May 10, 2014

WAR ON WOMEN: Looking back on how Maureen Dowd painted Monica Lewinsky as a crazy bimbo—and won a Pulitzer for it.

Meanwhile, Matt Drudge, the Blogosphere, Fox News? Thank Monica for it all, according to a snarlingly acid-toned Tina Brown, who explores “How Monica Lewinsky Changed the Media,” transforming numerous Clinton administration victims into The Other along the way:

The Monica Lewinsky confessional in Vanity Fair brings back a torrent of unfond memories of the appalling cast of tabloid gargoyles who drove the scandal. Remember them? Treacherous thatched-roof-haired drag-queen Linda Tripp, with those dress-for-success shoulder pads? Cackling, fact-lacking hack Lucianne Goldberg, mealy-mouthed Pharisee Kenneth Starr—the whole buzzing swarm of legal, congressional and gossip industry flesh flies, feasting on the entrails. And, of course, hitting “send” on each new revelation that no one else would publish, the solitary, perfectly named Matt Drudge, operating in pallid obsession out of his sock-like apartment in Miami.

A once-in-a-lifetime cast! Or so we all thought. But what we didn’t know at the time is that they were not some passing cultural excrescence. They were the face of the future. The things that shocked us then—the illicitly taped conversations, the wholesale violations of elementary privacy, the globally broadcast sexual embarrassments, all the low-life disseminated malice—is now the communications industry as it operates every minute of every day.

Astonishingly, she does so without dropping the N-word: Newsweek, which spiked Michael Isikoff’s story on Clinton’s affair with Lewinsky, only to see its details leaked by Matt Drudge. In retrospect, it was the beginning of the end for the magazine, whose exhausted corpse would be offloaded 12 years later would by the Washington Post for a dollar, and handed over to — well, you know the rest.