Evangelist Jerry Falwell has begun marketing a $43 videotape featuring an assortment of allegations involving President Clinton ranging from sexual misconduct to murder, in the most visible venture to date by conservative critics circulating damaging anti-Clinton material.
The tape, being promoted on television and in conservative publications, runs nearly two hours and highlights Larry Nichols, a former state employee in Little Rock and an avowed enemy of Clinton, accusing the President of vague complicity in the murders of "countless people."
By repeating those unsupported charges and many others, the tape seeks to propel them beyond the right-wing newsletters, tabloid newspapers and conservative radio talk shows that have traded in such allegations and rumors since the start of the Clinton presidency--often in efforts to fuel doubts about his character and ultimately undermine his public policy agenda.
Sold by mail through Liberty College in Lynchburg, Va., which was founded by Falwell, the tape also features press conference statements by Gennifer Flowers and Paula Corbin Jones, who have alleged sexual improprieties on the part of Clinton.
During the 1992 presidential election campaign, Flowers alleged that she had had a lengthy affair with Clinton while he was governor and Jones recently filed a sexual-harassment lawsuit alleging that she had rebuffed Clinton's attempt in 1991 to engage her in oral sex. The President has denied both claims.
Falwell defended the tape sales this week in a television appearance, insisting that he was making no judgment on the veracity of the charges. He said that he was disseminating the allegations because "the national media should have been doing (it) and has been hypocritically quiet.
"We're simply saying these charges are being made. Look at them and determine what is true," Falwell said on CNN's "Crossfire" show. "I am making no charges whatsoever."
Some of the allegations have been thoroughly investigated by the mainstream press, while others largely have been dismissed as innuendo fed by an assortment of people ranging from Clinton opponents to conspiracy theorists.
Nichols, who was used by many reporters as a tipster during the 1992 campaign but seldom was quoted himself, is shown on Falwell's videotape speaking about mysterious deaths he attributes to Clinton but does not explain.
"People are dead in Arkansas," Nichols says at one point.
"When I started this I knew that I might be one of the unsolved mysteries in Arkansas. There were boys on a railroad track.
"There were countless and countless people that mysteriously died that as it turned out had some connection to Bill Clinton. I believe this is going on today."
Falwell, asked by an interviewer if he was accusing Clinton of murder, responded: "No, we are not. We're saying--we're repeating the evidence that is being put forth by others."
The videotape also includes allegations by Nichols that First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton has committed sexual improprieties. Falwell, repeating that he has no independent evidence to support such claims, said the purpose of the tape is to feature "the testimonies, the views of the Arkansas people who are saying these things."
Falwell's office said it had no immediate information on how many videotapes have been sold or how the proceeds are being used. But they said the $43 purchase price is "a donation" that includes shipping costs.