Supplemental: Bill Clinton admits ten-minute "affair!"


I, Claudius visits the Times:
When we look at the way our "press corps" works, we often think of I, Claudius.

I, Claudius started its life as a Robert Graves novel. (In 1998, the Modern Library ranked it as the fourteenth greatest of the twentieth century.)

In 1976, the BBC created a 12-part TV adaptation. In this country, the series became a massive hit on PBS.

Why do we think of I, Claudius when we look at the work of the press corps? In I, Claudius, Graves portrays the difference between what the Roman masses are being told and what is actually happening behind the scenes, in the halls of power.

For that reason, we think of I, Claudius when we look at the way organs like the New York Times "report" Bill Clinton's past scandals, real and imagined. When we look at a passage like this from last Friday's editorial:
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL (1/8/16): For decades Mrs. Clinton has helped protect her husband’s political career, and hers, from the taint of his sexual misbehavior, as evidenced by the Clinton team’s attacks on the character of women linked to Mr. Clinton. When Mr. Clinton ran for president in 1992, Mrs. Clinton appeared on television beside him to assert that allegations involving Gennifer Flowers were false. In 1998, he admitted to that affair under oath. After the Monica Lewinsky affair emerged, some White House aides attempted to portray Ms. Lewinsky as the seducer.
In the case of Gennifer Flowers, did Bill Clinton "admit to that affair under oath?"

Unless your only goal in life is casting Clinton as a liar, we'd have to say that no, he pretty much didn't.

As a start to this ludicrous story, consider one part of Gene Lyons' new column at The National Memo. In this passage, Lyons is reacting to that same New York Times editorial:
LYONS (1/13/16): "When Mr. Clinton ran for president in 1992,” editors chided, “Mrs. Clinton appeared on television beside him to assert that allegations involving Gennifer Flowers were false. In 1998, he admitted to that affair under oath.”

Actually, no he did not. In the famous 60 Minutes interview, Bill Clinton had acknowledged “causing pain in my marriage.” He added that most adults would understand what that meant.

Testifying in 1998, he admitted a single backseat tryst with Flowers, very far from the 12-year relationship she’d claimed. In her own deposition, she testified to earning more than $500,000 posing as Bill Clinton’s mistress. Besides claiming college degrees she’d never earned, beauty titles she’d never won, and even a twin sister who never existed, Flowers also managed to write an entire book without stipulating a single time and place where she and her famous paramour were ever together.

Fans of MSNBC’s Hardball have evidently forgotten the August 1999 episode in which Flowers was permitted to accuse Bill Clinton of having political opponents murdered, while host Chris Matthews told her how hot she was.

Bob Somerby found the transcript: “You’re a very beautiful woman,” Matthews panted. “He knows that, you know that, and everybody watching knows that. Hillary Clinton knows that!”
In the exciting tabloid report for which she was extremely well paid, Flowers had claimed a torrid, twelve-year love affair with the Arkansas governor. There is exactly zero reason to believe this claim was true—and Clinton never "admitted" to any such "affair."

For better or worse, Flowers turned out to be one of the least reliable people who ever managed to find her way into an important place in the national discourse. Her original tabloid "tell-all" featured gruesome, embarrassing errors. (Example: She claimed the torrid affair began at a Little Rock hotel—several years before the hotel first opened its doors.)

As Lyons noted, Flowers' colorful accounts of her own life were filled with strange, embarrassing misstatements. By 1999, she was making money through a web site which listed the Clintons' many murders—the murders she detailed for the leering Matthews, who never met a Clinton accuser who didn't make the blood course swiftly through his veins.

Flowers' half-hour appearance on Hardball was so awful that she was quickly booked to do the full hour on Hannity & Colmes, on the Fox News Channel. In that setting, she repeated her tales of multiple murders, adding the claim that Hillary Clinton is the world's most gigantic lesbo.

For what it's worth, this sort of thing was nothing new for Flowers by that time. In the 1995 book to which Lyons refers, the great truth-teller described the first time she met Mrs. Clinton, then the governor's wife:
FLOWERS: I was shocked. She looked like a big fat frump with her hair hanging down kind of curly and wavy. She had big, thick glasses; an ugly dress; and a big, fat butt.
Flowers was quite a wordsmith—although, to be completely fair, Maureen Dowd later wrote similar columns about Howard Dean's thoroughly admirable wife. Nor was this sort of social commentary restricted to Flowers' ridiculous book. As part of a photo spread in Penthouse, Flowers issued a challenge:

"I dare Hillary to bare her butt in any magazine. They don’t have a page that broad," Flowers thoughtfully mused.

For the record, there was more of this sort of thing in Passion and Betrayal. As a courtesy to the whole world, we think we'll take a pass on that material this time around.

Question: Why on earth would any "press corps" pay attention to claims from a person like this? For a quick refresher, let's return to Lyons' text:

"Besides claiming college degrees she’d never earned, beauty titles she’d never won, and even a twin sister who never existed, Flowers also managed to write an entire book without stipulating a single time and place where she and her famous paramour were ever together."

Why would journalists believe any claim from a person like this, except a claim the person could prove? For us, the answer goes something like this::

By the late 1990s, our "journalists" had ceased to be actual journalists. In line with that fact, they were prepared to accept any claim about Bill Clinton, no matter how absurd it might be, no matter how clownish the source.

Did Bill Clinton ever admit to an affair with Flowers? If we're still speaking English, actually no, he did not. The discussion in question occurred under oath as the lascivious Inspector Starr peeped into the underwear drawer and rummaged all around.

Under an arcane, extremely broad definition of sexual relations, Clinton admitted to one such encounter with Flowers. He didn't admit to intercourse. He didn't admit to oral sex. He certainly didn't admit to anything that would normally be called "an affair." But the rest of the peeping toms were buying ink by the barrel, and they were eager to brand him as a liar. So the claim the Times repeated last week quickly gained system-wide purchase.

This led to the stupidest single statement of the endless Clinton/Gore/Clinton wars. Needless to say, it was penned by Frank Rich:
RICH (3/21/98): We now know that the Clintons also got away with exceedingly disingenuous image-mongering in their famous '92 appearance on the show, during which the soon-to-be President responded to a question about a 12-year affair with Gennifer Flowers by saying "That allegation is false." This year, in a sworn deposition, Mr. Clinton conceded having an affair with her, disputing only its duration.
According to Rich, Flowers and Clinton disagreed only about the "duration" of their affair. Here's what the fraudulent fellow meant, although his readers had no way of knowing:

Flowers said the duration had been twelve years. Clinton said ten minutes.

As for Rich, he continued his misconduct all through the coverage of Campaign 2000, and for years beyond. He was still trashing Gore as a fake and a phony 1) when Gore came out against war in Iraq in 2002 (Rich never actually did) and even 2) when Gore's important film, An Inconvenient Truth, first appeared.

Rich only dropped his trashing of Gore when Gore won the Nobel Peace prize. At that time, as such life forms do, Rich executed an instant 180, turning into a fawning admirer of the man he had endlessly savaged, helping send Bush to the White House.

Today, we liberals think Rich is a brilliant intellectual leader. How much more do you have to know about us? But all these many years later, the New York Times editorial board has returned to the formulation the Clinton-haters always loved. As always, they refuse to give you the background information about that thrilling "affair."

Final point:

Hillary Clinton understands, and understood, the background concerning Flowers. Nor was Flowers the only famous Clinton-accuser whose exciting stories turned out to be blatantly bogus.

Tomorrow, we'll recall the behavior of Kathleen Willey, with the hideous Matthews lustily involved once again. But let's return to that basic point concerning Hillary Clinton:

Hillary Clinton understood the ugliness and the factual phoniness of Flowers' various stories. She knew that this particular accuser was perhaps a bit of a nut. She understood that nutty, extremely unpleasant people sometimes make nutty, ugly claims, perhaps because large sums of money are changing hands. If we might quote from Lyons again:

"In her own deposition, [Flowers] testified to earning more than $500,000 posing as Bill Clinton’s mistress."

(At the time, Flowers' Arkansas state job was paying her roughly $17,000.)

Did Hillary Clinton believe her husband if he told her that Monica Lewinsky was also full of crap? We don't have the slightest idea, and there's no way to find out. But she was operating in the real world, which includes false accusers, not in the manufactured factual sphere produced at crime scenes like the Times.

I, Claudius painted a fascinating portrait of powerful people who were deeply dishonest. People like that haven't disappeared from the planet. In many cases, similar people are hard at work at the Times.

There is no way—no way at all—to get us liberals to accept the fact that this is the actual shape of our world. Maddow and Hayes will never tattle on other members of the guild. Then again, neither will anyone else. It simply isn't done.

In a move to increase her wealth and her fame, Maddow actually vouches for the greatness of Matthews! It's hard to stoop much lower than that, but that's the world Graves described.


  1. The problem is that when the Clintons defend themselves against these lies, they are tagged as being dishonest themselves. People believe the lies and then use them as the standard of truth. If Hillary won't admit her husband is a rapist, then she must be a deeply dishonest person -- goes the reasoning.

    Hillary said the other day that a woman should be believed when she accuses someone of rape to the point that her claims are investigated, but not when there is no evidence to support her claims. Hillary understands the importance of evidence. Huffington post called her statement "bizarre". When journalists don't understand the role of evidence in finding truth, our democracy is in very bad trouble.

  2. If slut shaming of women is wrong, shouldn't slut shaming men be wrong too?

    1. Mimbo is a badge of prowess and virility. Bimbo is still akin to the red "A."

  3. Bob rightly argues that many of Flowers' other (checkable) statements turned out to be false or unbelievable. OTOH Bill Clinton lied over and over about sex (NTTAWWT). In particular, he admitted that he lied when he said he never had sex with Flowers. Which of these two unreliable people is unreliabler? Hard to say.

    Anyhow, having sex with Flowers even once was just about as bad as a long affair. Either way he committed adultory and either way he lied about it. If those are big no-nos to you, then even one episode is bad. If you're OK with Clinton's extramarital sex and his lies about sex, then a single instance is OK and so is a long-term affair.

    1. You are very confused about sex.

  4. "In particular, he admitted that he lied when he said he never had sex with Flowers."

    When did he say that, David? Link please, with Clinton's actual words. I recall him denying, quite truthfully, that he never had the long-term affair with her that she claimed. (One of those "checkable" statements of hers that turned out to be a lie).

    And even YOU know that was a lie because you quickly back tract with "having sex with Flowers just once was just about as bad as a long affair."

    David, that's not even clever. Nor is it honest, is it?

    So excuse me if I don't quite think that a serial liar such as yourself is qualified to pass judgment on the honesty and character of anyone else.

    For the record, yes I consider extra-marital sex to be a "no-no". But I don't consider it to be a crime, and certainly not the "high crimes and misdemeanors" envisioned by the Founding Fathers, many of whom had their own dalliances with women other than their wives.

    And I certainly don't consider it to be anybody's business but that of the parties themselves.

    But I bet you still have fun reading your stained copy of The Starr Report, holding it in one hand.

  5. Welcome to BobWorld. Where we party like it's 1998.

    1. Or at least where we still hold every grudge based on things written or said between that year and 2000 about Bill Clinton or Al Gore.

    2. Dave the Guitar PlayerJanuary 15, 2016 at 1:51 PM

      If what happened in 1998 is irrelevant, why is it still happening in 2016? Why is it being discussed in the New York Times in 2016? Obviously what happened in 1998 *is* important, but not because of the "affair", but because of how the truth is being twisted right now for political purposes by the "journalists" who are supposed to be providing their readers with the information they need to make informed decisions.

    3. We should neither forget the past or remain stuck in it.

  6. According to a different Matthews, Dylan, at VOX, there is some circumstantial evidence Bill Clinton raped Juanita Broaddrick. Juanita wrote "I was 35 years old when Bill Clinton, Ark. Attorney General raped me and Hillary tried to silence me. I am now never goes away."

    There is evidence of Clinton possibly trying to silence her.

    Unfortunately we may never know. But it's unfair to women everywhere to pretend that all rape accusations can easily be disqualified. Sometimes it's hard to tell.

    1. There is no circumstantial evidence that Broaddrick's claims are true. There is no evidence of either Clinton trying to silence her. There are claims on her part and nothing to substantiate them. On the other hand, there is a great deal of evidence of a series of attempts to smear Bill Clinton with charges that were never proven in any instance. The only evidence of extra-marital sexual activity between Clinton and women besides Hillary is consensual. Consensual sex is not a crime. Claims of rape are very serious. Broaddrick made the claims, retracted the claims, then made them again. She never brought any charges. The only substantiation that she even mentioned them to others comes from people with long-standing serious grudges against Clinton. This is a very ugly, serious attack on Clinton that was thoroughly investigated several times and deemed to be false by reporters -- and you know they would have raised it if they could have without being sued for defamation. The right believes that Broaddrick was raped, but the right believes the Clintons kill their enemies too. They believe whatever horrible thing anyone is willing to say about the Clintons. And this is a horrible accusation with nothing whatsoever behind it.

      You hide this political calumny behind a false concern for women everywhere. Women can and do make false charges against men. Broaddrick didn't even take her complaint to the authorities so that it could be investigated. Clinton thus cannot be cleared because she won't submit her accusations to any test. Her accusations can be easily disqualified because every time she has been asked to swear to the truth of her claims, she has refused. Even she won't tell her lies under oath. That should be your clue that she is lying about this. We don't have to know about this case. We have clear evidence that despite its hunger to pin something horrible on Bill Clinton, Broaddrick's pathetic lies are the best they could do.

      There are Republican blogs where you can say this stuff. Don't bring it here.

    2. This is a pitiful personal attack and it really hurts your argument. How can you expect to be taken seriously if your major attack against me on a blog that criticizes the media is that the media decided they were false, and anyone who believes otherwise is a Republican?

      I have never voted Republican in my life.

      As for circumstantial evidence, read the report by Dylan and make up your own mind. Stop letting the party think for you. This is supposed to be a free country.

    3. "I have never voted Republican in my life."

      You have a modicum of common sense, I see.

  7. "Why do we think of I, Claudius when we look at the work of the press corps?"

    Because we are quite long in the tooth?

    1. Is that why people are still reading Shakespeare, Tolstoy and other classics? Is education only for fogies? Sad.

    2. Yes, Robert Graves is right up there with Shakespeare and Tolstoy. Among Ivy undergrad educated, PBS watching Boomers, I suppose.

    3. #14 among the greatest novels of the 20th century. College educated millennials don't read anything. Twitter was invented for their attention span.

    4. # 14 on one of three lists released by a single publisher in one year.

    5. And that makes it not worth reading because...

    6. Who said it was not worth reading.

    7. "Why do we think of I, Claudius when we look at the work of the press corps?"

      Because we are quite long in the tooth?"

      No, because we have a college education that includes important books of the 20th century and thus can make the connection.

    8. No, it's because we have an undergraduate degree in a discipline and from an institution that helps us maintain the delusion that we know far more than we actually do.

      It's called pseudo-intellectualism.

      By the way, all you snot-nosed millennials with your Twitter and your Instagram? Get off Bob's lawn!

  8. "In a move to increase her wealth and her fame, Maddow actually vouches for the greatness of Matthews! It's hard to stoop much lower than that."

    When did this happen? How was her motive established?

    1. Dave the Guitar PlayerJanuary 15, 2016 at 1:57 PM

      Chris Matthews visited the Maddow show. Rachel said many nice things about Chris. Rachel has never taken Chris to task for what happened in the past or for anything he says today. It isn't done. What do you think it means?

    2. It means absolutely nothing except to those with nothing else to obsess over.

  9. Hillary Clinton expressed a serious concern yesterday about Sanders proposal to turn single-payer health care over to the states. Maddow turned that into Clinton accusing Sanders of being dishonest. Maddows appears incapable of focusing on the substance of the two different approaches to health care advocated by opposing candidates. It has to be Hillary called Bernie a liar, when Hillary just said that Sanders hasn't explained his tax plan yet, hasn't detailed how he will pay for single-payer health care.

    Clinton is trying to address Sanders plan. She gets accused of being disingenuous because everyone knows neither universal nor single-payer health care will become a reality no matter who is elected. Sanders put forth his plan but Clinton is disingenuous when she addresses it.

    More Clinton rules. And Maddow is the one doing this and TPM and HuffPo report how awful she is being to poor Bernie. Liberals like that are making me sick.

    1. Sorry, but Clinton's charges about Sander's health care plan are about as honest as Jennifer Flowers.

    2. The Sanders campaign cannot defend his plan so they call Clinton dishonest instead of answering her criticisms.

    3. That's because Sanders doesn't have a "plan", his career has been a huge bag of hot air.

    4. Sanders has said his goal is universal single payer health care coverage following the model presented in legislation he introduced, the American Health Security Act of 2013.

      This simple fact makes mm a very uninformed Clintonista or a deliberate liar.

    5. @11:37, you clearly haven't been following the back-and-forth about this over the past week or so. Clinton has raised some specific issues about than model which Sanders has not addressed. mm suggests he hasn't addressed those issues because he hasn't fleshed out how that model would be paid for, necessary regulations, what the impact would be on existing health care and social programs, etc. For example Sanders has said he would pay for it via a tax on Wall Street transactions, but he has proposed the same funding mechanism for free college tuition and you cannot spend the same money twice. Attacking the people why raise such questions (e.g., why is Chelsea, with her degree in Public Health, campaigning for her mom?) isn't a real answer to them.

    6. @11:37, you mean the American Health Security Act of 2013 that had ZERO co-sponsors, proposes each state devise their own plan (bwahahahaha)and went nowhere fast. As I said, a bag of hot air.

      This is deja vu all over again. Apparently Secretary Hillary Clinton is the only candidate in the history of the universe who is not allowed to challenge or criticize her opponents.

    7. "mm suggests"

      I would rather deal with what mm wrote rather than what you, not mm, thinks mm may have suggested.

      What is clear is that I am not, like mm and not mm, a swallower of the Clinton line, hook, and sinker.

    8. mm. You are part of the brand of Clinton supporters who Bob Somerby once guessed were her biggest problem.

      Clinton is allowed to criticize her opponent. Your problem is that when she is rebutted for that criticism, you portray those rebutting her as part of an historical pattern of abuse of that great lady of American politics.

    9. Blaming Clinton for going on the attack, for using Chelsea, for raising criticisms about a plan that will not ever be enacted -- that is what Sanders has been doing and NONE of that deals with the questions. Go read what is being said about Clinton on TPM, Daily Kos, HuffPost. There are no answers to her questions there. Just complaints that Clinton is ruining her campaign, going negative, attacking Bernie. Hints that she is desperate or unsportsmanlike or doing something wrong, when Bernie should be as accountable for his proposals and anyone else.

      You prove my point here by attacking the commenters instead of describing Bernie's answres, which you are apparently too lazy to look up and cite.

    10. How were her criticisms rebutted? Take you time.

      Someone above claimed her criticism was "dishonest". Where's the rebuttal? Where does Bernie address her questions.

      Instead she has been skewered by Rachel Maddow and the rest of the clowns controlling the media. Just like she was for daring to challenge Obama's experience. The next thing you knew, Bill and Hillary were racists.

    11. The final leap of the Clintonistas...back to 2008 charges.

    12. mm @ 12:12

    13. @5:31, thanks for the links to Bernie's hot air and proving my point.

      Don't let me discourage you. You go ahead and put Karl Marx at the top of the Democratic ticket. buona fortuna

      "You say you want a revolution,
      We'd all love to see the plan"


    15. He hasn't even released a real plan, which, quite fairly, drives Clinton nuts. "The devil's in the details when it comes to health care,"

    16. Missing details

      It’s unclear whether Sanders would eliminate deductibles and co-pays. These costs currently exist under Medicare, and his 2013 bill makes no mention of changing the system. But the breakdown from his campaign lists both as $0.

    17. "You go ahead and put Karl Marx at the top of the Democratic ticket.

      Karl marx is dead. Put a liberal at the top of the ticket. Give the nation a fighting chance.

      In Hillary's defense, it was Bill, not her who shot liberals gangland-style in a back alley.

  10. Anybody know where Bob Somerby gets the details of how many minutes Bill Clinton lasted in his "sexual relations" with Jennifer Flowers? Anybody know where Gene Lyons got the details it was a "backseat" tryst?

    1. Somerby always cites his sources. You could try reading them.

    2. Shorter version: No I don't. In Bob I trust.

    3. In school you probably asked other people to do your homework.


      This source has a link to Clinton's deposition in the Paula Jones lawsuit.

    5. Was that the source cited by Bob Somerby in the mind of 11:49? Or was it the testimony copied and pasted by @12:11 who probably asked the original question?

  11. Gene Lyons read Clinton's testimony. He said it took place in a car.

    1. Clinton's testimony:

      "Q. Did you ever have sexual relations with Gennifer Flowers?

      MR. BRISTOW: Your Honor, I want to object to that on the basis that there has not been proper predicate laid in that regard. The questioning up to this point in time indicates that the only mention of state employment came as testified to by the deponent. Your Honor has probably had access to the testimony of Gennifer Flowers, who, putting it like this, her allegations, even if believed, indicates that nothing in the nature of a sexual relationship was occurring or occurred after the time that she received any state employment, so the nexus that Your Honor has been requiring in, or the predicate, is just simply not there, and they've had ample opportunity to, you know, to develop that nexus or that predicate today, but they have not done so, and putting it like this, asking whether or not something occurred back in the early seventies or early eighties within the state employment is, we're talking about 1991, and Your Honor has previously made a ruling about the scope, '86 forward, it's just one of those areas that they should not be allowed to pursue.

      JUDGE WRIGHT: All right and I'm sure Mr. Bennett agrees with you; is that correct Mr.Bennett?

      MR. BENNETT: I'll join in, Your Honor.

      JUDGE WRIGHT: All right. The objection is overruled. The Plaintiff's counsel may ask consistent with the Court's prior rulings. Go ahead.

      MR. BENNETT: You may ask the question.

      A. The answer to your question, if sexual relations are defined as –

      MR. BENNETT: No, Mr. President

      THE WITNESS: What?

      MR. BENNETT: Go ahead.

      A. That's right, that was upheld by the court. The answer to your question, if the definition is section one there in the first piece of evidence you gave me, is yes.

      Q. On how many occasions?

      A. Once.

      Q. In what year?

      A. 1977.

      Q. Did you ever make sexual advances to Gennifer Flowers after that occasion which did not culminate in sexual relations?

      A. No.

      Q. Did she make sexual advances to you which did not culminate in sexual relations?

      A. Yes. Once.

      Q. When was that?

      A. I don't remember. Sometime after she came back, she invited me to come and see her."

    2. Here is the definition of sex used in that deposition. Note that it is very broad and not restricted to intercourse or penetration. It can include kissing or sexual touching, not resulting in any further sex act, which is the point of the above questioning.

      "Editor's Note: The Jones legal team submitted the following "Definition of Sexual Relations" to the court: For the purposes of this deposition, a person engages in "sexual relations" when the person knowingly engages in or causes -
      (1) contact with the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks of any person with an intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person;
      (2) contact between any part of the person's body or an object and the genitals or anus of another person; or
      (3) contact between the genitals or anus of the person and any part of another person's body. "Contact" means intentional touching, either directly or through clothing."

      Thus Clinton did not admit to contact with Flowers resembling anything the general public would consider to be sex. His admission could cover the kind of casual contact that occurs in the subway on a crowded train, for example, or a rejected pass. We don't know from Clinton's statement what happened but he did not admit to having any kind of affair with Flowers.

    3. Any there is nohing about 10 minutes or a back seat.

    4. So he got the information somewhere else. What difference does it make?

  12. So 12:04 was wrong and none of Bob Somerby's readers have any more firm idea whether the assertions made by him of Lyons are accurate than New York Times readers have of the editorial board's accuracy.

    Does it make a difference? Yeah, because almost nobody reads Lyons or Somerby.