The Stalls Have Ears!

The Stalls Have Ears!

The Stalls Have Ears!

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
April 27 1998 3:17 PM

The Stalls Have Ears!

Intrepid reporters at the White House Correspondents' Dinner who followed Paula Jones into the Ladies' Room, past the boos of gawking tourists, heard her tell one of her handlers: "Don't let me drink any more wine, because if people are going to be that rude, I'm going to slug somebody." Jones was then advised to watch what she said, because there might be people listening. How true! ... Actually, this story made the rounds of the post-dinner parties so rapidly that it immediately acquired the status of an urban legend, with the result that it was almost as rapidly disbelieved. But Chatterbox can attest that it is true because Chatterbox has talked to an earwitness! ... Still working on that Richard Gere-gerbil story, though ...

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Non-scoop of the Month: Poor Paula Jones has reporters following her every move. Hollywood stars have long been accustomed to such scrutiny. Even the president can't keep his most intimate secrets secret. In this tabloid-driven age, it seems as if nobody has any privacy anymore. ... Well, one man does. Chatterbox has read only the most decorous, respectful references to Rupert Murdoch's announcement that he is separating from Anna, his wife of 31 years. ... Freedom from the press belongs to the man who owns one! ... Even the New York Daily News has been notably polite in reporting on what it called "an amicable parting." ... Imagine how Murdoch's New York Post would treat, say, a similar announcement from Daily News owner Mortimer Zuckerman. ... Why so much courtesy? Perhaps this is another instance of strategic deterrence theory at work. What you do to Murdoch, he may do to you one day. There's also the financial self-interest of both writers and publishers. Even if Murdoch doesn't already own your publication, after all, you never know when he's going to buy you out. Why piss him off? ... Chatterbox's advice: Give him hell! Then he'll have to buy you out! ... Of course, it's always possible there's simply no story behind this Murdoch separation. Just his wife's way of "'trying to get him to slow down,'" as one Murdoch friend told the Daily News. Nothing to it, really. Just an amicable separation ...

Chatterbox Personnel Notes: How did Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr manage to find, in the jowly Charles G. Bakaly 3d, a television press spokesman as stuffy and visually unappealing as Starr himself? ... Chatterbox is pleased to note the latest nominee to the Board of Directors of Fannie Mae, the government-sponsored home mortgage behemoth (see Chatterbox 4/9). He is Kenneth M. Duberstein, the noted mortgage economist. ... Actually, of course, Duberstein isn't an economist at all, or a mortgage expert, or a business tycoon of any sort. He's chairman of The Duberstein Group, "a Washington-based independent strategic planning and consulting company." In other words, he's a lobbyist--a well-connected Republican lobbyist, who can help Fannie Mae protect its family jewels, the special government favors that enable it to earn billions. ...

We don't even want to know about 'sleazeball': The New York Times reported recently that Rep. Dan Burton, head of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, used "a vulgarity for a condom to describe the President." What Burton called Clinton, of course, was "scumbag." ... So that's what it means! Chatterbox always figured it had something to do with cleaning the scum off ponds, and putting it in a nice big sack. ... Of course, the Times' fustiness makes Burton's s statement seem much more outrageous than it really was--and the Times' account less accurate than it could have been.--because "scumbag" is clearly one of those words that, due to overuse, has lost its specific, original, powerful meaning. "Geek" is another such word. It now means something like "nerd." But it really means ... well, look it up! Why does Chatterbox have to do all the dirty work?