NY Times omitted David Bossie's controversial past in article discussing his group's anti-Clinton film

››› ››› ANDREW WALZER

Discussing the Citizens United-produced film, Hillary: The Movie, The New York Times identified the group's president, David Bossie, only as "a former Congressional aide and a longtime foe of the Clintons." The Times did not mention that Bossie was reportedly fired as a congressional staffer in 1998 for his role in releasing misleadingly edited transcripts that gave the false impression then-first lady Hillary Clinton had been implicated in wrongdoing.

In a March 5 article about the upcoming Supreme Court case centered on the Citizens United-produced film, Hillary: The Movie, The New York Times identified the group's president, David Bossie, only as "a former Congressional aide and a longtime foe of the Clintons." The Times did not mention that Bossie was reportedly fired as a congressional staffer in 1998 for his role in releasing misleadingly edited transcripts that gave the false impression former Clinton administration official Webster Hubbell had implicated then-first lady Hillary Clinton in wrongdoing.

As Media Matters for America has previously noted, Bossie was fired in 1998 from his job as chief investigator for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform -- which was investigating alleged Clinton White House campaign finance abuses -- for his role in releasing selectively edited transcripts of Hubbell's prison conversations, comments indicating that Clinton had done nothing wrong. The Washington Times reported on May 7, 1998, that according to Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN), then-chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, "David Bossie had 'chosen to resign,' although House Speaker Newt Gingrich [R-GA] said Mr. Burton 'fired the one person he should have fired.' " The Washington Times quoted Burton saying, "A mistake was made in not including in the 30 pages of transcripts a couple of comments made by Mr. Hubbell about himself and the first lady. They were relevant, and they should not have been left out." The Washington Post reported in a May 7, 1998, article that then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) told Burton: "I'm embarrassed for you, I'm embarrassed for myself, and I'm embarrassed for the [House Republican] conference at the circus that went on at your committee."

Media Matters senior fellow Eric Boehlert previously reported that Bossie's alleged tactics in investigating the Clintons caused controversy as early as 1992, when "President George H.W. Bush, repudiating Bossie's tactics, filed an FEC complaint against Bossie's group after it produced a TV ad inviting voters to call a hot line to hear (almost certainly doctored) tape-recorded conversations between Clinton and Gennifer Flowers." The Washington Times also reported in its May 7, 1998, article that "Mr. Bossie is no stranger to controversy. ... Republicans said yesterday that they also blamed Mr. Bossie for the notorious melon-shooting, staged re-enactment of the death of White House Deputy Counsel Vincent W. Foster Jr."

From the March 5 New York Times article, "Documentary on Clinton Tests Campaign Finance Law":

It has been about a decade since the Supreme Court considered a case arising from the tangle of lawsuits and investigations that once threatened to engulf the administration of President Bill Clinton.

The nation may have moved on, but the court has not. Next month, as Hillary Rodham Clinton settles in as secretary of state, the court will have a look at "Hillary: The Movie," a scathingly hostile look at Mrs. Clinton in the tradition of Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11."

The case, to be argued March 24, will require the court to confront a new genre with old roots: the slashing political documentary.

"Hillary: The Movie," released last year in the thick of the Democratic presidential primary season, is a fine example of the genre. There are ripe voice-overs, shadowy re-enactments and spooky mood music. There is, inevitably, Ann Coulter. Asked to say something nice about Mrs. Clinton, Ms. Coulter responds, "Looks good in a pantsuit."

But the film also contains commentary from journalists more in the establishment like Michael Barone of U.S. News & World Report and Jeff Gerth, formerly of The New York Times.

And it presents some straightforward reporting, including interviews with people from the Clinton era in the White House, like Billy R. Dale, who was fired as director of the White House travel office; Gary Aldrich, who wrote a book about his experiences as an F.B.I. agent assigned to the White House; and Kathleen Willey, a former White House volunteer who accused Mr. Clinton of making an unwanted sexual advance.

There are two basic questions before the court: Is the film the sort of "electioneering communication" that the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law of 2002 says may not be broadcast in certain time windows before elections? And if it is, can the law itself then be squared with the First Amendment?

The documentary was produced by Citizens United, a conservative advocacy group that is a nonprofit corporation. Its president, David Bossie, is a former Congressional aide and a longtime foe of the Clintons.

[...]

Mr. Bossie said the documentary was not meant to take a position in a particular election. Had he been forced to choose between Mrs. Clinton and Barack Obama during the primaries, he added, he would have voted for Mrs. Clinton.

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