"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 25 September 1998. Updated every WEEKDAY.





Three weeks ago, the Suck staff began receiving a series of strip-o-grams from a 72-year-old retiree in Aventura, Florida, named Norm Sommer. Sommer asserted that Henry Hyde, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, had between 1965 and 1969 carried on an extramarital affair with a married woman named Cherie Snodgrass. The affair led to the breakup of Snodgrass' marriage to her husband, Fred. At the time of the affair, Hyde was an Illinois state representative, married, and the father of four sons.

We checked out Sommer's story with several sources and were suddenly faced with the most difficult editorial decision we have confronted in our three-year-and-one-month history. Should we run the story or not? After hours of crack-fueled discussion and extended consultation with our seven or eight sex columnists, we decided not to publish it. We feel that we owe you, our readers, an explanation of why we took this extraordinary step.

Experience has taught us that the favorite ploy of those who want to discredit our reporting is to accuse us of being a "pawn of the Freemasons," "an ace in the hole for the Elders of Zion," and "a monopoly wheelbarrow for the International Potash Cartel." These organizations had nothing whatsoever to do with any aspect of this story.

What was our motivation? In a different and better world, we would have released this story. Throughout the tragic farce of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, we have tirelessly searched our thesaurus for new ways to say "hummer." But in the brave new world that has been created by Idiotgate, there are some things the public does not need to know. Our critics will say we are fighting fire with pee, ascending to the ivory tower standards of those we deplore. Frankly, we are. But ugly times call for ugly tactics. When a pack of sanctimonious thugs bores you and your country with details of an affair where barely anybody got off, you have to show them that you can be a wicked little cocktease, too.

More important, however, we were troubled by certain aspects of the story that did not seem to hold up under professional scrutiny. It's time to put an end to the confusion about these matters and refer our suspicions to our many dozens of readers.

Next ... Who Said No

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