Expert vetting practices


The Wall Street Journal's Political Diary (subscription only) supplies a valuable reminder of how "vetting" works at CBS:

In 1992, Bill Clinton's presidential campaign was nearly ended when tapes between the Arkansas governor and cabaret singer Gennifer Flowers were released. At the time, KCBS, the network's owned—and—operated affiliate in Los Angeles, took the tape and submitted it to private detective and forensic tape expert Anthony Pellicano for analysis. Mr. Pellicano's conclusions that the tapes were "misleading" and "not credible" played a role in Mr. Clinton surviving the controversy.

Only later was it learned that Mr. Pellicano had no formal training in evaluating tapes and was at the time being paid by Democratic sources to squelch "bimbo eruptions" surrounding Mr. Clinton. In other words, Mr. Clinton's own private eye was able to discredit one of the most damaging eruptions that preceded Monica Lewinsky. In his own memoirs published this year, Mr. Clinton confessed to the Flowers affair, contradicting his fierce denials at the time.

Years later, Mr. Pellicano did demonstrate facility with tapes when police investigating threats made against Los Angeles Times reporter Anita Busch uncovered evidence that Mr. Pellicano had been involved and had also illegally wiretapped her conversations. Mr. Pellicano is now serving a 2 1/2 year federal prison term for possessing firearms and explosives.

Ed Lasky