Flashback: NBC Minimized Rape Accusation Against Bill Clinton

John Gaps III/AP Photo
John Gaps III/AP Photo

NEW YORK — Amid questions about why NBC did not utilize a months-long investigation by its own freelance correspondent Ronan Farrow into accusations of sexual assault and harassment by Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, it may be instructive to recall the network’s controversial treatment of the story told by Bill Clinton’s rape accuser, Juanita Broaddrick.

Instead of releasing the Weinstein story at NBC, Farrow published the extensive piece with the New Yorker documenting that he was told by “thirteen women that, between the nineteen-nineties and 2015, Weinstein sexually harassed or assaulted them.”

The move to work with the New Yorker prompted a slew of questions, with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow commenting, “NBC says that the story wasn’t publishable, that it wasn’t ready to go at the time that you brought it to them.”

Farrow responded: “I walked into the door at the New Yorker with an explosively reportable piece that should have been public earlier. And immediately, obviously, the New Yorker recognized that. And it is not accurate to say that it was not reportable. In fact, there were multiple determinations that it was reportable at NBC.”

He further said that Maddow would need to “ask NBC and NBC executives” why they passed on the story.

The Daily Beast published a piece titled, “How NBC ‘Killed’ Ronan Farrow’s Weinstein Exposé.”

The online magazine spoke with an NBC source who responded to Farrow with a statement: “Ronan has had a non-exclusive relationship with NBC News for the last year. He brought NBC News early reporting [on Weinstein] that didn’t meet the standard to go forward with a story; it was nowhere close to what ultimately ran in the New York Times or the New Yorker—for example, at that time he didn’t have one accuser willing to go on the record or identify themselves.”

“He asked if he could bring it to a print outlet (presumably sources might be more willing to cooperate vs. going on camera), NBC agreed, with the understanding that if he got the story published he would come back and talk about it. The story he published is radically different than what he brought to NBC News.”

However, the Beast revealed that Farrow did have purported evidence, including a recording of an accuser:

Months ago, however, the 29-year-old Farrow, a lawyer and member of the New York Bar, did indeed secure for his investigation an incriminating audio recording made by the New York Police Department in March 2015 and which now accompanies Farrow’s article on the New Yorker’s website. It’s essentially a sting tape for which the Special Victims Unit had wired 22-year-old Filipina-Italian model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, who’d formally complained to the cops that he’d groped her breast and tried to put his hand up her skirt the previous day, and sent her to meet the movie mogul at the Tribeca Grand Hotel. …

Ironically, despite the fact that NBC News had access to the recording for several months and certainly could have used it as part of Farrow’s report, both NBC and MSNBC were at pains on Tuesday to credit the New Yorker in their repeated replays of the bombshell tape.

Here, it may be instructive to recall NBC’s treatment of another powerful liberal accused of sexual misconduct, Bill Clinton.

In August, Breitbart News broke the story that NBC News quietly scrubbed the word “discredited” from the online version of a May 19 report on the highly-rated Today Show in which anchor Andrea Mitchell used that word to describe Broaddrick’s rape accusations against Clinton. Broaddrick says that Clinton raped her twice in a hotel room in 1978. The NBC online editing occurred in response to a letter from Broaddrick’s attorney, who is also her son, demanding an on air apology about using the word “discredited.”

Neither Mitchell nor the network provided any documentation or evidence to back up the “discredited” claim. As critics pointed out in response, Broaddrick’s accusation has not been discredited. Indeed, NBC itself vetted Broaddrick’s story when she originally broke her silence by speaking to the network’s show Dateline in 1999.

The network also caught up with Norma Rodgers, Broaddrick’s friend and employee, who confirmed Broaddrick’s story of how Norma found Broaddrick in her hotel room in the immediate aftermath of the incident with a badly swollen lip and mouth and that Broaddrick’s pantyhose had been ripped off. Broaddrick had stated that Clinton bit her on the lip during the alleged rape, which she said transpired in 1978 at her room in a Little Rock hotel.

NBC’s Lisa Myers, who conducted the 1999 interview with Broaddrick for the network, stated in a 2014 interview that “[N]othing has come up since that story was reported that in any way undercuts what Juanita Broaddrick said.” Myers has since retired from the network.

Broaddrick’s story reemerged in the public limelight last year after Hillary Clinton made woman’s issues a centerpiece of her campaign, and released an ad in which Clinton insisted all women must be sided with if they accuse men of sexual assault.

“You have the right to be heard. You have the right to be believed. We’re with you,” Clinton exclaimed in the video, which she addressed to “every survivor of sexual assault.”

‘Nothing New’

Last January, Broaddrick said that NBC’s Mitchell told her by phone that the network would not conduct a new interview with Broaddrick “because you have nothing new to add” since Broaddrick first went public in an NBC interview in 1999.

An NBC News spokesperson confirmed to BuzzFeed in January that the network pursued an interview with the rape accuser but decided against running a story after purportedly establishing that there was nothing new.

“When Juanita Broaddrick went public last week, NBC News sent an associate producer to Arkansas to see if there was anything new in her story. We established there was not, and decided not to pursue it any further,” the spokesperson said at the time.

NBC seems to be overlooking a series of new revelations from Broaddrick, including:

  • Broaddrick says Bill Clinton repeatedly called her after the alleged rape.
  • Broaddrick says that Hillary Clinton tried to silence her.
  • Last month, Broaddrick told me that Clinton raped her not once but twice during the same infamous encounter in 1978.
  • Broaddrick says NBC removed the bombshell charge that Hillary tried to silence her.

NBC Accused of Scrubbing Interview

When Broaddrick originally broke her silence by speaking to NBC’s Dateline in 1999, Clinton’s rape accuser says she told the network’s reporter, Lisa Myers, on camera that she believed Hillary tried to silence her.

In January, Broaddrick recalled to me that during the pre-taped interview, she began to tell Myers about the personal meeting with Hillary described above in which, Broaddrick believes, the future First Lady strongly implied the alleged rape victim had to stay silent about her traumatic experience.

Broaddrick says that an NBC staffer present for the 1999 filming rushed in front of the camera, interrupted the prerecorded session, and declared that the allegations against Hillary could not be included in the interview.

She charges that NBC went so far as to re-film that portion of the interview, with Myers asking the same question anew and Broaddrick sidestepping the Hillary meeting in the new response.

“We were sitting on my couch,” Broaddrick recalled of the interview. “All the cameras were behind me. She asked some question about whether I was intimidated or threatened by anyone, and I started right in with the meeting with Hillary while we were filming the interview.

“And almost as soon as I started to explain, one of the staffers, I believe he was a producer, came rushing in and said, ‘No, no. We can’t go there.’”

Broaddrick said Myers re-asked the question for the camera and the following exchange, which made the final cut, took place:

Lisa Myers: Did Bill Clinton or anyone near him ever threaten you, try to intimidate you, do anything to keep you silent?

Juanita Broaddrick: No.

Myers: This has been strictly your choice.

Broaddrick: Yes.

Broaddrick, inexperienced in media relations, explained to Breitbart News why she gave an altered answer the second time around.

“I didn’t do interviews before and I’m not a lawyer. I thought from the sound of what the NBC staffer was saying that there was some legal reason why we couldn’t talk about Hillary and that we just couldn’t go there for legal reasons.”

When the story broke in January, NBC News did not provide Breitbart News with a statement about Broaddrick’s accusations despite being given five business days to do so. It has yet to reply to that request for comment.

NBC Held Interview Until After Clinton Impeachment Vote

After filming the 1999 interview, NBC waited 35 days until finally airing the exclusive. The timeline is critical. The Senate voted to acquit Clinton in the impeachment case on Feb. 12. NBC’s interview, conducted January 20, 1999, did not run until Feb. 24, and the network placed it opposite the highly-rated Grammy Awards.

Some have questioned NBC’s motivation in waiting to air Broaddrick’s charge of rape. “The 35-day interval between tape and air is now one of the legends of the impeachment process. Why didn’t the American public get to hear Mrs. Broaddrick before the Senate voted to acquit Mr. Clinton on Feb. 12?” wrote Philip Weiss in the Observer in 1999.

Speaking in 1999, NBC News vice president Bill Wheatley vehemently denied the network deliberately held the interview until after the Senate vote. He said NBC took the normal period of time for properly vetting stories. “There was no pressure from the White House, period. Nor as some were claiming was there any pressure from NBC or G.E. corporate higher-ups to kill the story,” said Wheatley.

 Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.


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