Plain as the News on Your Face: Clinton Lies and Obstruction That TV News Has Ignored

5. Keeping Meetings Secret by Filing False Statements.

THE CHARGE: The American Association of Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) filed suit in 1993 arguing that the Federal Advisory Committee Act required the task force assembling the Clinton health care plan to stop holding secret meetings, and instead hold meetings open to the public, since the task force included non-government employees, starting with the First Lady.

textbox5_319WHAT PRINT MEDIA REPORTED: Last December, Judge Royce Lamberth fined the White House $286,000 for health czar Ira Magaziner's lying (at White House lawyers' direction) about the composition of Hillary's health care task force in order to keep meetings closed to the public. Lamberth issued the fine to reimburse the AAPS for court costs in their lawsuit against the administration. The White House claimed throughout the litigation the task force had no non-governmental employees on it. In 1995, Judge Lamberth asked the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia to probe Magaziner for perjury, suggesting he must have known his declaration was false, since employees of his private consulting firm were working on the task force. (U.S. Attorney Eric Holder, who decided not to prosecute Magaziner, is now the number two official in the Justice Department.) After Lamberth levied the fine, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Archer called on Magaziner to resign.

WHY IT WAS IMPORTANT: The White House response to the AAPS lawsuit illustrated both the Clintons' penchant for secrecy and the White House counsels' willingness to file intentionally misleading briefs in a federal case.

HOW TV NETWORKS COVERED IT: Just as they'd ignored the AAPS suit from the beginning, the networks aired nothing on the Lamberth decision or Archer's call for Magaziner to step down. (Ten days after Lamberth's decision and a day after Archer's request for Magaziner's resignation, Tim Russert asked two questions late in an interview with Clinton aide Rahm Emanuel on NBC's Meet the Press. But Russert never used his powers as NBC Washington Bureau Chief to place the story anywhere else on his network's news.)