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Larry Flynt on sex and presidents

By Katie McLaughlin, CNN
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Larry Flynt defends free speech
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Larry Flynt: "I've done a great deal to expand the parameters of free speech"
  • "Hustler" magazine publisher's new book details the sex lives of presidents
  • Flynt says he never thinks about the day he was shot

Watch the full interview with Larry Flynt tonight. "Piers Morgan Tonight" airs weeknights on CNN/US at 9 p.m. ET and on CNN International at 0200 GMT (Live simulcast), 1200 GMT and 2000 GMT / HKT 2000

CNN -- "I don't have any regrets," Larry Flynt tells CNN's Piers Morgan. "And I do feel that I've done a great deal to expand the parameters of free speech."

The "Hustler" magazine publisher, free speech advocate, and the man whom Morgan called "America's king of porn" will be a guest on Wednesday's "Piers Morgan Tonight."

Flynt's new book, "One Nation Under Sex: How the Private Lives of Presidents, First Ladies, and Their Lovers Changed the Course of American History," presents an in-depth study of the sex lives of U.S. presidents.

Flynt told Morgan that he reached out to Columbia University history professor David Eisenbach when he decided to write the book partly because "nobody would want to read a history book written by a pornographer." Flynt and Eisenbach's research uncovered facts about presidents that they themselves unearthed.

For example, the youngest-ever first lady was 19. After Grover Cleveland's wife died during the campaign, he married his young nanny.

"What does that mean, culturally speaking," asked Flynt. "Today we would not accept an 18 or 19-year-old girl as first lady."

When Morgan asked who the most sexually promiscuous president was, Flynt said it was a toss-up between Warren G. Harding and John F. Kennedy.

Morgan also asked if a rumor that Kennedy would have been disgraced in a year or so -- had he not been assassinated -- were true, Flynt said it was "probably true."

In the book, Flynt refers to Bill Clinton as "the loveable rogue" because even though he lied, Clinton "always wore it on his sleeve. He didn't hide it like many of the conservative Republicans do. So the nation was able to forgive him."

Sex scandals have been prevalent since the founding fathers established the United States Constitution. Flynt pointed out that Thomas Jefferson fathered children with one of his slaves, and first lady Dolly Madison "almost single handedly turned the White House into a brothel."

Flynt also stated that "most people are under the impression that if somebody is promiscuous that they can't be a good president. There's nothing more ridiculous than that."

When Morgan asked whether "most of the greatest American presidents would have been unfaithful," Flynt replied "yes," to which Morgan observed "there seems to be a link between naughty boys and good presidents."

Flynt was nearly assassinated in 1978 when he was shot outside a courthouse. No one was ever charged in the shooting, but Flynt maintains the sniper was a white man upset about an interracial photo shoot published in "Hustler." Flynt remains partially paralyzed and uses a wheelchair.

Flynt told Morgan that he doesn't look back at that day and that when people ask him what being in a wheelchair is like, he tells them he "wouldn't have even thought about it" had they not mentioned it.

Morgan also asked Flynt why the issue of freedom of speech means so much to him.

"Freedom of speech is not freedom for the fellow you love," answered Flynt. "It's freedom for the fellow you hate the most. And a democracy can't exist without free speech and the right to assemble. And that's what Americans tend to forget. And they're born into a culture where they take all of their freedoms for granted."

"When I first started out," continued Flynt, "I used to buy into a former Supreme Court justice's argument that you can't scream fire in a crowded theater. Well, I think you can."

Morgan asked Flynt what his preferred news headline would be following his death, "Larry Flynt, pornographer," "Larry Flynt, free speech campaigner," or "Larry Speech, lifelong controversialist."

Flynt told Morgan he wanted something "much bigger than that. I always felt Moses freed the Jews, Lincoln freed the slaves, and I wanted to free all the neurotics. And I realized in the process that I've helped millions of people get through puberty. I think that's a great accomplishment."

Watch Piers Morgan Live weeknights 9 p.m. ET. For the latest from Piers Morgan click here.

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