It was easy to smirk when First Lady Hillary Clinton countered rumors of President Bill Clinton's dalliance with White House intern Monica Lewinsky with accusations that the exploding scandal was part of a "vast right-wing conspiracy." But while there may not have been a widespread GOP effort to overthrow Clinton's administration via dirty tricks, this gripping documentary contends that some shockingly sleazy efforts to undermine Clinton's character and authority were very real. Based on journalists Joe Conason and Gene Lyons' muckraking magnum 2000 opus The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton, the film steps back from the 1999 Clinton impeachment proceedings to ask, how did we come to such a sordid pass? The answers are mostly rooted in the dastardly doings of a tight-knit cabal of Arkansas politicos and businessmen and their Washingtonian counterparts, all of whom perceived Clinton, a frankly centrist Democrat, as a threat to the status quo. From the moment he was elected governor of Arkansas, it was as if someone kicked over a rock; all manner of right-wing extremists and shady characters came slithering onto the scene looking to foment a coup or make a buck. Men like the larger-than-life Larry Case, a private investigator who peddled illicit phone recordings to anyone with a dollar, and Larry Nichols, a former marketing consultant for the state who, during the 1992 presidential campaign, struck back at the man who fired him by coming forward with a list of women he claimed slept with the then-governor. All but one, Gennifer Flowers, denied his claims. And before independent investigator Kenneth Starr made a name for himself as the head of the OIC assigned to the Lewinsky scandal, he tried to magnify what proved to be mostly trumped-up allegations about Whitewater, a bum land deal in rural Arkansas, into a scandal of Watergate proportions. There are few heroes in this story, though Susan McDougal, the wife of another Whitewater investor who resisted Starr's attempts at intimidation and served two years in jail for her silence, is one. But the film's greatest scorn is reserved for those esteemed journalists who vied with supermarket tabloids like the Star for stories that, in a less predatory atmosphere, have been killed as unsubstantiated hearsay; they helped usher in an ongoing era of shameless yellow journalism.
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- Released: 2004
- Rating: NR
- Review: It was easy to smirk when First Lady Hillary Clinton countered rumors of President Bill Clinton's dalliance with White House intern Monica Lewinsky with accusations that the exploding scandal was part of a "vast right-wing conspiracy." But while there may… (more)