There have been a number of reviews
of how the press treated the Clintons in the 1990s. Defenders of Clinton say that Whitewater was overblown. That may be true, but it was not unreasonable to suspect that something was going on in Arkansas, a state that appears to be less than squeaky clean.
In fact, there was
a reason to think that the Clinton's engaged in special favors (either from the government or powerful allies). Remember Hillary turning $1,000 into $100,000 by trading cattle futures
? Those were 1979 dollars, by the way. The trades were most likely either the other side of front-run orders or were fraudulently assigned after the trading day ended.
So when people learned that Whitewater involved a partnership with Jim McDougal
- who was a slippery figure, and you have judge David Hale
saying Clinton tried to influence a loan (later shown to be a false allegation) what were people supposed to think?
Impeachment of Clinton was wrong. Ken Starr was a nut. Much editorializing against the Clintons was overblows. But they were firmly ensconced in the Arkansas culture of the socially advantaged, which involved favors and privileges that were illegal or, at least, unseemly.
Read "Fools for Scandal" by Gene Lyons followed by "The Hunting of the President" by Conason and Lyons to see what a total Rat F*cking GOP dirty trick this was.