Appearing as a guest on Saturday's Smerconish show on CNN, Yahoo News correspondent Michael Isikoff -- formerly of both NBC and Newsweek -- recounted that, both in the 1992 presidential campaign and through the 1990s, Hillary Clinton "was very much a part of the damage control" around her husband Bill Clinton's past relationships with women as she "was focused on discrediting accusations of misconduct against her husband, discrediting women who had rumored about, who came forward to talk about relationships that they might have with Bill Clinton."
He also recalled Clinton's involvement in hiring private investigators, noting that "she was instrumental in the hiring of a private investigator, Jack Palladino," who was "paid over $100,000 by the Clinton campaign for the specific job of digging up dirt discrediting Gennifer Flowers and other women who had been linked to Bill Clinton."
The segment began with Michael Smerconish playing clips from two recent interviews with Juanita Broaddrick, who has accused Bill Clinton of raping her in 1978, as Broaddrick recalled an unsettling experience of Hillary Clinton approaching her at a fundraiser soon after the rape occurred, and speaking to her in an oddly aggressive way as if to hint that she wished for Broaddrick to remain quiet for the sake of protecting Bill Clinton.
Smerconish and Isikoff then got to the subject of Hillary actively taking part in "discrediting" women in the 1990s, which even involved the hiring of private investigators by the campaign. Isikoff began:
I can tell you what we know, which is from the beginning of when they ran, when Bill Clinton ran for President in 1992, Hillary Clinton was part and parcel of doing damage control for the Clinton campaign. You go back to -- take a look at John Dickerson's excellent new book, Whistlestop, with the chapter on the '92 campaign. And from the beginning, accusations of sexual infidelity by Bill Clinton was the biggest single baggage that Bill Clinton had when he ran during the Democratic primary in 1992.
After recalling that the Clinton campaign was very much worried about the issue of women from the past during the 1992 elections, Isikoff continued:
Hillary Clinton was very much a part of the damage control on that. She was focused on discrediting accusations of misconduct against her husband, discrediting women who had rumored about, who came forward to talk about relationships that they might have with Bill Clinton, certainly Gennifer Flowers. She was instrumental in the hiring of a private investigator, Jack Palladino, who I first wrote about in 1992, was paid over $100,000 by the Clinton campaign for the specific job of digging up dirt discrediting Gennifer Flowers and other women who had been linked to Bill Clinton.
He then added:
So Hillary Clinton was very much a part of that. I don't know if that makes her an enabler. It makes her -- she viewed this as political combat. Accusations against her husband were coming from their political enemies, and she was going to do her best to try to push back and try to discredit those allegations.
Smerconish wondered about Hillary's motivations as he followed up:
Do you know if that's because she didn't believe women back in '92 and therefore wanted to stand by her man? Or was there something more Machiavellian to it that, regardless of what the truth might be, she wanted to support his advancement and her own?
After declining to speculate about why Hillary Clinton would choose to behave in such a manner, Isikoff pointed out that the then-First Lady continued this behavior during her husband's presidency, noting Monica Lewinsky as an example:
I should also point out that, you know, this continued through the Clinton presidency whenever accusations came up, she, you know, rushed to the barricades. When Monica Lewinsky came up, she pushed back immediately with "this is part of a vast right-wing conspiracy." So, you know, it's been a part of her political career from the get go to stand by her husband and attack the people who were criticizing or coming forward to discredit her husband.
Although Smerconish had begun the segment previewing a desire to include Kathleen Willey's experiences with the Clintons, Isikoff failed to specifically mention her name in his response. Private investigator Jarrett Stern notably bolstered claims by Willey that she faced harassment, with Stern recalling that he was requested to take part in activities against her.