Ken Starr, GTFO

History Facts
Ken Starr, GTFO

Among Americans who had the most reason to despise Ken Starr, Monica Lewinsky had what was by far the most charitable thing to say about his death yesterday at the age of 76.

as i’m sure many can understand, my thoughts about ken starr bring up complicated feelings… but of more importance, is that i imagine it’s a painful loss for those who love him.

Philippe Reines, former spokesperson for Hillary Clinton, tweeted that he'd love to see the first draft, to which Lewinsky replied "this actually was —essentially—the first draft (i futzed w/ order a wee bit)… but therapy next week will be… interesting."

Having gotten graciousness out of the way, let's take a few minutes to remember why Ken Starr didn't deserve a bit of it, which is what made Lewinsky's comments so graceful to begin with.

We actually won't go into too much detail on the most infamous line of Starr's obituary, his pursuit of Bill and Hillary Clinton in the Whitewater investigation, which started off as a probe into a failed real estate investment by the Clintons but kept expanding into other areas, including the eventual discovery that Bill Clinton had had an affair in the Oval Office with Lewinsky, then an intern. Starr's singleminded pursuit of Clinton, and the resulting attacks on Lewinsky, are plenty awful, but since that's central to every obituary out there, we'll let you go read those obits and we'll look at some of the other terrible facets of the Ken Starr Story, starting with his reopening of the investigation into the death of Vince Foster.

Starr became so thoroughly associated with the endless investigations into the Clintons that it's easy to forget that he was actually the second independent counsel assigned to the Whitewater case. The first, Robert Fiske, had been appointed by then-Attorney General Janet Reno, but William Rehnquist, then the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, blocked Reno's bid to renew Fiske's appointment because after all, she had been nominated by Bill Clinton and anyone she picked would not be independent enough. A federal appeals panel went with Starr, and that's how in 1994 a very partisan Republican was put in charge of investigating Whitewater and everything else.

Here's the thing: Fiske had looked into Vince Foster's 1993 suicide and determined — like multiple other investigations had — that Foster, the White House Counsel, had killed himself, no matter how hard rightwing conspiracy theories insisted maybe Hillary Clinton had him murdered to cover up something nasty about Whitewater. (This is also where we remind you that if you're having thoughts of harming yourself, give a call, 24-7, to the Suicide and Crisis Hotline at 988. It's a new easier to remember number!)

But in 1995, one of Starr's investigators, an ambitious prick with no chin and multiple foreheads named Brett Kavanaugh, nonetheless persuaded Starr to reopen the investigation into Foster's death, explaining that “we have received allegations that Mr. Foster’s death related to President and Mrs. Clinton’s involvement” in Whitewater and Crom knows what-all other evildoings. As historian Sean Wilentz wrote in the a New York Times op-ed when Kavanaugh was being confirmed to the Supreme Court, those "allegations" amounted to nothing more than a lot of wild speculation from rightwing hacks, including Reed Irvine, who crusaded against the "liberal media;" Ambrose Evan-Pritchard, a loon who insisted the Oklahoma City Bombing was an FBI inside job, and Christopher Ruddy, who would go on to found the very accurate Newsmax propaganda outfit, but who at the time was "on the payroll of the right-wing tycoon Richard Mellon Scaife to promote conspiracies."

And so, with Starr's blessing, Kavanaugh went on to "investigate" the made-up conspiracies that Foster had been murdered, even though Kavs said he personally thought Foster had killed himself. He even sent someone to get hair samples from Foster's daughter, because you just had to check every possible bit of evidence. Kavanaugh also was super interested in the nonsense rumor that Hillary Clinton had had an affair with Foster, and that's now the guy who's taking away abortion rights.

Also, after he was all done with trying to bring down Bill Clinton, Starr went on to be the president of Baylor University, where he was shitcanned in 2016 for his part in covering up — or failing to "take appropriate action to respond to" — a massive sexual assault scandal involving the football team, and then he helped defend the indefensible Donald Trump in his first impeachment, fuck him, he's dead, the end.

[CNBC / NYT / NYT / Atlantic]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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