Flashback: Stephanopoulos cut his teeth quashing stories about Bill Clinton’s sexual victims

George Stephanopoulos (Screenshot from the movie “The War Room”)

Host of ABC News’s “This Week” program George Stephanopoulos had a moment of peak self-unawarenews on Sunday’s show when he interviewed Ronan Farrow, the author of the article in New Yorker that exposed the accusations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And Ronan Farrow, you have written these stories for The New Yorker, more are coming as well. One of the first things you see is the men not only deny in the face of those first questions, they do everything they can to quash that story.

RONAN FARROW, JOURNALIST: Everything they can. And there’s a system around those men, George, that enables them to quash the stories. This, I think, is at the heart of this question of is it a watershed moment. Not just are people brave enough to come forward, but are we all as a society brave enough to actually confront the reforms necessary to the system — I mean, Jackie Speier just came out in the last few days and said Congress has paid tens of millions of dollars in settlements over the last, you know, several decades.

Now, what we need to see in terms of reform is exactly what legislators are already putting on the table around the country — limitations on the use of secret settlements, for instance that silence these allegations. Are we going to be able to actually change that? That’s an open question.

When Stephanopoulos said, “One of the first things you see is the men not only deny in the face of those first questions, they do everything they can to quash that story,” he could well have been talking about his former boss Bill Clinton and his own role quashing stories about Clinton misbehavior with women.

This is not new behavior for Stephanopoulos.

When Matt Drudge posted that Monica Lewinsky had an affair with Clinton with trysts in the White House in January 1998, Stephanopoulos was already one year out of the Clinton administration and working at ABC News and already he acting out his new role by telling ABC viewers he was shocked by Clinton’s behavior.

Stephanopoulos told the hosts of “Good Morning America” that if the president really had an affair with Lewinsky, he would face impeachment.

The 37-year-old wunderkind spent previous decade of his life keeping stories like the Lewinsky tale from making it to the press–and apparently, he was the only senior aide to Clinton, who had no idea why the young intern with a large black beret was ignoring Secret Service officers as she strolled into the Oval Office and shutting the door behind her.

In the Slate “Chatterbox” column, “Stephanopoulos Analyzes His Own Crime” the former White House aide and campaign operative.

Here is an excerpt from the Slate take:

You might say that Stephanopoulos helped invent the philander-protection techniques that seem to have made Clinton so overconfident of his ability to not get caught. He was one of Clinton’s principal enablers, to use a word employed by Maureen Dowd in today’s New York Times. When Democrats wonder why there is so much resentment of Clinton, they don’t need to look much further than the Big Lie about philandering that Stephanopoulos, Carville (and a cooperative campaign press corps) helped to put over in 1992.

Now the dissembler and enabler has become the scholar and ABC News analyst. It’s as if Roy Cohn went on television in the mid-’50s to soberly rue the damage wreaked by Sen. Joe McCarthy, without any apology for his own role. Much has been made of the way famous wrongdoers (e.g.: Dick Morris, Marv Albert) rebound too quickly in our celebrity culture. But usually at least a nanosecond of contrition is required. Stephanopoulos is cashing in without even going through the minimal motions of holding himself accountable for misleading the country. If Clinton, as is now increasingly clear, was a time bomb waiting to explode, then Stephanopoulos helped smuggle him into the White House and muffled the ticking.

The 1993 documentary “The War Room” focused on Stephanopoulos and his partner in crime James Carville as they massaged the press during Clinton’s scandal-tinged presidential campaign.

Watch Stephanopoulos bully a reporter into spiking a story about a list of women with whom Arkansas Gov. William J. Clinton might have had an affair. During the short conversation, the campaign aide tells the reporter that Clinton will be the next president and he would remember that the reporter did the right thing–or the reporter will become a national laughingstock boxed out of covering Democratic politics forever.


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