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.