NYT: [T]he resurfacing of the scandals of the 1990s has brought about a rethinking among some feminists about how prominent women stood by Mr. Clinton and disparaged his accusers after the “bimbo eruptions,” as a close aide to the Clintons, Betsey Wright, famously called the claims of affairs and sexual assault against Mr. Clinton in his 1992 campaign.
Even some Democrats who participated in the effort to discredit the women acknowledge privately that today, when Mrs. Clinton and other women have pleaded with the authorities on college campuses and in workplaces to take any allegation of sexual assault and sexual harassment seriously, such a campaign to attack the women’s character would be unacceptable.
Back then, Mr. Clinton’s aides, having watched Gary Hart’s presidential hopes unravel over his relationship with Donna Rice in the 1988 Democratic primary race, were determined to squash any accusations against Mr. Clinton early and aggressively, former campaign aides explained. Mrs. Clinton had supported the effort to push back against the women’s stories.
Much of her involvement played out behind the scenes, and was driven, in part, by her sense that right-wing forces were using the women and salacious stories to damage her husband’s political ambitions. Her reflex was to protect him and his future, and, early on, she turned to a longtime Clinton loyalist, Ms. Wright, to defend him against the allegations, according to multiple accounts at the time, documented in books and oral histories.
“We have to destroy her story,” Mrs. Clinton said of one of the first women to come forward during her husband’s first presidential campaign, Connie Hamzy, in 1991, according to George Stephanopoulos, a former Clinton administration aide who described the events in his memoir, “All Too Human.’’ (Three people signed sworn affidavits saying Ms. Hamzy’s story was false.)
When Gennifer Flowers later surfaced, claiming that she had a long affair with Mr. Clinton, Mrs. Clinton undertook an “aggressive, explicit direction of the campaign to discredit” Ms. Flowers, according to an exhaustive biography of Mrs. Clinton, “A Woman in Charge,” by Carl Bernstein.
Mrs. Clinton referred to Monica Lewinsky, the White House intern who had an affair with the 42nd president, as a “narcissistic loony toon,” according to one of her closest confidantes, Diane D. Blair, whose diaries were released to the University of Arkansas after her death in 2000. Ms. Lewinsky later called the comment an example of Mrs. Clinton’s impulse to “blame the woman.”
Brian Fallon, a spokeswoman for Mrs. Clinton, said that “these are attempts to draw Hillary Clinton into decades-old allegations through recent fabrications that are unsubstantiated.” He added that Mrs. Clinton “has spent her whole life standing up for women, and charges to the contrary are grossly unfair and untrue.”