Precinct 333

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Clinton Edits In Brit Bio Imply a Lie

We all know about Bill Clinton's political fantasy, My Life, which has had brisk sales in the US. The British edition is now out, and the way it has been subtly edited is quite telling. What does it tell? That Bill Clinton lied about Ken Starr in the American edition of the book.

What sort of things have been done?
Most of the changes center on what Mr. Clinton portrays as Mr. Starr's attempts to persuade potential witnesses to lie about the activities of the former president and his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, now the junior senator from New York.

For example, in the United States edition, published by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House Inc., Mr. Clinton speaks of Mr. Starr's "continuing efforts to coerce people into making false charges against Hillary and me, and to prosecute those who refused to lie for him."

In the British edition, published by Hutchinson, also part of Random House Inc. and its German parent, Bertelsmann, the word false was deleted and the final clause was changed to "and to prosecute those who refused to tell him what he wanted to hear."

Why, you may ask, has the post-presidential prevaricator made these changes? Is the meaning of "is" different in England? Do the British define "sex" in some other manner than does the average American? The answer is simple -- British libel law. Clinton doesn't want to face a suit in which he must testify and which he will certainly lose.

Our British brethren have strikingly different libel laws. Not only does the Sullivan test not apply (public figures required to prove actual malice to win a libel case) like it does in the US, in England the burden is on the author to prove that the published information is true. Clinton knows that he cannot meet that burden because his statements are untrue. Therefore he has removed his accusations against Ken Starr.

In short, the fear of facing Ken Starr in open court has again cause Bill Clinton to admit that he is a liar. Perhaps we need a class action suit to bring justice to all those who believed they were buying a non-fiction book when they purchased the American edition of My Life. Paging John Edwards!


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