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

    The fact that Lucinda Franks decided it was not in the best interest of Bill/Hillary/Chelsea to publish this info speaks volumes of her integrity. I think she showed good judgement and strength. Pretty rare in this day and age.

    August 1, 2014 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  2. 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)

    August 1, 2014 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  3. Marie MD

    Somebody is spending a LOT of money on the good, the bad and the ugly of the Clinton's.
    Regardless no more teaklans in the WH.

    August 1, 2014 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  4. reggie53

    I think Hillary should stop talking now. She is spewing out nonsense 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.

    August 1, 2014 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  5. BrendaMor

    So is Hillary saying that she opposes women going out and bettering themselves (trusting family) in hopes of being able to provide a better life for their kids. It sounds like that's what Bill's mom did. So why is Hillary calling her her a doozy? According to Blair's notes, his mother adored Bill. Granted, she never should have stayed with an alcoholic abuser, but lots of women do. If you ask me, it's more likely tha the alcoholic, abusing step father probably did the most damage. Since we are not privvy to the details it's hard to say. Many women make the same choices Bill Clinton's mom did every day and somehow we get through.

    August 1, 2014 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  6. itisabouttime

    And Bill's mom's response is...

    August 1, 2014 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  7. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    So what exactly, was Newt's excuse for cheating?

    August 1, 2014 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  8. itisabouttime

    And Bill's mom's response is... What Difference Does It Make?

    August 1, 2014 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  9. itisabouttime

    What difference does it make?

    August 1, 2014 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  10. Tisha

    Obama was raised by the same kind of women

    August 1, 2014 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  11. John Johnston

    Give me a break.......his Mommy did it! He is an adult who should take full responsibility for who he is and what he does. For Hilery to blame his Mommy for his actions as an adult is redicylous. And this woman wants to be PRESIDENT. If she starts WW3 does that mean her Daddy did it because of "whatever".

    August 1, 2014 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |

    Blah,blah,blah,blah. Really can't wait to see Thad Cochran,Kevin McCarthy,Thom Tillis,Sheldon Adelson,Rupert Mourdoch,Karl Rove,Lindsey Graham,John McCain,Susan Collins,Hayley Barbour,Grover Norquist and the desperate GOP stuff Jeb Bush down the tea potty's throats EXACTLY like they stuffed Romney down. Straight no chaser. Hillary will drink to that!

    August 1, 2014 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  13. Stephen

    Hillary Clinton, always blaming the dead.....

    August 1, 2014 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  14. American Worker


    Now she is throwing Bill under the Bus?

    Playing to the stereotype that Bill is a product of Hillbilly incest?

    Has Hillary any common sense or respect for the private matters of others?

    Bill should be fuming about this.

    August 1, 2014 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  15. are122

    Hillary does what all democrats do best....blame someone else.

    August 1, 2014 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  16. DRJJ

    He had sx IN the WHITEHOUSE with an EMPLOYEE and LIED about it. Let's hire him back?? Please tell me our standards aren't that low.

    August 1, 2014 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  17. ptmom02

    Nope, as an adult you are responsible for your actions and finding a way to deal with what happened to you as a child. I was a fan of his but someone who gets to the position of president should find a way to get beyond the past.

    August 1, 2014 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  18. sly

    "Obama was raised by the same kind of women"
    That would explain why President Obama and President Clinton are the only exceptional Presidents we've had since Truman.

    August 1, 2014 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  19. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    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??

    August 1, 2014 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  20. Walt

    Isn't it always the mother-in-law's fault?

    August 1, 2014 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  21. WalrusJohn

    Typical's always someone else's fault.

    August 1, 2014 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  22. Mcbob79

    As I've said, these people would sell their own mothers to get ahead politically.

    August 1, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  23. SFRich

    Bill Clinton, despite is womanizing ways, is a very smart man. He was a good president because of his intelligence and willingness to deal with the opposing side and compromise to get things done. Hillary Clinton is also a very smart woman, and she would certainly be an effective president as well.

    All the venom spewed here are by Clinton haters who could only wish that such a power couple existed in the ranks of the GOP. Instead, they have none other than the clowns Cruz, Paul, Bush, Cristy, etc. and super-rich power grabbers with far-rightwing agendas to fund campaigns to pin their hopes on.

    Instead of getting things done for the good of all, the GOP practices division and inaction.

    It isn't getting better.

    August 1, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  24. Silence DoGood

    I think Hillary should stop talking now. She is spewing out nonsense she getting senile?
    You missed the memo on the Rush/Rove/sick-brain-damage-senile conspiracy theory.
    They back-peddled and it is a now debunked.

    August 1, 2014 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  25. mutantsubhuman

    What is Hillary's excuse for herself and Benghazi?

    August 1, 2014 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
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