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White House Aides Will Skip Sunday's Talk Shows

Their thinking: Ken Starr 'is pouring gasoline on his head and lighting the matches himself'

By John King/CNN

PHILADELPHIA (Feb. 13) -- The White House has decided not to make senior administration officials available for Sunday news shows this weekend to discuss the Monica Lewinsky controversy, in part because it believes independent counsel Ken Starr's recent actions have generated negative public reaction on their own.

At White House strategy sessions, sources said there has been some grumbling from legal counsel that political aides have been too personal in criticizing Starr. Senior adviser Paul Begala, for example, called the independent counsel corrupt during one interview last week.

But several senior advisors, including an attorney in the White House counsel's office, said the primary reason for the decision to "stand down" from the weekend shows was to allow the focus on Starr's tactics to take place without White House political aides involved in the discussions.

Said one, "You don't need me to tell the American people he [Starr] is going overboard in hauling the young girl's mother before the grand jury and torturing her, or in trying to force Secret Service agents to testify."

Another senior advisor compared the White House strategy to one in late 1995 when aides made a conscious decision to halt repeated public criticism of House Speaker Newt Gingrich. "Starr is pouring gasoline on his head and lighting the matches himself," the advisor said.

Still, the advisor acknowledged "some resistance and alarm" to the highly personal attacks on the independent counsel from White House officials.

In Other News

Friday February 13, 1998

Agreement Reached For Ex-Secret Service Officer's Testimony
Lieberman Frustrated By Allies' Reluctance To Back Iraq Strike
White House Scandal At A Glance
White House Aides Will Skip Sunday's Talk Shows
Satcher Sworn In As Surgeon General
Babbitt Cheered By Interior Employees
Clinton Pushes For Tobacco Settlement





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