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An Exhibition of Conservative Paranoia

Exhibit 7: Afrogate!

President Clinton once donned a wig worn by a disco tribute band, and Newsmax wants to turn it into a racial scandal.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 7/17/2000

NewsMax has been trying for years to stick the Clintons with any and every outrageous allegation in the hope that something, anything will stick.

Their latest shot could use a punchy name. Let's call it Afrogate!

Seems that back in 1997, President Clinton attended a party on Martha's Vineyard. The band that entertained was called the Boogies, fronted by the daughter of singer Carly Simon. And it seems that sometime during the evening, Clinton donned the frizzy Afro-style wig of one of the band members.

This popped up in a New York Daily News gossip column sometime after, and NewsMax, of course, decided that Clinton was being racially insensitive. "Curiously, neither (Al) Sharpton nor any other like-minded guardian of racial propriety spoke out" over Afrogate!, "Carl Limbacher and Staff" collectively huff in a July 12 article.

NewsMax has been trying to get traction for this "story" for quite some time, and it pops up every time embarassing politicians. It happened in 1999, when a photo of Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan surfaced showing him in blackface in a 1960 minstrel show -- "the president has yet to apologize," NewsMax notes -- and it happened again July 12, after a 1996 photo of New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman frisking a black suspect during a ride-along with police surfaced.

The following day, NewsMax posted a link to the web site of the Boogies where is found a photo of, in the words of NewsMax, "the leader of the free world prancing around at a yuppie minstrel show." (This would be opposed to Whitman's "faux pas," which NewsMax declined to post.)

The first thing you notice when you hit the Boogies home page is that it's rigged to play Chic's disco classic "Le Freak." If one leafs through the entire photo gallery, two things are obvious:

  • The Boogies were a disco tribute band.
  • Nearly everyone in the band is wearing frizzy Afro-style wigs, one of which ended up on Clinton.

Is it an embarassing photo for the president? Sure. Was it a "minstrel show"? Please.

Afrogate! is yet another bogus "scandal" brought to you by the eager-to-smear folks at NewsMax. This type of story, of course, gives NewsMax an opportunity to wax indignant (an opportunity it apparently needs regularly) over the "liberal media" allegedly "ignoring" Clinton "scandals." Then again, NewsMax has written more about Afrogate! than George W. Bush's missing final year of service in the Texas Air National Guard.

Apparently NewsMax doesn't remember the '70s, when people from all walks of life had Afros. But doesn't the saying go that if you remember the '70s, you weren't there?

My remedy: A copy of Peter Frampton's newly remastered 1976 classic "Frampton Comes Alive" so the boys at NewsMax can do some research on the dominant hairstyle of the period.

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