As I watched the closing rounds in the 10-episode FX series, “Impeachment: American Crime Story,” I kept waiting for producers Ryan Murphy and colleagues to pull their punches and let Bill Clinton up off the mat, but they did not.
In fact, they closed “Impeachment” Tuesday with the kind of knockout punch that would have fully derailed Clinton’s post-presidential career had this series been produced 20 years ago.
Although Linda Tripp and Monica Lewinsky quickly became household names in 1998 when this saga unfolded, Juanita Broaddrick, “Jane Doe No. 5,” did not. She remained quietly in the shadows and hoped to remain there.
Independent Counsel Ken Starr had no interest in unearthing her story. In that it did not advance his perjury and obstruction cases against the president, he relegated Broaddrick to a footnote.
His subordinates, however, understood the power that story would have in persuading moderate Republicans to vote for impeachment. They were right. The Jane Doe No. 5 account was strong enough to get Clinton impeached by the House in December 1998.
NBC’s Lisa Myers interviewed Broaddrick before the impeachment case moved to the Senate for trial. Had NBC aired that interview before the trial as promised, Clinton may well have been removed from office.
NBC did not, and he was not. In February 1999, the Senate acquitted Clinton of the charges against him. The Washington Post article on Clinton’s acquittal does not so much as mention Broaddrick.