Washington Post op-ed columnist and editorial board member Anne Applebaum devoted her June 23 column to former President Bill Clinton's new memoir, My Life. In 1994, Applebaum said that she hoped then-Republican U.S. Senate candidate and convicted felon Oliver North would win his election. As The Washington Post put it at the time, Applebaum felt that North's "election would be a good thing for the Senate, on the theory every institution needs a gadfly." [The Washington Post, 12/13/94]
In her column on My Life, published in the Post under the headline "Clinton's Empty 'Life,'" Applebaum called the book "bizarre" and described Clinton -- the first Democratic president elected to two terms since Franklin Delano Roosevelt -- as possessing "shallow" fame. She added, "That won't stop people from buying this book. People gather wherever they think history will be made and wherever the gold dust of fame might be sprinkled upon innocent bystanders."
Barnes & Noble reported selling more than 90,000 copies of My Life at its stores nationwide on June 22 -- a sales figure projected to be a new single-day nonfiction record for the nation's largest bookseller. The New York Post reported that Clinton has the "write stuff", while the paper's news columnist Andrea Peyser called him "Blockbuster Bill."
Applebaum worked at two conservative British publications, The Daily Telegraph and The Spectator, before coming to the Post in 2002. The Daily Telegraph and The Spectator are owned by Hollinger International Inc.; during the Clinton years, The Daily Telegraph's Washington bureau chief was notorious anti-Clinton conspiratorialist Ambrose Evans-Pritchard.
On December 13, 1994, The Washington Post reported that Applebaum and her husband, Radek Sikorski -- who is a resident fellow and executive director of the New Atlantic Initiative at the conservative American Enterprise Institute and who has written for National Review and The American Spectator -- are "solidly plugged into a transatlantic power grid of conservative editors, writers and politicians, and have a reputation for politically incorrect social mischief."
In Applebaum's review of Sidney Blumenthal's 2003 book The Clinton Wars published in the June 22, 2003, Sunday Telegraph, she wrote, "[T]here was indeed a well-funded and very dedicated movement to destroy [Bill] Clinton, that existed from the very beginning of his presidency." But she went on to suggest that both Bill and Hillary Clinton invited such attacks. There was "real dirt to dig up about the Clintons," she asserted.
What was the "dirt" on Clinton that invited the right's campaign to destroy him from the very beginning of his presidency? According to Applebaum, he was gossiped about by reporters for "chatting up" women in hotel bars: "Long before Clinton became president, for example, his reputation as a womaniser followed him everywhere: American journalists who covered governors' conferences knew him as the Arkansas governor who haunted the hotel bars in the evening, chatting up whatever women happened to be present."
And what "dirt" was there on Hillary Clinton that invited the right's campaign to destroy her from the very beginning of her husband's presidency? Apparently, some folks in Arkansas did not like her. "Long before Hillary became First Lady," Applebaum explained, "she seemed to have a gift for making enemies: not all of the dislike of her derived, as she claimed, from America's mixed feelings about having a professional woman in the White House."
In her June 23 Washington Post column on My Life, Applebaum followed the pattern of New York Times book critic Michiko Kakutani in failing to mention Clinton's criticisms of Washington Post reportage on the so-called Clinton scandals. For instance, on page 588 of My Life, Clinton wrote:
I could understand why right-wingers like Rush Limbaugh, Bill Dannemeyer, Jerry Falwell and a paper like the Washington Times would say such things. What I couldn't believe was that the New York Times, the Washington Post, and others in the media I had always respected and trusted had been sucker punched by the likes of [notorious anti-Clinton scandal-mongers] Floyd Brown, David Bossie, David Hale, and Jim Johnson."