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Believe Juanita? Maybe, But Maybe Not

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Believe Juanita? Maybe, But Maybe Not

Bill Clinton did not call Obamacare crazy
While we’re on the subject, has everybody already forgotten about “Jackie,” of Rolling Stone and University of Virginia fame? Or Crystal Mangum, who falsely accused several Duke lacrosse players of rape (supported by a large contingent of the faculty) and who was subsequently convicted of stabbing her boyfriend to death?

So yes, women do lie about sex for any number of reasons, often unfathomable. Revenge, jealousy, money, psychosis, etc. I wrote a book called “Widow’s Web” about a woman who tried to frame a man for murdering his wife, renting a motel room, claiming he’d shacked up with her and brought cash to pay the hit men she’d hired. Problem was, he was halfway across the state at the time, visiting a client inside the state penitentiary—an airtight alibi.

Otherwise, who knows?

Much of the state’s news media was hankering to convict the poor man, based upon wildly erroneous leaks about the fortune he supposedly inherited by his wife’s death. In fact, he’d lost everything.

OK, so that was an extreme case. But then so was Kenneth Starr’s mad “Whitewater” sexual witch hunt, commencing years before he found Monica Lewinsky. So I’m sorry, but when I read a column like Michelle Goldberg’s “I Believe Juanita,” I’m tempted to ask if the New York Times’ newly-minted liberal columnist also believes in Tinker Belle, the Easter Bunny…

It’s not about Bill Clinton as much it’s an ideological gesture.

Maybe something happened between then-Arkansas Attorney General Bill Clinton and Juanita Broaddrick in a Little Rock hotel room in 1979. Also, maybe not. However, to accuse a man of a vile crime like rape requires serious evidence. And I’m sorry, but there simply never was any, apart from Broaddrick’s unverifiable tale—one she’d previously denied three times under oath and penalty of perjury.

Then after falling into the hands of Starr and his team of prosecutorial bed-sheet sniffers, she sang a different tune. All these liberal thinkers—Caitlyn Flanagan, Matt Yglesias, Chris Hayes—currently seeking cheap grace by vouching for Broaddrick and other of Clinton’s accusers can brush up on Starr’s leak-o-matic sex probe by reading Joe Conason’s and my book “The Hunting of the President.” Or even better in this context, Susan McDougal’s “The Woman Who Wouldn’t Talk.”

Remember her? Starr kept Susan McDougal locked up for 18 months after she refused to give grand jury testimony in what she believed was a perjury trap. Unless she confirmed her ex-husband Jim’s desperate post-conviction Whitewater lies incriminating both Clintons, Susan feared Starr would prosecute her. They had no other credible evidence.

Something else McDougal was expected to confirm was her (non-existent) sexual affair with Bill Clinton.

So she sat tight. Starr’s prosecutors charged Susan with criminal obstruction of justice in May 1998. She testified in open court for three days, and a Little Rock jury acquitted her. Just as a jury in Alexandria, Virginia failed to convict Julie Hiatt Steele of obstruction for refusing to affirm what she called her former friend Kathleen Willey’s lies concerning Bill Clinton.

Remember, all this was going on contemporaneous with Juanita Broaddrick’s falling into Starr’s clutches. How that happened was she’d filed an affidavit and given a sworn deposition in the Paula Jones lawsuit.

“During the 1992 Presidential campaign,” Broaddrick swore, “there were unfounded rumors and stories circulated that Mr. Clinton had made unwelcome sexual advances toward me in the late seventies. Newspaper and tabloid reporters hounded me and my family, seeking corroboration of these tales. I repeatedly denied the allegations and requested that my family’s privacy be respected. These allegations are untrue and I had hoped that they would no longer haunt me, or cause further disruption to my family.”

So no, I don’t know, and neither do you.

This too: Juanita Broaddrick ran a nursing home facility reliant on Medicaid and Medicare funding—a mother lode of potential federal crimes. Not because she was crooked. There’s zero evidence of that. But that wouldn’t have mattered once Starr’s prosecutors put her on the rack.

You wouldn’t have thought they’d question the legality of Julie Hiatt Steele’s adopted child either. But they did.

So did Juanita choose the easier path? Which time?

The FBI couldn’t decide.

In sum, the same “liberal” media that fed from Starr’s hands back then is still doing so regarding Bill Clinton—even after Starr ran around Waco in a cheerleader suit while the Baylor University football team held a rape-a-thon.
Yes, Clinton had a spectacularly ill-advised Oval Office affair. But if adultery were a crime, a homicide cop once told me “the prisons would be bigger than the graveyards.” Nor does adultery make anybody a rapist.

As for the “power imbalance” people prate about, get real. From the moment the big dope gave in to temptation, Monica Lewinsky had his life and reputation in her hands.
Not that it’s ever done her any good.
Gene Lyons

Gene Lyons is a political columnist and author. Lyons writes a column for the Arkansas Times that is nationally syndicated by United Media. He was previously a general editor at Newsweek as wells an associate editor at Texas Monthly where he won a National Magazine Award in 1980. He contributes to Salon.com and has written for such magazines as Harper's, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Review of Books, Entertainment Weekly, Washington Monthly, The Nation, Esquire, and Slate. A graduate of Rutgers University with a Ph.D. in English from the University of Virginia, Lyons taught at the Universities of Massachusetts, Arkansas and Texas before becoming a full-time writer in 1976. A native of New Jersey, Lyons has lived in Arkansas with his wife Diane since 1972. The Lyons live on a cattle farm near Houston, Ark., with a half-dozen dogs, several cats, three horses, and a growing herd of Fleckvieh Simmental cows. Lyons has written several books including The Higher Illiteracy (University of Arkansas, 1988), Widow's Web (Simon & Schuster, 1993), Fools for Scandal (Franklin Square, 1996) as well as The Hunting Of The President: The 10 Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton, which he co-authored with National Memo Editor-in-Chief Joe Conason.

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  1. Darsan54 November 23, 2017

    What women have wanted all this time is to be heard and believed enough for investigation to happen. As with all humans, you need to hear the stories, but then verify them. Simply telling a story doesn’t and shouldn’t automatically lead to a guilty plea.

    1. FireBaron November 23, 2017

      The real problem with Clinton’s accusers was none of them were credible or consistent in their stories. They all sang one song, then another, then recanted their retelling, then changed the situations again.

  2. Theodora30 November 23, 2017

    Too bad you didn’t also review the reasons why Starr could not use either Paula Jones or Kathleen Willey a witnesses. Far too many people have no idea the lengths right wing operatives and many in the mainstream media were willing to go to to trash the Clintons.
    Paula Jones’s own sister and brother-in-law, as well as several coworkers’ all said she was happy about her encounter with Clinton, like Monica, actively seeking a relationship with him. Ditto for Kathleen Willey. Even the world’s worst friend, but truth-telling Linda Tripp, said Willey was seeking an encounter with Clinton and was thrilled after she managed to briefly meet up with him. She then ran to Newsweek’s Michael Isokoff to say Clinton had forcibly groped her. She begged her friend Julie Hyatt Steele to confirm her lie to Isokoff which she initially did but immediately retracted. The intrepid Isokoff went with the story despite the fact that both these women strongly asserted that Willey was lying. Starr had to drop her as a witness because she repeatedly lied to him. She also accused the Clintons of assassinating her cat.

    Why would these women lie? As the Troopers who guarded Clinton and told tales so his sexual dalliances eventually admitted they made up stories because right wing operatives assured them there was money to be made from tabloids like the National Enquirer that would pay for their stories. And there was money to made from suing, as Jones did.

    1. Gene Lyons November 23, 2017

      Quite right. I buried the lead. The big sexual predator in Arkansas (and elsewhere) during the Clinton administration was Kenneth Starr. He and his partisan team of zealots rummaged through every panty drawer in the state looking for somebody with a sexual grudge against Clinton. What’s amazing is how few credible accusers they found: basically none. Many in the press were his willing accomplices, and it’s still rare to find journalists willing to confront the complicity of their colleagues.

      1. bernieo November 23, 2017

        I am deeply disturbed by the fact that the mainstream media is still willingly playing along with right wing smear jobs of Democrats. They have ignored the fact that Leeann Tweeden was a frequent guest of Hannity and a Trump supporter, information people deserved to have when judging her credibility. At least MSNBC reported that the master of right wing political smears, Roger Stone, knew about her accusations in advance but most of the rest of the media buried that fact.
        The most disturbing example of media complicity for me is the fact that both the NY Times and Washington Post signed deals with Breitbart author Peter Schweitzer and printed the “facts” from his anti-Clinton screed “Clinton Cash”. Clearly they did not fact check his claims (Uranium One, for example) because other media outlets had no problem quickly debunking them. Jill Abramson recently reported in the Guardian that it was after those articles that Clinton’s strong poll numbers tanked, especially on honesty and trustworthiness, and never fully recovered. This happened in the spring of 2015, more than a year before the media even bothered examining Trump’s actual scam of a foundation. Apparently the mainstream media learned nothing from being duped into believing right wing smears like Whitewater, Wen Ho Lee/Chinagate, WMD, etc.
        For years I have wondered why this keeps happening and why the media seems not to care. I now strongly suspect that the reason this keeps is that for years the NY office of the FBI has vouched for the veracity of the claims. Both the Daily Beast and Guardian have reported that that office is staffed by a bunch of right wingers. Its head in the 90’s was James Kallstrom who was a frequent Hillary basher on Fox during the last election. That office still has close ties to Louie Freeh and has been tight with Trump for years. They actually tried to pressure the Justice Department into investigating the Clinton Foundation based on the claims in Schweitzer’s book, so it makes sense that when that failed they convinced the Post and Times to partner with Schweitzer to legitimize the charges. It was also that office that so intimidated Comey that he broke Justice Department rules and released that disastrous letter about Hillary’s emails right before the election.
        I suspect this kind of media manipulation has been going on for years. It is the best explanation I can find for the democracy-damaging performance of our top media outlets that has been going on all these years. Fake News has not done more damage than the mainstream media has done. That is why Steve Bannon has said his goal is to get his stories into the mainstream media. He knows that liberals repeatedly fall for smears if the Times and Post report them. In fact he has reportedly said that getting the Times and Post to report the claims from “Clinton Cash”, a book he financed, was a huge coup.

  3. planetc November 23, 2017

    I’m glad someone has finally brought up the name of Susan McDougal, who spent 18 months of her life in jail because she wouldn’t lie for the Special Counsel. Then she wrote a book about it, which the New York Times reviewed, but failed utterly to understand, much less believe. The mesmeric power that the Times still wields over the populace is frightening. Many readers have tumbled to the fact that they can’t trust anything the NYT says about anyone named Clinton, but the worst of it is that the Times has been in deep denial of their own complicity for so long it’s become part of their identity. The Times is now incapable of seeing anything wrong with their coverage of all things Clinton. Let us not forget that the Times broke the “story” of Hillary Clinton’s emails. Almost immediately, they walked back all the salient points they almost, but not quite, made about her alleged carelessness. But the damage was done. From that day to election day, 2016, her private server would remain a scandal, and it would be mentioned every time her name was mentioned. Many of us keep thinking that if Trump supporters would just inform themselves about current affairs, their enthusiasm would wane. But where do we send them for these facts? For informed opinion rather than heavy innuendo? I honestly think that we have reached the point where, if someone says in print that the Clintons could have committed a crime, this will be taken as proof that they have committed one. Not to be alarmist, but it’s beyond Orwellian.


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