The Human Stain, Redux

A proud day for FOIA

Yesterday, after a FOIA request, a lawsuit, a little gumption, and a lot of patience, the National Archives finally released records of the daily schedules from Hillary Clinton’s 2,888 days as First Lady. (Woohoo, transparency! Woohoo, freedom of information!)

It was a reporter’s dream: 17,481 pages of (heavily redacted, but never mind) information—about trips and meetings and outings—concerning a top newsmaker. Who attended the Hillarycare strategy sessions? How involved was Clinton in the meetings that led to NAFTA? It was a treasure trove of insight into Clinton’s years in the White House—and into how those years play into her quest to win back that real estate. “Let the hunt begin,” The Swamp’s Mark Silva declared.

Well, hunt they did. (Some enterprising publications even called on readers to help with the hunting.) And anyone care to venture a guess about some of the first pieces of information our intrepid Fourth Estate freed from the shackles of the Archives? Anyone? I’ll give you a hint: they just might involve everyone’s favorite beret-wearing intern!

Yep, Monica. Déjà-blue-dress. Lewinskygate all over again.

Here’s one revelation, courtesy of the ABC News’s “Investigative Unit”’s searing examination, “Hillary At White House on ‘Stained Blue Dress’ Day”:

Hillary Clinton spent the night in the White House on the day her husband had oral sex with Monica Lewinsky, and may have actually been in the White House when it happened, according to records of her schedule released today by the National Archives.

Yeah. “It’s as if media outlets which handled the Lewinsky affair irresponsibly a decade ago have decided to bask in their negligence all over again,” Steven Benen put it. “Good lord,” echoed TNR’s Jason Zengerle. “You know, I don’t blame Hillary for wanting to keep this stuff under lock and key if this is what investigative reporters are going to use it for.”

Not to be outdone by ABC, the AP, early this morning, followed up with its own—even more detailed—Textual Analysis, in which the wire service took “a look at her schedule on days when Lewinsky said she had sexual encounters with Bill Clinton.” Some revelations:

Feb. 4, 1996: Mrs. Clinton and the president attended the National Governor’s Association annual dinner. Lewinsky said she and the president that day had a sexual encounter and their first lengthy and personal conversation.

March 31, 1996: Mrs. Clinton toured an archaeological site and museum in Delphi, Greece, and watched a folk dance performance. That day, Lewinsky said she and the president resumed their sexual contact.

Classy. What a proud, proud day for FOIA. And what a proud, proud day for us all. As Salon’s Kate Harding put it, “Happy stained blue dress day, everyone!”

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Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.