"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 30 March 1998. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Faux Pas


[emily's gone to spain]

Pity poor Matt Drudge; the pain

just oozes out of every word,

these days. He doesn't want to

look, can hardly bring himself

to soldier forward anymore. But

soldier forward he does, despite

the qualms: "The vision of

congressmen exploring the

torment Lewinsky said she went

through after the president

refused sexual penetration

during one session, for

example," reads one recent

Drudge Report, "is a nightmare



Dear god, yes. It's just, just

... horrible. A nightmare,

indeed. And what do Republican

congressional staffers think

about the whole tragic affair,

Matt? Perhaps an anonymous quote

will help us to understand their

dismay: "No one here is looking

forward to hearings on Monica

Lewinsky's description of

President Clinton's penis size."

Yes, good quote. It sums up the

regret so nicely.


Tobacco industry executives,

take note: The hottest new sales

tactic is the one that most

clearly demonstrates the

seller's horror with the

product. Old emotions like

regret and sorrow, fully drained

of their actual, you know,

regret and sorrow. make

excellent and colorful packaging

for products that might

otherwise be cycled to the back

of the shelf. Of course, the

best part of the I-can't-


spin is that it requires you to

remind everyone what you're

apologizing for: I'm so sorry I

printed that description of the

characteristics that distinguish

the president's penis. I should

never have said that it bends to

the side, or that thing about

the bald eagle tattoo. And I

should never have written about

the night Monica went to Bill in

the Oval Office, hot and

dripping wet with passion,

engaging him in a fierce

embrace, his throbbing ...


[she'll be back in a few weeks]

And so on. While quite a few

journalists and politicians have

perfected the craft of cringing

at their own broadsides,

however, none have matched the

level of skill currently on

display in the April issue of

Esquire. Sandwiched quite neatly

between pieces on John Travolta

and a museum focusing on the

death of JFK, former The

American Spectator reporter

David Brock issues an apology

that rings every bell on the way

to his agent's office. Brock,

who once described Clarence

Thomas accuser Anita Hill (you

remember: Coke cans, Long Dong

Silver, The Exorcist ... ) as "a

little bit nutty and a little

bit slutty," writes a lengthy

apology to the President of the

United States: Hey, uh, know

what? That story I wrote about

you running around Arkansas

brandishing your penis like a

stiletto, while your frigid,

shrewish wife sat stewing in the

governor's mansion? Uh - sorry

'bout that! Forget I said

anything! My bad!


Sarcasm, for the moment, fails

us: Brock's apology is a

whopper, a real stinking pile.

"I was the star reporter at the

Spectator," he writes, and "I

made Paula Jones famous" and

"Surveying the wreckage my

report has wrought four years

later..." and, in an

open-letterish reference to

Clinton, "my work became part of

what everyone just knew about

you, penetrating the media

culture and public consciousness

completely across ideological



The wreckage my report has

wrought? My work, which

penetrated the public

consciousness completely? What

was he, Zeus on the mountaintop?

Yes, right: And as Suck looks

back over the way we toppled

Netscape, halted Gulf War II, and

demolished Canada, we find

ourselves in a reflective mood.

Did we use our power for good?

Golly - we sure hope so!


[.....i hope, because if she doesn't come back]

Esquire could have saved some

space by printing Brock's byline

with a simple "LOOK AT ME!" in

48-point type across a single

two-page spread. He sure does

feel bad about, you know,

bringing down the president, and

he must just surely hope that

the institution of the

presidency can survive the -

well, the sheer David Brockness

of it all. He casts such an

enormous, coal-black shadow over

the White House, it's a wonder

anyone can still even see the



This is an apology that stops

just short of breaking out

childhood snapshots, and it's

about as accurate as (guess what

the punchline is.) As Brock

quietly acknowledges, in among

the self-references, the Los

Angeles Times was working on the

very same story; had little Davy

Brock never been born,

Troopergate would have broken

several days later - and gosh,

history would have been so much

different! Add to this the fact

that the entire reference to

Paula Jones in Brock's original

story was the description of "a

woman known only as Paula," and

you certainly have to wonder if,

perhaps, maybe just possibly,

just the tiniest little bit, the

particular Paula in question

didn't exactly feel in a really

genuine fashion that she had

been exposed to, and humiliated

before, the entire world - a

piece of reality that, by the

way, needn't have anything to do

with what Clinton actually did

to her.


In fact Brock even claims, in

his apology for altering the

course of human existence, that

one of Jones' lawyers gleefully

told him he didn't believe his

client's story, and didn't care;

that is, one of the major

players looks Brock in the eye,

tells him that the lawsuit over

his story is driven mostly by a

desire to stick it to the

president ... and Brock goes on

fretting over whether his sexual

exposée opened a door

that would otherwise have

remained shut.


[....I'll have to do production on this for ever :(  rossa@hotwired.com]

Not that he minds opening a few

more doors. Even as he attacks

the man in the mirror for

writing that nasty sex story,

Brock just can't help himself

from dishing a little extra

sleaze. "You appeared headed for

victory," he writes, "and the

Republicans were frustrated and

desperate: I was being

importuned to follow up on a

story in a supermarket tabloid

that suggested you had fathered

a child with a Little Rock



This story Brock attributes to

"a mysterious source who

identified himself only as 'Mr.

Pepper.'" (Mr. Pibb was busy?)

Brock's shadowy beverage product

never fully materialized after a

series of furtive phone calls.

Without a solid source, then,

the story could never be

printed. Unless, neat loophole,

it's printed as a disgusting

rumor, a rumor that the reporter

just hated, in there with the

apology for all that salacious

reporting. Perhaps Brock can

apologize for the pregnant

prostitute story a few months

down the line, in GQ.


You know how this one ends, of

course. The pregnant prostitute

gets picked up by Joe Conason in

the NY Observer - not as a sex

story per se, but rather as an

exercise in memetic phylogeny:


LOVE CHILD. Drudge breaks notice

of the Conason story, quoting

Brock. And David Brock signs a

contract, described in news

reports as a "six-figure deal,"

for a book-length apology to



And for that, we're truly sorry.

courtesy of Ambrose Beers