Sneering Blowhards Slander Caryn Mann

Caryn Mann has discovered what happens to a woman who says things the press and the pundits don’t want to hear. If you have heard of Ms. Mann, you probably know she has accused her former boyfriend, Parker Dozhier, of giving cash payments and other benefits to David Hale, the chief Whitewater witness against the President. And if you know that much, you almost certainly have heard that she is a “fortuneteller,” an “astrologer” or a “tarot card reader” and thus a person of “dubious credibility.”

No one denies that Ms. Mann and her teenage son, Joshua Rand, lived with Mr. Dozhier at his Hot Springs, Ark., fishing resort between 1994 and 1996. Nor does anyone dispute that Mr. Dozhier was employed by the so-called “Arkansas Project,” the scheme to discredit Bill Clinton that was financed by conservative billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, using $1.7 million laundered through the American Spectator magazine. And there is also no question that Mr. Hale visited the Dozhier compound on numerous occasions, along with other representatives of the Arkansas Project, while he was giving testimony to Kenneth Starr, the Whitewater independent counsel.

The question is whether Mr. Hale discussed Whitewater with Mr. Dozhier and the other Arkansas Project personnel, and whether he received a car, lodging and money in return. Mr. Starr’s partisans in the press don’t want to believe any of this happened, because Mr. Hale’s testimony might be thrown out and the Whitewater investigation crash in embarrassment and disgrace. If Ms. Mann is telling the truth, the implications for the President’s enemies would be devastating.

That is why the calumnies against her are repeated like a mantra whenever her name is mentioned. Tim Russert called her a “fortuneteller” on Meet the Press a couple of weeks ago, and lately the same descriptions have turned up on the front page of The Washington Times and in many other news accounts. Some have even mocked her for claiming to “know where Jimmy Hoffa is buried.”

While it is amusing to see a Moonie paper criticize the superstitions of other people, the attacks on Ms. Mann are unfounded. According to Ms. Mann, almost none of the people who have written about her “dubious credibility”-such as conservative columnist Robert Novak-has even attempted to interview her. While she admits to dabbling in astrology and other “New Age” hobbies-not unlike newspapers that publish daily horoscopes-Ms. Mann is in fact, like Mr. Russert, a devout Catholic. She is a struggling single mother, employed at places like driving schools and funeral homes, such as the one in Bentonville, Ark., where she now works.

Asked where Hoffa is buried, she laughs. “That was a joke about a house in Florida that was owned by somebody connected to Hoffa, and someone said, ‘Did they put him in before they poured the pool?’ We all laughed. It was a joke!”

Mr. Novak, a passionate believer in the widely discredited faith of supply-side economics, refers repeatedly to Ms. Mann as “dubious.” He even claims that she is the “sole source” of allegations about Mr. Hale, which only shows that he has trouble reading English. The fact is that Ms. Mann’s son, who now attends college in Arkansas, confirms her story in many particulars, including payments of cash that he says he witnessed. Moreover, Ms. Mann has documents in her possession that tend to confirm what she has said, including proof that Mr. Hale was put on the couple’s car insurance so that he could use their vehicles while he used their cabin in Hot Springs rent-free.

And as Ms. Mann points out, her account was first published by the Associated Press, after weeks of interviews with A.P. reporter Karen Gullo-not exactly a partisan news organ. Anyway, it is Mr. Dozhier’s version that strains credulity. In denying that he or anyone else involved with the Arkansas Project paid Mr. Hale, he also has insisted that they never discussed Whitewater during Mr. Hale’s visits. “He told me it was going to get big, really big, and we never spoke about it again,” Mr. Dozhier explained recently. Of course, Mr. Hale was touted as an “exclusive” Whitewater source by Mr. Dozhier’s employers at The American Spectator , but they never spoke about the subject.

If you believe that, maybe you’ll believe that tax cuts can save the world or that Sun Myung Moon is the messiah.

Speaking of credulity, The Spectator ‘s new publisher, Terry Eastland, is telling reporters that he has investigated the Arkansas Project himself, and that nothing went amiss. (Mr. Eastland replaced Ronald Burr, who was fired for blowing the whistle on the project and then paid to keep silent.) No doubt Mr. Eastland will likewise reassure his friend Mr. Starr, who seems determined to oversee the mandated investigation of Ms. Mann’s charges despite his own ties to Mr. Scaife and The Spectator .

There is a smell emanating from this affair, but so far it doesn’t seem to have reached the usually sensitive nostrils of the New York Times editorial board and other guardians of civic morality. How long can they hold their noses?