New book says Hillary Clinton blamed husband's infidelity on abuse as a child
August 1st, 2014
09:51 AM ET
4 months ago

New book says Hillary Clinton blamed husband's infidelity on abuse as a child

Washington (CNN) – Hillary Clinton told an interviewer in 1999 – the year after the Monica Lewinsky scandal rocked Bill Clinton's presidency – that the President's infidelity issues stemmed from his abusive mother and led to a sex addiction for the former president.

The comments come from an upcoming book by Lucinda Franks, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, whose book – "Timeless: Love, Morgenthau and Me" – is set to hit bookshelves in late August. Clinton's comments come from an interview she granted Franks, at the time a writer for the short lived Talk magazine.

"He was abused," Clinton told Franks. "When a mother does what she does, it affects you forever."

Clinton continued: "I am not going into it, but I'll say that when this happens in children, it scars you. You keep looking in all the wrong places for the parent who abused you."

Franks does not specify the nature of the abuse in the the book passage and writes that the then-first lady "declined to give me details."

Franks does, however, write the Hillary Clinton acknowledged that Bill Clinton had a sex addiction because of the abuse.

"I asked her when she thought Bill's sexual addiction began," Franks writes. "Did she know about it when they married?"

"She shook her head no," writes Franks, "and then became more animated as she started to talk about his mother."

Hillary Clinton told Franks that Bill Clinton's mother "was a doozy," according to the book, which was first reported on by the New York Daily News.

The interview, however, never was run in full and Franks left out much of the stuff Hillary Clinton said about Bill Clinton and abuse. Instead, Franks ran this quote attributed to Hillary Clinton:

"He [Bill Clinton] was so young, barely 4, when he was scarred by abuse. … There was terrible conflict between his mother and his grandmother. A psychologist once told me that for a boy being in the middle of a conflict between two women is the worst possible situation. There's always a desire to please each one."

Tina Brown, the publisher of Talk Magazine, said that the New York Daily News story was the "first I heard that the story was watered down and there were all these quotes."

"Obviously wish I had known," she said in an email to CNN. "The story made enormous news at the time with the 'it was a sin of weakness' quote but it seems there was a lot more not revealed by Lucinda then for some reason."

In the book passage, Franks reflects on why she never published part of the story.

"Abuse is a non-specific concept that can refer to any number of behaviors, some more severe than others," Franks wrote. "In any event, it was not Bill's memory, it was Hillary's – and she wasn't even there."

Franks continues: "So, for the article, I wrote up one part of the interview that she had given me on the plane and described the abusive atmosphere in the President's childhood home and the constant conflict between his mother and his grandmother over him."

Later in the book, Franks writes that she "did not regret the judgment call we had made."

It has long been known that Bill Clinton was raised in a complicated and abusive household.

Bill Clinton never knew his biological father Bill Blythe, who died in a car accident months before his son was born in 1946.

While the death left Virginia Kelley to raise young Bill, for the first few years of his life, Kelley had little to no role in Clinton's upbringing. When Bill was one-year old, Kelley decided to move to Louisiana and get a degree in anesthesiology, leaving her young child in the care of her parents.

When Kelley returned to Arkansas three years later, she quickly married Roger Clinton, Sr., a man her parents disapproved of, and someone who turned out to be an abusive alcoholic.

"Bill protected me and took responsibility at such an early age," Kelley once said of her son. "There is no way I can describe to you what he has meant to me."

After a quick divorce when Bill Clinton was 15, Kelley and Clinton got back together in 1962. Bill Clinton was strongly against the remarriage and according to a 1994 Washington Post profile, he told Kelley she was "making a big mistake, mother."

Once remarried, however, Bill Clinton – at that time known as Bill Blythe – took the Clinton last name as a way to support his mother.

Hillary Clinton has also long blamed her husband's infidelity on issues with his upbringing.

In a conversation with Diane Blair in 1998, Blair claims Hillary Clinton mentioned that she and Bill Clinton spoke with a psychologist who dealt with family therapy and sexual infidelity problems.

"Most men with fidelity problems raised by two women and felt conflicts between them," Blair wrote in a diary about her conversation with Clinton. The psychologist had "read about Bill's bio; grandmother despised Virginia, tried to get custody of Bill; Bill adored by his mother; but she left him, etc. etc."

Blair's writing on personal conversations with Hillary Clinton were part of recently discovered archives at the University of Arkansas. Blair, who was a longtime friend and confidant of Hillary Clinton's, kept detailed notes of her interactions with the first family at the hopes of one day publishing a book about them.

CNN requested a comment on the book from Hillary Clinton's spokesman, but never received one.


Filed under: Bill Clinton • Hillary Clinton
soundoff (116 Responses)
  1. ruth

    Oh boo hoo....no one has a happy childhood,and lets just blame the mother....please that can work now that she is dead,but please if you do not like your mother ,at 18 leave....you can turn the ugly into better ....you can only blame your parents for so long then it is up to you to grow up and do better.....

    August 1, 2014 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  2. JMC

    Every day it seems another quote from 20, 15 or 10 years ago in respect of the Clintons. Sounds like an editorial choice, sounds like the general bones of the story were already reported.

    August 1, 2014 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  3. Bernn Ward

    Rajesh
    Wow! Talk about blaming everyone but yourself!!

    "So, his upbringing didn't contribute to him being one of the most successful Presidents but did contribute to his flaws. And Hilary spent decades with this man just before his infidelity.

    Isn't it more likely that Hilary drove him to infidelity? Mind you, I am saying "more likely" compared his upbringing?"
    Hey Rajesh, It's called DYSFUNCTION!!!!

    August 1, 2014 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    Blame, Blame, Blame!!!! Let's not take any responsibility for anything we ever do that would be considered wrong.

    August 1, 2014 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  5. sunshine

    Blame, Blame, Blame! Let's not take any responsibility for anything we do wrong!

    August 1, 2014 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    "Blame, Blame, Blame! Let's not take any responsibility for anything we do wrong!"

    Please explain what Hillary Clinton did wrong in this context. I could use the laugh.

    August 1, 2014 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  7. Bernn Ward

    Hey Anonymous, what are you blaming Hillary for, Bill's infidelity? LOL!!! How about let's make adequate parenting a priority.

    August 1, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  8. Beth

    Yes, indeed. Breeding shows. Hilly left out the part of the mother being a big drunk. Did she mention Bill was a one night stand?

    August 1, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  9. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    reggie53 says:
    August 1, 2014 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm
    I think Hillary should stop talking now. She is spewing out nonsense now………is she getting senile? She is starting to sound like if she is no longer with us sound thinking people. I am disappointed in her right now.

    Do try and keep up. She told an interviewer this in 1999. Fifteen years ago. Do you people even bother reading the actual article or do you just see the words Clinton or Obama and lose your natural minds??
    -----------------------------------------------------
    No time to read in their haste to hate babe!
    I'm on "lockdown" again over here.
    Wishing you and my girl Lynda the best of the best and a happy and safe weekend to one and all.

    August 1, 2014 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  10. Steve

    Of course Hillary it has nothing to do with you and your cold. nasty personality right? Always deny and when confronted with the evidence then blame another party. The liberal way.

    August 1, 2014 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  11. Oh please

    If this was a real issue the Clintons are certainly smart & wealthy enough to get the help they need. Yet another excuse from Bill "I didn't inhale" Clinton. Nonetheless, I voted for the guy twice & still glad I did. But never ever Hillary – 2 Clinton terms was enough!

    August 1, 2014 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  12. Bernn Ward

    Anglyn Hays
    "W. Clinton, and his wife, belong to that generation that is always blaming their parents (or their children) for all their flaws, and whatever is wrong with the world, but their parents are almost never thought of as contributing to their successes. A classic case of narcissism. He's just an innocent victim. (Not. /sarcasm off)" Apples do not fall far from trees. Parenting sure is taken for granted in this GREAT nation. "Hey, I'll do what I want. I brought you into this world, so if I want to get drunk and run around wih every Tom, Dick (no pun intended), and Harry, I damn sure will—my values won't affect you; and besides that, popular opinion dictates that I become a single mother!"

    August 1, 2014 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  13. sly

    I love CNN for posting a Clinton article or Obama article daily – the TeaKKKlan from the Party of Stupid get so angry and their panties get all in a bind.

    The best thing about the past 6 years of American success? No, not the record stock markets or 401k or deficit reduction. No, not President Obama killing our #1 enemy of all time.

    Nope – the best thing is getting to read the losers whining for 6 years now ... "Squawk – where is his Birth Certificate?".

    Good times for America!

    August 1, 2014 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    "Do you people even bother reading the actual article or do you just see the words Clinton or Obama and lose your natural minds??"

    They do not have minds. GOPers/Teatrolls run on simply one overexposed and overly sensitive nerve that runs from the base of their skulls down to their butts and allows for only one sensation: butthurt.

    August 1, 2014 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  15. mike johnson

    ... Hillary for President ... I think not

    August 1, 2014 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  16. paul

    Hillarious Clinton Bill was abused by his mother and grandmother??? What a family, WOW
    Well considering he has problems , maybe not exactly like everyone else, I think we should cut the man some slack,
    It appears someone or some thing instilled him to get into goverment, we have to give him credit for that, What the Clintons need to do is get away from the lieing and B.S. that controls thier lives, there more to life than the direction they are going.

    August 1, 2014 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
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