The Clinton Tapes | Arkansas Blog

The Clinton Tapes



FAN: Book says Clinton sharply cricitized Democrat-Gazette writing about former UA coach Nolan Richardson.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette wrote an article recently on Arkansas angles in historian Taylor Branch's new book, "The Clinton Tapes." It's Branch's account of secret conversations with Bill Clinton during his White House years.

I was interested to read last night the passage on Clinton and the newspaper's lobbying in behalf of the appointment of federal Judge Richard Arnold to the U.S. Supreme Court. It turns out the D-G news article didn't fully relate that lengthy passage, which quotes a furious Clinton's phone conversation with publisher Walter Hussman, Arnold's former brother-in-law, over the newspaper's reporting of salacious stories being peddled by state troopers about life in the Governor's Mansion. Clinton believed that the D-G's reporting complicated matters for Arnold because it lent credence to bogus, tangential connections between Arnold and the Troopergate allegations. Should Arnold be nominated, the press would undoubtedly bring it up, Clinton said he told Hussman. Hussman replied that troopers would correct earlier accounts on that matter. "You people," Clinton told Hussman, "have these troopers where they will allege and deny things at your convenience, and therefore your vendetta against me has come back to haunt our state and the long-run interests of the United States."

It wasn't lost on Clinton that a dedicated foe was lobbying for Arnold. The passage offers no evidence that anything but Arnold's battle with cancer ultimately prevented his appointment. But, given how much Clinton dwelled on it, it seems clear the Democrat-Gazette's lobbying didn't help the cause.

And there's this pungent passage about the DOG's treatment of Nolan Richardson:


Even the president's worst enemies beseeched him to make Arnold the first [Supreme Court appointee], and loudest among the cheerleaders spoke the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Clinton pointedly called that newspaper his chief tormentor for decades, and digressed to say that its owners, with a smug agenda carried over from their ardent defense of racial segregation [this seems to be inaccurate; Hussman didn't own the paper when it stood with segs in the Little Rock school crisis, though it often found itself at odds during the Hussman era with black organizations for its editorial positions] also crusaded shamefully against Arkansas basketball coach Nolan Richardson. Headlines derided the coach ("Nolan wrong as rain"), while stories mocked his looks, diction and coaching style, which the paper variously called "rat balll," "ghetto ball" and a "Globetrotters" carnival. "They did everything but call him a 'nigger,'" said Clinton, adding that for him -- and for Hilllary, too -- a crowning satisfaction of Arkansas's first national basketball championship last month was getting to watch the Democrat-Gazette eat all the hateful things it had written about the victorious coach."


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