5 August 1999
Howler history: When Melinda met Erich
Synopsis: Howler history! When Melinda Henneberger researched Love Story, a great urban legend was born.
Author of Love Story Disputes Gore Story (Hint: Jenny Wasnt Tipper)
Melinda Henneberger, The New York Times, 12/14/97
Those analysts! You know they're simply indefatigabledevoted
to their crucial research. But here on the sprawling campus of
DAILY HOWLER World Headquarters, in the gently rolling foothills
of Baltimore County's horse country, we do believe that all work
and no play makes analysts dull girls and dull boys. So we've
sent them off for a summer weekend, with orders to put their studies
asidealthough we suspect they'll periodically head up from the
beach to see what Lori Stokes might be doing. And for fun, they'll
run their tapes of Gennifer Flowers on the inventive cable show
Hardball this past Monday, telling a TV tabloid talker
all about Clinton's murders. (She couldn't quite explain how she
knew they'd occurred, but if you go to her web site she said you'll
find out.) And about how people from the White House call nightclub
owners to get her show biz gigs called off, although she didn't
have the name of the person who made the calls in front of her
right at that moment. Darn! She said she'd get back to a tabloid
talker with the information that had understandably slipped her
Yep. The analysts love to watch the gong showthat great gong
show we call our "public discourse." And they thrill
to watch the clownish talkers acting out the greatest truth: Nothing's
Changed. Nothing has changed since the dawn of the west, when
Socrates of Athens, The Greatest of Greeks, said democracy would
be a constant struggle because our discourse would be ruled by
the sophists. They'd use their considerable skills, he said, to
have the public confused all the time. Alas! Little did The Great
Greek know, dear friends, that one day they'd have their own talk
Anyway, as the analysts headed off to play, they asked us to
leave you some HOWLER historya look back to the time when Melinda
Henneberger first affected the current discourse. Since we've
been taking a look, in the last few weeks, at the New York Times'
brilliant comic and seer, they thought we might remind our readers
of Henneberger's past work on Love Story. Two years ago,
our sprawling campus was under construction when Henneberger researched
the nascent flap, but her crafty writing helped gimmick the story
that is still often cited today. How does our press corps gimmick
the stories that litter our public discourse today? Look through
our past work on Love Story, friends, and we'll be back
with new topics next week:
THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/30/99: Somehow, Maureen Dowd knew the motive
for Al Gore's remark on Love Story.
THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/31/99: Melinda Henneberger discovered that
Gore was misquoted. She buried it deep in her story.
THE DAILY HOWLER, 4/1/99: A week after Henneberger "reported"
the facts, Sam and Cokie didn't seem to have heard them.
THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/21/99: Thanks to Henneberger's original
work, the silly tale's still the talk of the town.
It's unmistakable: today's ace scribes will do what they can
to keep a pleasing story alive. What kept the Love Story
gong show going? Henneberger's hapless reporting.