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

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"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. old age voter

    Ok; let’s see; Bill is now a victim -or- that’s what every man would say to his wife when caught cheating; well if his wife was Hillary Clinton.

    August 1, 2014 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  2. yolanda

    Gosh, I guess that explains everything, huh. Poor Bill.I'd write more, but my tears are messing up my keyboard.

    August 1, 2014 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  3. yippeeskip

    ...and still they spin.

    August 1, 2014 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  4. BOB

    Hillary and Bill have an excuse for everything that go's wrong in their life. My opinion, both are pathological lyres.

    August 1, 2014 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  5. Marty

    Very understanding wife. Most wives deal with reality in a much better manner and throw the bum out.

    August 1, 2014 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  6. Mike Clarke

    Please list 5 positive things that Hillary accomplished as the First Lady or Senator or Secretary of State.
    I don't want to hear about her air miles, I don't want to hear about her college degrees, especially honorary ones,I don't want to hear about what she suggested, I don't want to hear about her election and re-election, I don't want to hear about being the first this or the first that.

    August 1, 2014 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  7. Boo

    So what? Their marriage is nobody's business but their own. Some people in this country have to get over it and get off their moral high horse.

    August 1, 2014 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  8. sonny chapman

    Bill Clinton, like a lot of Americans, grew up in a less than perfect,"Ozzie & Harriet" Family. He did the best that he could, given the Primitive Nature of Mental Health Treatment in those days.
    Hillary is right, they were some scars. It affected their relationship & his behavior towards women. Did "it" affect his job performance as President ? Let History decide.
    George W. also grew up in a somewhat Dysfunctional Home. He had "Daddy" Issues from a tough act to follow. He developed a "Drinking Problem" which he brought under control through Faith. Did "this" effect his job performance as President ?

    August 1, 2014 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  9. Klutch Cargo

    Um, Well,
    I did not sleep in a Motel Six last night! I Swear! But I did take a Psychology course at Harvard. I swear I did! Now I'm running for President. I am, over qualified.

    August 1, 2014 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  10. Harry

    "The Debil made me do it."

    August 1, 2014 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  11. Gurgyl

    -paid 375 billion debt, surplus to 450 billion when left, longest economic expansion, four percent per year, 22million jobs,high home ownership, low unemployment in 30 years, raise education standards, 95 percent schools to internet, low crime, 100,000 police hired, gun-safety laws, family medical leave, small welfare rolls, high incomes–golden era of Bill Clinton. Enough? List is long....

    August 1, 2014 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  12. Ken

    Yea, everybody that has a problem like Bill says they were abused. Lets try a different excuse for awhile.

    August 1, 2014 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  13. Jeff Brown

    As a person who understands Bill Clinton's role in the preceding events of 9/11, the actions of his administration in creating the economic policies that eventually imploded our economy and the urban legend that is his greatest legacy...the "balanced budget"...I can't help but wait for this man to die.

    History is written by the victors; and Clinton's role in all the events leading up to 9/11 and his role in creating domestic/foreign economic policy may or may not ever become clear as the Democrats have control of the media now...but, make no mistake, Bill Clinton's decisions as President have had profoundly long lasting effects that still haunt us today.

    The case can be make that Bill Clinton's administration provoked OBL into launching the attacks of 9/11. Those attacks weren't inspired by George W. Bush...even though they happened on his watch....and have changed the course of the human condition all around the globe.

    Why we still afford him a spotlight is incomprehensible.

    August 1, 2014 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  14. Lucas

    Oh no! Poor Billy! I guess i'll vote for Hillary out of sympathy now! NOT.

    August 1, 2014 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  15. it must be said

    Wow!! I, as many people in this country, didn't grow up in a perfect family either and yet I didn't turn out to be a serial sexual predator like Bill Clinton. You are practicing psychiatry without a license and making excuses.

    Sorry Hillary, if you truly thought this then you have been an ENABLER of the behavior. Bill Clinton had a long history of this and still you turned away and made excuses, and WORSE attacked the women victims, re-victimizing them.

    I believe the real truth is that Hillary Clinton is hooked on the power and prestige that came with Bill Clinton and was willing to turn a blind eye to all of his sexual bad behavior and in some cases, criminal behavior. If she were ever in the White House, God knows what she would turn a blind eye to in order to keep her power. Her lies about Benghazi are a pretty good indicator of that IMO.

    August 1, 2014 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  16. smith

    Wow, this some deep denial and excuses for disgusting behavior.

    August 1, 2014 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  17. JohnnyKay

    This article doesn't whitewash Bill's behavior in any way. It simply underscores the tumult Child Abuse creates in its Survivors' lives; many, for entire lifetimes. Compassion is innate for some, and a learned behavior in others. Still others will never understand the Human Condition, no matter how low their own lives may have sunk after traumatic events, and they never will.

    August 1, 2014 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  18. Anonymous

    Hillary can say whatever she wants but that doesn't make it true.And all the people that she blames are long dead and buried so they can't defend themselves.How convenient for Hillary.Why is it with Hillary it's always some one elses fault.

    August 1, 2014 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  19. Gurgyl

    --that one is quite normal in any nation, don't cry, when cute lady comes–you are no Buddha. Quit your rant. Bill the best.

    August 1, 2014 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  20. DustyOnesIsBack

    Wow....and not Bush?

    August 1, 2014 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  21. saltydog77

    What is it with Hillary to always blame some one else for the problems in her life? And now she accuses people who cannot defend themselves against her accusations because they are all dead and buried. How convenient for Hillary.

    August 1, 2014 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  22. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Jeff Brown said......
    urban legend that is his greatest legacy…the “balanced budget”…I can’t help but wait for this man to die.

    Wow. You do know you don't ever wish death on anyone don't you? There's this thing called Karma and while it may not happen to you it may happen to someone you know. You should let go of some of your anger.

    August 1, 2014 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  23. Eardley Ham Woodbury, MN

    A hillary Clinton presidency would be akin to throwing our quasi-democracy onto a garbage heap. She is all about power and amassing great amounts of money. She has no empathy for anyone she deems below her exalted station and will turn a blind eye toward all who need help. She will deny the truths of her failings and blame others for all that goes wrong on her watch.

    Unprincipled, greedy, power-mad–and those are complimentary terms.

    August 1, 2014 11:29 am at 11:29 am |

    Surely you are joking.

    August 1, 2014 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  25. Fair is Fair

    Democratic Montana Senator caught plagiarizing – "I have PTSD."
    Democratic President Bill Clinton caught with his cigar in the cookie jar – "I was abused as a child."
    Democratic President Obama on everything – "It's Bush's fault."

    See a pattern?

    August 1, 2014 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
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