrectly, but Don Hewitt said, who cares about Steven Brill? Some
people said are they talking about this in Des Moines, yet you splashed the front pages of major newspapers all across America with the first publication of a magazine, so you've got to be thrilled?
BRILL: I'm quite happy that the magazine is getting the attention that I hope it deserves, but, you know, starting something like this is a long haul. We're going to have to prove ourselves over the long term and just having a bunch of headlines for the first week, it's not going to make our second issue any better, or our third issue any better.
KING: Jeffrey, in your opinion, is this a rough way to begin, or a good way to begin?
TOOBIN: Oh, come on. It's great. He's put this magazine on the map. I was just at a newsstand on Sunset Boulevard today and I heard the guy on the phone with his supplier saying, everybody is asking for "Brill's Content" and I don't have any copies yet. Those are problems, I think, you want to have. (INAUDIBLE) copies have.
KING: Does that ever imply to you, Wolf, that that is going to be a muckraking deluxe?
BLITZER: I think it's terrific that there is a publication out there that is covering the news media. There has always been some publications out there that do it -- the "Columbia Journalism Review," the "American Journalism Review," and other publications that do it as well. So I think we should be scrutinized, those of us that work in the news media.
I would have one question, though, for Steven Brill. The independent counsel, Ken Starr, does have an ethics adviser, professor Sam Dash of Watergate fame is a professor at Georgetown Law School.
Did you consult with him, and ask him if he thought that Starr's leaking of information on his deputy (INAUDIBLE), briefing reporters -- was that unethical?
BRILL: Well I consulted Ken Starr, who I assumed is getting advice from Sam Dash, and I spent a lot of time with him. A big chunk of that hour and a half was me going back with him and saying, I don't understand. If you're saying that you can tell reporters what witnesses are going to say, just before they go into the grand jury room; that you can tell reporters everything that the witnesses have told your investigators that they're going to say in the grand jury, as long as they don't say exactly what they said in front of the grand jury, I said, Ken that's a loop hole that you can drive a truck through. You can just reveal everything and he said, well, that's the law.
And then he also said, besides, it's perfectly appropriate, if what you're doing is attempting to instill confidence in the office of the prosecutor. And the problem with that, frankly -- and I think he believes that; but the problem with that is that there isn't any leak in the history of the prosecutor that wasn't intended to instill confidence in the prosecutor as a great guy going after all the bad guys.
BLITZER: But if a reporter gets a leak like that from Ken Starr, directly, or from one of his deputies like Jackie Bennett, Michael Isikoff, or Jackie Judd of ABC, or Susan Schmidt of "The Washington Post," or David Bloom of NBC News. If a reporter does get a leak like that, as you suggest in your article, what is wrong with a reporter reporting that, provided that the reporter runs that by the aggrieved party, whether it's someone from the White House, whether Monica Lewinsky or one of her lawyers, or some aggrieved party, and says this is what I'm hearing from various sources. You tell me your side of the story?
BRILL: Well, provided that they do that, and then, I think, even if they run it by people and people are saying, we're not commenting on the minute-by minute substance, but we're saying that the president has made his statement, I think you still have to take that with a little more skepticism.
The best example -- the really good example is what happened on the first day of the story Wolf, which is that what ken told me was that his deputy Jackie Bennett spent quote "much of his day, or most of his day" briefing reporters on the story -- getting them up to speed after it broke in one place on wednesday morning. And what we saw that night on television, was everybody quoting from what was on the Linda Tripp, Monica Lewinsky tapes that had been made by Ken Starr's office.
Now, I submit to you that it is a completely, logical assumption, and indeed, I think anything to the contrary is illogical, that the source of that stuff is Judge Starr's office.
Now, the -- now, when you say, well, we ran it by everybody, and as far as I know, that was a day the president had denied it.
BLITZER: But why couldn't you assume that the source could have been Lucianne Goldberg or her son Jonah Goldberg. While, Bill Ginsburg, for that matter, who did give an on the record statement to "The Washington Post" in that first story.
BRILL: Let me answer that very specifically, because the tapes I'm talking about are the tapes that the Goldberg's knew nothing about. These were the tapes that were made by Judge Starr's investigators.
KING: Let me ask a question. Hold on a second. I don't want to get to -- Jim, forget legalities; doesn't the tape bother you, Jim?
CARVILLE: Well, you know...
KING: No. Forget the...
CARVILLE: You said, you go to answer the question. Look, I don't know the circumstances the table made. I don't know any of that stuff. I don't know the background.
KING: Does it bother you?
CARVILLE: Look, I don't care. The president -- I'll tell you what, the president denied it, denied it under oath, denied it to me.
KING: So you get the impression it must have been just a girl and just making up something?
CARVILLE: Well, if somebody taped everytime that I've said something that I've done and it was played back, I've probably exaggerated at times in my life.
KING: In other words, you're not bothered at all by the tape. I'm just amazed at that.
CARVILLE: I've never listened to it. I don't know...
CARVILLE: I'm sure in the end, I'll hear the tape. But what I'm, you know, again -- to put all of this back and forth here...
KING: Jeffrey, why isn't the tape the story? Why is the prosecutor's story, or Brill the story, or you the story, or reporters the story? Why isn't the tape the story? What happened there? It could be answered by two people and ended.
TOOBIN: Well, ultimately the facts should come out and that should trump anything else.
TOOBIN: Whether Bill Clinton committed a crime is the core of this story. But also, I just want to respond to one thing that Steven and Wolf were talking about, which is the sense that I hear in all of this, that rule 6-E covers everything in a prosecutor's office. And I think we need to keep sort of our First Amendment ears on here, and encourage prosecutors to talk, and say that, you know, rule 6-E doesn't have this broadest scope. It's our business. It's the taxpayers business what goes on in the prosecutor's offices.
BRILL: Jeffrey, that's exactly right and it's the taxpayers' business, I assume, to know what prosecutors are doing and indeed saying to the press, so if all this is thoroughly appropriate, why wasn't it on the record?
KING: Ed, is it the taxpayers business to know what the White House is doing? We employ them too, don't we?
ROLLINS: Absolutely, and yet you have to go back and look at this three-week period. This was the craziest period in 35 years in politics in Washington. I've never and you've never seen anything like that 21 day first blitz, where Carville and everybody else was out there, basically beating the crap out of Monica Lewinsky, and Monica Lewinsky clearly became a household word...
ROLLINS: ... and Ginsburg was on every show, and I think the critical thing here was that Starr, who today may have made a different judgment than he made at that point in time -- the credibility of his evidence was being challenged. I think he tried to go out and say to reporters, I am not a partisan attack dog, as Carville has said I am. I'm a legitimate investigator. Here is what evidence I am going to present or here is what has come to me and these are some of the facts that you're not getting from the White House.
CARVILLE: Wouldn't Starr have done that?
ROLLINS: I'm going to make my case before the grand jury.
KING: Jim, should Starr have done this?
CARVILLE: To my knowledge, I've never said an ill word about Monica Lewinsky. I just want to clear that up. I think Ed might have meant that I was talking about Ken Starr.
KING: But shouldn't Starr have reacted to your charge? And done things like, he's knocking me, let me show you what I've got.
CARVILLE: If I can go back and tell you everything that Starr should have done that he didn't do, we would be way past this thing. You know, I can't -- I think -- I think the man has got horrendous judgment. I think he's the wrong person for the job. He keeps doing, you know, nutty crazy things. I don't know why the guy does that.
I can't answer for him, but I knew in my gut, in my heart from day one, that he was the wrong man for the job. I was the first person that Ed said that and I think with everything that has happened since has vindicated with that.
KING: Then it's completely normal, after being attacked this way, for him to leak to the press some things about (INAUDIBLE).
CARVILLE: Ken Starr has said -- Starr says, I don't leak. Then you have -- then he says, I don't leak; it's a (INAUDIBLE). Then you have Hickman Ewing telling Dan Moldea, Starr also approved specific leaks as long as the reporters' views are in sink with the office of independent counsel.
And I think this judge is going to get to the bottom of it.
KING: We'll pick right up with Steve, right after this. Don't go away.
KING: Before Mr. Brill comments, you're at the White House, what's the impact? Where is this going to go?
BLITZER: The White House is very happy in the short term about Steven Brill's article, because they think it does undermine Ken Starr's investigation. But they're happy this might be short lived over at the White House, because I think it will also have the effect -- and I believe it has already had the impact of putting extreme pressure on Ken Starr, to now go ahead and accept an immunity deal with Monica Lewinsky's new lawyers, Plato Cacheris and Jacob Stein, in which she will allege that she did have a sexual relationship with President Clinton and that's going to be bad news for the White House; for the president...
KING: Bad if she doesn't allege that they tried to stop make her lie.
BLITZER: Well, if she says that in her affidavit, the sworn affidavit in the Paula Jones' case, she was not honest -- that she says in there that she did not have sexual relations with the president. If she now says she did have sexual relations with the president in exchange for an immunity agreement, that's going to be very embarrassing.
KING: Are you saying she's going to proffer that? Do you believe that or do you know that?
BLITZER: I think she was willing to do that even when Bill Ginsburg was her lawyer, but Starr refused to accept it because she was evasive on the other issue of obstruction of justice and now. I think now the Brill article and other factors -- the fact that Plato Cacheris and Jacob Stein are two of the best lawyers in Washington and they are there to make a deal, to protect their client, Monica Lewinsky, which could have a very embarrassing political...
KING: Before we...
BLITZER: ... to the president.
KING: Your comment Jim, and then Steve.
CARVILLE: Comment about what?
KING: What he just said.
CARVILLE: I've been hearing that they were going to make a deal every since this thing started. I can't tell you that they aren't; I can't tell you they are. I don't know Mr. Cacheris, Mr. Stein either.
KING: Steve, do you think your article might bring that about?
BRILL: I don't think my article will ultimately have any effect. I think something that Wolf said is very important, which is the article may have a short-term effect on some of this and I think something that Jeff said is what's really important, which is that none of this trumps the facts, and again, my focus, my magazine is about nonfiction media. It's about the press and how it covers things. That's what I was writing about.
I certainly wasn't writing about, in any way, shape, or form, whether the president did this or didn't do it. I was saying that the press was way out of ahead of itself in this, and I also think, I want to come back to something that you asked, Larry.
Well, you said, if he -- "he" being Judge Starr -- thinks that people are maligning him or they're belittling his investigation, why can't he go and brief the press on background and tell them what he has. I think Ed Rollins can probably answer that better than anybody. He's been under investigation wrongly.
He knows other people on the Republican side who have, such as the Ray Donovan, the former secretary of labor, and I think Ed would be outraged, maybe was outraged, if a prosecutor said, well, gee, I want people to have confidence in my office and know that I have a good case, so I'm going to sit down with reporters and tell them what a horrible guy Ed Rollins is. It isn't fair.
KING: Ed, you wouldn't be shocked if your representative called Starr an idiot or something, would you? Ed -- be shocked if he leak something in retaliation?
ROLLINS: Well, first of all, up to this point in time, I have not seen a prosecutor attacked. First of all, I think we'd all be in agreement, the independent counsel is an idiotic law, and clearly this will finish it off. I the tragedy of all of this, and the one that I think James and I agree on is: I wish Ken Starr wasn't the special investigator. I think he's a man of great integrity. I think he was a great judge. I think he was a great special counsel.
I think that his reputation has been damaged, and I think even if he has the strongest case in the world, there is going to be some doubt now, and I think he will have a strong case. I wish it would have been a left-wing prosecuting Democrat, who I think would have found the same evidence, made the same case. His two deputies are Democrats, and nobody is attacking them. But I think that we've made this into a partisan issue -- it's not supposed to be a partisan issue. The one person who is supposed to be representing the people is Ken Starr, and I think he's done a pretty good job under the most adverse conditions ever.
KING: We'll get a break and we'll be back with more. Don't go away.
KING: Some quick questions for each of our guests. Time goes so fast. On the way to listening to Tony Kornheiser today, arguably the
best radio show in America, I heard about a couple minutes of Rush Limbaugh and he quoted "The Washington Times" as saying that you, you, you have an enemies' list and that he's on it. Do you have an enemies list?
CARVILLE: Well, first of all I like Rush a lot personally -- just never got a fact right in his life, I don't know where he gets this from. Let me tell you what happened, I was asked by this guy that that sued his mother, and claimed in a deposition, who I thought the president's ten biggest enemies were and he asked me a question and I gave him an answer and so what the right wing does is say I got enemies...
KING: "The Washington Times" is a poor source
CARVILLE: I don't know what "The Washington Times" said. I know Rush and I like him like I said. The easiest job in the world would be fact checker. So, if anybody can say that I had an enemies' list or any such thing -- that is the nuttiest thing I ever heard. This guy who sued his mother asked me...
BLITZER: Have you heard that parody that Rush Limbaugh does between you and James Carville. It's hysterical.
CARVILLE: My sister listens to Rush.
KING: The two things you like is Starr in office and you like Rush on the radio, because Clinton is happy with both.
One could well make a case for that. Jeffrey, where do you think this is going?
TOOBIN: I think the best thing that could happen is that Starr makes his report or makes the prosecution so that the subject is changed from the my minutia and the propriety of his investigation to the substance of what he's investigating, because that's really what we should be talking about. If Bill Clinton did nothing wrong, that's fine. If he did something bad, that's fine, too, but it should be out in the open and, you know, as Justice Brandeis said, "Sunlight is the best disinfectant." Judge Starr ought to get to work, do his case, say nothing in public until he has something to say about the facts of this case.
KING: And will that happen?
TOOBIN: Oh, I think it will happen at some point. I think based on what we've seen of this office, later rather than sooner. I would be surprised if we saw any report from this office in 1998.
BLITZER: And the fact is Henry Hyde the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, only this past week said he doesn't want to see an interim report. He wants to see the final product.
KING: But Newt said he wants an interim report.
BLITZER: Yeah, but I think that Henry Hyde is going to have a lot of influence over what Judge Starr does.
KING: The circus goes on, some closing questions for the rest after this. Don't go away.
KING: Steven Brill for the next issue, who -- Monica?
BRILL: I don't know.
KING: Kendall -- David Kendall who speaks to no one?
BRILL: No, I would suspect that the cover story of our next issue, I hope deals with a different subject than this. We have a lot of ground to cover.
KING: Well, you're off to an auspicious start. Ed, where do you think it's going? Do you agree with Wolf and do you agree with Jeffrey that we're coming to a head?
ROLLINS: Well, I think it's going to come to a head and I think Ken Starr has had three or four good weeks. He clearly has stumbled this week, but the reality is that he's got to make his case and the document and I think the reality here is that he ought to take what Kendall said in his memo tonight. Kendall reminded him that in the Reagan administration, no one in Justice was allowed to talk, except on the record. I think everyone from here on out, if they want to talk to reporters, should talk on the record, if they're from the prosecutor's office.
KING: Steven, if the judge, Judge Johnson takes action against Brill, would you feel responsible?
BRILL: Against who?
KING: I'm sorry -- against Judge Starr?
BRILL: Responsible for what?
KING: Bringing it out.
BRILL: For having reported what he said to me? I don't have any brief for what the judge is going to do or not going to do, you know, that's her decision, not mine. You know, again, I think that what Jeffrey said really counts, which is that, you know, ultimately what's important for the country is what the facts are in the underlying case.
KING: And Wolf, doesn't, Jeffrey make a good point, as does Mr. Rollins, and James Carville, that you guys have got to learn to take what you give?
BLITZER: Right. I think it's very important that we be watched carefully because reporters are human beings and they make mistakes and if we screw up, it's important that everybody knows that we screwed up.
KING: The magazines you mentioned are basically small circulation?
BLITZER: They're small circulation but they're read carefully by those of us in news media.
BRILL: Ours is a little bit different, because what we're trying to do is -- our constituency is the customers, the people who are watching this show, and people who are the consumers of news media, we're not writing a magazine for other journalists, but I also want to emphasize and I think Wolf can appreciate this, because he's read a little bit about himself, that much of the coverage of this story and much of the rest of the magazine, says very positive things about the really good journalists out there and that's one of the things we're trying to do is recognize those people, too.
BLITZER: Larry, don't be surprised if next week when the president leaves to his ten-day trip to China, in the middle of that trip and maybe even before, we all wake up and we all discover in one minute that there is an immunity agreement between Monica Lewinsky's new lawyers and Ken Starr, which will change the landscape and James Carville who has not said anything ill about Monica Lewinsky for all of these many months, will, all of a sudden, be saying some really nasty things about Monica Lewinsky.
ROLLINS: I'll be defending her.
KING: Do you worry, by the way, Jeffrey that networks based on this might cut off access to Steve Brill?
TOOBIN: I don't think so.
KING: By just saying don't talk to him because we're going to be misquoted?
TOOBIN: I think all of us recognize that we are fair game and we play an important role in the society and we should be open to scrutiny. I don't think anyone when they get a call from "Brill's Content," their heart leaps for joy, but I do think that they will cooperate...
KING: They'll take the call.
TOOBIN: ... and hope for the best.
KING: Would you tell them to take the call?
TOOBIN: I would certainly tell them to take the call.
CARVILLE: If I was advising a reporter, if I was advising Ken Starr and this guy was coming (UNINTELLIGIBLE), I would say no. You wouldn't tell him take that call. He'd be stupid. He's got something
-- he's covering the news media. He's not covering -- well, you know, he...
BLITZER: Reporters would be hypocrites if they don't answer other reporters' question.
CARVILLE: The only thing I'd say about this is that these people have the thinnest skin in the world and this guy just publishes -- if you though lawyers would come at you with a meat cleaver...
KING: Thank you guys, thank you guys, we are out of time.
ROLLINS: The only one's with thinner skins are political consultants.
KING: Up next, thanks panel, a nuclear special "Ground Zero," hosted by Christiane Amanpour right here on CNN.