"Is It Only About Sex?" wrote the New York Times in August 1998.
"Maybe It Is About Sex," wrote Slate the same month.
"High crimes? Or just a sex cover-up?" Time magazine wrote the next month.
That was the tack back then, after 50-year-old Bill Clinton was accused of having sex with a 22-year-old White House intern, often in the Oval Office. Clinton vehemently denied the allegation, wagging a crooked finger as he spat: “I want you to listen to me. I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky. I never told a single person to lie, not a single time, never.”
Before the whole mess unraveled, Clinton also said: ''It is time to stop the pursuit of personal destruction and the prying into private lives and get on with our national life."
Of course, he did have sex with Monica Lewinsky, and then he lied about it. Worse, he lied about it not just to every person in America but under oath, which made it a crime of perjury. In fact, he was impeached by the House of Representatives not for having sex with an intern, but for lying under oath and committing obstruction of justice in covering up the affair. While he wasn't removed from office, Clinton, a lawyer, was disbarred for five years.
Democrats and liberals and the very liberal mainstream media deemed the whole affair to be "only about sex." They castigated the report issued by independent counsel Kenneth Starr as obsessed with sex and dismissed the scandal as nothing more than, as then-first lady Hillary Clinton said, a "right-wing conspiracy." Even after his Senate trial, Democrats applauded Clinton and portrayed him as the victim of “politics of personal destruction."
Even worse, the MSM and liberals sought to blame the young woman at the center of the mess. "Tapes reportedly portray Lewinsky as obsessed — magazine says she was fixated on creating romantic link with Clinton," Knight Ridder reported in June 1998. There were plenty more stories that portrayed Lewinsky as solely to blame for the affair.
What a difference a few years make.
A pornographic "actress" named Stormy Daniels appeared on "60 Minutes" on Sunday to allege an affair with Donald Trump back in 2006, 10 years before he ran for president. On the news program, she said the sexual encounter was consensual — "I'm not a victim," she said. But she also said she was threatened if she talked about the affair.
The MSM swooned. Everything Daniels said in the friendly interview with Trump-hater Anderson Cooper was taken as gospel (despite the three times she signed statements that asserted there was no affair). The response to her allegations were a far cry from that given to Clinton's victims: Juanita Broaddrick, who said he raped her in a Little Rock, Arkansas hotel room; Paula Jones, who said he sexually assaulted her; Kathleen Willey, who accused him of groping her in the Oval Office; Gennifer Flowers; who claimed she had a 12-year affair with him; and Dolly Kyle, who also claimed an affair with Clinton.
The media never believed any of them, and Hillary went after them in vicious ways. Jones, whom Clinton eventually paid $850,000, told The New York Times in 2017, “It’s like me and Juanita and Kathleen have been screaming for years for someone to pay attention to us on the liberal side, and it’s like no one would hear us. They made fun of me. They didn’t believe me. They said I was making it up.”
Back then, the media were intent on painting Clinton's affair as consensual and blasting the prurience of American society. Clinton played along, at one point saying, "I intend to reclaim my family life for my family. It’s nobody's business but ours. Even presidents have private lives." And yet the media kept reporting on the story, drawing angry rebukes from critics.
Feminists went along for the ride. In a New York Times op-ed, Gloria Steinem criticized “the media's obsession with sex qua sex,” which she considered “offensive to some, titillating to many and beside the point to almost everybody.”
Now, though, forget all that. Trump's alleged affair is the most important global issue, worthy of nonstop coverage of a pornographic "actress" who has thrice denied any sexual liaison with Trump. The press, and newspapers like The Washington Post, downplayed the fact that Daniels took $130,000 and pushed the new claim that she feared for the safety of her family — a claim for which she offered no proof.
The New York Times, too, hyped the new claim that Daniels took the money "because she was worried about her safety and that of her young daughter."
And now, Daniels, real name Stephanie Clifford, will return to her real job: She's cashing in on her fame by making appearances on the strip club circuit in what she calls her “Make America Horny Again” tour.
The irony is, of course, lost on the MSM.