In a narrow sense, the item discussed here really shouldn't be newsworthy, because it's based on history which has for all practical purposes long been settled. But now that it's being treated as news, let's look into the can of worms at least two media outlets have chosen to open, perhaps without fully grasping the consequences of their doing so.
Leada Gore, an AL.com reporter who says she's "been covering Alabama news for more than 20 years," reported Tuesday morning that Ed Henry, an Alabama lawmaker who is also the state's Donald Trump for President co-chair, tweeted a sharp response to accusations of sexism directed at Trump by Hillary Clinton in Monday night's debate, specifically: "It is ironic that Lying Hillary blast (sic) Trump as a sexist when she is married to Bill, who is likely a rapist." We're supposed to believe that this tweet is controversial or over the top. It is, of course, no such thing.
Leada, you may not like it, and the topic may be unpleasant, but Henry's tweet really isn't beyond the pale. Nevertheless, the Associated Press has posted an abbreviated story based on Gore's work at its main national site. Both reports critically err in claiming that "Bill Clinton has adamantly denied" the related rape charge.
Of course, Henry is referring to allegation made by Juanita Broaddrick in 1999 that Hillary Clinton's husband Bill Clinton raped her in 1978. An NBC Dateline segment with then-reporter Lisa Myers aired on February 24, 1999.
Henry's assessment of Broaddrick's story making Bill Clinton a "likely" rapist is accurate, and is certainly not rash.
Wall Street Journal reporter and Editorial Board member Dorothy Rabinowitz essentially forced NBC to air Myers' work in 1999 after the network had sat on it for a month. She did so by getting Broaddrick's story herself and reporting it on February 19 in very specific detail.
For those who may not be able to access Rabinowitz's story, this passage will suffice to demonstrate that Ed Henry's tweeted "likely" assessment of Bill Clinton as a rapist is, if anything, overly careful (bolds are mine throughout this post):
As soon as it was evident there was to be trouble about airing the piece, she recalls, Lisa Myers told her: "The good news is you're credible. The bad news is you're very credible." Mrs. Broaddrick repeats this more than once, as though trying to puzzle its meaning--but its meaning of course is entirely clear to her, as to everyone else hearing it. It meant that to encounter this woman, to hear the details of her story and the statements of the corroborating witnesses, was to understand that this was an event that in fact took place. "Too credible" sums the matter up nicely.
On February 22, 1999, the Media Research Center's Cyber Alert reported the following:
The Juanita Broaddrick stories in two newspapers generated a few seconds on GMA and Today, full stories on CBS and CNN, but zilch on ABC and NBC in the evening and nothing on ABC, CBS or NBC Sunday morning. NBC's Lisa Myers "frustrated" by not getting on air.
The second story to which MRC referred was published in the Washington Post on February 20. It apparently had a print headline of "Clinton Controversy Lingers Over Nursing Home Owner's Disputed 1978 Story." The Post's website currently has the story online with the headline "Another Clinton Accuser Goes Public." It describes Broaddrick's story as "her sensational yet ancient and unproven allegation that the future president sexually assaulted her in a hotel room a generation ago."
The NBC Dateline segment finally aired on February 24, twelve days after the United States Senate failed to convict President Bill Clinton of the two impeachment charges filed by the U.S. House.
Two days earlier, on February 22, at the daily White House press briefing, White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart was asked about the Journal and Post stories:
Q: What does the President have to say about the Juanita Broaddrick story?
MR. LOCKHART: The President has nothing to say and I have nothing to say beyond what his -- or in addition to what his lawyer said in a statement.
Q: I'm sorry, what was the last --
MR. LOCKHART: I said I have nothing to say beyond what the President's attorney said on Friday (Feb. 19) in a written statement.
Q: The President's attorney, if I have heard it correctly, denied flatly that any assault had taken place.
MR. LOCKHART: That would be a proper reading of the statement.
Why couldn't the president -- on national television -- offer an "adamant denial" of his own? Why answer in such an indirect and lawyerly way? Kendall was (and still is) Bill Clinton's lawyer. That denial reads: "Any allegation that the president assaulted Mrs. Broaddrick more than 20 years ago is absolutely false. Beyond that, we're not going to comment."
As Broaddrick's son Kevin Hickey stated in an April 12, 1999 story at the New York Observer, "He didn’t even say, ‘The President told me this. How do we know it’s not David Kendall’s opinion of what happened?” The key is: We don't — and if you ask Mr. Kendall anything about his statement, he'll either say nothing if not under oath or cite attorney-client privilege if he is. Mr. Kendall's "denial" also could be read as a tacit admission that the encounter on the date Broaddrick contends that the rape occurred did indeed occur, and that if Mr. Clinton were ever to speak on the matter, he would likely attempt to defend that encounter as consensual.
But wait a minute. I just indicated that Bill Clinton has never spoken on the matter, while both the AL.com and AP items (each saved in full for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes) have implied that he "adamantly denied" the charges personally:
(AL.com) Another woman, Juanita Broaddrick, accused the former president of raping her while he was running for governor of Arkansas in 1978, charges Bill Clinton has adamantly denied. Broaddrick has referred to Hillary Clinton as an "enabler" in her husband's alleged actions.
(AP) Former President Bill Clinton was accused of rape by Juanita Broaddrick while running for governor of Arkansas in 1978. He's adamantly denied the charges.
The unbylined AP report didn't refer to Hillary's history of enabling her husband's abuse of women, an established history involving many women which makes the charges of sexism Mrs. Clinton and her campaign have directed at Donald Trump doubly outrageous. At least AL.com's Leada Gore did that. Here are excerpts from the story to which she linked:
Juanita Broaddrick, who alleges former President Bill Clinton raped her in 1978, also called the former first lady an “enabler.”
... (Broaddrick retold) a story she’s told before – of an encounter with Hillary Clinton two weeks after the alleged incident in 1978, in which (Mrs.) Clinton shook her hand and said she appreciates what Broaddrick does for Bill. Broaddrick has said as she tried to walk away, Hillary Clinton squeezed her hand and said, “Do you understand everything that you do?”
Broaddrick took this as a warning.
“She did not say ‘be quiet,’ but it was the tone of her voice,” Broaddrick told FoxNews.com. “The second time she said it, the way her smile faded – it scared me.”
Unfortunately, the linked story also claims that "Bill Clinton has denied Broaddrick’s claims," but only cites attorney Kendall's statement.
So let's be clear here. In the circumstances, nothing short of a direct denial spoken by Bill Clinton himself constitutes a genuine denial. Is there any evidence that Bill Clinton himself has denied Juanita Broaddrick's rape allegation in his own voice since she made it over 17 years ago?
Bill Clinton's first run for governor took place in 1978, the year that the event which the Wall Street Journal's Rabinowitz says "in fact took place," the rape of Juanita Broaddrick, allegedly occurred. In January of this year at National Review, Ian Tuttle at National Review noted that nothing has changed:
... In the catalogue of accusations against Bill Clinton — a litany that includes names such as Paula Jones and Kathleen Willey — Broaddrick’s stands out. It remains not only the most credible accusation against Clinton and the most serious. It is also the one about which the Clintons have said the least. The entire record of the Clintons’ response to Broaddrick’s allegations amounts to one line, from President Clinton’s lawyer David Kendall in 1999: “Any allegation that the president assaulted Juanita Broaddrick more than 20 years ago is absolutely false.”
... Juanita Broaddrick’s claim was supported by not one but five witnesses and a host of circumstantial (though no physical) evidence. Broaddrick’s colleague Norma Rogers, who was attending the conference in Little Rock with her, says she found Broaddrick in her hotel room crying and “in a state of shock” on the morning of the alleged assault, her pantyhose torn and her lip swollen. According to Rogers, Broaddrick told her that Bill Clinton had “forced himself on her.”
At the time, Broaddrick (then Juanita Hickey) was having an affair with David Broaddrick, who would become her second husband. David Broaddrick told Dateline NBC that he remembers Juanita’s arriving home with a swollen lip and telling him that she had been assaulted by Bill Clinton.
And three other friends — Susan Lewis, Louis Ma, and Norma Rogers’s sister Jean Darden — all maintain that Broaddrick told them about the rape, too.
The brief Associated Press dispatch Tuesday wraps up by noting, of Ed Henry's statement, that "The tweet has not been removed."
Of course it hasn't, nor should it be, especially because if one finds Broaddrick's rape allegation, as the Wall Street Journal's Dorothy Rabinowitz did, "an event that in fact took place," one must surely believe that Hillary Clinton knew about what her husband did, and engaged in the post-rape conduct Broaddrick described. Her story is more germane than ever, given how Mrs. Clinton poses as a champion for women's safety from sexual assault after a career of enabling her husband's decades-long pattern of abuse, and worse — even before considering the horror of such a person being seen for all time as a trailblazing pioneer for all women.
What needs to be removed is not Ed Henry's tweet. He needs to stand strong and firm.
What needs to be removed from both the AL.com and AP reports is their statement that Bill Clinton has "adamantly denied" the charges. Unless they can drum up some evidence to support that claim which has surfaced in the past eight months, there is no record that Bill Clinton himself has ever done that himself.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.