The Corner

BRODER ON ROVE — AND CLINTON

On Friday, the Washington Post’s David Broder, who recently angered many readers by writing that some media outlets should apologize to Karl Rove for their coverage of his role in the CIA leak case, answered questions from readers in an online chat :

Washington, D.C.: Mr Broder, if you feel Karl Rove is owed an apology from the pundits and writers over Valerie Plame, did you also call for an apology to the Clintons after Ken Starr, the Whitewater investigation and the failed attempt to impeach President Clinton? If not, why not?

David S. Broder: As best, I can recall,I did not call for such an apology. My view, for whatever it is worth long after the dust has settled on Monica, was that when President Clinton admitted he had lied to his Cabinet and his closest assoc, to say nothing of the public, that the honorable thing was for him to have resigned and turned over the office to Vice President Gore. I think history would have been very different had he done that.

———- Rochester, N.Y.: I’ll be impressed if you take this one…

Mr. Broder, you recently argued that many in the media owed Karl Rove an apology, because we now know that the worst Mr. Rove might have done in the Valerie Plame case was to have misled prosecutors about a deed that was not itself a crime. If you feel this way now, then why were you so critical of Bill Clinton for misleading lawyers about a deed that was not itself a crime? Or do you now feel you owe Bill Clinton an apology? If not, then why not?

David S. Broder: We return a second time to President Clinton. What bothered me greatly about his actions was not what he said to his lawyers but what he told the Cabinet, his White House staff–You can go out and defend me because this did not happen. And he told the same lie to the American people. When a president loses his credibility, he loses an important tool for governing–and that is why I thought he should step down.

———- Ottawa, Canada: I am curious about your statement regarding Mr. Clinton:”..that the honorable thing was for him to have resigned…” This resignation would have been because of private misconduct that he lied about. How sir, would you judge a president that overstated the facts and got the country into a war?

David S. Broder: I would judge that president harshly, as the majority of the voters in this country and in many other parts of the world has done. But I make a distinction between a terrible misjudgment and a deliberate lie. Do you?