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A Cybersleaze Timeline:
Anatomy of a Smear

February 18, 1992 -- The Danny Williams story first breaks on the cover of the supermarket tabloid The Globe. Reporters for several mainstream publications look into the allegations but decline to print it because there was no confirmation beyond the word of a drug-abusing prostitute who was paid by The Globe for her story.
 
 
February 1996 -- Joe Klein's "Primary Colors" is published and later made into a movie. In it, a young Southern governor deals with a story about impregnating a young black girl in the days before the New Hampshire primary. Klein said the incident was completely fictitious.
 
 
June 25, 1998 -- The London Daily Mail resurrects the story, suggesting that Williams' mother, Bobbi Ann, had been "paid off." It also publishes a photo of Danny Williams.
 
 
November 2, 1998 -- NewsMax.com, a politically conservative Web site, runs a story, "News on the President's Secret Son," saying Danny Williams' family was interested in establishing his paternity. (Revealingly, on most days, NewsMax runs this promotion for a book smack in the middle of its editorial listings: "Special Offer: 'The Strange Death of Vincent Foster' only $16.95.")
 
 
December 27, 1998 -- The Times of London, owned by Rupert Murdoch, reports on DNA testing for Clinton's "alleged son."
 
 
December 31, 1998 -- Matt Drudge entices guests at The Weekend, a gathering of conservative heavy hitters, by promising a story that will rock official Washington.
 
 
January 1, 1999 -- Drudge reports a "world exclusive" (not true) headlined, "White House Hit With New DNA Terror; Teen Tested for Clinton Paternity." Citing the Star magazine, Drudge writes, "Word of the shocking new DNA showdown spread through the ranks inside of the White House on Friday, causing near blind chaos!"
 
 
January 2, 1999 -- Discussion of the alleged "scandal" on various talk radio stations.
 
 
January 3, 1999 -- "CLINTON PATERNITY BOMBSHELL," screams the front page of the New York Post, owned by Murdoch. 
 
Fox TV News -- owned by Murdoch's News Corp. -- carries an account of Drudge's story, claiming he'd broken it on his Fox show and adding that it was being picked up by such mainstream papers as the New York Post. 
 
The New York Daily News leads its Daily Dish gossip column with the headline, "Tab Probes Clinton Love-Child Rumor."
 
 
January 4, 1999 -- At a White House press briefing, press secretary Joe Lockhart refuses to comment on the affair. To a question about the president's resemblance to the Williams boy on the Internet, Lockhart responds, "And I'm an alien space baby." 
 
 The Fox News Web site carries a story on the DNA paternity testing in a bylined story from the Times of London. 
 
The BBC and its Web site run a story, "New sex scandal for Clinton."
 
 
January 5, 1999 -- The Hotline, a daily summary of political reporting widely read by Beltway journalists, reports that the affair has become fodder for the late-night talk shows. "Only President Clinton could distract people from a sex scandal with another sex scandal," Jay Leno says in his monologue.
 
 
January 6, 1999 -- Drudge reveals that he has seen "a shocking new videotaped confession" by the Arkansas woman, who reveals intimate details about her "relationship" with Clinton. The video was taped by "Hard Copy." 
 
The Washington Times runs a story, "Media Abuzz With Rumors That Clinton Fathered Boy," citing only the Star and the Drudge Report. The Times reports that the Star had paid Bobbie Ann Williams a sum "in the low six figures" for her cooperation (which apparently included turning over DNA samples to the Star for testing). 
 
TotalNews.com, a compendium of major media outlets online, links to the Washington Times, BBC and New York Post in its roundup of "Clinton's Crisis" stories.
 
 
January 9, 1999 -- 
Time Daily reports the DNA results proved negative, confirming that Clinton is not the father. 
 
Drudge sheepishly reports the same on his Fox News show. The next morning, the Drudge Report ends its dispatch with this non-apology: "And while the elite media will bark that it was wrong to report the DNA chase that was unfolding behind the scenes -- until after it is all over, of course -- DRUDGE REPORT readers of all stripes have come to expect details on events rocking and shocking those unfortunate souls who rise to power!"
 
 
January 10, 1999 -- The New York Post, which ran the story on "Clinton's Paternity Bombshell" the previous Sunday on its front page, reports the test results -- inside. It also repeats Bobbi Ann Williams' allegations about "repeated steamy sex," including gratuitous details.