Wow! Producers of Clinton 'Impeachment' series nailed it

As I watched the closing rounds in the 10-episode FX series, “Impeachment: American Crime Story,” I kept waiting for producers Ryan Murphy and colleagues to pull their punches and let Bill Clinton up off the mat, but they did not.

In fact, they closed “Impeachment” Tuesday with the kind of knockout punch that would have fully derailed Clinton’s post-presidential career had this series been produced 20 years ago.

Although Linda Tripp and Monica Lewinsky quickly became household names in 1998 when this saga unfolded, Juanita Broaddrick, “Jane Doe No. 5,” did not. She remained quietly in the shadows and hoped to remain there.

Independent Counsel Ken Starr had no interest in unearthing her story. In that it did not advance his perjury and obstruction cases against the president, he relegated Broaddrick to a footnote.

His subordinates, however, understood the power that story would have in persuading moderate Republicans to vote for impeachment. They were right. The Jane Doe No. 5 account was strong enough to get Clinton impeached by the House in December 1998.

NBC’s Lisa Myers interviewed Broaddrick before the impeachment case moved to the Senate for trial. Had NBC aired that interview before the trial as promised, Clinton may well have been removed from office.

NBC did not, and he was not. In February 1999, the Senate acquitted Clinton of the charges against him. The Washington Post article on Clinton’s acquittal does not so much as mention Broaddrick. To this day, I suspect most liberals do not know who she is.

Those who watched the “Impeachment series” do now. Under pressure, NBC finally aired the interview but only after Clinton had been acquitted. “Impeachment” recreated major parts of that interview, including the following:

Then he tries to kiss me again. And the second time he tries to kiss me he starts biting my lip (she cries). Just a minute. … He starts to, um, bite on my top lip and I tried to pull away from him. (crying) And then he forces me down on the bed. And I just was very frightened, and I tried to get away from him and I told him “No,” that I didn’t want this to happen (crying) but he wouldn’t listen to me.

In “Impeachment,” the viewer also sees the Broaddrick character, played convincingly by Ashlee Atkinson, recount Clinton’s killer punch line. After he straightened himself up, he noticed Broaddrick’s swollen lip and said coldly, “You better get some ice on that.”

Coming after the trial as it did, the interview fails to engage young people half-watching the interview in a noisy bar. Just another Clinton woman, they shrug. Their media have instructed them to “move on,” and they do.

British actor Clive Owen brings Bill Clinton menacingly to life. Shortly before Broaddrick’s tearful account, the viewer sees him raging around the Oval Office denouncing Broaddrick and all his other female accusers as liars. No one but the most committed Clintonite could believe him.

In the end, Monica Lewinsky (Beanie Feldstein) comes to identify Clinton as the man whose deceptions set this whole ruinous process in motion. Its victims included not only Broaddrick and Lewinsky, but also Paula Jones (Annaleigh Ashford) and Linda Tripp (Sarah Paulson).

If Paulson does not win an Emmy for her nuanced, sympathetic portrayal of Tripp, there is no more justice in Hollywood than there was in Clinton’s America.

Only one woman emerges from the ashes of Clinton’s predatory march on Washington unsinged. In fact, the fortunes of Hillary Clinton (Edie Falco) rise as her husband’s fall. Thanks to the media, her favorability ratings soar, and the viewer gets to overhear her being offered the Senate seat in New York.

In one of the final scenes, Hillary poses regally for celebrity fashion photographer Annie Leibovitz while an abandoned and jobless Paula Jones is coerced into posing nude for Penthouse just to pay her bills.

The fate of real women never mattered much to the Clintons and their supporters. In an unexpected touch, producers show an actual televised press conference playing on television in which feminist leaders rush to Clinton’s defense, indifferent to the damage the Clintons have wrought.

The series being too good to pan, the New York Times did the next best thing. Reporter James Poniewozik pretended it was all old news. “But despite several striking performances,” writes Poniewozik, “its perspective and ideas break out only occasionally from underneath the pancaked strata of details.”

Poniewozik either didn’t get it or doesn’t want to. The producers have subverted the “Move-On” narrative established at the time and showed the Clintons and supporters not as victims of Hillary’s imagined “vast right-wing conspiracy” but as unprincipled opportunists.

Like F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Buchanans, “Impeachment’s” Bill and Hillary “were careless people … they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”

The producers nailed it. Hollywood may not be quite dead yet.

Jack Cashill’s latest book, Barack Obama’s Promised Land: Deplorables Need Not Apply,” is now on sale. See for more information.

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