Will Diane Sawyer Grill Hillary Clinton Like She Did Ken Starr and Mel Gibson?

Veteran ABC journalist Diane Sawyer has interviewed Hillary Clinton for a one-hour special that airs Monday night. Will the World News anchor grill the potential Democratic presidential candidate like she did Ken Starr or Mel Gibson? It doesn't seem likely that the reporter, who linked Clinton to Jesus Christ, will offer much in the way of hard-hitting questions. However, talking to then-special prosecutor Starr on November 25, 1998, she demanded, "Are you part of a right-wing conspiracy?"  [See video below. MP3 audio here.]

Previewing the special 20/20 interview with the man who investigated President Bill Clinton, an announcer proudly asserted, "The tables are turned. Now it's the prosecutor's turn to be grilled." During a special on The Passion of the Christ, Sawyer hammered film director Gibson: "Are you anti-Semitic?" She even linked the film to Nazism: "Hitler went to a passion play and came away saying that, you know, this is a precious tool in the fight against Judaism." 

Clearly, Sawyer has the ability to be aggressive when she chooses to do so. It's just conservatives who are usually the brunt of her tough questions. Some examples from her Ken Starr interview can be found below: 

Announcer: "Did Kenneth Starr go too far?"
Diane Sawyer to Starr: "I think there were 62 mentions of the word 'breast,' 23 of 'cigar,' 19 of 'semen.' This has been called demented pornography, pornography for Puritans. Were there mistakes made in including some of this?"
Announcer: "The tables are turned. Now it's the prosecutor's turn to be grilled, when 20/20 Wednesday continues after this from our ABC stations."
— Plug during 20/20 interview with Ken Starr, November 25, 1998. 

"Did they cross the line? First with Monica Lewinsky, when nine federal officers took her to a room at the Ritz-Carlton and put pressure on her to turn on the President? [to Starr] People see a young girl who was in tears, who was threatened with 27 years in prison possibly, who was told that her mother might be prosecuted based on things she had said about her mother, who was to wire herself or tape the President or Vernon Jordan. And they say this isn't John Gotti. This isn't Timothy McVeigh..."

Sawyer: "Which brings us to Linda Tripp, the woman people love to hate, and the accusation that Ken Starr was not what he had seemed. [to Starr] Are you part of a right-wing conspiracy?"
Starr: "No. I don't know that there is one."

"His key witness, Linda Tripp, is now a recognized soldier in the army of Clinton haters — among them Tripp's friend and svengali, Lucianne Goldberg. Among them, the lawyers for Paula Jones. Before he became independent counsel, Starr gave them advice. And among them, millionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, who hired people to dig up dirt on Bill Clinton and funded a chair at Pepperdine University for Ken Starr...."

"Driving to the White House that day [to interview President Clinton], for what was — for all intents and purposes, a lot of people think — your trial, the only trial you were going to get. Did you think to yourself, here is a man who has to deal with Saddam Hussein and bin Laden and what's going on in Russia, and we're putting him through this?"
— Some of Sawyer's questions to Starr on 20/20, November 25, 1998. 

"I guess one of the questions is, some, some, the White House certainly has said, that it's a sign that he's out of control. At any point have you suggested to Judge Starr that it's time to shut the office down or that he may be pressing too hard?"
Good Morning America co-host Diane Sawyer asking Judge Robert Bork about special prosecutor Ken Starr and whether or his office was responsible for leaks while investigating Bill Clinton, February 1, 1999.


A 2006 Media Research Center report comparing the treatment of Passion of the Christ to the media adoration for the Da Vinci Code, explained the anger Sawyer seemed to have at Gibson for making his movie:

Sawyer reported Gibson’s film suggests "echoes, the critics say, of what were called ‘Passion plays,’ which through the ages, were used to inflame Christians against their Jewish neighbors. Ghettos were sacked, the Jewish populations terrorized." (Sawyer didn’t relate that Passion plays are read or performed annually around the world in millions of Christian churches without outbursts of anti-Semitic violence.) Sawyer asked Gibson, point blank: "Are you anti-Semitic?" She brought in the Nazi angle: "Hitler went to a passion play and came away saying that, you know, this is a precious tool in the fight against Judaism."

In contrast, the ABC journalist has repeatedly fawned over Clinton. On June 4, 2008, after the Democrat dropped out of the presidential race, Sawyer read a 17th century poem about Christ: "This woman, as we said, forged into determination and purpose her whole life. As someone said, 'No thorns, no throne; no gall, no glory; no cross, no crown.'" 

In 1999, she lauded Mrs. Clinton for being "every bit as dazzling" as her husband. One might expect Monday's interview to be more of the same. After all, Hillary Clinton is no Ken Starr. 

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org