Lewinsky Case: Lawyers Get a Spanking

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WASHINGTON: In the Lewinsky case, being called in by Judge Norma Holloway Johnson is the nearest thing to taking a trip to the principal's office. Johnson was working overtime Monday night, hauling Starr prosecutors, White House counsels and the latest batch of Lewinsky lawyers into her chambers for a stern lecture on why they shouldn't talk to strange reporters. The reason for the reprimand: Growing controversy over Ken Starr's interview with Brill's Content magazine cofounder Steve Brill, in which Starr admitted leaking sensitive information to selected journalists. The Justice Department now says it's "examining" Brill's article. Janet Reno has repeatedly said she won't take any action against Starr unless she hears it from Judge Johnson first. Given last night's lecture, she may not have to wait too long.

Special Report In the long run, however, Starr's greater sin may be naming the three reporters his office "spoke extensively" with -- Susan Schmidt of the Washington Post, Jackie Judd at ABC and Newsweek's Michael Isikoff. The Post's media guru Howard Kurtz talks of a "genuine sense of discomfort in media ranks" that Starr would simply name names so easily. Even more discomforting for the all-day news networks: Their grand jury sources have suddenly dried up. For once, no one knows in advance which witness will appear Tuesday. Looks like Johnson's verbal spanking is working already.