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American Journalism Review
Countdown to Scandal  | American Journalism Review
From AJR,   March 1998

Countdown to Scandal   

By Alicia C. Shepard
Alicia C. Shepard is a former AJR senior writer and NPR ombudsman.     

January 1992--The tabloid Star reports Gennifer Flowers' assertion that she had an affair with Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton. Heavy coverage by the mainstream media imperils Clinton's candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination.

  • February 1992--An appearance by Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton on ``60 Minutes'' helps defuse the controversy. Clinton denies having a 12-year affair with Flowers but acknowledges ``causing pain'' in his marriage.

  • November 1992--Clinton is elected president.

  • January 1994--The American Spectator publishes a lengthy article on allegations that Arkansas state troopers helped arrange liaisons for Clinton while he was governor. The story contains a one-paragraph reference to a woman identified only as ``Paula,'' who it says told a trooper that she was available to be Clinton's regular girlfriend.

  • February 1994--At a press conference in Washington, D.C., Arkansas state employee Paula Corbin Jones says Clinton propositioned her in a Little Rock hotel room in 1991. The story attracts little media attention.

  • May 1994--Jones sues Clinton for sexual harassment, and her allegations become major national news.

  • June 1995--21-year-old Monica Lewinsky begins a stint as a White House intern; six months later, she moves into a paid position with the Office of Legislative Affairs.

  • April 1996--Lewinsky is transferred to the Pentagon. There she begins a friendship with career government worker Linda Tripp.

  • August 1997--Newsweek quotes Tripp as saying Clinton made a pass at White House volunteer Kathleen Willey.

  • Fall 1997--Tripp starts secretly recording conversations in which Lewinsky describes an alleged sexual relationship with Clinton.

  • December 1997--Lewinsky leaves the Pentagon. She is subpoenaed by Jones' lawyers.

  • January 7, 1998--Lewinsky files an affidavit in the Jones case, denying that she had had a sexual relationship with the president.

  • January 12--Tripp tells the office of Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr about tapes in which Lewinsky indicates she had an affair with Clinton and that Clinton and his friend Vernon Jordan told her to lie about it under oath.

  • January 13--Wearing a wire, Tripp meets Lewinsky at a bar and records their conversation.

  • January 14--Lewinsky allegedly gives Tripp a document coaching her on what to say to Jones' lawyers about Willey and Lewinsky.

  • January 16--Starr receives permission to expand his investigation into possible subornation of perjury and obstruction of justice.

  • January 17--Newsweek holds off on publishing a story about Lewinsky and Starr's expanded investigation.
    Testifying under oath in connection with the Paula Jones case, Clinton denies that he had an affair with Lewinsky. But, according to the Washington Post, he acknowledges that he had an affair with Flowers.

  • January 18--Internet gossip Matt Drudge posts an item about Newsweek killing a story about an alleged presidential affair.

  • January 21--The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and ABC report the Lewinsky allegations. Clinton denies that he had an affair with the former intern. The media firestorm erupts.

    Return to A Scandal Unfolds



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