With Hillary Clinton likely to be the Democratic nominee, the women who long ago—in a far less survivor-friendly environment than 2016—accused Bill Clinton of rape and sexual misconduct are being trotted out by the conservative media once again.
They may find a broader audience, however, among today’s young women, who take a believe first, vet later approach to rape allegations.
On Monday night, Sean Hannity, the conservative radio host and Fox News anchor who’s assumed a friendly supporting role on Donald Trump’s campaign, invited Juanita Broaddrick, a former Arkansas nursing home administrator; Paula Jones, a one-time Arkansas state employee; and Kathleen Willey, a Clinton White House volunteer, onto his radio program to discuss their claims against the former president of the United States.
“It’s hard for me to say the word ‘rape.’ I always usually say sexual assault,” Broaddrick, who claimed on Dateline NBC in 1999 that she had been raped by Bill Clinton two decades earlier in Arkansas, said Monday. “But rape is the perfect terminology for what happened.”
Hannity, making his angle clear, retorted: “Hillary Clinton once said that women who make allegations should be believed and trusted. I guess, except in the case of anybody who makes an accusation against her husband.”
“Exactly,” Broaddrick said. “She doesn’t want to hear that.”
Earlier Monday, Trump released a campaign ad—on Instagram—with the caption “Is Hillary really protecting women?”
In black and white, the 20-second clip opens with audio of Bill Clinton’s accusers discussing their alleged rapes and assaults while a photo of him, smoking a cigar, comes into focus.
The shot then cuts to a photo of Hillary and Bill together, laughing. “Here we go again?” it asks, as a snippet of Hillary cackling like the Wicked Witch of the West plays menacingly.
It’s not very subtle, but subtlety has never been Trump’s thing—and lest you forget it’s a Trump production, the last few seconds of the video are of Trump’s logo: TRUMP: MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!
As The Daily Beast has previously reported, Trump has at his disposal several books full of what amounts to opposition research at his disposal for his race against Clinton—chief among them The Clintons’ War on Women, written by his longtime adviser Roger Stone, a former Nixon aide, a text that focuses on Bill’s alleged sexual misdeeds and Hillary’s alleged actions to prevent their reveal or slander the women revealing them. (In response to The Daily Beast’s reporting, Trump told The New York Times’ Maureen Dowd he was unaware of Stone’s book, despite having advertised it on Twitter when it was released.)
Broaddrick, Willey, and Jones have been resurfacing every now and again for at least the last year—mostly in conservative media and also on website of the Daily Mail, the popular British tabloid.
In July, Willey, who made her claims against Clinton in a 1998 episode of 60 Minutes, unveiled a website, aScandalaDay.com, that asked victims of Clinton to come forward. Willey has not responded to several interview requests over the last 10 months from The Daily Beast to discuss her endeavor and her alleged assault.
Hannity and the rest of Clinton’s opponents’ political motives notwithstanding, it’s undoubtedly worth considering how their claims might be viewed if they were brought against a sitting president today, in an environment so accepting of all accusers’ stories that a young woman was able to pull a vast hoax on Rolling Stone magazine, the University of Virginia, and much of the general public in November 2014 by making a fraudulent claim of rape to a reporter.
Back in the ’90s, Broaddrick, Jones, and Willey were swiftly dismissed and derided by much of the mainstream press and feminist establishment, the latter of which sought to protect a president and first lady sympathetic to their cause.
“When he assaulted Juanita, he was the attorney general,” Hannity said to Willey. “When he did this with Paula, he’s the governor. Now he’s the president of the United States. He knew you, correct?”
Willey recounted her financial straits at the time, and how she approached Clinton for a job. “I was criticized horribly by all of the feminists,” she said.
“On top of that we have consensual incidences,” Hannity said. “The affair with Gennifer Flowers and other women, and then the whole Monica Lewinsky thing comes up! So you’re talking about a serial predator. That’s what the three of you are describing, not somebody that’s changed over time.”
Hannity did not reply to an email from The Daily Beast inquiring whether he planned to cover Trump’s affairs or the rape allegation made against him and later recanted—not an atypical decision for a survivor—by his first wife, Ivana.