- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 26, 2000

Being a White House spokesman, at least one in this administration, apparently means never having to say you are sorry. Just ask Jake Siewert.

When news broke that a new grand jury was hearing evidence that President Clinton had perjured himself in connection with the Monica Lewinsky case, Democrats rushed out to say Republicans and/or Independent Counsel Robert Ray had leaked the news to ruin Al Gore's big day; news accounts of the grand jury appeared the day Mr. Gore was to accept the Democratic Party's nomination for president.

No one was more vehement in his protests than Mr. Siewert. "The timing of this leak reeks to high heaven," White House spokesman Jake Siewert said at the time. "Given the record of the Office of the Independent Counsel, the timing is hardly surprising."

As it turned out, of course, the leak came from former Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Richard D. Cudahy, now one of three federal judges who oversees the work of Mr. Ray. Mr. Cudahy himself said he inadvertently leaked the news to an Associated Press reporter, who promptly reported the news himself without saying who had leaked it.

Now that everyone knows the origin of the leak, reporters went back to Mr. Siewert to ask whether he hadn't been a little hasty in his original attack on Mr. Ray. The following exchange occurred Thursday between Mr. Siewert and an unnamed reporter:

REPORTER: Jake, a good deal has been written about your leap to an assumption about the source of the story that a grand jury had been named to investigate the president. Do you withdraw those comments you made last Thursday?

MR. SIEWERT: Well, I don't know that we've seen the full story there. We may never get the full story, given the way reporters work with their sources. I don't know that the Associated Press has ever fully clarified the origin of that story. But we're willing to admit error here if it becomes clear that there was one, and only one, source for that story.

Mr. Siewert pretends to confusion where it does not exist. He simply will not admit to being wrong. Think of him as the perfect spokesman for President Clinton.

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