On January 21, 1998, the very day the Monica Lewinsky affair broke, Newsweek's Eleanor Clift disdained the story as old news and insisted that presidents like JFK and LBJ demonstrated that "libido and leadership is often linked."
But on Wednesday's Thom Hartmann show, Clift found nothing distasteful in ABC's Marianne Gingrich interview to investigate Newt Gingrich's affinity for "open marriage." She guessed wrong that Gingrich would "just ignore it."
Clift told Hartmann that the second wife's "open marriage" story was previously proclaimed in an Esquire article, so it was old news, so Hartmann asked about media ethics.
HARTMANN: Let’s say this was a new bombshell. Should they wait until after the election or should they release at the moment they have it?
CLIFT: Oh, I think they should release the moment they have it. This is not some secret source. This is a person, I’m sure, a lot of news outlets have tried to get to. Putting it out there is fair game.
CLIFT: I don’t know if Newt Gingrich is going to directly respond. If I were him, I’d just ignore it, frankly.
HARTMANN: Or say, this is old news.
CLIFT: Yeah, this is old news, and I’m not perfect now, but I’m a 67-year-old, 68-year-old grandfather, and look at totality of my life, and look at my happy marriage now. That’s probably what he’s going to do.
Well, no, CNN's John King took away the chance to try an indirect response. Here's a glimpse at the Clinton-era disdain by Clift of bedroom journalism late in the afternoon of the Lewinsky story's first day dominating the news:
"Well, he’s been elected twice with people knowing he has had affairs. Now is the fact that this woman is 21. I mean, she’s still of age, I suppose. You know, I think that the distaste that people may feel for this will also be because of the fact that the probing into this person’s private life has occurred. I think past Presidents, Lyndon Johnson for one, certainly Jack Kennedy, these things went on, you know, libido and leadership is often linked."