On January 26, 1992, Bill and Hillary Clinton appeared on the CBS newsmagazine 60 Minutes in an interview with reporter Steve Kroft. The subject was Clinton’s alleged marital infidelity with nightclub singer and former Arkansas state employee Gennifer Flowers. In this chapter, the allegations will be explained, Clinton’s discourse will be applied using Benoit’s (1995a) method, and finally, the discourse will be evaluated for its effectiveness.
The infamous allegations against Clinton were rather sordid in their origins. Former nightclub singer and Arkansas employee Gennifer Flowers alleged in a paid interview with the Star gossip tabloid that she had a twelve–year love affair with Clinton when he was governor of Arkansas. This allegation might not have been as threatening to Clinton’s candidacy had the story remained on the margins of credibility. However, as Kroft (60 Minutes, 1992) noted during the introduction to the Clinton interview, the mainstream press printed the story as well. Because committing adultery is a violation of the Ten Commandments, which many Americans hold in esteem, the charge was potentially quite damaging to Clinton’s character and candidacy. Washington Post columnist Howard Kurtz (1992) reported that Clinton lost 12 points in the New Hampshire poll subsequent to the allegations of adultery. Kurtz also described Clinton as “under siege over allegations involving his marital fidelity” (Kurtz, 1992, p. A18). Steve Roberts