Bill Clinton TV biography on PBS. How the former president broke the news of Lewinsky affair to his aide.
A TV biography of the former U.S. President Bill Clinton claims that he was already a huge hit with the ladies during his initial bid for governorship in his home state of Arkansas in the 1970’s.
Former senior aides said that women were “literally mesmerized” and swarmed around Bill Clinton “like flies to honey”.
Bill Clinton’s appeal only grew by the time he became president – during which time he admitted he had been forced to “shut down my body” to avoid multiple indiscretions.
The disclosures were made in the forthcoming PBS documentary Clinton in which Bill Clinton’s former staffers speak for the first time about their sense of betrayal over his affair with Monica Lewinsky in 1998.
Long before that, however, Bill Clinton’s sexual appetite was causing problems.
According to the documentary, Bill Clinton’s political team realized it was a stumbling block during his failed run for Congress in 1974 in his home state of Arkansas.
Campaign manager Paul Fray said: “You got to understand that at one time there was at least 25 women per day coming through there trying to find him and I’d tell them he was out on the road.
“Lord it was bad. Bad, bad bad, bad bad.”
Marla Crider, who worked with Bill Clinton in Arkansas and had an affair with him, describes women as being “literally mesmerized”.
She says: “It was like flies to honey.
“He needed that, he needed that kind of adoration. I don’t think there was any question that Hillary was hurt whether it was me, or anyone else.”
Among those interviewed is Betsey Wright, Bill Clinton’s trusted political aide, who made a crucial intervention in his career in 1987 the day before he was due to announce his run for presidency.
Betsey Wright confronted Bill Clinton with a list of his previous girlfriends who he had to deal with.
Writer Gail Sheely said: “Just the day before the press conference he was going to announce that he was going to run, Betsey Wright, his ferociously protective campaign manager, sat him down with a list of names of women and went through one after the other
“How many times? Where did you meet her? How likely is she to talk?”
Bill Clinton said for each name that “she’ll never say anything”, but Betsey Wright replied: “But you don’t know that!”
Betsey Wright supposedly told Bill Clinton: “The problem is we’re not just talking about you, we’re talking about your wife, we’re talking about your child.
“She said I don’t think you can run.”
Betsey Wright tells the documentary: “It became clear it was not the time for him to do it. This was not the time.”
By the time he got to the White House in 1992, however, Bill Clinton appeared to be having even more difficulty controlling himself.
And when Monica Lewinsky arrived as one of his interns, his self-control evaporated completely.
Ken Gormley, a legal expert working in the White House, tells the documentary that there were “almost these sparks flying between them from the first moment when they saw each other”.
And when the affair became public Betsey Wright says that his staff was deeply upset because he had lied to them and lied “to a lot of people”.
On of Bill Clinton’s closest advisers, Dick Morris, tells the documentary: “When the Lewinsky scandal broke the president paged me and I returned the call.
“He said: <<Ever since I go here to the White House I’ve had to shut my body down, sexually I mean, but I screwed up with this girl. I didn’t do what they said I did but I may have done so much that I can’t prove my innocence.>>
“I said to him that the problem that presidents have is not the sin, it’s the cover-up and you should explore just telling the American people the truth.
“He said: <<Really, do you think I could do that?>>
“I said let me test it, let me run a poll, so I took a poll… and I called him back and I said they will forgive the adultery, but they won’t easily forgive that you lied.”
Bill Clinton, now 65, disregarded his advice and continued to conceal his relationship with Monica Lewinsky.
In the end Bill Clinton was impeached but acquitted.
The former president did however remain very popular and left office with a 65% approval rating, the highest exiting poll out of any U.S. President.
The documentary also features fascinating color about the Clinton White House with aides describing his first year as “chaos”.
The West Wing resembled a fraternity house with pizza boxes littering the floor as bullish young aides who did not even wear ties wandered in and out of meetings as and when they liked.
Summing up Bill Clinton’s presidency, U.S. journalist David Maraniss, tells the documentary: “People always try to separate the good from the bad in Clinton and say that, if he had not done certain things, he would have been a great president.
“But you can’t do that. Those were his major characteristics.”
Bill Clinton’s former press secretary Dee Dee Myers adds: “How many second chances does a person deserve? Clinton’s view is as many second chances as a person is willing to take.”
Hillary Clinton also features prominently in the film and she is credited with being the “mastermind” of reviving his career in its early days.
When Penthouse model Gennifer Flowers claimed to have had a 12-year affair with her husband, Bill Clinton “brought him back from the dead” with a robust TV interview in which she famously said she was not going to “stand by my man” like the Tammy Wynette song.
Bill Clinton political advisor Carol Willis says: “Bill Clinton is a smart guy, a very smart guy but he will tell you that Hillary is much smarter than he is, she’s much tougher than he is, she’s more of a pragmatist.”
Clinton documentary premieres on four consecutive nights from Monday, February 20 at 10:15 p.m. on PBS