The Indiscreet Charm Of Lucianne Goldberg

Her cocktail of sex and gossip proved irresistible, if not deadly

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The mind reels: Lucianne Goldberg, moralizer? Hearing her discourse on moral rot, you realize the extent to which the scandal of 1998 was an extension of her--not simply in its mechanics but in its tone and flavor. "Everything is gossip," she likes to say, and who, having lived through the Lewinsky scandal, can doubt her? The scandal was a gossip's dream--and a moralist's too. For a solid year we were all part of Lucianne's phone network, and the media culture was remade in her image. Our giddy appetite for gossip--for chicanery and sexual indiscretion and human failings in all their ruinous possibility--got bound up inextricably with moralizing and political ideology, just as it did when she and Linda Tripp decided the world should know about the President and Monica Lewinsky. So thoroughly have the high-minded elements been mixed with the tawdry ones that it may take us forever to disentwine them.

This is Lucianne's legacy to us. And be warned: she's not going to go away.

"After this thing is over," she says, "we'll move on to the next thing. There's always more to come. Especially now that I know how."

That sounds like a threat.

"Oh, it's no threat," she says, adjusting her feather boa and reaching for another Marlboro. "It's a promise."

And she lets out one long last laugh.

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