"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 18 June 1998. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Hit & Run CXXXVI



Check all startling evidence and

bold counterstrokes at the door;

at the end of the day, all

anybody wants to know is - are

you pro-Clinton or pro-Starr? As

members of the little-known

pro-Ginsburg camp, we've been

losing interest in this whole

story, but we were upset to see

that Starrites have already

targeted Brill's Content as

another pseudopod of the Clinton

amoeba. That's what happens when

you devote a cover story to

Kenneth Starr's banal leakage.

Still, given that it's a 28-page

article taking up nearly 20

percent of Content's content -

the magazine itself weighs in at

an impressive 12 ounces (without

the inserts) - it's unlikely

many of the experts have

actually read it. We have, and

while some of it feels like

déjà vu all over

again, "Pressgate" is the first

entertaining Monicagate story in

a good five months. It's also a

multi-sourced, thoroughly

documented, occasionally potted

autopsy of a news cycle that

could serve as at least a second

draft of history. If Brill is

out to show news at its worst,

he's off to a good start. Of

course, for the tendentious

hacks who actually write the

news, all that matters is the

story's impact on the horse race

(At this point, it's hard to

imagine any scoop - from

surveillance video of Bill

Clinton in nappies to a Polaroid

of Starr, Scaife, and Klayman

baring their saggy man-tits in a

hot tub - budging this story in

one direction or another). Less

tendentious hacks are content to

moon over the buzz the story is generating

for Content (at this point, an

outbreak of sunspots would

probably generate buzz for

Content). So it all works out in

the end: In its first week of

publication, Brill's magazine is

doing a fair job of showing news

breakers with their pants down,

though probably not in the way

Brill originally intended.



Movies about journalists have

always had to fudge the facts: A

true documentary account about

putting together a magazine

article would have to include

those less-than-cinematic

crescendos of ... waiting for a

page to print, waiting for

someone to call you back,

waiting for Nexis to return your

search, waiting for inspiration

to strike, and not

insignificant, waiting for your

kill fee. Truth is, the effort

invested in most stories has a

poorer return than Spy magazine

stock options, and about just as

much chance at going public.

Which is why we're not surprised

by the rumor that Hollywood is

sniffing at the tale of young

Stephen Glass, the writer who

never had to wait. Editors still

obsessed with the dark tale have

found in this week's Tinseltown

rumors, as well as the

appearance of The New Republic's

extremely truncated

"corrections" to the reporter's

pieces, new excuses to exercise

critical faculties all but

paralyzed during Glass' brief

reign as the writer who could

make Washington interesting. The

most damning detail murmured

over vodka martinis? His first

drafts blew, but would always be

accompanied by a brief note

explaining that he had more

material ... "lots!" Hollywood,

of course, is interested less in

the amount of material than in

its ability to stick to a neat

narrative arc, a rigid form that

facts tend to slip out of. And

that's why Glass' stories,

perfect St. Louis monuments of

detail, might themselves make

good theater. Glass' own story?

Well, his lawyer's denials give

the scribe's saga a perhaps

unintended symmetry: "I have no

idea where that is coming from,"

he told the New York Daily News.

"You shouldn't believe

everything you read."



While this summer's most

incessantly hyped ad reptile has

managed to stomp, chomp, and

cross-promote his way through

the US$100 million box office

barrier, the hundreds of

shoemakers, bedding

manufacturers, novelizationists,

toymakers, calendar publishers,

videogame developers,

confectioners, sand-art

impresarios, and sports bottle

artisans who made licensing

deals with Godzilla are

nonetheless disappointed with

the big-talking huckster's

ability to move merchandise off

the shelves. At the same time,

the much less anatomically

imposing Austin Powers has

proven so popular with movie

fans that his handlers at New

Line Cinema are rushing to

capitalize on demand for

ancillary products a full year

after his market presence

reached its zenith. According to

this week's Ad Age, the standard

merchandising mix of action

figures, greeting cards,

costumes, masks, and keychains

will be enhanced with an Austin

Powers-branded Swedish penis

pump - even though when it comes

to movie merchandising, size

doesn't appear to matter very

much at all.



Since it looks as though

Content's range of targets will

not include Suck, you might

conclude that there are no

disinterested ombudsmen out

there keeping us "honest." Guess

again. From now on, we'll have

to answer to the impotent

ravings, shocked anti-spammers,

and misspelled counterstrokes of

Usenet (where Suck probably

belonged from the git-go). Don't

misunderstand, we're vaguely

flattered that the University of

Missouri KC's David Nicol has

decided to honor us with

alt.fans.suckdotcom, but Nicol's

promise of "discussion groups

which are not strictly moderated

by the 'fish' letters page

editors" seems like an idea of

fairly limited appeal. Given

that most of the population

would prefer to see Suck edited

more heavily (as in, "out of

existence"), and the rest have

never heard of us at all, it's

probably no surprise that most

of the group's posts come from

one "David Nicol." Nevertheless,

while we have no official

connection with

alt.fans.suckdotcom, and thus

can promise neither first-rate

cartoons nor Kornheiserian wit,

we welcome even the most modest

effort to treat us like

celebrities, and look forward to

finding out who these "fans"

are. Legend has it that Suck

acolytes were an ungainly

species whose lack of

adaptability doomed them to

extinction, though occasional

reports of sightings are not to

be laughed off.

courtesy of the Sucksters