When the Juanita Broaddrick rape story exploded, my wife expressed the thoughts of millions of people in disbelief that this country is choosing to snooze while the most corrupt president in history continues to wreak havoc on an institution we once considered hallowed. "Won't this stick?
It's a good question. The statute of limitations is up, so there's no legal recourse against Bill Clinton. The House is far too preoccupied with Republicans in self-flagellation mode, and the Democrats are too busy laughing at the GOP meltdown (not to mention their own oaths) to bother. And one doesn't waste his time wondering, or caring, what the Senate does, or thinks.
There is always the last branch of government, the Fourth Estate. The Washington Post gave the rape charge front page coverage on February 20th, forcing NBC finally to air its Lisa Myers interview with Mrs. Broaddrick on the 24th. So how important do you think the charge, coming from a most credible source, of a sickening rape committed in 1978 by the President of the United States is to the network "news" media? Sit down for this one.
Never mind the TV gabfests, most of which have miniscule audiences and are "commentary" by definition. Look at the "news" reports. From CNN, one major news report on the 20th, period. From CBS Evening News, one story on the 20th; not a single report to date on its CBS This Morning broadcast. On ABC, not one news report on Juanita Broaddrick, not on World News Tonight, not on Good Morning America, not on Nightline. Nothing. What about NBC itself? NBC's Today has filed several news reports, which is several more than Andrew Lack's NBC Nightly News, which has yet to cover it. It even refused to run a Myers follow-up piece on public reaction.
And no one has demanded that the president, not his hired legal gun, answer the charge.
This is the kind of story that immediately goes into analysis mode, and we know what the establishment press does in its "analysis" of Clinton scandals. In this week's Newsweek, the conservative hater Jonathan Alter filed his evaluation, the title of which says it all: "Disgraceful All Around." All around? His spin: "... last week brought a clearer picture of both our dishonorable president and the dishonorable way in which he was impeached by the House ... [the Broaddrick story] helps fill out the dark side of both Bill Clinton and those who tried to destroy him."
Here we go again. Ken Starr and the vast right wing conspiracy set him up. It's a line of defense only Marion Barry could appreciate, or understand, assuming he were on crack.
Then there are the media polls. Ah, those surveys again. "Clinton holds on to high ratings" proudly proclaims USA Today. Its poll (conducted in conjunction with CNN) insists Clinton continues to enjoy a high (66%) approval rating and the same number thinks the allegations are "no big deal." There's more: Under the subhead "Broaddrick claim is doubted" we learn a majority (54%) of the public doesn't believe her.
Is America that callous? Uh-uh. Look a little closer at the numbers and you find that, incredibly, 44% of the public hasn't heard of the story. The poll results are thoroughly misleading: What is USA Today/CNN doing sampling people's opinions of Broaddrick and her accusation if they're unaware of either?
The cable network MSNBC, which has focused strongly on the story, did another kind of poll. It asked people who were familiar with the report to call in and register their opinions. An astounding 30,000 people called. Eighty four percent believed her story while only a paltry 16 percent believed the president's "denial," an interesting finding since he's yet to deny it.
If you side with the 84% who believe Mrs. Broaddrick's story to be credible - and I do - then you believe that President William Jefferson Clinton is a rapist, and an extraordinarily brutal one at that. Just the image of him biting down on this poor woman's lip while he violated her...Broaddrick in shock, her face bloodied and swollen, her underwear torn to shreds ... Clinton nonchalantly putting on his sunglasses while dismissing his victim's agony with "You better put some ice on that" - if that isn't enough to make you sick, check your heart for a pulse.
The real story here is that almost half the American public knows nothing about this probable violent crime committed by the president of the United States. And that's exactly the way this very corrupt, very dangerous man wants it to remain. To hell with "let's move on."