Anita Hill said Sunday that her accusations of sexual harassment against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas were different from those made against President Clinton and urged women to consider the bigger issue of the Clinton administration's policies toward women before judging the president.
Ms. Hill also joined feminist leader Gloria Steinem in saying Sunday that Clinton's alleged advances to White House aide Kathleen E. Willey, while improper and crude if true, did not constitute sexual harassment.
Republicans have chided Democratic women and feminist groups for not speaking out against Clinton as they did in the sexual-impropriety cases of Thomas and former Republican Sen. Bob Packwood of Oregon.
"There is a sort of selective outrage here," Rep. Anne M. Northup, R-Ky., said on "Fox News Sunday." "I'm worried that women support groups are really Democratic support groups."
But Ms. Hill, a law professor who almost brought down Thomas' 1991 nomination to the Supreme Court with her accusations that he repeatedly made lewd remarks to her when she worked for him at a federal agency, said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that her case was "very different."
Clinton is an elected official chosen twice by a nation that knew of accusations of past sexual scandals, she said, while Thomas was being nominated to a lifetime court position that would deal with cases involving sexual harassment.
Asked whether a double standard exists in how women were looking at Clinton's purported actions, Ms. Hill said: "It is a reality that we have to deal with. We live in a political world, and the reality is there are larger issues other than just individual behavior."
Many women see Clinton as being strong on women's issues, and "I don't think that most women have come to the point where we've said, 'Well, this is so bad that even if he is better on the bigger issues, we can't have him as president.' "
Ms. Hill said she did not think Paula Jones, who has accused Clinton of sexual harassment, has a very good case because of a lack of evidence that her Arkansas state job was affected by her refusing alleged sexual advances by then-Gov. Clinton.
She noted that Mrs. Willey, too, has made no claims that she suffered on the job because of an alleged incident involving Clinton. "We aren't talking about sexual harassment, at least based on the facts that we have in front of us," Ms. Hill said.
Mrs. Willey has stated that Clinton touched her breasts, kissed her on the mouth and placed her hand on his genitals in a room off the Oval Office in November 1993. Clinton has acknowledged only that he may have embraced her and kissed her on the forehead.
Ms. Steinem, in an essay in Sunday's New York Times Magazine, said that if Mrs. Willey's accusations are true, Clinton might be a candidate for sex-addiction therapy, but he is not guilty of sexual harassment.
She said Clinton might have "made a gross, dumb and reckless pass at a supporter during a low point in her life," but he is "not guilty of sexual harassment" because it happened only once and he backed away when rebuffed.
"This is very different from the cases of Clarence Thomas and Bob Packwood," Ms. Steinem said, because they were accused of making repeated unwanted advances.
Ms. Hill, who was a subordinate to Thomas at one time, contended that he repeatedly sexually harassed her. Packwood resigned from office in 1995 after the Senate ethics committee recommended his expulsion for sexual and official misconduct.
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said it is important for women lawmakers to speak out in Mrs. Willey's behalf and against efforts to undermine her credibility. "If we women who are officeholders remain quiet, it sends a terrible message to those women," she said on CBS's "Face the Nation."
But Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, said Democratic women are being consistent. "We simply wanted Anita Hill to be heard," she said on Fox. "You can be assured that Kathleen Willey and others are being heard."
Other key Republican leaders also kept up the pressure on Clinton to give a detailed explanation of whatever relationships he might have had with former White House intern Monica S. Lewinsky and Mrs. Willey.
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., on NBC, predicted Clinton will refuse to testify before the grand jury looking into whether he committed perjury in denying a sexual relationship with Ms. Lewinsky. "I think that will hurt him" because people will conclude he is hiding something, Lott said.
Asked about reports the president has invoked executive privilege to keep some aides from answering certain questions before a grand jury, Lott said, "I think they've made a mistake by doing that. I think it will damage the credibility. It looks like they are hiding something."
The White House has declined to acknowledge that Clinton has formally invoked executive privilege, although sources close to the investigation, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the president has asserted the claim.
Asked about executive privilege again after his appearance on NBC, Lott told reporters, "I think for the first time they're doing some things that looks like what happened in Watergate, and they may wish they had not done that before it's over."
Last week, Clinton reportedly claimed executive privilege in an attempt to prevent White House aides -- longtime friend Bruce R. Lindsey and Sidney Blumenthal -- from testifying before a grand jury investigating whether the president had sex with Ms. Lewinsky and urged her to lie about it.
Independent Counsel Kenneth W. Starr, in brief, measured remarks outside his home on Sunday, said the pace of his investigation may be slowed somewhat by recent developments.
"There have been invocations of certain privileges, and those are matters that will have to be resolved in the courts," he said.