- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Gennifer Flowers' claim that she was defamed for revealing a sexual affair with Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton won new life yesterday when a federal appeals court reinstated parts of her lawsuit against former Clinton aides James Carville and George Stephanopoulos.
However, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of separate claims in the case against Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat. The court did allow Miss Flowers' attorney in the case, Larry Klayman, to file a long-pending complaint that Mr. Klayman said again names Mrs. Clinton as a conspirator.
Judge Alex Kozinski, an appointee of President Reagan, wrote the opinion, joined by a two-time Clinton appointee, Circuit Judge Richard A. Paez, and Senior Circuit Judge J. Clifford Wallace, a Nixon appointee.
The three-judge panel reversed part of Nevada District Judge Philip Pro's order dismissing the cases.
The appeals court reinstated defamation claims against Mr. Carville and Mr. Stephanopoulos concerning accusations by the two men that Miss Flowers "doctored" tape recordings of conversations with the Arkansas governor. The tapes were released at a press conference in early 1992 after Clinton backers attacked a Star tabloid report on the relationship.
The attorneys for Mr. Stephanopoulos and Mr. Carville whom the decision said Miss Flowers "affectionately refers to as the 'Clinton smear machine'" said their clients were accurately repeating news reports that the tapes were "selectively edited" to make a point.
Although reliance on dependable news sources usually is a defense against defamation, the court said these defendants were in a position to know the truth and were "not uninvolved third parties who clearly lacked access to the facts behind the published reports."
Specific statements left for a district court to test through discovery and potential trial include:
Mr. Carville's 1998 "moderately incomprehensible" comment in a "Larry King Live" interview on CNN that said: "One of the things is to remember, we'll go back to the Gennifer Flowers statement, I think they found that tape was doctored and CNN [even] found out, like 19 or 12 different places."
Mr. Stephanopoulos' 1999 memoir, "All Too Human: A Political Education," which says of the tapes: "The conversation did sound stilted; her questions were leading maybe the tapes were doctored? It's a setup. Later investigations by CNN and KCBS would show that the tapes were 'selectively edited,' but there was no getting around the fact that by talking to her on the phone, Clinton had put everything we worked for at risk."
An interview on CNBC by Tim Russert in 2000 in which Mr. Stephanopoulos said of the tapes: "Oh, it was absolutely his voice, but they were selectively edited in a way to to create some some impression."
The judges refused to reinstate the case against Mrs. Clinton, saying Miss Flowers sued the former first lady too late, more than two years after the claimed wrongful conduct.
But the panel refused requests for dismissal by Carville and Stephanopoulos attorneys on the basis that the lawsuit violates their First Amendment rights and that, as a public figure, Miss Flowers was fair game.
The court agreed she was a limited public figure but said that didn't let them off the hook.
"Flowers is a public figure, at least with respect to the controversy here. Her affair with the governor of a state made the headlines in a national tabloid. To corroborate her story, she held a press conference where she played tape recordings of his phone calls all during a presidential nomination campaign. If all this doesn't make her a public figure, it's hard to imagine what would," the court said.
"Gennifer Flowers claims that defendants knew she was telling the truth, knew the tapes weren't doctored, knew the news reports they claimed to rely on were wrong, but accused her of being a liar and a fraud anyway," said the court in ordering she be "given at least some chance" to prove her claims.
"Long after the public spotlight has moved on in search of fresh intrigue, the lawyers remain. And so we find ourselves adjudicating a decade-old dispute between Gennifer Flowers and what she affectionately refers to as the 'Clinton smear machine': James Carville, George Stephanopoulos and Hillary Clinton," the judges said.
"Flowers claims that, as a result of all this schemery, her reputation has wilted and her blossoming career as a Las Vegas lounge singer has been nipped in the bud," the court said.

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