Larry Flynt, porn king and First Amendment militant, placed a full-page ad in the Washington Post last week offering $1 million in exchange for documented evidence of sexual indiscretion by a high governmental official. Flynt explains that if paying is the only way to get dirt, then it’s worth it.
Last weekend, in a full-page ad in The Washington Post, porn king and First Amendment militant Larry Flynt floated a lucrative offer - one million dollars to anyone who could provide documented evidence of sexual indiscretion by a member of Congress or other high government official.
This wasn't the first time Flynt has pulled this stunt. In 1998, during the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal, a similar offer turned up dirt on Republican Congressman Bob Livingston, then Speaker-Elect of the House. Livingston quickly acknowledged marital infidelity and resigned.
In a subsequent interview with The New York Times, Livingston called Flynt a bottom feeder, and Flynt says The Times called him for a response. LARRY FLYNT: They called me for a comment, and I say, yeah, that's right, but look what I found when I got down there.
BOB GARFIELD: [LAUGHS] You got anything juicy yet? LARRY FLYNT: Oh, we got over 200 leads. We have to follow them all the way down. We will be happy if between two to four percent materialize into something. BOB GARFIELD: Checkbook journalism is widely sneered at. It raises questions about the motives of the person cashing the check. For a million dollars, someone might even be tempted to, you know, lie. LARRY FLYNT: Look, many networks are already using checkbook journalism. You see them promote movies on the morning shows, and they tie them in with a book or a special interview, report or something.
It all tallies up to the same thing. What matters if you're paying for it as long as you get reliable material. BOB GARFIELD: And how do you know that what you're getting is reliable? LARRY FLYNT: First of all, we're very strict. We want to see hotel lodging reports, photographs. We want to see graphic information that will not leave any doubt that this, in fact, took place. If we don't get something solid, we drop it, because we don't want to get in that kind of litigation. BOB GARFIELD: All right. Now, 23 years ago, I sat in a hotel suite in Washington, D.C. with you and your late wife, Althea. You were going to show me at that time what you said were very compromising videotapes of President Reagan's inner circle. You never did come up with them. At some point, when do we have to question your credibility? LARRY FLYNT: I do have still to this day an actress, who was Vicki Morgan, videotapes of her with some of Reagan's Cabinet members. BOB GARFIELD: I've been waiting for 23 years. Are you ever going to show them to me? LARRY FLYNT: My lawyers advised me not to. They say that these people are all out of office now and we could have some liability there. BOB GARFIELD: I'm curious, though. What if your offer turned up scandal and hypocrisy on the Democratic side of the aisle? LARRY FLYNT: We're looking for Democrats. You know, people think because I'm a civil libertarian that I'm only after Republicans. That's not true. I'm after anybody. But I tell you, in the leads that we got, it seems like about 80 percent of them are Republicans. BOB GARFIELD: We should hasten to add, though, that the results of what comes in over your transom are not statistically significant and they may or may not reflect the actual average of Congressional impropriety.
Let me ask you this. You have a personal history with sleazy Republicans playing holier-than-thou and making your life miserable. I'm thinking particularly of Charles Keating, the Ohio banker who got you prosecuted in Cincinnati on smut charges back in the '70s - LARRY FLYNT: Right. BOB GARFIELD: - and then later turned up smack [LAUGHS] in the middle of the savings and loan swindles of the late '80s. Is this a journalistic enterprise afoot here, or it just spite? LARRY FLYNT: No. [LAUGHS] I love politics, I love my country, I love publishing, and I mix it up just as much as I can. And, you know, like I say, they've got me in a wheelchair now. There's not much more that they can do to me. So I want to give 'em hell for the rest - I'm going to be around. BOB GARFIELD: Mm, all right, Larry. Thank you very much for joining us. LARRY FLYNT: All right, bye.