In the 1990s, with her husband’s political career on the line, Hillary Clinton and other supporters engaged in one of the most famous and well-orchestrated victim-blaming campaigns in recent history.
Would she and the Clinton machine get away with it today?
In today’s society, women who make sexual assault allegations are supposed to be believed outright. Men accused are considered guilty until proven innocent. In this environment, would a Hillary Clinton presidency be able to handle a Bill Clinton allegation the way it was handled nearly two decades ago?
Imagine a scenario surrounding any of the women who accused Bill of sexual misbehavior or even crimes during the 1990s, but apply to it today’s standards. If they are willing to carve out an exception for a popular Democrat, sexual assault activists would be hard-pressed to reconcile such a sudden change in the way they do business.
Jones, who said a state trooper escorted her to a hotel room where the then-governor exposed himself and requested sexual favors, would have been regarded as a victim, just as every woman who has accused Bill Cosby of the same.
If today's standards were applied, reporters who claimed Jones offered to be Clinton’s mistress would have been accused of blaming the victim. As would Hillary, who claimed the allegations about her husband using state troopers to acquire women were “outrageous, terrible stories” that were politically motivated.
Clinton himself would have been accused of trying to cover up his nefarious deeds, and his $850,000 settlement to Jones would have been widely taken as evidence of guilt.
Broaddrick’s initial denial about being raped by Bill Clinton, instead of being used to discredit her, would be taken today as evidence of a trauma she was trying to block out of her mind. Her inability to recall the exact date of the attack would also be explained away as her mind trying to block out the horrific event.
The fact that Broaddrick went to a Clinton campaign event just weeks after the alleged attack would not have been any indication of Clinton's innocence — today, it would be dismissed as a sign that she was in precisely the sort of denial from which many victims suffer. Those who tried to smear her friends who corroborated her story of being raped as unreliable (or holding a grudge against Clinton) would have been denounced as "rape denialists" trying to discredit the victim.
Hillary’s perceived threat to Broaddrick would have been viewed as an attempt to silence a victim and intimidate her.
The attacks on Flowers from Clinton aides and Hillary, who reportedly called her “trailer trash,” would have been shouted down as "slut-shamers" trying to dredge up a woman’s past. The recordings Flowers made of a conversation between herself and Clinton would have been above reproach. The notion that anyone dared claim she had selectively edited them would have been seen as additional evidence of patriarchy and male privilege by a man who felt entitled to sexual gratification.
Reporters would have been accused of invading Willey’s privacy in order to smear her for accusing a powerful man of sexual assault. Multiple sources claiming she lied would have been slapped away as rape apologia. Hillary’s alleged “terror campaign” against Willey and all the other women who accused Bill of indiscretions would have been seen as defending a rapist and perpetuating rape culture.
The friendly letters Willey sent to Bill after the alleged attack would have again been brushed aside, just like the Facebook messages between mattress activist Emma Sulkowicz and the man she accused of raping her at Columbia University. They may have also been explained away as Willey being in denial over the assault and trying to open a dialogue with her attacker.
The statements to the FBI about Willey's past sexual history would have been denounced as victim-blaming and slut-shaming. All of Willey’s contradicting statements also would have been used as evidence that she was traumatized, and studies showing victims having memory problems would have been cited.
Hillary gave away her tactics to discredit Lewinsky in an interview with NBC host Matt Lauer.
“I think we’re going to find some other things,” Clinton said. “And I think that when all of this is put into context, and we really look at the people involved here, look at their motivations and look at their backgrounds, look at their past behavior, some folks are going to have a lot to answer for.”
If that’s not a plan to blame the victim, I don’t know what would be.
Hillary certainly wasn’t the only Clintonite working to discredit Lewinsky. Sidney Blumenthal, then an aide to Bill Clinton, was instrumental in planting stories to tear Lewinsky down, went so far as to call her a “stalker.”
The names that Lewinsky was called at the time of the scandal (and after) would also have been called slut-shaming and the attacks on her character would have been denounced as the smear campaign that they were.
In today's environment, could even the most obsequious Clinton-worshipping journalists ignore such accusations under a President Hillary Clinton? Would activists disregard their deeply held belief of always supporting the victim if the accused were the First Gentleman?