Linda Tripp: Revisiting the Lewinsky Scandal

Twenty years ago Linda Tripp was thrust into the spotlight with her involvement in the scandal that led to Bill Clinton’s impeachment: the affair between Monica Lewinsky and former President Bill Clinton. A string of words shocked the United States and brought scandal from behind closed office doors into the public eye in the late 1990s.

Tripp, known as “the most hated woman in America,”  has spoken out for the first time in decades to give a differing perspective than the one she gave 20 years ago – one that lay congruent with headlines that scatter our news media today.

Linda Tripp, at the time a pentagon assistant working as a public affairs specialist, served as a confidant for the young intern – Monica Lewinsky. Tripp faced struggles in where her loyalty would lie in her decision to undermine her “friend” and release the information she recorded and leaked. Was Tripp’s duty to her job? Her friend? Her engrained morals? Or her country? The reasoning behind Tripp’s decision has been analyzed for years – detailing how complex and incongruent the perceived “right” option is in an ethical quandary of this caliber.

In the late 90s, when this scandal unfolded, it was reported that Tripp’s final decision was to side with her political duty above all of her other loyalties. Recording private conversations, betraying a friend, exposing a presidency, potentially ruining a marriage and risking a career all fell short on her list of allegiances. She was quoted saying, “given the option of committing perjury or telling the truth, I had no choice but to tell the truth.”

However, in light of the sexual allegations against Clinton, Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and Matt Lauer, Tripp spoke out about her opinion of the public giving men in power an excuse to use their abuse for sexual agendas. She has revealed that her actions as a whistleblower were driven by a strict upbringing in the Roman Catholic Church, stating her beliefs came from being raised on the values of “right and wrong, black and white with very little grey.”

Tripp spoke out, with feminist values, saying she wished to protect Lewinsky from being heartbroken as it seemed Lewinsky was falling in love with the president. She said: “I became fond of her and it pained me to do what I did.  But I knew I had to do it.” This illustrates Tripp’s loyalty actually lies in the values instilled in her brain and body while growing up, as opposed to her political duty.