How Kenneth Starr’s Report Became a Corset Ripper and Bestseller

On January 26, 1998, President Bill Clinton stood on the podium at the White House and said to the world, “Miss Lewinsky, I have not had sex with that woman.” The fact-checking of Clinton’s statement took place after several Months, including media leaks and legal testimony, culminated in the publication in the fall of 1998 of a corset ripper with an unusually long title.

Communication from Kenneth W. Starr, Office of Independent Counsel, attached to the United States House of Representatives pursuant to Title 28, United States Code, Section 595(c)

When publishers in New York rushed to distribute copies to American bookstores (which were still widely available), they shortened the title to “The Stahl Report,” which made it easier to sell. That’s exactly the point – turning the indictment documents into a Danielle Steele novel.

Kenneth Starr, the independent attorney who investigated Clinton for years, died Tuesday, leaving a long and complex legacy. But nothing he did would leave a trace like his report.

Former U.S. Attorney General Kenneth Starr, who led the Whitewater investigation, testifies during President Bill Clinton’s impeachment hearing on November 19, 1998. (Video: Associated Press)

Kenneth Starr, who led Whitewater probe into Clinton administration, dies at 76

Starr expressed surprise when his report soared on the global bestseller list. But historians, political analysts and literary critics are not baffled by the book’s success for two main reasons.

First, his choice of writers.

Starr turned to two experienced attorneys/authors on its staff to write much of the report, including Stephen Bates, who has written several books and contributed to magazines such as The New Republic and Playboy Contributed before writing the ultimate loft letter.

Which brings us to the second reason – the writing itself.

Readers, including professional readers such as book reviewers and actual authors, immediately noticed the report’s unusual tone and structure. In an article for the California Law Review, noted law professor Daniel M. Filler wrote: “Far from dry, truthful recitation, this essay contains The kind of rich, erotic detail we’ve come to expect from book club romances.”

On her way to the bathroom around 8 p.m., she passed George Stephanopoulos’ office. The president was inside alone, and he motioned her to go in. She told him that she had a crush on him. He smiled, then asked her if she wanted to see his private office. Through a connecting door in Mr. Stephanopoulos’ office, they walked through the president’s private dining room toward the study outside the Oval Office. Ms Lewinsky testified: “We had a brief conversation and admitted to some extent that there had been a chemistry before and we were both attracted to each other and he asked me if I could kiss me.” Ms Winsky said yes. In the windowless corridor near the study, they kissed. Back at her desk, Ms. Lewinsky wrote down her name and the president’s phone number. Around 10 p.m., in Ms. Lewinsky’s recollection, alone in the chief of staff’s office, the president approached. He invited her to meet in Mr. Stephanopoulos’ office in a few minutes, and she agreed. (When asked if she knew why the president was meeting with her, Ms. Lewinsky testified: “I have an idea.”) They met in Mr. Stephanopoulos’ office and then went to where the private study is located. Area. This time, the lights in the study were turned off.

You might be wondering what happened next. Don’t worry — writers don’t leave their audiences hanging: “She kissed the president. She unbuttoned her jacket; either she unbuttoned her bra or he lifted her bra; he stroked with his hands and his mouth her breasts.”

President who hates his own presidential portrait

Well, there’s more to that little moment.

In addition to the awkward, awkward sex, the authors explicitly try to cast Clinton and Lewinsky as literary characters, with hopes and dreams, and even favorite books. (Clinton gave Lewinsky a copy of Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass,” which also immediately hit the bestseller lists.) The writers even took the old show—without rules, which meant they Use precise details to build tension and character.

Classic narrative is an understatement. one question. um, yes. But what kind of problem? The boss sleeps with the intern? The president sleeps with the intern? Interns don’t have a proper pass to be with the president, clothed or unclothed? Readers have to use their imaginations.

Critics were not impressed.

“Every time we see Clinton, he unzips it, and every time we see Monica, she opens her mouth,” noted author Cynthia Ozick told the Los Angeles Times. “The narrator is dark, but not introspective like a Hawthorne novel. If you want to see it as a literary story, you don’t need to look for meaning or a higher truth.”

‘Dear Bill’: Elegant Letters from One President to Another in the Oval Office

Novelist Pam Houston interprets it differently. It’s not about sex at all. It’s deeper.

“These people are really suffering, just like millions of other people in this country, and they need our sympathy,” Houston said. “If you read carefully, this is the story of two slightly overweight people who desperately need validation.”

While members of both parties in Congress agreed on little or nothing in the report, it seems safe to assume that neither party agrees with the verification interpretation. (We can’t say for sure, because Congressional Book Club minutes are not a matter of public records.)

One reviewer in the chair complained that one review compared Starr’s report to the work of the late novelist Harold Robbins.

“Contrary to what your biased reviews suggest, this is not a book at all,” the Amazon reviewer wrote. “This is a comprehensive report to Congress.”

Maybe, but it had a very gripping ending: Less than a month later, the president was impeached.

A version of this story originally aired on January 26, 2018.

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: