Democrats and other people broadly in sympathy with much of Clinton’s presidency and who think that the impeachment was a shame and that Starr (and thus Kavenaugh) were out of control legally enabled harrassers, etc. etc. etc. need to be careful about the accusation by Juanita Broaddrick. There’s a tendency to say things like:
What exactly makes people so damn stupid about this stuff? She’s a right wing activist! Of course [Broaddrick is] probably lying because THATS WHAT THEY DO! They lie about EVERYTHING. All the time. Thats pretty much ALL they do! And Broaddrick herself is surrounded by other people from the timTe who were lying about Bill Clinton! This isn’t rocket surgery!
But this is bonkers and feeds/exploits very bad attitudes toward survivors. It’s particularly silly wrt Broaddrick:
Look, bad people get raped or harassed. We can and should look at the totality of evidence in a consistent way. If people have political or financial motivations, we can consider them, though I’d generally recommend being a bit cautious.
On the flip side, confirmation bias is a thing. We should be careful about making judgements about people because we otherwise dislike them (even for very good reason).
I’m not going to through out hard won understanding of how people who have be assaulted, raped, harassed, etc. behave just because an accuser is a right wing activist.
So, my first point is that Mutaman’s comment is bad news not just because it is an attack on Broaddrick but also because it mobilises a harmful mode of thinking about such accusations. That is more misguided than thinking Broaddrick has credibility.
Now, wrt to Broaddrick, overall it’s a credible accusation. That’s not fully dispositive, but let’s look at some of the history:
Though Broaddrick was resistant to talking to the media, rumors about her story began circulating no later than Clinton’s presidential bid in 1992. Broaddrick had confided in Phillip Yoakum, whom she knew from business circles and at the time considered a friend. When Clinton won the Democratic nomination, Yoakum, widely considered to have a Republican agenda, contacted Sheffield Nelson, Clinton’s opponent in the 1990 gubernatorial race. Yoakum arranged a meeting between Nelson and Broaddrick, who resisted Yoakum’s and Nelson’s push that she go public. Yoakum secretly taped the conversation and wrote a letter summarizing the allegations, which began to circulate within Republican circles. The story reached the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times in October 1992, but the papers dropped the story after Broaddrick refused to talk to reporters and Yoakum refused to release the recording.
She was secretly recorded but refused to go public in 1992! If she’s laying to destroy Clinton why not do so then?
Ok, the tape hasn’t been release[d], so…
In the fall of 1997, Paula Jones’s private investigators tried to talk to Broaddrick at her home, also secretly taping the conversation. Broaddrick refused to discuss the incident, saying “it was just a horrible horrible thing,” and that she “wouldn’t relive it for anything.” The investigators told her she would likely be subpoenaed if she would not talk to them. Broaddrick said she would deny everything, saying “you can’t get to him, and I’m not going to ruin my good name to do it… there’s just absolutely no way anyone can get to him, he’s just too vicious.” Broaddrick was subpoenaed in the Jones suit soon after and submitted an affidavit denying that Clinton had made “any sexual advances”. The recording of Broaddrick’s conversation with the investigators was leaked to the press, but Broaddrick continued to refuse to speak to reporters.
There’s another secret (from her) tape! (What is it with these people taping her without her knowledge or consent?) There’s a transcript and while Broaddrick doesn’t re-present her accusation, it’s not a conversation with a right wing activist looking to make up a story to bring down Clinton.
It’s very credible and inconsistent with false accusation, to my eye, very inconsistent with ratfucking. Just the timeline doesn’t make sense….if she were a ratfucker, why shy away in 1992? and again 1997? Why when told she should lie to federal investigators did she recant her Jones suit testimony? Why did she deny being pressured to conceal it and thus become useless to Starr?
None of this is remotely consistent with your thesis that she’s lying about the accusation because she’s a right wing lying activist.
Your sneering condescension (I use that descriptively; I mean, it’s hard to characterise your comments accurately otherwise) about it suggests that confirmation bias has a big hold on you for this.
It’s important that we train ourselves to respond appropriately to such accusations given the best knowledge we have about such accusations (and, pace the fact that I find that article fairly persuasive, there’s a lot of mess in the literature). Even studies that show high rates of false accusation generally don’t find such political action. Now that may change, of course, but until we see some notable examples, robustly proven, I’m going to be cautious about going there.
Broaddrick doesn’t fit a common profile of a false accuser. She passed up several chances to do real damage to Clinton’s campaign and presidency. She was sought out several times and taped candidly yet didn’t push the story until very late when there was prompting from reports she had been paid to keep quiet.
We can do better. I strongly suspect that there’s a lot of things Broaddrick and I don’t agree on. But that has nothing to do with her accusation. I read the transcript of the secretly taped interview and to think she’s making up a story out of whole cloth as part of activism is wildly wrong. I read this interview and she definitely doesn’t seem to be a “right wing activist” esp in the Trump era:
I know that Trump has been very supportive of you and believing your story, but many women have accused him of sexual misconduct. How do you reconcile that? What would you say to the women who have accused Trump of sexual assault?
I think they should be heard. I think any person that has a story to tell about sexual assault, whether it be a man or a woman or a child, I think we should listen to them and give them our utmost attention. But it’s like the Bill Cosby case—until this is brought to some end, I don’t know. I don’t know what happened. All I know is what happened to me. I hope if these are legitimate claims against President Trump, that these women are listened to and they have their day in court.
Would you feel betrayed by Trump if it turns out these accusations are true?
Oh gosh, I don’t know. I would have to wait until that time came and then have to deal with it. I keep it in the back of my mind thinking and hoping that they’re not true.
I don’t have an easy solution to all this, today. I certainly hope Bill Clinton’s sun has set in the Democratic party and I hope people will stop smearing Broaddrick as obviously lying…these is really de minimus.
I’m not super great at this. My initial post title was “Believing Broaddrick”. I changed it to “Finding Broaddrick Credible” for a couple of reasons:
- I hope to reach people like the quoted commenter or people near by. Note in my comment I waffled a bit about the possibility that there might be some error (e.g., saying it’s “not fully dispositive”); I’m trying to all people to hold on to some doubt about the overall situation while treating Broaddrick with more respect. This isn’t great, but it may be effective.
- I have trouble, psychologically speaking, fully committing. I don’t have any specific doubt at all. I don’t even really have any generalised doubt. If I try to articulate any, they immediately collapse. “Maybe Clinton misunderstood what was going on” <– I mean that kind of shit! I wouldn’t tolerate that for a second in most cases, but I find myself drifting toward them. It’s painful to think that I admired and voted for and supported a fucking rapist. I find it rather more difficult than dealing with Cosby. If all this had come out in the early 90s when I still had direct engagement with Cosby’s work, it might be different. Also, there was and still is a lot of nonsense about the Clintons and Bill. So there are a different set of pathways.
One of the reasons I pulled this into a blog post is that it’s part of my attempt to come to a more appropriate psychological state. I did the research on Broaddrick a while ago and started defending her (in this slightly elliptical way). This is the next step.