>the function key

how Todd Purdum's VF article inadvertantly exposes the floundering gossip industry.

June 16th, 2008 · No Comments

I just finished reading Todd Purdum’s article, “The Comeback Id,” about Bill Clinton in July’s issue of Vanity Fair. If you watch or read anything gossip or celebrity related, surely you’ve heard of the piece — mostly because, in it, the author refers to the possibility that the former president has had two affairs since leaving the White House.

I waited with bated breath for this issue to arrive in my mailbox . . . the press coverage surrounding the magazine (which also features Angelina Jolie in her seemingly constant pregnant glory on the cover) began a whole two weeks before I was even able to open its pages, so you can imagine my suspense. Finally, I found the issue sitting pretty inside my mailbox and tore open the protective plastic wrap, searching fervently for Mr. Purdum’s article.

In my mind, I was about to read highly-vaulted, juicy details of Bill’s tawdry affairs with actress Gina Gershon and Canadian MP Belinda Stronach, but what I found left me wondering why the press had even bothered to mention the alleged scandals — one lousy little sentence in eight-page article. ONE SENTENCE! Are you kidding me? My super-excited bubble burst.

And here, I’ll spare you the $4.00 cover price, this is what it reads:

Over the last few years, aides have winced at repeated tabloid reports about Clinton’s episodic friendship and occasional dinners out with Belinda Stronach, a twice-divorced billionaire auto-parts heiress and member of the Canadian Parliament 20 years his junior, or at more recent high-end Hollywood dinner-party gossip that Clinton has been seen visiting with the actress Gina Gershon in California.

That’s it. No expounding upon the relationships with the ladies, no sordid details. Just one sentence in an article with hundreds, maybe even thousands of well-written sentences. Sure there were mentions of his other suspicious associations with women in general, but no fine print to back up the Gershon/Stronach rumors. And what hype that allegation produced — a quick Google search for “Bill Clinton affair rumor” garners 256,000 hits, all stemming from that one sentence in Mr. Purdum’s article alone.

So, I ask myself, what is wrong with the media? In an article that covers President Clinton’s questionable business dealings (like his three high-yield investments with Ron Burkle, California supermarket chain titan, and whose name I cannot say without feeling uneducated), the shady, bachelor-laden company he keeps (Mr. Burkle and Steven Bing — father of Liz Hurley’s son), or his inability to stay afloat in the changing face of politics (bloggers, Myspace, etc.), it is the singular mention of alleged affairs with a Hollywood actress and a wealthy Canadian auto-parts heiress, occupying one sentence, that fuels pop culture headlines and gets throngs of (otherwise politically unsavvy) gossip mongers’ tongues wagging.

The obvious answer is that sex sells, but the underlying answer, the more plausible one, is that the gossip entertainment industry doesn’t have enough Hollywood-starlet news to fill its 30-minute time slots or 100-page glossies. When rising stars stop hitting the crack pipe and no longer need rehab, the cameras stop shooting. When the cameras stop shooting, the industry has to get creative to get its stories, turning to politics, reality TV, daytime talk show hosts, and instead exploiting their boring, semi-normal habits.

That Hillary’s better-half flew around the world via private jet to Kazhakstan in 2005 to dine with President Nursultan Nazarbayev — a man whose human rights record has more than raised eyebrows in the US government as of late — so that his good friend, Frank Giustra, a Canadian mining magnate, could get the Kazhakstani president’s approval to allow Giustra’s company to buy into three Kazakhstan-controlled uranium projects doesn’t matter. But to be linked to a Hollywood actress? Now that’s news.

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Posted by: kimberly phillips · Tags: current events

0 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Zechariah // Nov 5, 2008 at 10:17 pm

    I like people notice all the details and minutiae of everyday little thing could find something attractive and imperceptible to most. Super!

  • 2 romonoeroetoko // Jul 8, 2009 at 11:27 am

    Hm that sounds good but I would like to know more details.

  • 3 romonoeroetoko // Jul 15, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    Your news is a cool stuff man, keep it going.

  • 4 queroeropoo // Aug 6, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    Good information to me.