Getting Nasty

How to Spread a Smear The bickering on Capitol Hill takes a vicious turn

"Have you no sense of decency, sir?" That was the question Army counsel Joseph Welch asked Joseph McCarthy 35 years ago when the Senator ruined the lives of those who did not agree with him by impugning their character and patriotism. The same question could be posed to Republican National Committee chairman Lee Atwater, his communications director Mark Goodin and Congressman Newt Gingrich.

Acting directly or through subordinates, this trio last week worked to spread a long-standing unsubstantiated rumor designed to humiliate new House Speaker Thomas Foley. Just as Foley was poised to take the gavel from departing Speaker Jim Wright's...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!