Twenty years ago today, Matt Drudge broke news that President Clinton was having sex with a young White House intern named Monica Lewinsky. A special prosecutor was recruited. Perjury charges were later filed. A presidency was defined. But the White House press must have a headache, because they’re not in the mood for sex scandals anymore.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders didn’t field a single question about allegations that President Trump has an affair with a pornstar in 2006. Why?
We have a president in a new sexual infidelity scandal and no one asked about it during a White House press conference. Okay then.— David Martosko (@dmartosko) January 17, 2018
Maybe we are just becoming more like France, where it isn’t unusual for a leader to run the country and get some on the side. It could be that our modern electorate just doesn’t care for old fashioned stories about infidelity anymore.
That’s not for a lack of effort though. This story has it all: A pornstar, embarrassing details, hush money. Last week the Wall Street Journal reported that Trump had an affair with Stephanie Clifford, better known in the adult industry as Stormy Daniels. At the time, Melania Trump was four months pregnant with the president’s youngest son. To keep things quiet, Trump’s lawyer paid the pornographer $130,000 ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
But in an interview from 2011 with In Touch, released Wednesday, she remembers the sex as “textbook generic” and recalls hoping and thinking to herself during the sex “please, don’t try to pay me.”
None of these sordid details appealed to the press though. They tore a White House physician to shreds over Trump’s health and eating habits the day before but were too bored to ask about the new allegations. They don’t deserve most of the blame. Trump does. He has made such personal scandals mundane, even to a religious Right that once would have cared a great deal.
There is a moral hazard to the company anyone keeps. Individuals who pal around with bad actors tend to pick up their bad habits. And Trump possesses a certain morally corrosive nature that rubs off on those around him — like the vice president and like the electorate writ large. What brought Clinton low 20 years ago, Trump now brushes off. After sending a moral reprobate to the White House, the public yawns at infidelity.