Paula Non Grata
Conservatives and the ConWeb bail on Paula Jones after her appearance in Penthouse -- those who hadn't bailed already, that is.
By Terry Krepel
That sound you hear is the sound of Clinton-haters all over America ripping Paula Jones' phone number out of their Rolodexes.
The people who once treated her every word as gospel are now either attacking Jones or are completely silent since Jones -- whose accusations of sexual improprieties against President Clinton eventually ended in an impeachment trial -- appeared in the December 2000 Penthouse magazine for a nude pictorial and inverview.
Despite denying she would pose nude a few months earlier, Jones said she did it because she needed the money to pay legal bills and other expenses, money she said to pay for her children's education and for legal expenses over dueling funds raising money in her name.
Jones tells interviewer Joe Conason that she was pressured to reject a monetary settlement that would have netted her more money then the one she ultimately agreed to. Advisers like Susan Carpenter-McMillan and a replacement legal team linked to the conservative Rutherford Institute had little interest in an out-of-court settelement, Conason points out, because they wanted the case to go to trial in order to embarrass Clinton. It was these lawyers, advisers and her then-husband, not Jones herself, who decided the most important issues about the case.
Since agreeing to that $850,000 out-of-court settlement -- of which Jones received $151,000 -- the article points out that many of her supporters during the case, having generated all the Clinton embarassment they were going to get from her, drifted away, leaving her to deal with issues like the legal fund woes. If she popped up and had something anti-Clinton to say, though, the ConWeb would duly note it.
With the Penthouse article and spread, however, nobody seems to want to admit they knew Paula Jones.
Conservative commentator Ann Coulter, who did some legal work on the Jones case, is one of the many who have turned. "I was doing this for her, not just to expose Clinton ... (but) now it turns out she's a fraud -- at least to the extent of pretending to be an honorable and moral person," she told Inside.com.
Coulter carries the attack further in an Oct. 30 column for the conservative Jewish World Review: "She used to be a hero in a David and Goliath conflict. She used to have dignity and nobility and tremendous courage. Now she's just the trailer-park trash they said she was."
Another offended Net-based commentator writes: "Paula Jones has given the likes of James Carville, Joe Conason, and Gene Lyons all the ammunition they need to spin the impeachment of Bill Clinton into a modern day version of To Kill a Mockingbird."
The ConWeb is silent on the Jones interview. Conservative News Service did nothing at all. WorldNetDaily, which ran a story on Jones denying she would pose for Penthouse, said nothing about the interview. They did, however, run a rambling column by Jane Chastain on Oct. 23 that is more about pumping up Carpenter-McMillan's chances in a California Assembly election than it is about Jones; despite the column being named "Paula, How Could You?" Chastain never actually condemns Jones.
NewsMax also ignored the interview (and ran the denial), but did run an rather thoughtful (for NewsMax, at least) essay Oct. 11, after news of the spread was confirmed, saying that her actions are sort of understandable. Overlooking such dubious statements as "...if Bill Clinton were a Republican, Paula Jones would be celebrated today as a modern Rosa Parks," the essay does a good job of pointing out the fact that her supporters abandoned her.
"Despite her historic role as the woman whose fortitude brought about the first impeachment of an elected president in American history, she's been pretty much abandoned by those who once called themselves her allies," the essay reads.
"Abandoned by the right, Jones 'sold out' to a friend of the left. That's too bad. But she's more than entitled to every dime."
And not merely abandoned by the right -- virtually ignored now that she has dared to criticize them.
Conservatives almost always bail out, it seems, when their anointed heroes don't follow the script. A recent example is Matthew Glavin of the Southeastern Legal Foundation, who resigned after reports of public indecency came to light. As ConWebWatch noted previously, The ConWeb ran only one incomplete, factually flawed story about the incident -- and absolutely nothing at all when, after "adamantly" denying the charges in public, Glavin pleaded guilty to them in court. In addition, the SLF has all but expunged Glavin's name from its web site.
In her interview, Paula Jones brings up some important issues about conservatives that need to be discussed. Unfortunately, it's clear that conservatives will not be the ones discussing them.