By: Scott RossPublished: August 17, 2022

William Jefferson Clinton

Matt Drudge's first break came in 1996 when his website, The Drudge Report, scooped the mainstream press on Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole tapping Sen. Jack Kemp to be his running mate. It was an important story, to be sure, but hardly Earthshaking. Journalists now knew who he was, but few outside the Hollywood-DC axis did. That is until seven minutes and 58 seconds before midnight, Pacific time, on January 17, 1998, when the big red siren on The Drudge Report sat atop the the headline BLOCKBUSTER REPORT: 23-YEAR OLD, FORMER WHITE HOUSE INTERN, SEX RELATIONSHIP WITH PRESIDENT, accompanied by a jaw-dropper of a graf:

A young woman, 23, sexually involved with the love of her life, the President of the United States, since she was a 21-year-old intern at the White House. She was a frequent visitor to a small study just off the Oval Office where she claims to have indulged the president's sexual preference. Reports of the relationship spread in White House quarters and she was moved to a job at the Pentagon, where she worked until last month

Someone had leaked the story to Drudge just hours after Newsweek had killed the story that Michael Isikoff had reported out and written. Suddenly Drudge was a must-read.

On January 21, the Washington Post became the first mainstream news outlet to run the story, which Clinton denied for the first time on January 26, telling a White House press conference, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. I never told anybody to lie, not a single time; never." Uh-huh...

The next day, on the Today show, Hillary Clinton decried "this vast right-wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against my husband since the day he announced for president."

It wasn't until July that the Feds worked out an immunity deal for Lewinsky, but once they did, she gave over the infamous cum-stained blue dress, with DNA that proved irrefutably that she'd had some sort of affair with the president.

Finally, on August 17, Clinton fessed up in taped grand jury testimony that he had in fact had relations with Miss Lewinsky. He followed that up with a televised address in which he said that "indeed he did have a relationship with Miss Lewinsky that was not appropriate."

What followed was a total circus. Bill Clinton was impeached, Ken Starr cared about sexual indiscretion for the last time in his career... it was a crazy couple of years, including Clinton introducing into the lexicon the classic line "it depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is."

What a legend.

Related Articles