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‘Linda Tripp Offered Me the Blue Dress': Revelations from the Man Who Uncovered the Clinton-Lewinsky Scandal

February 6, 2018 in History

By Rachel B. Doyle

Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff, the first reporter to come in with the story of the alleged sex scandal involving US President Bill Clinton and former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. (Credit: Luke Frazza/AFP/Getty Images)

Michael Isikoff was the first reporter to uncover one of the biggest scoops of the 1990s: that the Independent Counsel was investigating President Bill Clinton over his affair with 22-year-old White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Through meticulous reporting with well-placed sources inside the White House and hours of conversations with Lewinsky confidante Linda Tripp, Isikoff had the story of a lifetime. Tripp even offered to hand him the case’s most infamous, and damning, bit of evidence.

When his editors at Newsweek hesitated, an upstart on the newly relevant but barely understood internet leaked news of the affair. The Drudge Report unleashed the story of sexual infidelity in the White House, which set a new standard for scoops on the web and launched the right-wing news blog to the prominence it still enjoys today. But the inside story of the investigation, with all the repercussions for the administration and the eventual impeachment of President Clinton, belonged to Isikoff.

His dogged reporting and subsequent book Uncovering Clinton caused a sensation far beyond the Beltway. Twenty years on, most Americans remember the resulting trial in the Senate—and its seemingly non-stop parade of salacious details about the affair—as the pinnacle of the hard-fought partisan battles and broader culture wars that helped define the decade. In light of new revelations involving powerful men and sexual harassment in the workplace, it’s worth revisiting this tale of sex, power, presidential recklessness and sheer mendacity. We sat down with Isikoff for an insider’s play-by-play of the scandal.

Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff, the first reporter to come in with the story of the alleged sex scandal involving US President Bill Clinton and former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. (Credit: Luke Frazza/AFP/Getty Images)

You were the first reporter to uncover that President Bill Clinton was conducting an affair with the White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Can you tell me about the circumstances in which you heard about the story, and how you went about confirming it?

Michael Isikoff: It’s kind of a long, tortured tale. I had covered and written about the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawsuit, and had always figured that it would only get traction if other women were to come forward and say they had similar experiences. And then I heard that there was such a woman in the White House, Kathleen Willey, who …read more

Source: HISTORY

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