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27 February 1999

Life in this celebrity press corps: Lacking motivation

Synopsis: The press corps couldn’t imagine a reason why Broaddrick might be fibbing.

MO for a President? Michael Kelly, The Washington Post, 2/25/99

The pundits couldn’t imagine a reason why Broaddrick would be making this up. Try though they might to wrack their brains, they just couldn’t conjure a reason. We always turn to Michael Kelly for the least temperate response to any situation; on Thursday, we found the furious scribe working hard on this very conundrum:

KELLY: Much seems believable about Broaddrick’s story...The 55-year-old Broaddrick is, as the Journal’s [Dorothy] Rabinowitz writes, “a woman of accomplishment, prosperous, successful in her field, serious; a woman seeking no profit, no book, no lawsuit.” She is no one James Carville can casually smear as trailer trash, but a nurse who built up a company of five nursing homes in Arkansas.

Here, Kelly recites the first part of the litany pundits have chanted about Broaddrick’s lack of motive. She isn’t trying to write a book. She doesn’t seem to be in this for money.

Here at THE HOWLER, we do not assert that Mrs. Broaddrick is fibbing about Clinton. But for the record, the press corps skates on rather thin ice when it revisits the topic of cash. As you will recall, when Paula Jones first came forward, she swore she would give any money she garnered to charity; now she’s so busy trying to rake in the loot, she refuses to pay a dime to lawyers who won her case before the U.S. Supreme Court! But have you ever seen a pundit--even one--ask the Jones team to explain the reversal? As we’ve told you so often: when events suggest that accusers are less than honest, that evidence is sent down the memory hole. This obedient press corps just loves telling tales the way that accusers direct them.

After explaining how Broaddrick wasn’t looking for cash, Kelly recited the second part of the lack-of-motive refrain:

KELLY: Moreover, Broaddrick was a reluctant witness, keeping her story secret for two decades. When a former friend, Philip Yoakum, tried to persuade her to tell the story through Clinton’s political nemesis Sheffield Nelson, she refused. When Yoakum tipped off Paula Jones’ lawyers to Broaddrick, she still refused to cooperate with them...

It simply never occurs to Kelly: sometimes, people are reluctant to tell a story because they know that the story is false. Instead, Kelly spins Mrs. Broaddrick’s reluctance to the absolute height of absurdity:

KELLY (continuing): ...Broaddrick even went so far as to deny the allegations in an affadavit, the draft form of which was most helpfully supplied to her lawyer by a Clinton lawyer.

Get it? Reread the whole paragraph. The fact that Broaddrick denied the story under oath is now taken to show that the story is true! Only in this celebrity press corps can such nonsense masquerade as deep thought.

Here at THE HOWLER, we do not assert that Mrs. Broaddrick is lying. We think it’s clear that she may be telling the truth. But we also think it is simple enough to imagine why she might be fibbing--and we think it’s the duty of a vigilant press corps to examine such possible scenarios.

Let’s examine one part of Mrs. Broaddrick’s story that was skipped over by Lisa Myers. Why exactly did Broaddrick call Clinton when she came to Little Rock in 1978? Kelly quotes Broaddrick on the subject:

KELLY: She remembers that she met Clinton when he made a gubernatorial campaign visit to her nursing home, and that he invited her to drop by campaign headquarters in Little Rock. She and a friend decided to take up Clinton’s offer... “We were excited,” she said. “We were going to pick up all that neat stuff, T-shirts, buttons.”

Only in this celebrity press corps could such a narration pass by without comment. Does one normally call a gubernatorial candidate (at home) to pick up some t-shirts and buttons? Kelly recites this odd part of the tale as if he were reading off names from the phone book. It doesn’t enter his mind that the story may suggest that a social encounter was going on.

Here at THE HOWLER, we quickly note, we make no such assertion. We have no idea what may have been happening between Clinton and Broaddrick that day. And a large part of the reason why we have no idea is because of journalists like Kelly and Myers--eager scribes who type up tales which plainly call for more questions.

No, dear reader, here at THE HOWLER, we’re a different breed from these well-costumed flacks. We know Broaddrick’s story may be true; but we also know that she may be fibbing. Because we didn’t arrive on the planet last week, we know this one thing: people lie all the time. We do not know that Broaddrick’s story is true. And guess who else doesn’t know? Michael Kelly!

Use your imaginations, dear readers, and you may find ways to imagine Broaddrick caught in a lie, a little fib told in ’78, at the time of an encounter with Clinton. Almost everyone, at some time, has told a fib that circumstance turned into a problem. So while we do not believe Mrs. Broaddrick is fibbing, we certainly know that she could be. The fact that she lacks a financial motive to lie doesn’t mean she may not have another.

But life in this celebrity press corps means always believing accusers. The fact that Mrs. Broaddrick swore a story is false now proves that the story is true! Indeed, we can’t help noticing: if Broaddrick lacks a motive to lie, the pundits seem to lack any motive to tell you the truth. That’s how it is in a celebrity press corps which long ago fell in love with accusers

Next: More on Kelly’s studied inability to imagine how the tale could be false.

For the record: We don’t enjoy suggesting that Broaddrick’s story could be false. But when such serious charges are made in public, it is a press corps’ plain duty to scrutinize them.

More from Irate Mike: Kelly’s comment about Lindsey, quoted above, should not pass without comment. Kelly is at his insinuative best in noting that the draft form for the Broaddrick affadavit was “most helpfully supplied” by the White House. Kelly does not mention that Broaddrick’s lawyer, a Republican office-holder, has made it clear that he approached Lindsey for help with the affadavit. It’s funny how details like that get left out in Kelly’s avid search for the truth.