In an interview with MSNBC Friday, 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said that Ronald and Nancy Reagan helped start a national conversation about HIV/AIDS. This is not exactly a bald-faced lie, but it is a gross misunderstanding of history and a misrepresentation of the true governmental neglect during the AIDS epidemic that killed millions worldwide.
—Mathew Rodriguez, mic.com
As I wrote on Facebook earlier today:
I’m really surprised by this. I expected Hillary Clinton to know better. It’s one thing not to speak ill of the dead at their funeral. It’s quite another to make such a profoundly wrong assertion. The Reagan White House’s negligence and homophobia was directly responsible for the growth of the AIDS pandemic in the early years.
Clinton later made a weak apology saying that she "misspoke."
Ronald Reagan stood by for six years, waiting until 1987 to give a major speech about AIDS. By that point, 20,000 were dead of AIDS in the US alone. But most of the dead were gays or minorities or intravenous drug users, despised by the Republicans. Nancy Reagan was complicit in that.
I’m amazed and disappointed that Clinton got it so wrong, both in the interview and in the walk-back. She’s clearly a well-informed, intelligent woman, who’s led in the past over AIDS issues. I expect better.
Update 2016-03-12: Clinton has issued a much better apology. It doesn’t take the Reagans to task for their inaction but it is otherwise much better informed and acknowledges the devastation past and present of AIDS and HIV.