WASHINGTON -- TV producers Linda Bloodworth-Thomason and Harry Thomason took to the airwaves this week to complain of their "scurrilous" treatment by the press in the White House travel office flap, and to express sympathy for such former presidential intimates as Bebe Rebozo, Bert Lance and Alfred Bloomingdale.
As White House aides disclaimed any role in the public relations offensive, the producers of "Designing Women," told interviewers on ABC's "Good Morning America" yesterday morning and CNN's "Larry King Live" Tuesday night that they have been mischaracterized as President Clinton's "sleazy immoral friends" since the affair began May 19.
They insisted they were not "Hollywood" producers, but decent Arkansans who had made too much money to be interested in modest travel office commissions, as some have suggested.
"We make a six-figure salary," Ms. Bloodworth-Thomason told "Good Morning America." "And I think it would be pretty ludicrous for my husband, who makes six figures a week, if he did have a charter airline company, which he doesn't . . . to rub his hands gleefully together and to say, ooh, I'm going to take my six-figure salary and fly off to Washington and see if I can't get those seven little guys out of that travel office in the White House. It's sort of the equivalent of taking over a lemonade stand."
She said that as the president's old friends, they had become the targets of the Washington media "graffiti writers," "who seem to be searching for a crime for us, and finally found one. . . ."
"I wish everyone in the United States could have the experience of being the president's best friend," she said. "I'm sure that Bert Lance and Bebe Rebozo and Alfred Bloomingdale and a long line of people could tell you about their experiences."
Mr. Lance, a close friend of President Jimmy Carter, resigned his post as budget director when he came under investigation for bank fraud charges.
Mr. Rebozo, a wealthy intimate of President Richard M. Nixon, was investigated during the Watergate era.
Mr. Bloomingdale, a wealthy business executive whose wife was a close friend of former first lady Nancy Reagan, was the subject of intense publicity about his extramarital liaisons.
Ms. Bloodworth-Thomason said the couple's connections with Cristophe, the Beverly Hills, Calif., hairdresser who clipped Mr. Clinton's hair aboard Air Force One at Los Angeles International Airport last week, had also been mischaracterized.
She said the couple have never had their hair cut by Cristophe but introduced him to the Clintons because he had worked on one of their shows.
She said Cristophe's haircut for Clinton did not cost $200, as reported.
Cristophe, who has said he will open a salon in the District of Columbia, "wants to be competitive in Washington." If a haircut in Washington is $10, she said, "he'll charge $8."