To his detractors, former president Bill Clinton’s legacy is marked by his sex scandal accusers — something that’s been pointed to as Bill Cosby was arrested earlier this week due his own alleged crimes against women.
To some, Democrat icon Bill’s number of accusers may not be as widely known as those of Cosby. On Thursday morning, CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota was agape when political contributor Errol Louis stated that the number of women who had called out Clinton totaled 14.
“Is that right? Fourteen?”
Louis stood by the statistic about Bill’s predilection for womanizing, while at least partially indicating that it was generally right-wing websites with an axe to grind against Clinton who referred to the figure. In the context of Cosby’s arrest, Louis noted that the other Clinton accusers had comparatively faded from the public consciousness.
“If you go to sort of the right wing websites and the talk radio crowd, there are about 14 names out there, [but] the ones we all remember are not in that list of 14. We remember Gennifer Flowers, we remember Monica Lewinsky, we remember Paula Jones. Paula Jones was an accusation, the other two were consensual relationships.”
One such collection of Clinton accusers comes from conservative site Breitbart, which lists several women who claimed to have been inappropriately propositioned or flatly sexually assaulted by Bill. Though those numbers are only a fraction of the group now going after Cosby, others claim that Clinton had hundreds of affairs while in office, including Monica Lewinsky.
Attempting to fact-check these claims, the Washington Post also published its own run-down of the women who had spoken out against Bill. In the paper’s breakdown, only three women were presented who had accused the former president of sexual assault, with the others simply exposing consensual affairs. Two of those claims, the paper noted, had eventually revealed significant inconsistencies in the women’s original stories. The other, Paula Jones, disappeared after an $850,000 out-of-court settlement.
CNN was not the first place to bring up Clinton’s record with questionable sexual behavior this week. Donald Trump began to stir up attention around the issue on Monday when he tweeted that Bill’s history had invalidated Hillary’s attacks on the Republican hopeful’s attitude toward women. Clinton is likely to campaign heavily for his wife in the upcoming months, and, as discussed on the CNN segment, attacking him could be effective in getting him to step out of the spotlight.
If Hillary thinks she can unleash her husband, with his terrible record of women abuse, while playing the women’s card on me, she’s wrong!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 28, 2015
With the blow-up over Cosby facing legal action, Trump’s reminder of Clinton’s own record of sexual abuse accusations have hit an opportune moment. With a clear comparison of public outrage, critics of Clinton will have a helpful reference point to focus in on the accusations, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t without their difference. Cosby’s case now totals more than 50 women who claim that they suffered sexual assault at the hands of the formerly-beloved comedian. Even using a liberal definition, the other Bill hits 14.
Conservatives hoping that this focus on Bill Clinton’s accusers in the wake of Cosby’s arrest might derail Hillary’s campaign could see an unintended effect. The New York Times‘ “First Draft” column noted that following the explosion of the Monica Lewinsky scandal in 1998, the First Lady’s approval ratings actually increased: Her all-time highest, 66 percent, was actually in December of 1998 just after the House of Representatives impeached Bill.
[Image via William Thomas Cain and JP Yim/Getty Images]