Flynt Hustles Porn and Politics
Jan. 07, 1999
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ He made his reputation in the world of hard-core sex publishing and had long wanted to be a player in the world of politics.
Now Larry Flynt has achieved his goal _ to the dismay of politicians and analysts.
One academic calls his tactics ``sexual bounty hunting.'' But Flynt says he only wants to unmask the hypocrisy of the investigation into President Clinton.
As the Senate planned to put Clinton on trial, the Hustler magazine publisher was scheming to embarrass a ``big fish'' Republican, just as he did with Rep. Bob Livingston.
``This guy is really a gem,'' Flynt told The Associated Press on Tuesday. ``We've got enough to go on now, but we are waiting for an affidavit from his ex-wife.''
Flynt said he will make the disclosure next week at a news conference. He described his next victim only as a GOP House member who has been a strong critic of Clinton in the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
``He (Flynt) always wanted to be a political player,'' said Paul Krassner, who served briefly as Hustler publisher in 1978 and runs the alternative paper The Realist in Los Angeles.
``He wanted to play a part in politics and in the culture of the country,'' Krassner said, ``and he got what he wanted.''
Political analysts are recoiling at the influence now being wielded by Flynt, self-described ``pornographer, pundit and social outcast.''
``It's almost as if we as a society have fallen through the looking glass,'' said Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a political scientist at Claremont Graduate University. ``I have never seen anything quite like it.''
Jeffe said that by driving the public discourse to new lows, Flynt will deepen cynicism about the impeachment process and government in general.
``This is dangerous to democracy,'' Jeffe said. ``It's dangerous to the First Amendment and it only adds to the cynicism we see out there. This is sexual bounty hunting.''
Fearful politicians are already talking about being ``Larry Flynted.'' The president himself has decried ``the politics of personal destruction'' and Livingston warned of ``government-by-Larry Flynt.''
``Certainly, scandal-mongering goes back to the beginning of the republic,'' said Gary Jacobson, a political science professor at the University of California, San Diego. ``But now it is on this huge financial scale. It's a sign of the times.''
In October, Flynt ran a full-page advertisement in The Washington Post offering as much as $1 million to anyone who ``had an adulterous sexual encounter with a current member of the U.S. Congress or a high-ranking government official'' and could produce documentation of it.
Livingston, a Louisiana Republican who was about to take over as House Speaker, turned down the gavel and said he would resign from Congress after confirming Flynt's discovery that he had had adulterous affairs.
Flynt also said he will name a third politician later next week, and that he is paying up to $4 million to a number of women who responded to his ad. He plans to publish details in a one-time magazine called ``The Flynt Report.''
Flynt's previous forays into mainstream celebrity have included offering a $1 million reward for new information in the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. In the 1984 trial of automaker John DeLorean, he released a government videotape of DeLorean with a suitcase full of cocaine.
Flynt, 56, made his name with a hard-core sex magazine that once pictured a woman being put through a meat grinder. He once went to the Supreme Court over a magazine spoof ad suggesting the Rev. Jerry Falwell lost his virginity to his mother in an outhouse.
Flynt won the fight in the Supreme Court. He later gained legitimacy in some eyes when the 1996 movie ``The People vs. Larry Flynt'' portrayed him as a First Amendment hero.
He has been in a wheelchair since a man, incensed by an interracial photo spread in Hustler, shot him in 1978. That same white gunman also admitted shooting and wounding Vernon Jordan, the Washington lawyer and Clinton confidant who is a key figure in the Lewinsky investigation.