On the February 20 edition of his CNN Headline News show, Glenn Beck asked John Harris, editor-in-chief of The Politico, whether Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and former President Bill Clinton have a “king-sized bed or Lucy and Desi beds.” Harris replied, “You know, a lot of times they are not in that bed together very often.” Harris added that he had been in the Clintons' bedroom in Chappaqua, New York, and said that “it is indeed a king-sized bed,” which Beck found “shocking.”
As noted in an article on ABCNews.com, in the 1950s television program I Love Lucy, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz were depicted “sleeping in separate beds, far enough apart to park a Hummer.”
Beck's suggestions echoed an unsubstantiated smear spread by Ed Klein his book-length attack on Clinton, The Truth About Hillary: What She Knew, When She Knew it, and How Far She'll Go to Become President (Sentinel, June 2005), which Media Matters for America has debunked. From Page 12 of the book:
Few of the downstairs staff in the West Wing knew what went on inside that bedroom, and as a result, there was always a great deal of water-cooler gossip regarding the Big Girl's sleeping arrangements with her husband.
Was it true they slept in separate beds?
As Media Matters noted, on May 23, 2006, The New York Times published a front-page article by Patrick Healy purporting to examine the Clintons' marriage. Healy subsequently acknowledged that the amount of time that the Clintons spend together, which Healy cataloged in the article, is “pretty similar” to that of other members of Congress.
In The Way to Win: Taking the White House in 2008 (Random House, October 2006), Harris and ABC News political director Mark Halperin contend that there has been a “disintegration of editorial filters in the Old Media, which in an earlier age prevented the most salacious tales and bitter accusations (though certainly not all) from entering the public arena.” The book continues (Pages 4-5):
The New Media -- talk radio, cable television, Internet websites -- for the most part never had these editorial filters. Many of its leading voices [Internet gossip Matt] Drudge among them, are openly contemptuous of the idea. The Old Media, faced with filter-free competition, responded by loosening or discarding its own.
The collapse of filters and the collapse of civility together have changed the purpose of politics. The goal now is not simply to win, but to persuade voters (and donors and viewers and readers) that an opponent lacks the character and creditability even to deserve a place in the contest. That is Freak Show politics.
In the book, Harris and Halperin also assert (Page 23) that this new brand of politics “elevates the personal and the negative over an impartial appraisal of an allegation's relevance in determining a person's qualifications for the office.” The “most defining aspect” of the “Freak Show,” they say, is that "[i]n every arena of politics and media, there are rewards to be had" in exchange “for indulging the personal and the prurient” (Page 30).
From the February 20 edition of CNN Headline News' Glenn Beck:
BECK: John, you've been -- you've spent a lot of time with the Clintons.
HARRIS: Yes, I have.
BECK: King-sized bed or Lucy and Desi beds?
HARRIS: You know, a lot of times they are not in that bed together very often. They have very separate lives.
BECK: What a surprise. Who would have seen that coming?
HARRIS: He is constantly traveling around the world. She is down here much of the time.
You know, I must say I'm not dodging the question. I have been in the Clinton bedroom once on a personal tour that Bill Clinton gave me of his Chappaqua house. It is indeed a king-sized bed.
BECK: That's shocking to me.
Do you think she knew? Did she know before -- when she got on television and said it's a vast right-wing conspiracy, did she know?
HARRIS: You know, I think what she has is this ability, this discipline almost to will herself to believe. Obviously, that time in 1998, January 1998 when the Lewinsky scandal broke, anybody who was reading the papers could tell that obviously something had happened. This was not just a normal relationship between a president and an intern. I believe she, through force of will, committed herself to a different story.
BECK: So how is that -- doctor, how is that possibly healthy for you? I mean, I just can't get past the fact that people are saying -- is there nothing -- is there no line in relationships that you can -- that somebody would come into your office and you'd say, “Woman, what the hell are you thinking?”