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“The [Benghazi] testimony this week could be devastating to the Obama administration and to Hillary Clinton who ran the State Department at the time,” Bill O’Reilly opined earlier this week.

But O’Reilly – and everyone who tracks the media – recognized one unfortunate fact: When it comes to Hillary Clinton there is a huge difference between “could be” and “will be.”

Hillary has been lying to the American people since her first major TV appearance in January 1992 on CBS’ “60 Minutes.” At that time, she and Bill were scrambling to save his candidacy in the wake of the steamy Gennifer Flowers revelations.

When Steve Kroft asked Bill if he had an affair with Flowers, he answered, “That allegation is false.” Hillary, her hands lovingly intertwined with Bill’s, nodded in affirmation.

Of course, they were both lying, Bill with much greater skill. Democratic Sen. Bob Kerrey would later immortalize Bill as “an unusually good liar.”

At this point in the interview, Hillary tried to explain how these allegations emerged. “When this woman [Flowers] first got caught up in these charges,” she said, “I felt as I’ve felt about all of these women: that they had just been minding their own business and they got hit by a meteor.”

“We reached out to them,” Hillary continued. “I met with two of them to reassure them they were friends of ours.” In the lying days to follow, the media chose not to notice that Hillary had just admitted an active role in silencing Bill’s women.

The silencing often got rough. Among the people the Clintons reached out to that year was Sally Perdue, a former Miss Arkansas and Clinton paramour.

The goon that the Clintons dispatched told Perdue, “There were people in high places who were anxious about me and they wanted me to know that keeping my mouth shut would be worthwhile.”

“Worthwhile” meant a GS-11 or higher job with the federal government. If she turned down the offer and talked to the media, “He couldn’t guarantee what would happen to my pretty little legs.”

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Perdue was the least of the Clintons’ problems in 1992. More potentially troublesome were the women Clinton had criminally assaulted or humiliated – Juanita Broaddrick, Elizabeth Ward Gracen and Paula Jones among others.

Later in the “60 Minutes” interview, Kroft asked Bill if he thought the interview would help quiet the furor. Clinton answered, “That’s up to the American people and to some extent up to the press. This will test the character of the press.”

By Clinton standards, the media would pass the test, ace it even, and at their prompting, so would the public. Clinton had given the media just enough cover to “move on.” This was their turning point.

For the next eight years, Hillary lied as necessary to protect the Clinton brand. At every turn, her co-dependents in the major media enabled her.

Appalled by her performance, the normally restrained William Safire famously designated Hillary “a congenital liar” in a 1996 New York Times op-ed, but Hillary was just learning the art of the lie.

In 1998, she had plenty of opportunity to hone her craft. That year the story of Bill’s sordid sexual history broke into public view despite the major media’s best efforts to conceal it. The emergence of the Internet and sites like the Drudge Report and WND made containment impossible.

Six years and a day after she lied on “60 Minutes” to protect Bill’s candidacy, Hillary lied on the “Today” show to protect his presidency.

“There isn’t any fire,” she told Matt Lauer about the “smoke” surrounding her husband, and Lauer obligingly shifted his inquiry from whether Bill had a sexual liaison with Monica Lewinsky to whether independent counsel Ken Starr’s “30 million dollar” investigation had unfairly targeted the president.

This set-up allowed Hillary to establish the media narrative going forward. ”The great story here,” she said for the ages, “is this vast right-wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against my husband since the day he announced for president.”

Hillary would later claim to have learned about Bill’s affair with Monica just before his August 1998 grand jury testimony.

In fact, however, it was Hillary, working through her acolytes, who had Monica booted from the White House before the story went public and branded as a stalker after it did.

The media chose not to know. They savaged the truth tellers – the whistleblowers, the prosecutors, the “bimbos” that erupted – and shifted their protective embrace to Hillary as the future progressive torchbearer.

They allowed the smartest woman in the world to play innocent victim, and this improbable role immunized her from scandal and burnished her political star.

By 2012, the major media had become so comfortable with Clinton lies that not a single one among them pointed out the grotesque irony of having an unrepentant sexual predator keynote a Democratic Convention whose theme was the “Republican war on women.”

So accustomed had Hillary grown to having her lies glossed over that she grew increasingly indignant even at the timid questions Congress threw her way at the January 2013 Benghazi hearing.

When asked by Sen. Ron Johnson about her version of events, Hillary exploded in an outburst destined to be at least as famous as her “vast right wing conspiracy” jeremiad.

Said Hillary, summing up the state of public integrity in 2013, “What difference at this point does it make?” Say what you will, but as recently as January that was a legitimate question.

To be sure, Benghazi will damage Hillary, at least in the short run. But come the Iowa Caucus in 2016, look for the media to champion version 2.0 of the “Comeback Kid.” They have too much emotional equity invested in Hillary to do otherwise.

 

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