by the Committee of Concerned Journalists, October 20, 1998
In late August the rumor of Lewinsky using a cigar as a sexual toy began making the rounds in Washington. News Organizations largely kept the salacious rumor out of the mainstream press. But the initial account on the Drudge Report, a sanitized version of which was broadcast on the Fox News Channel on Matt Drudge's show, did work its way cryptically into some reporting.
Perhaps on more than any other thread of the Lewinsky story, this one was actually pushed forward by late night talk show monologues. Jay Leno, on Aug. 24, made numerous references to the story. The story also found its way into newspapers through media columns that discussed how the media was handling the issue. On Aug. 28, for instance, a Wesley Pruden column in the Washington Times had it both ways, writing about how newspapers, including his own, had avoided the details of "the President's cigar, the phallic toy, that Monica is said to have employed in the pantry, to the President's delighted applause."
The Starr Report differed in some key areas from the Drudge Report. Lewinsky testified to using the cigar sexually and to Clinton then putting it in his mouth and commenting on it. But according to Lewinsky's testimony there was no mutual masturbation and the meeting was in general less sordid than the leaks. There is also no support in the Starr Report for Drudge's allegation that Yassir Arafat was waiting in the Rose Garden when an encounter took place (the Drudge Report is not clear about what encounter it is writing about).
1) In his 8/26 media column, the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz wrote that, "the mainstream media, meanwhile, are grappling with how to deal with the seamier details of the affair. In recent days, cyber-gossip Matt Drudge has alleged a kinky sexual episode that would further tarnish the president's image." He then went on to list other media mentions of the Drudge account.
2) In his 8/28 column, the Washington Times' Wesley Pruden wrote: "Never have so many jokes been made about the president's cigar, the phallic toy that Monica is said to have employed in the pantry to the president's delighted applause." "The mainstream newspapers, including this one, have avoided saying exactly what it was the president suggested Miss Lewinsky do with his cigar, though everyday they skate closer to the explanation, as if one were needed."
3) On 8/29, the Houston Chronicle published a column by Susan Estrich lamenting the cigar episode blaming the Drudge Report to the Leno circuit.
4) On 8/30, the Denver Post in a piece headlined "The Sordid, Shameful Details" reported: "According to an Aug. 22 Drudge Report published on the Internet, Clinton and Lewinsky indulged in a lewd and lascivious daytime sex session, conducted in a small room off the oval office, involving what can best be described in a family newspaper as parallel acts of masturbation. You'll have to read between the lines."
Starr Report and Supporting Documents
"At one point, the President inserted a cigar into Ms. Lewinsky's vagina, then put the cigar in his mouth and said: "It tastes good."(274) After they were finished, Ms. Lewinsky left the Oval Office and walked through the Rose Garden.(275)"