Category: Stephen McGhee

Bill Clinton, the Media, and Sexual Harassment Armageddon


The allegations against Roy Moore, Harvey Weinstein, and now Al Franken, each more damning by the hour, have awakened the conscience of the media.  As if on cue, thoughtful voices in the press have been reflecting on their own past sins. Our willingness to believe Moore’s accusers, the pundits say, stands in stark contrast to our treatment of the women who once accused Bill Clinton.

Michelle Goldberg of the New York Times says: “I believe Juanita Broaddrick.”

Chris Hayes of MSNBC: “As gross and cynical and hypocritical as the right’s “what about Bill Clinton” stuff is, it’s also true that Democrats and the center left are overdue for a real reckoning with the allegations against him.”

CNN’s Jake Tapper: “The accusers of Bill Clinton… were never given the credence and treated with the same respect that these women are being treated…”

Matt Yglesias, writing in Vox: “What (Bill Clinton) did to Monica Lewinsky was wrong, and he should have paid the price.”

The list could go on. Finally, after all these years, the mainstream media is confronting the damage it did to the victims of sexual misconduct, to its own credibility, and to the country.

As usual, the press is playing us for fools.

An examination of these media confessions brings up two questions. First, is it likely that writers, pundits and anchors from every major media outlet chose essentially the same moment to confess to sins from 20 years ago? No. The reason these pundits are all saying the same thing is that they’re reading from the same script.

Second, is it credible for some in the media to claim that sexual harassment was viewed differently in the 1990s and was therefore misunderstood and neglected back then? Again, no. Bill Clinton was elected president only one year after the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas inferno (during which, we should note, Clarence Thomas was not accused of touching anybody). 

The media’s confession is phony. But it is also brilliant. By finally condemning Bill Clinton for his mistreatment of women, the press is gently, but firmly, escorting him from the public stage. The American left wants to face forward, and there’s no place in its future for the Clintons. Seen in this light, the media’s re-evaluation of Bill is of a piece with Donna Brazile’s takedown of Hillary. It is time for the Clintons to retire. And since they no longer control the levers that might extend their tenure and punish their enemies, the Clintons are finding that their friends are of the fair weather variety.

But the Clintons’ forced retirement is only half of the media’s confession strategy. By absolving itself of Clinton-era sins, the press is setting the stage for something much more important: an all-out attack against President Trump on the basis of sexual harassment and sexual assault.

At some point in the near future, we can look forward to a long line of Trump accusers, all of whom will approach the podium in the span of a few short days. It’s difficult to predict exactly when these accusers will take the stage, but it’s easy to predict that they will. They may appear as Congress is examining the Mueller findings. They may make their announcements during Trump’s impeachment by a Democrat-controlled House in 2019. Or these accusers may have to cool their heels until the fall of 2020. Whenever it comes, we will be overwhelmed by the accusations and by the credibility (real or perceived) of the women accusing Donald Trump.

Trump must be destroyed. At least that’s the plan. And sexual harassment will have to be the means by which this is accomplished. It’s becoming clear the Mueller findings, whatever they turn out to be, will not be enough to unseat the president. The Uranium One/Fusion GPS scandals may not go anywhere in Jeff Sessions’ DOJ, but they are enough to cast doubt on Mueller’s credibility and on the Trump-Russia collusion story.

Without collusion, and without corruption, the media will need a new tool and sexual harassment neatly fits the bill. The NBC tape released last year featuring Trump’s “locker room talk” was a near-miss; Trump escaped that noose by deflecting attention to the Clintons and their own harassment issues. The media has made sure that can’t happen again.  Trump will need a new strategy if he is to make it to a second term, or survive his first.

To be clear, the issue of sexual assault is a real one, and it should be taken seriously. (If the media’s confession were genuine, particularly in regard to the credible allegations of assault by the former president, it would be welcome.)

But demeaning the issue by transforming it into a game of political “gotcha,” as was done in the Clarence Thomas hearings, is dangerous to our republic and ultimately corrupts the process by which we choose our government. If at some point we find ourselves selecting the candidate who wasn’t accused of making a woman feel uncomfortable at a cocktail party in 2003, we will have ceased to be responsible voters. Here’s hoping against hope that the president is prepared and that the truth (whatever it may be) wins out in the battle sure to come.

The allegations against Roy Moore, Harvey Weinstein, and now Al Franken, each more damning by the hour, have awakened the conscience of the media.  As if on cue, thoughtful voices in the press have been reflecting on their own past sins. Our willingness to believe Moore’s accusers, the pundits say, stands in stark contrast to our treatment of the women who once accused Bill Clinton.

Michelle Goldberg of the New York Times says: “I believe Juanita Broaddrick.”

Chris Hayes of MSNBC: “As gross and cynical and hypocritical as the right’s “what about Bill Clinton” stuff is, it’s also true that Democrats and the center left are overdue for a real reckoning with the allegations against him.”

CNN’s Jake Tapper: “The accusers of Bill Clinton… were never given the credence and treated with the same respect that these women are being treated…”

Matt Yglesias, writing in Vox: “What (Bill Clinton) did to Monica Lewinsky was wrong, and he should have paid the price.”

The list could go on. Finally, after all these years, the mainstream media is confronting the damage it did to the victims of sexual misconduct, to its own credibility, and to the country.

As usual, the press is playing us for fools.

An examination of these media confessions brings up two questions. First, is it likely that writers, pundits and anchors from every major media outlet chose essentially the same moment to confess to sins from 20 years ago? No. The reason these pundits are all saying the same thing is that they’re reading from the same script.

Second, is it credible for some in the media to claim that sexual harassment was viewed differently in the 1990s and was therefore misunderstood and neglected back then? Again, no. Bill Clinton was elected president only one year after the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas inferno (during which, we should note, Clarence Thomas was not accused of touching anybody). 

The media’s confession is phony. But it is also brilliant. By finally condemning Bill Clinton for his mistreatment of women, the press is gently, but firmly, escorting him from the public stage. The American left wants to face forward, and there’s no place in its future for the Clintons. Seen in this light, the media’s re-evaluation of Bill is of a piece with Donna Brazile’s takedown of Hillary. It is time for the Clintons to retire. And since they no longer control the levers that might extend their tenure and punish their enemies, the Clintons are finding that their friends are of the fair weather variety.

But the Clintons’ forced retirement is only half of the media’s confession strategy. By absolving itself of Clinton-era sins, the press is setting the stage for something much more important: an all-out attack against President Trump on the basis of sexual harassment and sexual assault.

At some point in the near future, we can look forward to a long line of Trump accusers, all of whom will approach the podium in the span of a few short days. It’s difficult to predict exactly when these accusers will take the stage, but it’s easy to predict that they will. They may appear as Congress is examining the Mueller findings. They may make their announcements during Trump’s impeachment by a Democrat-controlled House in 2019. Or these accusers may have to cool their heels until the fall of 2020. Whenever it comes, we will be overwhelmed by the accusations and by the credibility (real or perceived) of the women accusing Donald Trump.

Trump must be destroyed. At least that’s the plan. And sexual harassment will have to be the means by which this is accomplished. It’s becoming clear the Mueller findings, whatever they turn out to be, will not be enough to unseat the president. The Uranium One/Fusion GPS scandals may not go anywhere in Jeff Sessions’ DOJ, but they are enough to cast doubt on Mueller’s credibility and on the Trump-Russia collusion story.

Without collusion, and without corruption, the media will need a new tool and sexual harassment neatly fits the bill. The NBC tape released last year featuring Trump’s “locker room talk” was a near-miss; Trump escaped that noose by deflecting attention to the Clintons and their own harassment issues. The media has made sure that can’t happen again.  Trump will need a new strategy if he is to make it to a second term, or survive his first.

To be clear, the issue of sexual assault is a real one, and it should be taken seriously. (If the media’s confession were genuine, particularly in regard to the credible allegations of assault by the former president, it would be welcome.)

But demeaning the issue by transforming it into a game of political “gotcha,” as was done in the Clarence Thomas hearings, is dangerous to our republic and ultimately corrupts the process by which we choose our government. If at some point we find ourselves selecting the candidate who wasn’t accused of making a woman feel uncomfortable at a cocktail party in 2003, we will have ceased to be responsible voters. Here’s hoping against hope that the president is prepared and that the truth (whatever it may be) wins out in the battle sure to come.



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How Corrupt Are American Institutions?


Blame Sean Hannity. Or give him all the credit. The intrepid talk show host has been claiming for months that there is nothing to the Trump-Russia allegations, that the real tale of Russian collusion is linked to Hillary Clinton. The fact that very few people have taken this seriously has only caused the firebrand conservative to dig in deeper and repeat his talking points both more often and more fervently.

His insistence the Russian story would “boomerang” against the Democrats has been largely based on his communications (both on- and off-air) with Julian Assange and investigative reporters John Solomon and Sara Carter.

It seems like only yesterday justice was closing in on the Travel Office, Whitewater, the Clinton-era transfer of missile technology to the Chinese government, Fast and Furious, Solyndra, IRS harassment of conservative groups, the Clinton emails, Benghazi and a dozen others.

We might have believed Sean Hannity’s predictions, but we’d seen this movie before. Then came Tuesday. John Solomon and Alison Spann of the Hill and Sara Carter of Circa News had a story that may have broken open the largest national security scandal since the Rosenbergs.

In 2009, the Obama Justice Department began investigating a Russian plan to expand Russia’s atomic energy business by acquiring uranium in the United States. Through bribery, kickbacks, money laundering and extortion, the Russians were able to acquire 20% of the uranium mining rights in the United States. Shareholders in the Russian firm Rosatom funneled $145 million to the Clinton Foundation in the months leading up to the Obama administration’s approval of the transaction.

The sale was officially approved in 2010 by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), whose members included both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Attorney General Eric Holder. Apparently neither Holder nor Clinton informed the other members of the committee just what an historic act of corruption they were participants to. Not only did the DOJ and FBI let the sale proceed, they sat on the information they had gathered and let the investigation drag on until 2015, when Rosatom executive Vadim Mikerin and other defendants reached plea deals to little fanfare.

Current Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein oversaw the FBI’s investigation, as did Andrew McCabe, the current deputy FBI director. And the man in charge of the FBI during most of the Rosatom investigation was none other than Robert Mueller, the special counsel now investigating Russian influence in the 2016 election.

The government informant at the heart of the case was (and remains) forbidden to speak to Congress by an Obama Justice Department gag order (that gag order has yet to be lifted by the Trump Justice Department).

If this story is true, then all our worst fears have been confirmed, and we are indeed living in a banana republic, with one set of rules for the rich and powerful, and another set of rules for everybody else.

The question going forward: what kind of country will we live in tomorrow? Now that we know that Russian collusion is real and that the Obama administration engaged in it, what will be done about it? Will the laws against government corruption finally be enforced, or will the guilty walk again as we’re treated to another round of Congressional committee show hearings?

This scandal will be a true test — perhaps the final test — of whether American government can still work for the people. If Republicans walk away from this story for fear of ruffling Democrat feathers, we will know that the fix is in.

A lot of reputations are on the line, beginning with that of Donald Trump. Will he demand of his administration that it faithfully execute the law, without fear or favor.

Then there’s Jeff Sessions. Our attorney general will have to determine if the Trump DOJ has the stomach to investigate the Obama DOJ. Sessions has a chance to end this affair with a reputation as a true champion of law and order. Then again, he may cement his image as a chivalrous knight of old, merciless to peasants who cross borders and deal drugs, but always ready to give his social and political peers the benefit of the doubt.

Congress’ reputation is on the line, too. Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and the rest of the GOP will have a lot to answer for if they fail to demand answers to hard questions. This isn’t a game of pin-the-tail-on-the-Trump anymore. The implications of the Clinton/Rosatom story can’t be overstated, and Congress must lead the charge in determining whether Andrew McCabe, Rod Rosenstein, and Robert Mueller should now have any role in an investigation dealing with Russian influence, and more importantly, whether they should have any role in government at all.

And finally, there’s the media. The New York Times recently announced an ad campaign with the slogan: “the truth is more important than ever.” It’s time to prove it. If Russian collusion was a problem yesterday – and the media has breathlessly told us this for ten months – then Russian collusion is a problem today, and the Clinton story should get all the attention the Trump story received and then some, especially seeing as how there’s actual evidence in the Clinton story. It’s probably too much to hope that the media will flip on the Democrats and report the truth, but if justice runs its course while the media pretends there’s nothing to see here, folks, then whatever shred of credibility the press has remaining will be gone.

The early returns aren’t promising. The relentlessly tweeting Trump hasn’t mentioned the story as of this writing. Jeff Sessions, in Capitol Hill testimony on Wednesday, offered only a cryptic statement that he would “review” Charles Grassley’s request that he look into the Clinton matter. (The ever-disappointing Sessions also suggested that Rod Rosenstein might be in charge of reviewing the propriety of an investigation that was led by Rod Rosenstein). On the bright side, Grassley’s committee has opened an inquiry into the matter, but then again, it’s hard to imagine a satisfying outcome to a story that begins with “Grassley’s committee has opened an inquiry…” As for the non-Hannity media, the Clinton story was met with stony silence (no denials, just silence). The big story Wednesday was not $145 million in bribes to the Clintons, but rather a controversy about whether Trump said something inappropriate or awkward to the wife of a soldier killed in battle during a phone call in which Trump offered his condolences.

If we are to remain a country of laws and not of men, the people we’ve chosen to uphold our institutions are going to have to do better than this. It’s one thing if our system of justice and our national security have been put up for sale; it’s quite another if the politicians and bureaucrats who did it face no consequences.

How corrupt are American institutions? We’ll know very soon. 

Blame Sean Hannity. Or give him all the credit. The intrepid talk show host has been claiming for months that there is nothing to the Trump-Russia allegations, that the real tale of Russian collusion is linked to Hillary Clinton. The fact that very few people have taken this seriously has only caused the firebrand conservative to dig in deeper and repeat his talking points both more often and more fervently.

His insistence the Russian story would “boomerang” against the Democrats has been largely based on his communications (both on- and off-air) with Julian Assange and investigative reporters John Solomon and Sara Carter.

It seems like only yesterday justice was closing in on the Travel Office, Whitewater, the Clinton-era transfer of missile technology to the Chinese government, Fast and Furious, Solyndra, IRS harassment of conservative groups, the Clinton emails, Benghazi and a dozen others.

We might have believed Sean Hannity’s predictions, but we’d seen this movie before. Then came Tuesday. John Solomon and Alison Spann of the Hill and Sara Carter of Circa News had a story that may have broken open the largest national security scandal since the Rosenbergs.

In 2009, the Obama Justice Department began investigating a Russian plan to expand Russia’s atomic energy business by acquiring uranium in the United States. Through bribery, kickbacks, money laundering and extortion, the Russians were able to acquire 20% of the uranium mining rights in the United States. Shareholders in the Russian firm Rosatom funneled $145 million to the Clinton Foundation in the months leading up to the Obama administration’s approval of the transaction.

The sale was officially approved in 2010 by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), whose members included both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Attorney General Eric Holder. Apparently neither Holder nor Clinton informed the other members of the committee just what an historic act of corruption they were participants to. Not only did the DOJ and FBI let the sale proceed, they sat on the information they had gathered and let the investigation drag on until 2015, when Rosatom executive Vadim Mikerin and other defendants reached plea deals to little fanfare.

Current Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein oversaw the FBI’s investigation, as did Andrew McCabe, the current deputy FBI director. And the man in charge of the FBI during most of the Rosatom investigation was none other than Robert Mueller, the special counsel now investigating Russian influence in the 2016 election.

The government informant at the heart of the case was (and remains) forbidden to speak to Congress by an Obama Justice Department gag order (that gag order has yet to be lifted by the Trump Justice Department).

If this story is true, then all our worst fears have been confirmed, and we are indeed living in a banana republic, with one set of rules for the rich and powerful, and another set of rules for everybody else.

The question going forward: what kind of country will we live in tomorrow? Now that we know that Russian collusion is real and that the Obama administration engaged in it, what will be done about it? Will the laws against government corruption finally be enforced, or will the guilty walk again as we’re treated to another round of Congressional committee show hearings?

This scandal will be a true test — perhaps the final test — of whether American government can still work for the people. If Republicans walk away from this story for fear of ruffling Democrat feathers, we will know that the fix is in.

A lot of reputations are on the line, beginning with that of Donald Trump. Will he demand of his administration that it faithfully execute the law, without fear or favor.

Then there’s Jeff Sessions. Our attorney general will have to determine if the Trump DOJ has the stomach to investigate the Obama DOJ. Sessions has a chance to end this affair with a reputation as a true champion of law and order. Then again, he may cement his image as a chivalrous knight of old, merciless to peasants who cross borders and deal drugs, but always ready to give his social and political peers the benefit of the doubt.

Congress’ reputation is on the line, too. Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and the rest of the GOP will have a lot to answer for if they fail to demand answers to hard questions. This isn’t a game of pin-the-tail-on-the-Trump anymore. The implications of the Clinton/Rosatom story can’t be overstated, and Congress must lead the charge in determining whether Andrew McCabe, Rod Rosenstein, and Robert Mueller should now have any role in an investigation dealing with Russian influence, and more importantly, whether they should have any role in government at all.

And finally, there’s the media. The New York Times recently announced an ad campaign with the slogan: “the truth is more important than ever.” It’s time to prove it. If Russian collusion was a problem yesterday – and the media has breathlessly told us this for ten months – then Russian collusion is a problem today, and the Clinton story should get all the attention the Trump story received and then some, especially seeing as how there’s actual evidence in the Clinton story. It’s probably too much to hope that the media will flip on the Democrats and report the truth, but if justice runs its course while the media pretends there’s nothing to see here, folks, then whatever shred of credibility the press has remaining will be gone.

The early returns aren’t promising. The relentlessly tweeting Trump hasn’t mentioned the story as of this writing. Jeff Sessions, in Capitol Hill testimony on Wednesday, offered only a cryptic statement that he would “review” Charles Grassley’s request that he look into the Clinton matter. (The ever-disappointing Sessions also suggested that Rod Rosenstein might be in charge of reviewing the propriety of an investigation that was led by Rod Rosenstein). On the bright side, Grassley’s committee has opened an inquiry into the matter, but then again, it’s hard to imagine a satisfying outcome to a story that begins with “Grassley’s committee has opened an inquiry…” As for the non-Hannity media, the Clinton story was met with stony silence (no denials, just silence). The big story Wednesday was not $145 million in bribes to the Clintons, but rather a controversy about whether Trump said something inappropriate or awkward to the wife of a soldier killed in battle during a phone call in which Trump offered his condolences.

If we are to remain a country of laws and not of men, the people we’ve chosen to uphold our institutions are going to have to do better than this. It’s one thing if our system of justice and our national security have been put up for sale; it’s quite another if the politicians and bureaucrats who did it face no consequences.

How corrupt are American institutions? We’ll know very soon. 



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