MSM Ignores Higher Placed Clinton Officials’ Conviction to Tout Libby’s


By: Warner Todd Huston

I keep seeing this talking point phrase in multiple MSM stories about the Libby conviction; “Libby was convicted in March, the highest-ranking White House official ordered to prison since the Iran-Contra affair roiled the Reagan administration in the 1980s.”(emphasis, mine) This is a misleading statement that makes the reader imagine that no high-ranking Presidential appointee, adviser, or member of the White House has been convicted of anything or sentenced to anything since Reagan’s era. But, at least one past official’s name should be placed above that of Libby’s. Henry Cisneros was the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, appointed to that position by President Bill Clinton. Cisneros, it should be remembered, was indicted in 1995 on 18 counts of conspiracy, false statements and obstruction of justice. Cisneros pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of lying to the FBI. Now, I’d dare say that Libby, who only worked in the office of the Vice President, was a minnow in the pond in which Cisneros swam. Cisneros was the Secretary of HUD, a presidential cabinet member, after all!

Naturally, on his way out of the White House in 2001, Clinton pardoned Cisneros.

Yet, here we have the MSM constantly calling Libby the “highest White House official” convicted, completely ignoring the fate of a much, much higher official with Cisneros. Of course, that this man was a member of Clinton’s cabinet pretty much explains why the MSM is conveniently forgetting the fact that Libby is a small fish in this conviction game compared to Cisneros. And, Cisneros was certainly a member of the White House having been a Clinton appointee.

Still, this claim of Libby being “highest official” is everywhere. An MSM talking point, for sure. And a misleading one, at that.

Here are just a few quick examples:

The AP

“Libby was convicted in March, the highest-ranking White House official ordered to prison since the Iran-Contra affair roiled the Reagan administration in the 1980s.”

Bloomberg News

“Libby, who had faced as many as 10 years in prison, was the highest-ranking former White House official sentenced to prison since 1990, when ex-National Security Adviser John Poindexter was ordered to serve six months for lying to Congress about the Iran- Contra affair. ”

The Times On-Line

“He was the highest-ranking US official to be sentenced since the Iran Contra affair 20 years ago.”

Even MTV got in the talking points game with their report today:

“Libby is the only person charged in the Plame investigation and is the highest ranking government official to be convicted in a government scandal in 20 years.”

These several stories are just today’s, but the use of this talking point goes back months. Whether new or old, though, this “highest official” talking point that is besmirching both Reagan and Bush is pervasive and it all conveniently forgets the guilt of Clinton’s much higher placed White House Official, Cisneros.

And, let us not forget to mention that Clinton himself was a pretty high level White House Official to get in a tad of trouble. There WAS all that impeachment stuff a little while ago, you know?

But, who really could be surprised that Clinton gets a pass by the MSM… AGAIN?

Update to pinpoint exactly what happened with Cisneros — Henry Cisneros indictment information from Wikipedia:

In March 1995, U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno secured the appointment of an Independent Counsel, David Barrett to investigate allegations that Cisneros had lied to FBI investigators during background checks prior to being named Secretary of HUD. He had been asked about payments that he had made to former mistress Linda Medlar, also known as Linda Jones. The affair had been ‘public knowledge’ for a number of years – during the 1992 presidential campaign, U.S. Treasurer Catalina Vasquez Villalpando publicly referred to Cisneros and candidate Clinton as “two skirt-chasers” – but Cisneros lied about the amount of money he had paid to Medlar. The investigation continued for three and a half years. In December, 1997, Cisneros was indicted on 18 counts of conspiracy, giving false statements and obstruction of Justice. Medlar used some of the Cisneros hush money to purchase a house and entered into a bank fraud scheme with her sister and brother-in-law to conceal the source of the money. In January, 1998, Medlar pleaded guilty to 28 charges of bank fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud and obstruction of justice. In September, 1999, Cisneros negotiated a plea agreement, under which he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of lying to the FBI, and was fined $10,000. He did not receive jail-time or probation. He was pardoned by President Bill Clinton in January 2001 ( See: List of people pardoned by Bill Clinton). The independent counsel investigation continued after the pardon focusing on alleged obstruction of justice. In May 2005, Senator Dorgan (D-ND) proposed ending funding for the investigation; negotiators refused to include the provision in a bill funding military operations in Afghanistan. The funding at that point for the investigation totaled $21 million.

According to a New York Daily News report on October 3, 2005, “lawyers are fighting to suppress a potentially embarrassing final report from the probe that found Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros lied to the FBI about paying $250,000 in hush money to his ex-mistress. … Lawyers at the Washington firm Williams and Connolly who work for Cisneros and both Clintons have argued to judges overseeing the case that allegations of illegal activity, for which no charges were filed, should be snipped before the report is made public.”

On January 19, 2006, the New York Times reported that the independent counsel is finally closing his investigation with a report accusing the Clinton administration of thwarting the inquiry into Cisneros.

The office of the independent counsel issued a press release along with the final report stating:

An accurate title for the Report could be, “WHAT WE WERE PREVENTED FROM INVESTIGATING.” After a thorough reading of the Report it would not be unreasonable to conclude as I have that there was a coverup at high levels of our government and, it appears to have been substantial and coordinated. The question is why? And that question regrettably will go unanswered. Unlike some other coverups, this one succeeded.

The Independent Counsel’s report has been a source of partisan bickering because it was heavily redacted with an estimated 120 pages removed by court order.

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