- The Washington Times - Monday, February 21, 2000

A cottage industry sinks to new lows

Linda Tripp has been the target of an unprecedented smear campaign since the day the Clinton White House learned she possessed direct evidence of criminal and immoral conduct at the very highest levels of the administration. The campaign of hate recently sank to new lows, though, in a questionable Washington Post article published on Feb. 11, 2000, ironically titled "No Low Profile."
Mrs. Tripp has consistently shunned the media attention others have sought. Yet her real struggle to return to a normal life, a normal job, and a safe existence for her family is overlooked in this article. Instead, in a curiously non-newsworthy effort, the article's sole objective appears to be to remind people why they should hate Linda Tripp.
The tabloid-like portrayal paints a tawdry picture of Mrs. Tripp taking advantage of her federal employer as a result of her blowing the whistle on President Clinton. It fails to point out that that Mrs. Tripp was summarily removed as the able director of the Pentagon's oldest and most prestigious program after she blew the whistle on the president. She did not request her present assignment.
Mrs. Tripp has not obtained any special privileges, nor has she forced her employer to continue to pay her or to provide her with a private office because she blew the whistle.
Unfortunately, the article did not stop at merely quoting various Linda Tripp haters. In a very peculiar and non-newsworthy fashion, it also exposed exactly where Mrs. Tripp works, how to identify her specific office from the initials in the lobby of the building, and, should a would- be stalker or paparazzi need still more information on how to assault her, The Post helpfully describes which elevator she uses to get to her office. For good measure, the article adds that the guards are no longer there to get in one's way.
The article is chock full of negative spin. In one case, it incorrectly asserts that Mrs. Tripp is one of relatively few in her 80-employee work unit who has a private office. The fact is every employee at Mrs. Tripp's GS-15 grade or above has a private office at this agency. Notably, 15 employees, all with lower grades and most with fewer years of service than Mrs. Tripp, also have private offices. Ironically, hers is the smallest of these offices and is the only such office without a window. She has not complained.
This article was in the works for more than six weeks, yet makes no news. Absent any semblance of news, The Post's intent in running the article appears designed to engender outrage against Mrs. Tripp, perhaps to render more saleable a guilty verdict in the ongoing Maryland prosecution. To hammer home the point, the article erroneously describes Mrs. Tripp's duties and assails her salary. The Post has forgotten that before she blew the whistle to Ken Starr, Mrs. Tripp had been a productive and accomplished GS-15 since 1994. In addition to a career marked by consistent outstanding performance appraisals, the three annual performance reviews immediately prior to her whistle-blowing were also all "outstandings" and she has consistently obtained merit salary increases.
The article also bases much of its negative attack on comments by Rep. James P. Moran, whose gratuitous insults are quoted at length by The Post. No one can dispute that Mrs. Tripp has been a highly dedicated and productive civil servant throughout the course of her 20-plus year career in federal government, yet Mr. Moran shrilly advocates the untenable position that once an employee becomes a whistle-blower he or she should be demoted, reduced in salary and responsibility or fired.
Focusing solely on providing dirt for The Post article, the congressman conspicuously omitted any mention of the underlying criminal and immoral conduct for which Mrs. Tripp blew the whistle. However, when he was trying to save the president from impeachment, Mr. Moran, like so many other Democrats, argued before his colleagues on the floor of the House of Representatives that President Clinton engaged in potentially criminal conduct, had an immoral and reckless sexual relationship with a subordinate government intern and employee, and then lied about it under oath. Mr. Moran proclaimed that the president was "not above the law."
It now appears that Mr. Moran was only giving lip service to the rule of law. Mr. Moran knew perfectly well that but for Linda Tripp exposing Mr. Clinton's illegal conduct, the president would have remained above the law.
Mr. Moran's judgment in this case is evidently influenced by the sport of Tripp-bashing popularized in much of the media. The Post and Mr. Moran ignored a simple fact critical to understanding Mrs. Tripp's conduct: two separate federal laws required Mrs. Tripp to expose the misconduct of her boss.
When Mrs. Tripp blew the whistle on Mr. Clinton, she was not "munching on drums sticks" and "chatting with a teen-ager" as described by The Post and Mr. Moran. She was following the law. Executive Order 12731 requires that federal employees shall disclose abuse and corruption to appropriate authorities; and the media-ignored Civil Rights Act of 1871, a law widely recognized as the most important legislation ever passed protecting civil rights, actually required Mrs. Tripp to use all of her powers to prevent Mr. Clinton and Miss Lewinsky from submitting perjurious testimony in a civil rights case. Not only was Mrs. Tripp required to expose the misconduct, she was also required to aid the intended victim of Mr. Clinton's obstruction of justice.
In the interest of accuracy and fairness, we hope that one day publications such as The Washington Post and politicians such as Mr. Moran will cease their relentless personal attacks on Mrs. Tripp for exposing the president's admitted illegal and immoral acts. Now might be a good time to stop the misdirected orgy of hate directed at Linda Tripp.

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