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:When our eyes hit answer (a), we sensed the presence of the intern who never stops stalking the land.
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.
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.Except she wasn’t “a 21-year-old White House intern.” Twelve months into this giant mess, the Times still didn’t know that!
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.
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.