Now that the media has been forced to cover the Free Beacon’s exclusive reporting on Hillary Clinton’s 1975 defense of a child rapist and her bizarre recounting of the case in an interview years later, they’ve struggled to come to terms with some basic facts about the case.
Tuesday’s "Morning Joe" segment on MSNBC is a perfect example:
The crew discussed the case with two liberal journalists—Ezra Klein of Vox.com and Sam Stein of the Huffington Post—both of whom admitted that they had done no actual reporting on the case. And it showed.
Klein, for example, got the age of the alleged rape victim wrong—she was 12, not 15. He also stated with expert authority that Clinton "was court-appointed for this, there’s no argument about that."
Except that there is some argument—specifically about the circumstances of her appointment.
In her first public comments in response to the Free Beacon’s reporting, Clinton claimed that she was appointed to by a judge and had no choice in the matter.
As Alana Goodman pointed out, this appears to contradict Clinton’s own remarks about the case. She told reporter Roy Reed that a local prosecutor, Mahlon Gibson, had asked her to take on the case "as a favor."
"The prosecutor called me a few years ago, he said he had a guy who had been accused of rape, and the guy wanted a woman lawyer," said Clinton. "Would I do it as a favor to him?"
In any event, Clinton was not a public defender working for the state, as some have incorrectly suggested.
Clinton also said that she "asked to be relieved" from the case. This is interesting because it is the first time she has made this claim. If true, she would have had to enter a formal request for withdrawal, which would have been either approved or denied by the presiding judge.
Gibson, the local prosecutor who, according to Clinton, asked her to take the case as a favor, has since disputed her initial account. After refusing to talk to the Free Beacon, the 79-year-old Gibson corroborated Clinton’s revised version of events in an interview with CNN, and called suggestion to the contrary "ridiculous."
MSNBC was forced to revisit the segment in order to correct the errors, and acknowledge that the actual facts do not reflect so well on Clinton:
"Hillary Clinton chose to do this," host Joe Scarborough said. "This completely changes the conversation. In that position, you and I both know there are a lot of female lawyers that would say no, I won’t take that case."
None of this changes the fact that Clinton's bizarre recounting of the case—during which she laughed while suggesting she knew her client was guilty—along with her vicious attack on the victim's credibility, could be problematic for the potential 2016 nominee, who claims to be one of the foremost advocates for girls in the entire world.