The Press And The Dress

The anatomy of a salacious leak, and how it ricocheted around the walls of the media echo chamber

In a story with no shortage of lurid details, news that Monica Lewinsky may have kept a dress stained from sex with President Clinton was in a class by itself. For fans of the prurient, it offered the tale of a woman so smitten by a sexual encounter that she vowed to keep the most unseemly of souvenirs. For the prosecution-minded, it promised hard DNA evidence. And for those hoping to see the powerful humbled, it introduced a pulse-racing new phrase: presidential semen. "Monica's Love Dress," as the New York Post dubbed it, fast became a staple of water-cooler talk and...

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