"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 28 October 1999. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Hit & Run CCI



Regular readers will note the

absence today of a Suck

interview. Sadly, we have at

last run up against an interview

subject who categorically

refuses to speak with any

publication that bears the name

Suck. While most right-thinking

Americans are more scandalized

by the title "National Public

Radio" than by a mere

four-letter word, Nina

Totenberg, NPR's Supreme Court

correspondent, preemptively shot

down our attempt at a Q&A by

saying she wouldn't want her

"name appearing in The Washington

Post" in connection with potty

language. (Little does she

realize what a buzz-free black

hole Suck really is these days.)

We won't be so disingenuous as

to claim surprise. Indeed,

considering the number of

celebrity writers, award-winning

filmmakers, American heroes, and

successful entrepreneurs with

whom we have managed to kibitz,

the amazing thing isn't that we finally

got a sine vidisse refusal to an

interview request but that it

took so long. What hurts,

though, is getting shot down by

a two-time Esquire

"Woman We Love," whose most

celebrated contribution to the

public discourse involved letting

America hear about the pubic

hair on the Coke can. We have

such high regard for Totenberg's

dramatic readings from the minutes

of the Supreme Court's deliberations

that we were truly disappointed when

she so adamantly refused to consider

our set of legal conundrums:

My state legislature is
considering a bill to
outlaw gay and lesbian
marriage. But gay and
lesbian marriage is
already illegal in my
state. Is there a chance
the new law would cancel
out the old one,
inadvertently making gay
and lesbian marriage

[Reply as Rehnquist,
Ginsburg, and Souter]

I believe I have a
constitutional right to
assassinate President
Clinton: The 10th
Amendment says that all
powers not given to the
federal government belong
to the states or to the
people. Since President
Ford's executive order
forbids the federal
government to engage in
assassination, that must
mean that they've given
that right over to me.
Don't you agree?

[Reply as Kennedy, Scalia,
and O'Connor]

My wife and I were
married for 20 years, and
I always thought our
romantic life was fine.
The other day she told me
she's never "felt
anything" in the bedroom.
To make matters worse,
she feels this is grounds
for divorce. This morning
I found that all my assets
had been frozen and my
wife has obtained a court
order stating that I must
vacate our home within
24 hours. Since she had
previously assured me
our sex life was fine,
can I get an injunction
on the basis of fraud?
Please reply quickly.

[Reply as Thomas, Stevens,
and Breyer]

I am currently funding my
401(k) plan to the
maximum allowable. A
friend tells me under
certain circumstances I
can also contribute to a
Roth IRA. I don't think
this is true. Which of us
is right?

[Reply as O'Connor,
Thomas, and Scalia]

My husband and I saw
Eyes Wide Shut, which
stars two of our favorite
performers — Tom
Cruise and Nicole
Kidman! I don't get it:
Was the death of the
woman from that weird
masked ball an accident
or murder? If so,
was she the same woman
Tom Cruise met earlier in
the movie, who
supposedly contracted
HIV and left town when
he went back to visit her?
And what happened to his
friend the piano player?
Our son the graduate
student says the movie
is "intentionally ambiguous."
I say he's all wet. Please

[Reply as Souter, Rehnquist,
and Ginsburg]

I am convinced Ronald
Reagan's policies were
responsible for bringing
down the Soviet Union. A
co-worker says the USSR
was about to collapse
anyway, and all Reagan
did was increase deficit
spending. Don't you think
it should be illegal to
speak so disrespectfully
about former President

[Reply as Thomas and


In truth, we didn't expect heaps

of comedy from Totenberg's

responses, but her apparent

belief in our toxicity was just

impassioned enough to be

entertaining. When our

correspondent offered to fax our

questions for her approval, she

replied, "If you want to waste

your paper, be my guest." How

about an email then? "I will

delete anything you send me."

Maybe if she would just look at

our questions she might find

them diverting enough to use in

some other venue, with no

payment or acknowledgment to

us? "I'm already working three

jobs; I have no time to take on

anything more." [Editor's note:

These "three jobs" include the

NPR gig and stints as a

correspondent for ABC's

Nightline and as a regular

panelist on Inside Washington

— hardly an unsupportable



Despite the brusque high-hat, we

still think this would have made

a great interview, so if you

work for a publication with a

more Washington-friendly title,

feel free to steal our concept.

And since we're nothing if not

sporting, we recommend that you

listen regularly to Totenberg's

Supreme Court readings, which

remain one of the few bright

spots in the dense wasteland

that is public radio.



Committing a hoax on the Web has

always seemed an exercise in

redundancy, the modern

equivalent of Dr. Johnson's

"blacking the chimney." When the

exposure of the ourfirsttime.com

"hoax" had online journalists

breaking out in even-more-


self-congratulations, we never

really figured out where the

hoax lay: Was it that the young

lovers were not really virgins?

Were the site's sponsors not

really planning to surrender the

virtual pink to paying

customers? It didn't really

matter in the end, since the

method had by that time been

established: A Net porn

entrepreneur comes up with a

seemingly outrageous offer, the

daily papers give the idea

breathless coverage, hints of

tomfoolery surface, and online

reporters trumpet the whole

affair as evidence that Old

Media just doesn't get it. But

while ovarian auctioneer Ron

Harris hasn't returned any of

our messages, we'd think twice

before dismissing Ronsangels.com's

business plan of bidding on

model's eggs. If 52 models (from

outside Harris' own stable of digitized

cuties) have already approached

the soft-core chieftain with

offers to put their own ova up

for bidding, there is clearly a

market for this sort of thing,

and the auction may yet come off

without a hitch. Most important

of all, the case has revealed

that there are innumerable

"fertility activists" ready to

scream on cue at the first sign

of a little free-market

chutzpah. (And would the outcry

have been so deafening if Ron

had been offering, say, frosty

mugs of Pete Rose's motile

seed?) If nothing else, there's

a cautionary tale here: Avoid

breeding with media whores.



Even without the debate over

catwalk baby factories, the

various news media have in the

past week been off on enough

pilotless flights of fancy to

make media watchdogs of us all.

Salon bravely took the point on

the latest round of George W.

Bush coke tales (and we can say

without sarcasm that this truly

is a job somebody has to do),

and for its troubles, the

undervalued zine earned only the

vituperation of self-appointed Perry

Whites, whose credo — then,

now, and always — remains,

"Don't listen to what these

Internet cretins say." (That the

Bush story came from the

well-known cyber pornographers

at St. Martins Press did nothing

to soften the flinty bosoms of

Salon haters nationwide.)

Elsewhere, an apparently

well-intentioned but

none-too-well-informed reporter

for the New York Post has

categorized Suck as being "among

the best-written and most

original sites on the Web," an

accusation we vigorously

deny. Most fascinating of all

was the most recent

exposé of how the

widely dissed Net Aid fell

abundantly short of its stated —

and widely reported — goal of

getting 1 billion "hits" during

its set of subprime concerts.

(Just what those billion hits

constituted — pageviews,

unique users, images loaded, or

just the collective platinum

power of such washed-up

headliners as Jimmy Page, Sheryl

Crow, and Bryans Ferry and Adams

— was a question that, as

always, went unaddressed.) On

this topic, though, we can speak

with some authority: Anytime

anybody anywhere says anything

about how much traffic his or

her Web site is getting, it's

all a goddamned lie.

courtesy of theSucksters