Hillary's Laughing Defense of Child Rapist: Not a Front-Page WashPost Story Like Romney's Alleged Teen Haircut

The same Washington Post that suggested it was dramatic front-page news in 2012 that Mitt Romney cut another student’s hair in high school in 1965 didn’t find front-page news in Hillary Clinton laughing about defending a child rapist in the 1970s.

The Post had a front-page story Tuesday on backlogs of rape kits, but the backlog of Hillary’s old tapes on defending a man who raped a 12-year-old girl was consigned to a page 2 column by Melinda Henneberger. The “Hillary Tapes” scoop is the latest from Alana Goodman at the Washington Free Beacon. (Audio below.) The Post liked Richard Nixon’s tapes much more.

Henneberger’s column was titled “Making hay out of Hillary Clinton’s defense of a rape suspect.” The online headline is more specific: “Conservatives are making hay out of Hillary Clinton’s defense of an accused rapist.” When the Post rips into a Republican, it’s not “liberals making hay,” it’s “objective” journalists making history.

But first, here’s what Goodman reported on Hillary representing a 41-year-old rapist as a favor to a prosecutor:

“It was a fascinating case, it was a very interesting case,” Clinton says in the recording. “This guy was accused of raping a 12-year-old. Course he claimed that he didn’t, and all this stuff.”

Describing the events almost a decade after they had occurred, Clinton’s struck a casual and complacent attitude toward her client and the trial for rape of a minor.

“I had him take a polygraph, which he passed – which forever destroyed my faith in polygraphs,” she added with a laugh.

Clinton can also be heard laughing at several points when discussing the crime lab’s accidental destruction of DNA evidence that tied Taylor to the crime.

“We’re hired guns,” Ronald D. Rotunda, a professor of legal ethics at Chapman University, told the Washington Free Beacon. “We don’t have to believe the client is innocent…our job is to represent the client in the best way we can within the bounds of the law.”

However, Rotunda said, for a lawyer to disclose the results of a client’s polygraph and guilt is a potential violation of attorney-client privilege.

“You can’t do that,” he said. “Unless the client says: ‘You’re free to tell people that you really think I’m a scumbag, and the only reason I got a lighter sentence is because you’re a really clever lawyer.’”

Underneath the “conservatives making hay” bluster, Henneberger acknowledged this is not a winning issue for a candidate trying to preserve a carefully polished image of a feminist defender of children. Henneberger also saw parallels to the "narcissistic loony toon" remarks Hillary had for a certain White House intern:


Some are writing off the remarks, as one fellow journalist put it on social media, as “typical gonzo defense lawyer talk.”

It is not, however, typical talk for a lifelong defender of women and children.

Nor was Clinton’s defense plan, mapped out in a court affidavit. In it, she questioned the credibility of the victim and suggested that the sixth-grader, who an ER doctor said showed injuries consistent with rape, had “a tendency to seek out older men.”

“I have been informed that the complainant is emotionally unstable,’’ Clinton wrote in the affidavit, “with a tendency to seek out older men and to engage in fantasizing.” The document, filed with the Washington County, Arkansas court on July 28, 1975, argued for a psychiatric evaluation for the victim.

“I have also been informed that she has in the past made false accusations about persons, claiming they had attacked her body,’’ Clinton wrote. “Also that she exhibits an unusual stubbornness and temper when she does not get her way.”

The “little bit nutty, little bit slutty’’ defense has a long, ugly history. It’s jarring to see it trotted out against a kid by a future feminist icon. The argument also bears an uncomfortable similitary to Clinton White House descriptions of Monica Lewinsky, who without that semen stain on her little blue dress would have been dismissed as a stalker who had fantasized that she had a relationship with President Bill Clinton....

In 2008, reporter Glenn Thrush wrote a long piece for Newsday about the case. After midnight on May 10, 1975, Taylor and his 20-year-old cousin visited a home where the 12-year-old victim was having a sleepover, and invited her to come out for a drive. Later, a 15-year-old boy that the victim apparently had a crush on joined them.

According to the Newsday piece, Taylor fed the victim whiskey and Coke, then drove his red Chevy pickup to a “weedy ravine” where the attack occurred. The 15-year-old told authorities that he had sex with the girl, and believed that Taylor had, too. At one point, the victim reportedly yelled, “You all planned this, didn’t you?”

“I never sought out older men,’’ the adult victim told Newsday in 2008. She said she had never before accused anyone of assault. “I was raped,” she told Thrush, in an attack that she felt had contributed to a suicide attempt about a year later and to decades of depression and other problems.

Clinton’s spokesman declined to comment.

Henneberger put her political analyst’s hat on at the end. “Defending even a child rapist as vigorously as possible might be a plus if she were running to lead the American Bar Association. But wouldn’t her apparent willingness to attack a sixth-grader compromise a presidential run?”

She guessed no, since “reaction to the tape has been so partisan.” She cited “shrugs” from the critics of Todd Akin’s garbled “legitimate rape” comments in 2012, versus fury from “many who were silent or untroubled by Akin’s remarks.” In reality, MRC's Brent Bozell said the remarks were "completely inappropriate" -- and then blasted the overwhelming bias that came with them.

It’s funny. The Post seems to offer “shrugs” today aside from this column tucked inside the paper. But back in 2012, in the midst of  more than a hundred stories flooding the Akin zone, they put Akin on the front page under the headline “Republicans look to force Akin out of Senate race.”

What the Post never considers is that its own behavior transparently exposes them as standing among the partisans, not away from them.

NBC, CBS and ABC's evening and morning shows devoted an astonishing 88 minutes (or 40 segments) of coverage to Congressman Akin's "legitimate rape" remark in the first three days. Will anyone on TV notice the latest Free Beacon scoop on Hillary?

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis