Part 2—The "press corps" [HEART] "trailer trash:" Long ago and far away, before he ever ran for president, did Bill Clinton, then governor of Arkansas, have extramarital affairs?
On Monday morning, this exceptionally tedious question returned to the front page of the New York Times. It returned in the form of a 2900-word "news report." The news report focused on the way Hillary Clinton reacted, long ago, to claims by Gennifer Flowers.
Long ago, in the tabloid Star, Flowers claimed a torrid 12-year affair with Bill Clinton, the handsome hunk who Flowers said was the love of her life. Flowers was paid a six-figure fee by the Star for her thrilling claims. Her claims were always highly improbable, though Megan Twohey, the Times' star reporter, did her best to keep her readers from understanding such facts.
Twohey also misdirected readers concerning Bill Clinton's eventual testimony about his interactions with Flowers. In fairness to Towhey, "reporters" like her have been playing these games for the past quite a few years, helped along by the misconduct of their unnamed editors.
The Times' renewed interest in Gennifer Flowers is part of a long, sad story. In fairness to the sheet-sniffers at the Times, they were enabled, in this iteration, by the ludicrous conduct of Donald J. Trump, who has been pretending to be upset by the way Hillary Clinton, long ago and far away, treated people like Flowers.
In the Times' latest lengthy "news report," Twohey did her best to mislead readers about that topic too. But let's return to our opening question:
Long ago and far away, before he ever ran for president, did Bill Clinton, then governor of Arkansas, have extramarital affairs?
To the extent that we're forced to consider that question, we'd assume that the answer is yes. In 2007, Carl Bernstein wrote a lengthy biography of Hillary Clinton in which he discussed such topics at some length and, in certain cases, with apparent care.
Bernstein reported that one affair led the Clintons, way back when, to consider divorce. In the New York Times' review of Bernstein's book, Jennifer Senior presented his account of this matter, but she named no names.
On page A1 of the Washington Post, in a 2255-word report, Baker and Solomon were less circumspect. This was their summary of Bernstein's account:
BAKER AND SOLOMON (5/25/07): The women who also figured in Bill Clinton's life in Arkansas make a return appearance in the book, most notably Marilyn Jo Jenkins, a power company executive he fell in love with and almost left his wife over, according to Bernstein. Jenkins has been linked to Clinton before—she was spirited into the governor's mansion at 5:15 a.m. for a final, furtive meeting with him the day he left for Washington to assume the presidency—but Bernstein's account makes clear her pivotal role.This link is the best we can give you.
Bill Clinton wanted to divorce his wife to be with Jenkins in 1989, Bernstein reports, but Hillary Clinton refused. "There are worse things than infidelity," she told Betsey Wright, the governor's chief of staff. The crisis frayed Wright's relationship with Bill Clinton too, and she told Bernstein that she arranged for the two of them, Wright and Clinton, to see a therapist together.
Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, turned to her best friend, Diane Blair, obliquely raising the prospect of divorce during a long walk. "She was thinking that they had not made much money," Blair told Bernstein before her death in 2000, and she was concerned about her daughter. "Chelsea was there now. What if she were on her own? She didn't own a house. She was concerned that if she were to become a single parent, how would she make it work in a way that would be good for Chelsea."
The Clintons stayed together, but out of "anger and hurt" she considered running for governor in 1990, when he presumably would step down to prepare his 1992 presidential campaign. The idea ended after consultant Dick Morris conducted two polls showing she had no independent identity with Arkansas voters and compared her to George Wallace's wife, who ran to succeed him in Alabama—an analogy that offended her.
By the time Bill Clinton was running for president, Hillary Clinton suggested to Blair that victory would be good for the marriage because her husband's sexual compulsions would be tempered by the White House and the ever-present press corps, Bernstein reports—a flawed assumption, as it would turn out.
How accurate was Bernstein's account? If we were forced to make an assessment, we wouldn't be able to tell you.
That said, according to Bernstein's notes, his account was built out of detailed interviews with the Clintons' closest friends and associates. At any rate, Bernstein gave a fascinating account of this alleged episode, in which, according to Bernstein, Hillary Clinton encountered "an attractive, accomplished, rich antagonist with whom Bill believed himself to be in love."
Bernstein's book has long been treated as the definitive biography of Hillary Clinton. On that basis, Bernstein is frequently cast on cable news as the leading authority concerning her life.
But how odd! According to a Nexis search, the name of the woman who played that "pivotal role" in the Clintons' lives has never appeared in the Washington Post in the almost nine years since that front-page report. The name has appeared in the New York Times just once, in 1998, in connection with the latest search for the truth by Kenneth W. Starr.
The mainstream press has shown little interest in examining what seems to have been a real part of the Clintons' actual lives. But dear lord! How they love to revisit the thrilling claims made by the ludicrous Flowers! How they love to pick and choose the facts you're allowed to hear about that! Or about "rock groupie" Connie Hamzy!
An unpleasant person would suggest an unpleasant motive for this. It would involve the two sides of Bill Clinton's life—his roots in white working-class Arkansas, versus his vast success in the upper-end, Rhodes scholar/Yale Law School world.
An unpleasant person would make an unpleasant suggestion about people like Twohey and her unnamed editors. He would suggest that they love to tell tales about the "trailer trash" side of this story, but that they defer to, and avoid discussing, accomplished, rich power company executives who are beautiful to boot.
They love to toy with the trailer trash. They avoid the rich and the powerful.
An ungenerous person would tell you that this pattern has obtained with a range of alleged affairs involving other major political figures. Our journalists seem to shy away from rumors about upper-class presidents and candidates with upper-class love interests. But they love love love to toy and to play with figures like Hamzy and Flowers.
By 1998, the life forms who people the mainstream press had decided that they [HEART]ed Gennifer Flowers. They began to pretend that they somehow knew that she had been telling the truth all along. They made it a point to keep you from knowing how ridiculous she actually was.
When she went on Hardball in 1999, Flowers spent the bulk of her half hour discussing the Clintons' many murders. In the Washington Post, Howard Kurtz mentioned the fact that she had appeared, but forgot to say a single word about how crazy her appearance was.
Her appearance on Hardball had been so nuts that she was instantly rewarded with a full hour on Hannity & Colmes. She continued to talk about the Clintons' many murders—and about the first lady's gigantic lesboism, the added topic which let her fill her full hour.
As best as we've ever been able to tell, no one in the American press corps ever mentioned the crazy behavior by Flowers on these major programs. By then, Flowers had been cast as a truth-teller by the children who pose as our "national press." To this day, they continue to pick and choose their facts to mislead you about her improbable claims and about what Bill Clinton testified to way back in the day. People like Twohey select their facts to make you suspect that Hillary Clinton abused her.
Jesse Jackson tried to "keep hope alive." Those who pretend to be our press corps have had a different mission.
They've worked to sustain a set of selective tales about "white trash" accusers like Hamzy and Flowers. They try to make you think that Bill Clinton testified to having an affair with Flowers. They keep trying to make you think that Hillary Clinton slimed these two in some inappropriate way.
They ignore Bernstein's apparent top-level reporting about the real lives of the pre-White House Clintons. Instead, they pick and choose facts to advance their mission:
Keep thrilling stories alive!
Gennifer Flowers has always been a ginormous piece of work. As part of the post-accusation Penthouse spread for which she was richly paid, she was even quoted saying this:
"I dare Hillary to bare her butt in any magazine. They don’t have a page that broad."
Well-bred types like Megan Twohey love to toy with this trailer park world. They have worked, for many years, to keep their favorite stories alive. The public gets conned in the process.
Sadly enough, Bernstein played a role is this affair. So did Stephanopoulos.
Tomorrow: No murders that he knew of!