This Week

Issue: "Promise Keepers breakdown," March 21, 1998

Slow down

A WORLD reader urged us in an e-mail last week to "comment on the controversial interview on March 5 of Billy Graham." Cal Thomas responds on page 19, but the editors also found the comments of Carl Henry, former editor of Christianity Today and associate of Mr. Graham, enlightening: "Billy Graham's extension of forgiveness to President Clinton was premature: Mr. Graham lost a few important qualifiers on the way to public commentary. Forgiveness presupposes an admission of guilt and a request for pardon. Forgiveness is an actuality that God legitimates, and if Mr. Clinton is innocent he has no need of it. "Half the nation seems morally outraged by alleged misbehavior in the White House, while another half seems untroubled by what other citizens countenance in other houses: adultery, abortion, drug addiction, abuse, divorce, and violence. The sense of shame is vanishing. If Mr. Clinton needs to acknowledge that he is not above God's law, we do well to join in this confession and to reach as president and people for forgiveness and moral renewal."

Natural-born killers?

Prosecutors in some recent, celebrated murder cases have had difficulty convincing jurors, but the men accused of murders in different parts of the country last week may have made the work easier. In Texas, Robert James Neville Jr., 23, and Michael Wayne Hall, 18, confessed to murdering a mildly retarded 19-year-old girl because, in the words of one, they sought an "adrenaline rush." Amy Robinson, the victim, was chosen because "she was the closest, the most trusting-didn't have to leave no bruises or anything like that," said Mr. Hall. "All the other people you try to take out there, they'd be fighting for their life." Both men admit they picked up Ms. Robinson as she rode her bicycle to work and drove her to a secluded field; there, they both admitted in interviews, Mr. Hall shot her with a pellet gun and Mr. Neville shot her in the chest and head with a .22-caliber rifle after she screamed in pain from the pellet shots. "She kept saying, 'Oh that hurt, oh that hurt' ... me and Robert just bust out laughing," Mr. Hall recounted. Both said they were white supremacists who had planned to kill members of racial minorities; Ms. Robinson was part Native American. But her father said he believed cowardice, not race, determined their selection of his daughter: "They were picking on Amy. They knew she would not fight. They are cowards ... spineless cowards." In Miami, a 12-year-old girl-sent to the United States by her Haitian parents, who wanted a better life for her-was gunned down as she waited to cross the street after buying lemonade and a Popsicle. None of the bullets struck the intended target, a man who owed the shooter $300, according to police. Three men were arrested; two of them-a 15-year-old and a 20-year-old-have confessed. The alleged triggerman, 51-year-old Raul Fonseca, has a 46-page rap sheet dating back to 1960. He is exercising his right to remain silent. Miami police detective Ervens Ford described the arrest: "These kids were laughing and carrying on. The driver was worried about when he was going to get home." One described the 12-year-old victim with a racial epithet. Said police chief Donald Warshaw, "These people are poison. They shrug their shoulders when you ask them: Do you realize you killed someone?"

"Sorry."

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The reporter who broke the 1993 "Troopergate" story that led to Paula Jones's sexual harassment suit against President Clinton-which, in turn, eventually led to the Monica Lewinsky investigation-last week apologized to Mr. Clinton for bringing up the whole mess. In a open letter to the president, published in the current issue of Esquire, former American Spectator reporter David Brock echoed the cultural cliché that what a public figure does in his or her private life doesn't really matter. "As the first reporter who leered into your sex life, I do know that I didn't learn a ... thing worth knowing about your character." Mr. Brock, a homosexual currently focused on fulfilling his six-figure contract for a book-length mea culpa, must not be paying attention to the news. The character questions raised in Mr. Brock's original 1993 story, in which four Arkansas state troopers claimed Mr. Clinton routinely had adulterous dalliances while governor, are front and center every day. White House officials welcomed Mr. Brock's apology; Jim Kennedy, a member of the administration's legal team, described it as "an interesting correction of the record." But, in fact, the record remains unchanged. At no point in his Esquire piece did Mr. Brock actually recant any part of his 1993 story. Although he now says he thinks the troopers may have exaggerated some details of Mr. Clinton's alleged sexcapades, Mr. Brock told CNN, "I can't point to anything specific ... [in the story that] might be wrong." In addition, Mr. Brock wasn't the only reporter who unearthed the Troopergate story. Two Los Angeles Times reporters actually began working on the story before Mr. Brock did. Their lengthy report, developed independently of Mr. Brock's work but containing many of the same details, appeared only one day after the Brock article hit newsstands. However, it was the Brock story in The American Spectator that led to the current chain of events. Mr. Brock included a tidbit about woman, identified only as "Paula," who in 1991 spent time alone with Mr. Clinton in a Little Rock hotel room. Seven weeks after the story broke, Paula Jones filed suit against Mr. Clinton, attempting to prove that she was not a willing partner in what she alleges occurred in that room. The now-turned Mr. Brock says he should have left "Paula" unidentified. "I should have removed the name." No doubt the president wishes he had.

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