NEW YORK — Gennifer Flowers, the woman paid by a supermarket tabloid to tell of her alleged 12-year affair with Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, told a Manhattan news conference Monday that Clinton was "absolutely lying" when he denied her charges on CBS-TV's "60 Minutes" broadcast Sunday night.
Flowers, appearing in public for the first time since the Star published her story, said she had lied about the relationship to the press for two years, to protect Clinton.
She said she finally came forward with her story because "I was afraid I would be on the street without a job. I'd already started to lose singing engagements because of the rumors about Bill and me. And I thought I'd lose my state job. . . . "
Flowers, a 42-year-old former television reporter and sometime nightclub singer, is a receptionist at the Arkansas unemployment appeals board office, a job she claims Clinton helped her get.
She said she was "disgusted" upon seeing Clinton on television with his wife, Hillary, Sunday night.
"I saw a side of Bill that I have never seen before. He is absolutely lying," Flowers said. ". . . The man on '60 Minutes' was not the man I fell in love with. I would like to think that, after a 12-year relationship, he would have had the guts to say, 'Yes, I had an affair with this woman but it's over, and that's the truth.' "
At the news conference, which was sponsored by the Star, portions of audio tapes Flowers said she made during conversations with Clinton between September and December, 1991, were played. The authenticity of the tapes has not been verified independently.
The Clinton campaign told the Associated Press that the tapes may have been edited or deliberately garbled to eliminate material beneficial to the governor.
According to the tapes, Flowers tells Clinton that reporters from several tabloid-style television programs are pursuing her. He replies that no one can print a story unless there is verification. He advises Flowers that it would be extremely valuable if she had on file an affidavit stating that she was approached by a Republican.
(During the news conference, Flowers said local Republicans in Arkansas six months ago asked her to make her story public, but she refused. GOP officials in Arkansas denied the allegation Monday.)
At no point on the tape does Clinton say the word \o7 relationship\f7 or refer to an affair with Flowers, but, according to the tape, one conversation ends with Clinton saying, "Goodby, baby."
Clinton has acknowledged talking with Flowers after she called him to express worry about being named in news reports that they had an affair.
During the sometimes-raucous news conference, Flowers refused to answer several sexually explicit questions. Neither would she discuss apparent inconsistencies in her account. In Washington, Democratic National Chairman Ronald H. Brown came to Clinton's defense. In a letter to Ed Turner, chairman of Cable News Network, Brown said that CNN's live coverage of Flowers' news conference was a "serious mistake."
"Total garbage certainly describes the Star's allegations. I urge you not to recycle them on national and international news," Brown said in the letter.