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Jeffrey Toobin vs. The Right-Wing Cabal

ABC Fires Zelnick and Kristol, But Its "Objective" Legal Expert Has New "Highly Partisan" Liberal Book

ABC's ongoing tilt to the left seems to be outdoing the Gore and Bradley campaigns. After firing reporter Bob Zelnick for writing a book on Al Gore and scrapping conservative pundit Bill Kristol's contract, their legal expert Jeffrey Toobin has authored a new book coming out today titled A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of a Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President.

Toobin's liberal slant is no surprise. He is the child of two network news veterans, the late producer Jerry Toobin and anchorwoman Marlene Sanders. In his 1991 book Opening Arguments, about his service as a lawyer for Iran-Contra prosecutor Lawrence Walsh, Toobin fondly remembered Watergate: "The aftermath of this bungled burglary attempt constituted the dominant political event of my childhood. I developed the disdain for Richard Nixon that was all but obligatory on the Upper West Side of Manhattan - I recall my first taste of champagne on the night he resigned, August 9, 1974, but the stories that captured my attention were of the young lawyers working for Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox, who seemed, through the prism of television, like they were changing the world."

Toobin added, "The Mets (as well as others) had taught me that the good guys didn't always win, but Watergate seemed a happy exception to that rule...To my eyes, it looked less like a job than a crusade - and I wanted to join the next one."

When he landed a job with Walsh's office, Toobin recalled playing an Elvis Costello song, "A raucous tune about the fall of a decrepit empire. Sure, I thought, we would prosecute some crimes and put some people away. But that would only be the start. The Walsh office would take on Reagan and all the President's men, with their contempt for the Constitution, disdain for the Congress, and hostility to the truth, the qualities epitomized by the diversion scheme. We had nothing less than a blank check to uncover and rectify the misdeeds of a corrupt and dishonorable administration. We wouldn't stop until we reached the top."

Toobin relished his role attempting to bring down the Reagan White House: "I spent most of my frantic first weeks in office trying to pretend I was having less fun than I was. Fencing with Ed Meese's minions? Playing chicken with the White House? Battling Ollie North? I was having the time of my life."

Toobin's still crusading in what today's New York Times review called a "highly partisan" and "willfully subjective" book. It noted Toobin presents the President as "A victim of 'extremists of the political right who tried to use the legal system to undo elections - in particular the two that put Bill Clinton in the White House.'"

The review added: "Toobin spends the better part of this book railing against Clinton's adversaries, who he says 'appeared literally consumed with hatred for him...They were willing to trample all standards of fairness - not to mention the Constitution - in their effort to drive him from office,' he says. 'They ranged from one-case-only zealots in the cause of sexual harassment to one-defendant-only federal prosecutors, and they shared only a willingness to misuse the law and the courts in their effort to destroy Bill Clinton." "Highly partisan" is an apt description of Toobin, who changes his views of who's "manipulating" the legal system based on who's in charge. But he's a perfect match for the accelerating liberalism at ABC. - Tim Graham.