By MARC McDONALD
Love him or hate him, you've gotta admit, Larry Flynt is one smart man. Like a lot of us, he's sick and tired of Republican hypocrisy. And he knows that the mainstream media is pathologically incapable of ignoring a story that involves sex.
One gets the feeling, though, that the mainstream media just wishes Flynt would go away. There are already indications that the MSM isn't prepared to investigate Flynt's sex scandal leads. For example, on July 10, as Media Matters reported, neither NBC Nightly News and CBS Evening News reported on the disclosure that Sen. David Vitter's (R-LA) phone number was among the phone records of alleged "D.C. Madam" Deborah Jeane Palfrey.
The Vitter case has gotten heavy play in the progressive blogosphere. But it remains to be seen if the MSM will investigate this story and give it the coverage it deserves.
In any case, this isn't the first time that the MSM has downplayed or ignored bombshells that resulted from Flynt's investigative efforts.
For example, in 2000, Flynt tried to encourage the media to examine a bombshell story that, in 1971, George W. Bush got his then-girlfriend, a woman named Robin Lowman (now Robin Garner) pregnant and then arranged for her to have an abortion. (Note that in 1971, abortions were illegal in Texas).
But, predictably, Flynt got nowhere. The same mainstream media that gave us 18 months of around-the-clock, saturation coverage of the Monica Lewinsky story, refused to touch the Bush/abortion story.
It's downright eerie and Orwellian, the way the Bush/abortion story has been consistently ignored and even covered up by our nation's media. Few Americans have even heard of this story to this day.
One interesting episode on CNN a few years back neatly sums the media's approach to this story. On November 7, 2000, Flynt briefly spoke about the Bush/abortion case during an appearance on CNN's "Crossfire." Bizarrely, CNN later deleted Flynt's comments from the show's official transcripts, in an unprecedented move that indicates that the media in this country have received orders from their corporate owners to not touch this story.
Flynt was later interviewed on the Bernie Ward radio talk show on KGO radio in San Francisco, where he mentioned the CNN transcript issue and then lambasted the media:
"The mainstream media is scared to death of this story. They won't even check out the facts that I already have, much less ask Bush the question."
The mainstream media snoozed through this story during the 2000 election. And I suppose there's little reason that the media will look into it now.
It's true: the Bush/abortion story was never confirmed. But the lack of confirmation on a story never stopped the MSM from giving widespread coverage to stories when they involved Bill Clinton. Recall how in March 1998, the MSM gave saturation coverage to the Paula Jones case. (Time magazine even put the story on its cover).
It remains to be seen if the MSM will investigate Flynt's latest bombshell story. But on the basis of the MSM's track record in the Bush era, the odds are not good.
In fact, since Bush first took office, the nation's media has fallen into an eerie slumber. From GannonGate to PlameGate to the Downing Street memos, the media has snoozed through one major GOP scandal after another.