Chris Hayes: Bill Clinton and his supporters are overdue for a reckoning
You have to give credit where it’s due. In this case, that means giving MSNBC host Chris Hayes credit for saying something that a) very few Democrats are every willing to say and b) really is long overdue: What about Bill Clinton? In a series of tweets today, Hayes pointed out that there is an outstanding (and credible) allegation of rape against Bill Clinton:
With politicians saying they’d vote for Roy Moore even if he made moves on a 14-year-old, I’m willing to grant that some of the “What about Bill Clinton?” cries coming from the right may be cynical and hypocritical. But it’s not fair to tar everyone who raises Clinton’s name in these conversations as doing so from a cynical motive.
In fact, you could just as easily turn this around and say it’s actually the left, or that portion of the left that ran interference for Clinton and is still doing so, that is “gross and cynical and hypocritical.” What’s rare on the left is what Hayes is doing here, introducing Clinton’s name into this national discussion and admitting it ought to be reckoned with instead of downplaying and pretending it’s old news.
There are a lot of us who lived through the Clinton era, myself included, who clearly remember the vicious attacks on his accusers (liars and trailer trash). We also remember the general mood of the national media which quickly shifted from taking the accusations seriously into “everyone lies about sex” mode. Bill lied to all our faces and many on the left applauded him for him. He was the victim of the “vast right-wing conspiracy.” It was a disgusting display, one undeniably worse than the one surrounding Roy Moore right now. Why worse? Because in Clinton’s case there was a credible allegation of rape.
With sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, James Toback, Louis C.K., and many others dominating the news, some of us have been genuinely mystified that the discussion never seems to circle back to Slick Willy. And even when it does occasionally come back to Bill, the whole thing is quickly dismissed and generally just ignored by the national media. That’s true even though the details seem strikingly similar to some of the stories we’re hearing now:
As Mary Katherine Ham suggested today on CNN, one reason so many Republicans find it easy to dismiss claims like the ones made against Roy Moore is that we’ve seen the national media do something similar for Democrats in the past. Not just Bill Clinton but Ted Kennedy and others. As Ham points out, NBC News just killed a report on progressive champion Harvey Weinstein a few weeks ago. The media can’t keep giving the left a pass on this issue, over and over, and then expect the right to play it straight when one of their own is accused. There’s a point when “whataboutism” isn’t just a cynical tactic but a genuine cry of frustration by people who can see there are clearly two different standards being applied simultaneously.
At some point, in the midst of all of these other allegations, Bill Clinton must also face the music. He shouldn’t be immune. His accusers, especially Juanita Broaddrick, shouldn’t be dismissed. Chris Hayes deserves credit for saying so today.