LIBERTIES: A 21-year-old intern is stalking the land!


Plus! Return of the mansion chef: A 21-year-old intern is stalking the land. We sensed her presence as we read Gail Collins’ new column this morning.

As usual, Collins was killing time with a quiz. This was her fourth question:
COLLINS (7/4/13): 4. Representative Michele Bachmann made news when she announced she would not run for re-election. Which of the following was not among her career highlights:

a) Mixed up actor John Wayne with serial killer John Wayne Gacy.

b) Said the first shots of the Revolutionary War were fired in New Hampshire.

c) Said that a nonseasonal blizzard in Minnesota was God’s warning to politicians to reduce the size of government.
When our eyes hit answer (a), we sensed the presence of the intern who never stops stalking the land.

No, Virginia! There’s absolutely no reason to think that Bachmann ever confused John Wayne with John Wayne Gacy. That’s a pleasing claim, but it’s invented.

It’s a “fact” people made up.

To be sure, Collins may not know that her fact is fake. In some ways, that’s the problem.

Michele Bachmann confused John Wayne with John Wayne Gacy! That’s one of the silly, pseudo-facts that have been stalking the land at least since the days when the Washington “press corps” invented that famous intern.

Because no, Virginia! President Clinton never had sexual relations with any such person. The 21-year-old intern never existed. And yet, she still stalks the land.

Can we talk? Monica Lewinsky was not 21 when she met President Clinton. She was already 22—almost 22 and a half!

Technically, she was an intern, though only barely. She had already accepted a full-time government job which started a few weeks later.

During the bulk of the famous affair, Lewinsky was a 22- to 24-year-old government employee. She was an intern for maybe two weeks—but she never was 21 during the storied affair.

Bill Clinton never had sex with a 21-year-old intern! But the empty people who rule our minds wanted their story to read a bit better. They desperately wanted to tell the world that Clinton had sex with a child.

In our culture, the age “21” is an emblem of youth; so is the job designation of “intern.” As a result, people like Collins invented the person who is still stalking the land.

They invented a 21-year-old intern, stroking themselves as they did.

How devoted were these people to their invented fact? The Lewinsky story broke in January 1998. Twelve months later, President Clinton’s impeachment trial started in the Senate—and these utterly ridiculous freakwads were still repeating their “fact!”

In one entire year of gabbing, these ridiculous freakwads never abandoned their bogus fact! Incredibly, the president’s lawyer, Greg Craig, felt he had to correct the record during the Senate trial:
CRAIG (1/20/99): There is no dispute about the critical facts that Ms. Lewinsky was young—very young—too young when she got involved with President Clinton. But her age didn’t change between November 1995 and January 1996. Her birthday is in July. She was 22 years old in November, and 22 years old in January, despite the fact that every manager persists in stating erroneously—not perjuriously, erroneously—that she was 21 years old when she first became involved with the president.
Specifically, Craig was correcting GOP House members, “the managers” of the prosecution, who were still misstating this fact. But the “press corps” was still misstating it too, over and over and over.

Here was the hapless Johnny Apple, on the front page of the New York Times:
APPLE (1/15/99): Arguing beneath the marble dais on which Mr. Rehnquist sat in a high-backed leather chair, resplendent in his black gown with four gold stripes on each sleeve, Mr. Sensenbrenner said the President was guilty of "impeachable offenses," but he did not venture far into the political and legal quagmire of exactly what constitutes an impeachable offense. The definition was purposely left imprecise by the Founding Fathers, and the Senate will eventually have to flesh it out. The prosecutors will make their case on that issue on Saturday.

But the Wisconsin lawmaker did note that the Constitution listed bribery as an impeachable offense and that perjury carries an identical penalty under Federal guidelines. He said that "perjury is the twin brother of bribery" and hence one of the "high crimes and misdemeanors" meant by the framers.

Mr. Sensenbrenner commended Mr. Clinton for having confessed to an improper relationship with Ms. Lewinsky, then a 21-year-old White House intern.
Except she wasn’t “a 21-year-old White House intern.” Twelve months into this giant mess, the Times still didn’t know that!

Does it matter whether Lewinksy was 21 or 22 when she met Bill Clinton? As a matter of substance, it doesn’t matter. But as a matter of novelization, it mattered a very great deal.

That is why the mainstream press corps just kept misstating the fact. They loved their bogus story so much! They simply couldn’t bring themselves to dump their beloved young intern.

Except in the world of invented facts, that 21-year-old intern never existed. But the world of fake facts is a major part of the world of the “mainstream press corps.”

Invented facts have played a large role in the press corps’ world for many years. So have the invented characters with which they people their novels:

In 1998, they invented a 21-year-old intern. They also invented Gennifer Flowers as a ginormous truth-teller.

One year later, they invented Naomi Wolf as the woman Candidate Gore hired “to teach him how to be a man.” That was all invented too. But all the freakwads repeated the claim, stroking themselves as they did.

This morning, another invented fact appears early on in a column. But then, it’s hard to read the New York Times without encountering such facts. In just the past week, we’ve encountered blatantly bogus facts about Paula Deen and about George Zimmerman.

Today, it’s another familiar fake fact. At such moments, we get the sense that an intern is stalking the land.

Does it matter if people like Collins keep plying you with fake facts? It all depends on what you want—news or entertainment.

It matters if you have any concept of truth and American notions of fairness. One example:

Discussions of the Zimmerman trial continue to spill with fake facts. These facts were invented a year ago, then pimped all over the land.

Some of those fake facts cut against Zimmerman. Some of them cut against the Sanford police. But a long list of bogus facts were invented. These bogus facts are still widespread in comment threads concerning the trial. We pseudo-liberals stroke ourselves as we shriek our tribe’s primal “facts.”

This calls to mind Tuesday night’s return of the mansion chef.

On Tuesday, the mansion chef was back, with a few facts inserted. We’ll discuss his return tomorrow—but for today, we’ll only say that an intern is stalking the land.

Collins repeated another familiar fake fact, the kind of fact these fake people love. Such facts appear in the Times every day.

When we see them, we think of the intern who didn’t exist. And she seems to be stalking the land.

Visit our incomparable archives: Starting in 1998, we kept track of the sightings of “the 21-year-old intern.”

Jay Leno knew Lewinsky’s age, but the upper-end press corps didn’t! We called those postings, “Forever young.”

For links to those posts, just click here.


  1. "Can we talk? Monica Lewinsky was not 21 when she met President Clinton. She was already 22—almost 22 and a half!"

    Most accounts have Lewinsky starting at the White House in early July 95. She would have been 21 then.

    1. Lewinsky turned 22 on July 23, 1995.

      According to Wikipedia:

      [INDENT]>>>>>Monica Samille Lewinsky (born July 23, 1973) is an American woman with whom United States President Bill Clinton admitted to having had an "improper relationship" while she worked at the White House in 1995 and 1996....

      Lewinsky alleged that between November 1995 and March 1997, she had nine sexual encounters with then-President Bill Clinton that, according to her testimony, involved fellatio and other sexual acts in the Oval Office, but that none of them involved sexual intercourse....
      <<<<<[End INDENT]

      [INDENT]>>>>>Excerpts from the Starr Report Concerning Seven Sexual Encounters

      November 15 Sexual Encounter

      Ms. Lewinsky testified that Wednesday, November 15, 1995 -- the second day of the government shutdown -- marked the beginning of her sexual relationship with the President. On that date, she entered the White House at 1:30 p.m., left sometime thereafter (White House records do not show the time), reentered at 5:07 p.m., and departed at 12:18 a.m. on November 16. The President was in the Oval Office or the Chief of Staff's office (where Ms. Lewinsky worked during the furlough) for almost the identical period that Ms. Lewinsky was in the White House that evening, from 5:01 p.m. on November 15 to 12:35 a.m. on November 16.

      According to Ms. Lewinsky, she and the President made eye contact when he came to the West Wing to see Mr. Panetta and Deputy Chief of Staff Harold Ickes, then again later at an informal birthday party for Jennifer Palmieri, Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff. At one point, Ms. Lewinsky and the President talked alone in the Chief of Staff's office. In the course of flirting with him, she raised her jacket in the back and showed him the straps of her thong underwear, which extended above her pants....
      <<<<<[END INDENT]

    2. The November 15 "Sexual Encounter" does not describe a sexual relationship or an affair of any kind. it's not a "sexual Encounter" and you are a fool for accepting the Starr Report's characterization of it thusly.

      She bent over hoping the President would see the top of her thong panties.

    3. Anonymous on July 5, 2013 at 12:43 AM

      The Starr Report was problematic for a number of reasons but not because it didn't have the chronology of the Clinton/Lewinsky matter correct. As to whether I'm the "fool" in this thread, I have some bad news. The point in the above passage is to indicate when the president and Lewinsky first made a personal connection but if you insist on the date of their first physical encounter of a sexual nature, had you clicked on the link provided above to that part of the Starr Report you would have found that the text beyond the point designated by the ellipsis at the end of the grafs I pasted go on to say:

      [END INDENT]>>>>>...En route to the restroom at about 8 p.m., she passed George Stephanopoulos's office. The President was inside alone, and he beckoned her to enter. She told him that she had a crush on him. He laughed, then asked if she would like to see his private office. Through a connecting door in Mr. Stephanopoulos's office, they went through the President's private dining room toward the study off the Oval Office. Ms. Lewinsky testified: "We talked briefly and sort of acknowledged that there had been a chemistry that was there before and that we were both attracted to each other and then he asked me if he could kiss me." Ms. Lewinsky said yes. In the windowless hallway adjacent to the study, they kissed. Before returning to her desk, Ms. Lewinsky wrote down her name and telephone number for the President.

      At about 10 p.m., in Ms. Lewinsky's recollection, she was alone in the Chief of Staff's office and the President approached. He invited her to rendezvous again in Mr. Stephanopoulos's office in a few minutes, and she agreed. (Asked if she knew why the President wanted to meet with her, Ms. Lewinsky testified: "I had an idea.") They met in Mr. Stephanopoulos's office and went again to the area of the private study. This time the lights in the study were off.

      According to Ms. Lewinsky, she and the President kissed. She unbuttoned her jacket; either she unhooked her bra or he lifted her bra up; and he touched her breasts with his hands and mouth....<<<<<[END INDENT]

  2. They also invented Gennifer Flowers as a ginormous truth-teller.

    That's not what I remember. As I recall Flowers's accusations were treated with considerable doubt by the media, as were Lewinsky's, Paula Jones's, etc. In fact, Flowers claimed to have proof of her relationship with Clinton in the form of recorded telephone conversations. I don't recall these conversations being debunked or verified by the media. Instead, I recall the media simply ignoring what might have been definitive evidence.

    On checking Wikipedia, I see that the recordings (or some of them) were played on 60 Minutes. Clinton henchmen thereupon asserted that the recordings had been doctored. However, there's no mention at Wikipedia of any media outlet getting an expert to check whether or not the recordings had been doctored. (We learned in the Watergate scandal that sound experts can do this.) The recordings simply dropped from the news. Today, none of us (including Bob) really knows how much of what Flowers said was true and how much was false.

    1. This will answer most of your questions:

    2. Here is a taste:

      CONASON/LYONS (page 25): Musicians and club owners who had worked with Flowers described her as manipulative and dishonest. Her resume falsely proclaimed her a graduate of a fashionable Dallas prep school she’d never attended. It also listed a University of Arkansas nursing degree she’d never earned and membership in a sorority that had never heard of her. Her agent told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that contrary to her claims, Flowers had never opened for comedian Rich Little. A brief gig on the Hee Haw television program had come to a bad end, the agent would later confirm, when Flowers simply vanished for a couple of weeks with a man she’d met in a Las Vegas casino—and then concocted a tale about having been kidnapped. She had never been Miss Teenage America. Even her “twin sister Genevieve” turned out to be purely a figment of Flowers’ imagination.

    3. Also, of interest:

  3. Anonymous, I believe Bob was noting Monica Lewinsky's age when she met President Clinton, not the age at which she started working at the White House. Also, most observers seem to see themselves acting in loco parentis for poor Monica. Aren't adult women free agents, same as adult men?

    1. Bob says "met." Did Lewinsky meet Clinton in her first few weeks at the White House? Probably not. The Starr report put the time line like this:

      "The month after her White House internship began, Ms. Lewinsky and the President began what she characterized as "intense flirting." At departure ceremonies and other events, she made eye contact with him, shook hands, and introduced herself."

      So Bob is probably right on Lewinsky being 22 when they met, though it's hard to see why that's such a crucial point. Over 21 is generally considered adult and capable of making informed decisions--though not likely an appropriate partner for someone pushing 50.

      But when Bob says "The 21-year-old intern never existed" that's just incorrect. Lewinsky began in early July '95. CNN put the start date in June '95:

  4. "Today, none of us (including Bob) really knows how much of what Flowers said was true and how much was false."

    A fact that Bob has said explicitly. But since none of knows and Gennifer has little or no proof (the tapes are proof of nothing, doctored or not, and she has offered nothing else as evidence for a 12 year(!!) affair), why did John Fund say we now know Gennifer was telling the truth? Why was Flowers being entertained at all when she had almost nothing to support her story and it was obvious she had character problems (you yourself described her as a "bimbo")?

  5. "It seems likely to me that lots of people would be willing to lie, either to help defeat a candidate they opposed or for hope of gain, particularly when there's no downside risk."

    - David in Cal, 2011

  6. As far as the significance of 21 vs 22 in age, is there any society in the world where 21 year old men or women are not considered fully adult?

  7. The difference between 21 and 22 is like the difference between 99 cents and a dollar. 99 cents sounds like a lot less even though the difference is trivial. 21 is the age at which children become adults able to drink (in some states), gamble, sign legal contracts, etc. It is symbolic of the transition from youth to adulthood to refer to her as 21 (barely adult) instead of 22 (well past the transition and into adulthood). It is about how things sound, not what things are. They cast her in the most damaging way to hurt the president, not in the most accurate way, because the truth wouldn't sound as negative as their fiction. That is the point.

    1. I get your point, but dropping her age from 22 to 21 is like dropping a price from $1.05 to $1. Everyone knows 21 means an adult. How many people would think Clinton's behavior was appropriate if they thought Lewinsky was 22 and not 21? I'm guessing about zero.

      That puts this argument into the hair-splitting category.

  8. she too was from Waterloo which was why she was picking the small town to announce her candidacy.
    "Well what I want them to know is just like John Wayne was from Waterloo, Iowa. That's the kind of spirit that I have, too," Bachmann told a Fox News reporter.
    One small detail: John Wayne Gacy, the infamous mass murderer is from Waterloo. The Duke, although his parents met in Waterloo, is from Iowa, but from Winterset, nearly three hours away by car. (latimesblogs)

    What is Bob seeing here that everyone is missing?

    1. He's seeing that, almost certainly, Bachman's confusion as to where the famous actor with the stage name John Wayne was born was owed to the fact that the actor's parents had met, married, and briefly lived as a couple in Waterloo, Iowa in 1905 and that Marion Morrison (i.e. Wayne) was born in Iowa in 1907, though in a different town than Waterloo, and, that it was always entirely unfair ridicule to begin with and now long after its sell date to suggest Bachman's mistake had anything to do with some mix up on her part between the actor's bio with that of serial killer John Wayne Gacy, who was born in Chicago, Illinois, who committed all of his murders in Norwood Park Township, Illinois beginning in 1972, but who, during the late 1960s beginning when he was age twenty-four, had lived for three years in Waterloo, Iowa.

  9. At about 10 p.m., in Ms. Lewinsky's recollection, she was alone in the Chief of Staff's office and the President approached. He invited her to rendezvous again in Mr. Stephanopoulos's office in a few minutes, and she agreed. (Asked if she knew why the President wanted to meet with her, Ms. Lewinsky testified: "I had an idea.") They met in Mr. Stephanopoulos's office and went again to the area of the private study. This time the lights in the study were off..