The 21-year-old intern returns!


They just can't give her up:
Some of the pundits still can't quit their favorite object of desire.

We refer to the "21-year-old intern," the much loved object of desire who in fact never existed.

Just last Friday,
we told you that the nation's pundits had given half of her up. They had quit her age, we foolishly said, while retaining her designation.

Just like that, at the Washington Post, Kathleen Parker has broken our heart. Her column appeared over the weekend, though not in the hard-copy Post:
PARKER (11/4/17): Bill Clinton wasn't the first president to misbehave in the White House, as we are frequently reminded. But he was part of the first "two-fer" presidency, as he put it, with a first lady who championed women's rights. Presumably, these rights would have included not being objectified or treated as human litter. And Clinton was the first, as far as we know, to have a sexual relationship with an intern.

It doesn't matter if Lewinsky, then 21, pursued the president and "knew" what she was doing.
Obviously, given the long-term effects of this episode on her life, she didn't. In any case, it was Clinton's job as her superior not to abuse his power by taking advantage of her.
As a general matter, we agree with Parker's assessment of Clinton's poor judgment in this matter. Then too, the miseries called down upon Lewinsky were in large measure the result of the heavy-breathing compulsive behavior of many in Parker's own guild.

That said, Lewinsky wasn't 21; she was almost 22 and a half when she first encountered Clinton. Almost twenty years later, Parker still doesn't seem to heard that. Nor has she heard that Lewinsky was actually a federal employee during the vast bulk of the ill-conceived, sporadic affair.

She also doesn't seem to have heard that President Kennedy's intern, who he seems to have flatly assaulted, was only 19 years old at the time. "As far as we know," Parker said. News travels slowly up here in the mountains, much as Dylan asserted.

Parker isn't one of the crazies! But she does, in fact, belong to a crazy guild, one which engages in crazy behaviors. We humans, the story-telling animals, seem to be very much like that!

Visit our incomparable archives: We posted endlessly on this topic way way back in real time.

At the bottom of this post from February 1999, you can link to six earlier posts about the non-existent 21-year-old intern, the figure our upper-end "press corps" invented, then couldn't seem to quit.

We ran those posts under the award-winning heading, "Forever young." Eighteen years later, eternal youth has prevailed again, its shining light paying no worship to garish constellations of fact.


  1. When you cut staff for financial reasons, but require the remaining employees to pick up the slack, the result is that everyone has less time to do their jobs. That has happened in journalism too.

    How long does it take to google the details of President Clinton's affair? Would one know to specifically check the details of age and job title among the other facts that come up on google? You would of course check anything that seemed controversial, but how do you know to check specifically on the things that don't seem particularly controversial?

    Somerby likes to play "gotcha" over these details. I am inclined to be more lenient unless the facts that weren't checked happen to be pivotal to a story. The ones that Somerby complains about generally aren't.

    In this case, Somerby's pique seems to be because the continuing factual errors indicate that no one is reading his work. That can hardly be surprising when it has been such a long time since he had anything important to say and time is in short supply, increasingly so as budgets are tighter and productivity demands more unreasonable.

    By the way, those Congressional Pages that prominent Republicans sexually harassed were young too. Perhaps later this week Somerby will start to care about the ongoing harassment of women working at State Capitols too. Maybe he will read some of the stories established female elected officials have been telling about their experiences. This is a current problem, not a matter of historical trivia.

    1. A press that continually mis-states a woman's age and the nature of her employment -- NO PROBLEM, DETAILSDETAILSDETAILS


    2. Off your meds again, Nona?

    3. If she is, it’s made her more lucid than you are, since her larger points are important ones, while your reply was a mere opportunity taken by you to reel out a line that has been a cliche for many long years. The elusive meds seem to be your own.

    4. And it took you 2 weeks to generate your upwelling of support. What a poltroon.

  2. Obviously, it is a way for Parker to deal with the gangster, slob and sexual harasser (at least) her party sent to the White House. She is a creep, but the way the left has thrown Clinton under the bus is the greater sin.

  3. Surely Parker must have an editor? These opinion columns don't go to press only having been viewed by the author's eyes, do they? It's inexcusable enough for Parker to have made these two sloppy mistakes, but if they got past her editor, it's even worse. And it's not as if Mimi Alford's tale wasn't bruited about the media. She wrote a book and then promoted the book all over town!

  4. I really don't see much difference between being 21 and being 22-1/2. No one counts half years as part of their age except 5 year olds.

    1. That would be, however, not just a half-year, but a year-and-a-half.

    2. The difference is one number is true and the other is false.

    3. Dave the Guitar PlayerNovember 8, 2017 at 12:26 PM

      The issue is that, if her age does not matter, then why report it? Then, if you feel it is necessary for the story to report her age, why get it wrong? Repeatedly. There is a reason to choose to refer to Monica as a 21 year old that is intended to "spin" the story to fool the reader into opinions and actions they may not have taken if they had been properly informed. Parker clearly deserves criticism, but (as Bob points out) she will not get any from her peers.

  5. Oddly enough, Bob Somerby has no reluctance to swallow the Mimi Alford story whole, despite somewhat more material discrepancies than year-and-a-half age differences.

    1. The link does not show any material discrepancies. All the link says is that Mimi Alford said Dallek did not name her in his book, whereas he did name her (her maiden name). That hardly suggests that anything about her story regarding Kennedy is false.

    2. Look again: Mimi Alford's published, written, provable falsehoods were not only about Robert Dallek's published writings but also about Sally Bedell Smith's published writings. That goes directly to credibility.

    3. ... and to echo Dave the Guitar Player's note above about age, it was made a point when it was being repeatedly lied about. If it "didn't matter", why bring it up so much then? If it DID matter, why get it consistently wrong? ... Unless the purpose was to mislead?

      The implication of her being an "unnamed intern" is that she was "unseen", "unnoticed", "unknown", so that she could have been assaulted without anyone being the wiser -- but she was named, seen, noticed, and known, all along.

  6. Yes, Bob, let me join other esteemed commenters here in registering my deepest disappointment with your silly 21-22 nitpick.

    Grossly inappropriate behavior (imho) during these troubled times of widespread madness, hysteria, and outright zombie apocalypse.

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