Reporters and politicos covered-up Bill Clinton’s ongoing affair in 2008 as Hillary competed with Barack Obama for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.
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Bill Clinton, photo via Twitter
During the Clinton impeachment investigation and trial as reports and accusations of Clinton sexually assaulting and raping women piled up, it was said by his liberal defenders that America needs to be more like the French when it comes to affairs by its leaders. Well, we’ve seen how having affairs in high office worked out (badly) for the French.
But at least the French knew what was going on. In the 2008 campaign, the media chose to keep from voters the crucial information of Bill Clinton yet again breaking faith with his marriage vows.
It was the January 2010 publication of the book Game Change by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann which mentioned the affair that prompted the confession by Huffington Post reporter Mayhill Fowler that she knew about but did not report on the affair in February 2008. (Actually, it was a promotional confession as Fowler was pushing a new e-book of her own, Notes from a Clueless Journalist: Media, Bias and the Great Election of 2008, that was being released that week.)
In (2015) because of the media’s protective non-reporting we do not know whether Bill Clinton carried on his affair throughout his wife’s term as secretary of State, whether the national security implications of the affair were raised during her confirmation and whether Bill Clinton has yet learned to not sexually assault women.
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“At the time I covered the rally in Victoria, I had decided not to follow up on another story about Bill Clinton that had come my way–one involving his longtime mistress. I mention the nature of the Clinton story with some specificity now only because months later, after the Democratic primaries, the National Enquirer wrote about the relationship. In Texas, staring this story in the face, immediately I turned aside. If I know all about this woman, then surely every national reporter does and is as wary of the story as I am. Nevertheless, I was careful never to mention anything to anybody at OffTheBus. I rationalized the refusal to follow through by telling myself that Clinton’s private life was peripheral to the race. But then there came a moment in the Texas primary when the nature of the Clinton marriage suddenly appeared front and center.
“A difference between Election 2008 and preceding presidential races is that only one political ad for TV had as much impact as any of half-a-dozen YouTube videos. The brilliant television ad was the “3 A.M. crisis phone call at the White House” that the Clinton Campaign ran in Texas before the primary. The Clinton team knew Texans–folks obsessed with all things big, including such big prospects as national security. So the red phone ad, as it was sometimes called, was powerful persuasion. If I heard a Texan say it once, I heard it a hundred times: thank goodness Hillary will have Bill next to her at 3 A.M. By late February, a piece that gave depth to this naïve view of the Clintons’ relationship was suddenly something to think about. But in fact I never really considered it. Executing such a story could have had consequences for the mistress’s children, who were still minors. There was no way I would write something that I knew in advance would mortify a high school student in front of his peers. My mother’s outrage and pain at the political sex scandal that had blighted her adolescence was just too vivid a presence.
“So I continued to rationalize. I told myself various truths: many different kinds of loving experiences make a good world; no one except partners themselves know what goes on behind the bedroom door. As a woman who has been married for thirty-six years, I appreciate the complicated and forgiving nature of long attachments. Nuance about the dynamic of a successful marriage had been one of the things lacking in the widely-criticized New York Times piece on John McCain’s supposed infatuation with a lobbyist. Therefore, I told myself, the presence of a mistress really does not tell us all that much about the rich relationship between Bill and Hillary Clinton. But, in the end, I passed on the story for personal reasons. And I came to see that family history, which had always been a penumbra belonging to the dead, was shaping my own storytelling.”