On Thursday’s NBC Today, correspondent Andrea Mitchell was so deep in the tank for Hillary Clinton that the veteran reporter claimed a major scoop from her own network about Bill Clinton being accused of rape was a “discredited” story.
Mitchell was aghast that Donald Trump mentioned rape allegations against the former president during a Wednesday night interview: “...last night, Trump fired a shot squarely at Clinton's husband....using that word unprompted during an interview last night with Fox News's Sean Hannity, bringing up a discredited and long-denied accusation against former President Bill Clinton...”
A soundbite played of Trump saying the word “rape,” but Mitchell couldn’t bring herself to utter the term. Co-hosts Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie were similarly cryptic when teasing the segment. Earlier in the 7:30 a.m. ET hour, Lauer declared: “Up next, a word used by Donald Trump while talking about former President Bill Clinton that has him under fire this morning.” Minutes later, Guthrie noted: “Hillary Clinton’s camp going hard after Donald Trump...for a word that Trump used in an interview...”
NBC displayed the same squeamishness back on February 25, 1999, the day after then-investigative correspondent Lisa Myers interviewed Juanita Broaddrick, who accused Clinton of raping her in 1978, during his first campaign for governor of Arkansas. At the time, Myers had to address concerns that the network initially forced her to sit on the story before “finally” allowing it on air.
Despite such a bombshell report coming on the heels of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Broaddrick’s claims received short shrift on the network news. A 2015 Media Research Center study detailed how the story was ignored by the Big Three, including NBC:
Well, consider that when then-President Bill Clinton was accused of rape, those same newscasts aired just four stories mentioning those charges during a 12-month period from March 1998 through March 1999.
The four: On March 28, 1998, the NBC Nightly News ran a full story on how Clinton, then the Attorney General of Arkansas, allegedly raped Juanita Broaddrick in a hotel room in 1978. Nightly News provided no further coverage; when NBC’s Lisa Myers taped an exclusive on-camera interview with Broaddrick for Dateline, anchor Tom Brokaw would only mention it in a brief promo at the end of his February 24, 1999 newscast.
The CBS Evening News ran a single report on Broaddrick’s charges during their Saturday, February 20, 1999 newscast. ABC mentioned the case in passing during a March 7, 1999 World News Sunday report about an interview given by whistleblower Linda Tripp; twelve days later, World News Tonight viewers saw a brief clip of then-White House correspondent Sam Donaldson questioning Clinton about the case at a March 19, 1999 news conference: “Can you tell us what your relationship with Ms. Broaddrick was?”
According to Nexis, there’s been no additional discussion of Broaddrick’s charge since then on the evening newscasts — not during Bill Clinton’s book tour, Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, or even as a point of reference in discussions of other scandals.
Even when Broaddrick herself took to social media early in 2016 to lament the Clintons once again being on the national stage during the presidential campaign, journalists like Mitchell made sure to censor the news. During a Wednesday interview with World Net Daily, Broaddrick recounted a brief phone call she had with Mitchell:
Juanita created a social media firestorm earlier this year by tweeting that she had been “dreading seeing my abuser on TV campaign trail for enabler wife … but his physical appearance reflects ghosts of past are catching up.” One of the many media figures who called her after this tweet was Andrea Mitchell of NBC. Because she’d had a positive experience with Lisa Myers with NBC back in 1999, Andrea Mitchell was one of the few calls Juanita returned in the aftermath of her trending tweets. Andrea Mitchell asked her just one question, listened to her answer, and told Juanita condescendingly, “We’re not going to air anything with you because you have nothing new to add.” Juanita felt bewildered by Andrea Mitchell’s dismissive attitude.
On Thursday, after Trump resurrected the story, Mitchell immediately parroted Clinton campaign spin waving reporters off the scandal:
Late last night, the Clinton campaign responded in a statement that read, “Trump is doing what he does best, attacking when he feels wounded and dragging the American people through the mud for his own gain. If that's the kind of campaign he wants to run, that's his choice.” Also accusing him of trying to change the subject from his refusal to release his taxes.
Wrapping up the report, Mitchell proclaimed: “NBC News has reached out to the Trump campaign this morning to ask why he brought up that long-denied Bill Clinton allegation. So far, no response.”
ABC's Good Morning America and CBS This Morning fretted over Trump "rehashing" the "old" accussstions.
Here is a full transcript of the May 19 segment:
7:35 AM ET TEASE:
MATT LAUER: Up next, a word used by Donald Trump while talking about former President Bill Clinton that has him under fire this morning.
7:40 AM ET SEGMENT:
MATT LAUER: We're back now, 7:39, with some new developments in the presidential race.
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Hillary Clinton’s camp going hard after Donald Trump on two fronts, for a word that Trump used in an interview and also his refusal to release his taxes. Our Decision 2016 team has it cover this morning. Let's start with NBC's Andrea Mitchell. Andrea, good morning to you.
ANDREA MITCHELL: Good morning, Savannah. Hillary Clinton still trying to put away Bernie Sanders on the attack, so that she can focus all of her attention on Donald Trump. But Sanders is defiant, refusing to back down. And last night, Trump fired a shot squarely at Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Sanders Doesn’t Back Down; Party in Turmoil as Trump Slams Bill Clinton]
SEAN HANNITY [FOX NEWS]: In one case it's about exposure, in another case it's about groping and fondling and touching against a woman's will.
DONALD TRUMP: And rape.
HANNITY: And rape.
MITCHELL: Donald Trump, using that word unprompted during an interview last night with Fox News's Sean Hannity, bringing up a discredited and long-denied accusation against former President Bill Clinton, dating back to 1978 when he was Arkansas attorney general. Late last night, the Clinton campaign responded in a statement that read, “Trump is doing what he does best, attacking when he feels wounded and dragging the American people through the mud for his own gain. If that's the kind of campaign he wants to run, that's his choice.” Also accusing him of trying to change the subject from his refusal to release his taxes.
Meanwhile, six months until election day and the Democratic Party is a house divided. Bernie Sanders in California, rallying his supporters against the Democratic Party establishment.
BERNIE SANDERS: And our job is to go to the Democratic convention and, together, win the Democratic nomination for president.
MITCHELL: Sanders not giving up, even though Hillary Clinton now needs fewer than 100 delegates to lock up the nomination.
CHUCK TODD [MSNBC/MTP DAILY]: So you won't accept the idea that she's the presumptive nominee on June 7th based on that math?
JEFF WEAVER [BERNIE SANDERS’ CAMPAIGN MANAGER]: I think the Senator has been very clear. We're going to go through the process and that he's going to the convention.
MITCHELL: But Vice President Biden is downplaying talk of a splintered party.
JOE BIDEN: I'm confident that Bernie will be supportive if Hillary wins, which the numbers indicate will happen. And so I'm not – I'm not worried.
MITCHELL: With bad blood between Sanders' staffers and party leaders, and chaos caused by Sanders' supporters Saturday at Nevada's state convention, Clinton allies are trying to lower the temperature. The goal? A replay of 2008, when Clinton delivered a full-throated endorsement of Barack Obama after their bruising primary.
HILLARY CLINTON [AUGUST 26, 2008]: Whether you voted for me or you voted for Barack, the time is now to unite as a single party with a single purpose.
MITCHELL: NBC News has reached out to the Trump campaign this morning to ask why he brought up that long-denied Bill Clinton allegation. So far, no response. Matt and Savannah?
GUTHRIE: Alright, Andrea Mitchell in Washington, thank you.