Emmett Tyrrell

Olson, having been on the Spectator’s board of directors during the 1990s, has been twice implicated in the Arkansas Project by the likes of Leahy and Reid, once during his successful confirmation hearings for solicitor general and now while being considered as a nominee to head the Justice Department. As the project was an effort at reportage, and Olson is -- merely to quote The Wall Street Journal -- "one of America’s finest lawyers," you can be sure he had no journalistic or editorial involvement in it. He may have given some legal advice, but it would have been minimal. We broke no laws. We did not even skirt the law. All we did was report what turned out to be the Clintons’ misbehavior, misbehavior that is now on the historical record. Thus far in this era of the smug and humorless, it is not illegal to report the news. As The Wall Street Journal editorialized in defense of Olson, "committing journalism is not a crime. The Arkansas Project was never accused of breaking any laws, although the Clinton Justice Department did investigate the magazine over the campaign, which strikes us as a much creepier sort of partisanship than exercising one’s First Amendment rights."

Actually there were charges. The American Spectator was accused of threatening violence and of witness tampering -- both felonies -- by the Clintons, their pliant attorney general, Janet Reno, and her collaborator, Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder. After reviewing these charges with the assistance of a grand jury, the government’s special counsel concluded the accusations were "unsubstantiated or, in some cases, untrue." That has not stopped the ex-Boy President from repeating the witness-tampering charge in his memoirs and on the walls of his dubious presidential library. Thus does the Arkansas Project continue, not as a wisecrack but as a "dark episode" in American history.

The general complaint against Olson has been partisanship. But he would never be so partisan as to harass a small magazine for "committing journalism." One of his ripostes to his attackers last week was to note that Pulitzer Prizes are given for investigative journalism, not jail sentences, at least not in this country. Well, I expect no Pulitzer Prize, and after the Clintons’ last round of attacks I received no jail sentence; but if I did, so what? Call me narcissistic if you will, but I have never been able to comprehend what is so unpleasant about solitary confinement.

Emmett Tyrrell

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator and co-author of Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House.
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