Summary and book reviews of Uncovering Clinton by Michael Isikoff

Uncovering Clinton

A Reporter's Story

by Michael Isikoff

Uncovering Clinton
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  • First Published:
    Apr 1999, 400 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2000, 416 pages

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Book Summary

An explosive and surprisingly suspenseful behind-the-scenes account of Isikoff's investigative role in the scandals that have rocked President Clinton's second term.

"I realized something that should have been apparent to me much earlier: I was in the middle of a plot to get the president."

A quarter of a century after Woodward and Bernstein's history-making expose All the President's Men stunned the nation by capturing the Nixon presidency in the throes of turmoil, Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff gives us an equally explosive and surprisingly suspenseful behind-the-scenes account of his investigative role in the scandals that have rocked President Clinton's second term and led to the historic vote for impeachment that will define his presidency.

Isikoff, who is credited with breaking the Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey and Monica Lewinsky stories, is universally acknowledged as the leading reporter who brought to light the incredible revelations about Clinton's personal and political lives that have consumed this country and shocked the world. As a reporter for the Washington Post and Newsweek, Isikoff has established himself as an astute observer and chronicler of Clinton's conduct throughout his presidency, following a trail of presidential misconduct from Little Rock, Arkansas, to the Oval Office. But Isikoff also unwittingly became a primary character in the unfolding Clinton drama. This is a story only he could tell, a gripping narrative of how one journalist went from battling skeptical editors and a formidable White House spin machine in his quest for the truth about Clinton to becoming a central participant in one of the biggest scandals in American political history.

Featuring a cast of bizarre characters who make this book as entertaining to read as a novel, Uncovering Clinton is also a nuanced and scrupulously fair account with a wealth of never-before-told information about the major players and events in the Clinton scandals, including:

  • The real reasons why some Washington Post reporters and editors believed Paula Jones's story from the start--and why Isikoff's story nonetheless was later killed before it ran.
  • How George Stephanopolous covered for Clinton as Isikoff pursued the Paula Jones story.
  • How Lucianne Goldberg's private notebook and tapes of her phone calls with Linda Tripp show that while Tripp was crying "victim" to the press, she was really plotting to bring down the president and betray Monica Lewinsky--and write a book about it all.
  • The real truth behind Hillary Clinton's oft-cited "vast right-wing conspiracy"--a coterie of right-wing lawyers known as "the elves" who secretly wrote the Jones legal briefs and arranged to bring the Lewinsky story to Ken Starr's office and to public light.
  • How Linda Tripp manipulated Ken Starr's prosecutors into launching a criminal investigation into the Lewinsky matter while withholding critical information, including her repeated contacts with Isikoff.

Isikoff had no agenda when he started investigating President Clinton's conduct other than to get at the truth. Now, after accomplishing a remarkable case of journalistic detective work, Isikoff gives us something even more significant: a work that illuminates the psychologically troubling behavior of a president, an Administration that has enabled his actions, a motley crew of Clinton-haters who would stop at nothing to topple the president, and a rapidly changing media grappling with the ever-shifting boundaries between public and private behavior. Uncovering Clinton will surely be the definitive account of our nation's biggest political scandal since Watergate.

Excerpt
Uncovering Clinton

The next day, November 21 [1997], Tripp called me. There was another courier pickup from the Pentagon this morning. Only this time, it was not a letter. It was a tape--for phone sex, she told me. I called Speed Service and arranged to get the receipt. It showed once again a "Monica" at Lewinsky's extension at the Pentagon calling it in and a delivery to the White House with Betty Currie's extension as the contact number. As luck would have it, the messenger who delivered it also had to make a delivery to Newsweek that morning. I asked him to describe what he had delivered to the White House. It was a package, sort of like this, he said holding up his hands, sort of like a small box. Like a tape? I asked. Yes, he told me, like a tape.

I was once more impressed with the reliability of what Tripp was telling me. And with the strangeness of the information: a sex tape couriered to the Oval Office. What would people think if they knew about this? But then I ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews

National Review

....surely the best exposition so far of the Clinton crisis, filled with new revelations and insights....The conclusions of this non-ideological investigative reporter are stark 'Presidents ought not be permitted to deceive the public. Clinton did so repeatedly and brazenly...'

The American Spectator

....briskly written, revealing, and insightful....essential reading for anyone interested in the pres, Clinton, and his Presidency.

Newsweek

....Isikoff follows right-wing elves bent on bringing down a President and White House spinners determined to protect Clinton from his own worst instincts.

The Boston Globe

...An impressive feat of investigative reporting.

Washington Post Book World

Amazing and illuminating.

USA Today - Bill Nichols

Isikoff's book is important because he, more than any other reporter, saw this story from the ground up. If future historians relish having Uncovering Clinton to study, future history students will marvel at how unlikable and mendacious all the principal characters really were.

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