This may come as a shock to many of you, but Rush Limbaugh was not entirely honest during a discussion of Tiger Woods today. I know, it's hard to believe. But take a listen:
LIMBAUGH: Compare the attention that the drive-bys are giving all of these alleged mistresses. Compare that to the way they treated Gennifer Flowers and the other bimbo eruptions during the first Clinton campaign. They made excuses for Clinton. ... Gennifer Flowers was ignored, and then she was mocked, and then discredited. And she had tapes!
Ok. First, Gennifer Flowers was not "ignored," unless by "ignored" Limbaugh means "The New York Times never quite got around to changing its name to Gennifer Flowers Daily." A Nexis search for "Gennifer Flowers" in the New York Times directory yields 77 hits in 1992. In the Washington Post directory, 171. CNN: 150. ABC: 30. CBS: 41. Flowers' allegations got so much attention, Clinton went on 60 Minutes after the Super Bowl to respond to them. So, "ignored" is just a flat-out lie.
Now, on to "mocked, and then discredited." As Arkansas journalist Gene Lyons has detailed, "Flowers' resumé claimed degrees from colleges she'd barely attended, membership in a sorority she'd never joined and jobs she'd never held. Her claim to have won the Miss Teenage America crown proved false. Much was made locally of her claim to The Star that she and Clinton had many torrid assignations during 1979 and 1980 at the Excelsior, Little Rock's fanciest hotel. The Excelsior didn't exist until November 1982."
Gennifer Flowers, in other words, discredited herself, by lying about just about everything she could think of. And still, the media did not ignore her; years later, she was still showing up as a guest on Chris Matthews' television show, where she spread lies that the Clintons were murderers.
Finally, the tapes: contemporaneous news reports indicated the tapes were selectively edited to make Clinton look worse. (Years later, Flowers sued James Carville and George Stephanopoulos for defamation because they referred to those news reports. Her suit was thrown out of court.)
Back to Limbaugh:
LIMBAUGH: And they went out of their way to save Bill Clinton and to destroy-- even when the Lewinsky thing hit.
Right. The Washington Post and New York Times each assigned half their newsrooms to cover the Lewinsky story -- and they were certainly not alone in their obsessive coverage.
LIMBAUGH: They all joined forces and tried to make Ken Starr out to be some sex pervert. That was so laugh-- but anyway.
Whitewater Independent Counsel Ken Starr submitted a report to Congress that mentioned the word "Whitewater" twice and the word "sex" more than 500 times -- not to mention the countless graphic descriptions of sex acts. If anyone made Ken Starr appear to be obsessed with sex, it was Ken Starr. (And remember, Starr was snooping around Arkansas trying to find women who had slept with Clinton long before the Lewinsky matter came to his attention.)
Back to Rush:
LIMBAUGH: Now, with Tiger, all theses alleged mistresses are believed: Every word they say. The media is digging deep to find out everything they-- imagine if the media had acted this way with Bill Clinton and John Edwards back in their day.
Please. If the media had devoted any more attention to the Lewinsky story, they wouldn't have had room for baseball box scores or movie listings.
The simple truth is that no single story -- political or otherwise -- has received the sustained level of media attention the Clinton-Lewinsky story got for all of 1998 and the early part of 1999. Limbaugh claiming the media ignored allegations of infidelity by Bill Clinton isn't like claiming two plus two equals five; it's like claiming two plus two equals three-hundred and forty-seven thousand.