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From the January 1999 MediaWatch

Hypocrites Exposed by Flynt: TV News

Hustler Publisher Interviewed, Clinton Accusers Ignored

Pornographer Larry Flynt threatened to expose the personal lives of Republicans who would impeach or remove President Clinton. When Flynt planned to drop a bombshell on January 11, Geraldo Rivera invited him to blow up Republicans on CNBC’s Rivera Live. Flynt only produced the dud that Rep. Bob Barr used a legal privilege to sidestep adultery questions in his divorce, but ABC’s Good Morning America and CBS This Morning invited him for an interview.

ABC’s Elizabeth Vargas began January 12: "In Washington this morning, there is nervousness among Republicans about what Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt might do next. Last night, Flynt released what he says is damaging evidence about the personal life of Republican Congressman Bob Barr, one of President Clinton’s most vocal critics and an opponent of abortion rights."

That night, ABC’s World News Tonight was the only broadcast network newscast to carry Flynt’s story. John Cochran began: "Whatever you think of Larry Flynt or his pornographic magazine, he has shown that if you’ve got enough money you can put an ad in the paper offering up to one million dollars for dirt on Congressmen. And then mainstream journalists will report your allegations about the personal life of, well Bob Barr for starters." Cochran concluded: "Democrats sympathize, but say the sexual McCarthyism started when wealthy opponents of President Clinton financed investigations into his relations with women in Arkansas, including Paula Jones. Larry Flynt says he’s just evening the score, making Clinton’s enemies pay, and making others wonder, ‘will this ever end’?"

But have the networks always jumped on personal allegations and interviewed the accusers?

  • Good Morning America and CBS This Morning passed on Gennifer Flowers, at least until ABC invited Flowers last March. But the morning after the New York Post suggested in August 1992 that George Bush may have had an affair, authors Joe and Susan Trento were invited on ABC and CBS to share their theories.
  • Neither morning show interviewed writers from The American Spectator or the Arkansas troopers when Troopergate broke in 1993. Neither interviewed Paula Jones in 1994, even though both interviewed journalists Jill Abramson and Jane Mayer, whose book that year argued Clarence Thomas was a sexual harasser.
  • Both morning shows passed on Gary Aldrich, whose book alleged Clinton left the White House for extramarital affairs at a D.C. hotel.






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