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FLASHBACK: NYT Op-Ed Writers Used ‘Lynching’ To Describe Clinton Impeachment

Chris White on October 24, 2019

The New York Times’ writers lashed out against President Donald Trump’s “lynching” comments, but two of the paper’s columnists used similar language to defend former President Bill Clinton when he was confronted with an impeachment trial.

The NYT is among several outlets that have criticized the president’s depiction of a Democrat-led impeachment inquiry as a type of lynching, but the paper’s own writers used the term in the past while defending Clinton, who went through a similar process in the late 1990s.

Former NYT writer Frank Rich, for instance, once wrote an editorial defending Clinton from Republicans who were dead-set on impeaching the former president. Rich, who now writes for New York magazine, used racial language as a weapon against Clinton’s detractors.

“If nothing else, this is a measure of how deeply blacks still fear that our legal machinery can be stacked in favor of a lynch mob. And it’s hardly a mindless argument,” he wrote in a Dec. 19, 1998, editorial, referring to the Republican-led effort to oust Clinton for perjury.

Fox News originally rehashed the old editorials Wednesday night in lieu of recent reports on Trump’s language.

Rich went several steps further.

“The most rabid Clinton-haters in Congress are white Southerners, led by Bob Barr, who has spoken before the racist Council of Conservative Citizens,” Rich said. “An impeachment trial’s jury of 100 senators will be whites only.”

NYT writer Maureen Dowd, meanwhile, suggested the GOP’s impeachment pursuit of Clinton was a “lynch mob.”

“The Clintons attack Mr. Starr to deflect attention from the president’s immoral behavior,” she wrote in a Dec. 19, 1998, editorial. “They appeal to decent American impulses — we do not like lynch mobs, we do not like hate-mongering, we do not like women who rat out girlfriends, we do not like Big Brother peeking through bedroom windows.”

The NYT has not yet responded to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

Democratic lawmakers who are chastising the president for calling his pursuers a lynch mob were making different points when GOP lawmakers were targeting Clinton.

Democratic Illinois Rep. Danny Davis, for instance, condemned Clinton’s impeachment trial as “a lynching,” and former Democratic Rhode Island Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy called it “a political lynching.” Others made similar comments.

Former Democratic Michigan Rep. John Conyers Jr. said he was seeing a “Republican coup d’etat.” He added: “Impeachment was designed to rid this nation of traitors and tyrants, not attempts to cover up an extramarital affair.” Former President Joe Biden also called the trial a “lynching.”

Rich and Dowd did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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