During a radio interview broadcast on Sunday, Linda Tripp, who was famously portrayed by John Goodman on Saturday Night Live during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, blasted SNL for what she described as a political campaign to “make me into a villain” instead of Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Tripp says she was prompted to go public about the issue in response to the NBC comedy sketch show’s negative portrayal of President Donald Trump and top White House officials. She charged the show and the mainstream news media were engaged in a deliberate “campaign of disinformation, confusion, and essentially propaganda.”
Tripp also opened up about the personal toll she said the media’s negative portrayal had on her, describing how she banned television from her house for three years in the late 1990’s and at times engaged in binge eating as a coping mechanism.
She was speaking on this reporter’s weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio,” broadcast on New York’s Am 970 The Answer and NewsTalk 990 AM in Philadelphia.
In the interview, Tripp divulged she has been quietly writing a book about her experiences working directly adjacent to Hillary Clinton’s second floor West Wing office, where Tripp was afforded a front row seat into some of the most infamous scandals to rock the Clinton White House, misdeeds that she says partially prompted her to finally go public about the Lewinsky affair. She explained she was also motivated to go public to protect Lewinsky.
SNL ‘Had an Agenda’
During the Clinton administration, Tripp first served as support staff to the Immediate Office of the President, where she sat just outside Bill Clinton’s Oval Office. After three months, Tripp was asked to work for the White House Counsel’s office as executive assistant to White House Counsel Bernie Nussbaum, who played a lead role in defending the Clintons for their infamous alleged misdeeds. Tripp’s office was located adjacent to Hillary Clinton’s.
Tripp documented evidence of Lewinsky’s phone calls about her relationship with Bill Clinton and submitted the evidence to independent counsel Kenneth Starr, leading to the public disclosure of the affair.
Throughout the scandal, SNL repeatedly depicted Tripp, played by Goodman, as a wrongdoer who betrayed her friend by recording conversations with the younger Lewinsky in a bid to land a book deal, even though Tripp never published a book. In a previous interview on my show, Tripp explained she went public because she believed her own life and Lewinsky’s were in danger, saying that Lewinsky was threatening Clinton with outing the relationship.
During our interview on Sunday, Tripp commented on the SNL portrayals of her. “I had always been a great fan of John Goodman,” Tripp said. “I think he is funny. And actually, in the beginning I thought his portrayal was funny. But over time, I came to realize that there was more there than comedy alone.”
Tripp recalled SNL comedian Dana Carvey “did just amazing impersonations of President Bush. But it was just good clean fun. Much the way you saw Obama portrayed on Saturday Night Live.”
“And this was different,” she said, referring the show’s portrayal of her. “It had an agenda. It had a focus. And it was a means to an end. And the means to an end was to use any and all opportunities to discredit and to vilify me. … What happened to me and what is happening today frankly is something completely different and scary.”
Tripp continued: “Many people don’t know this, but as soon as the (Lewinsky) story broke, Hillary Clinton is documented as saying, ‘Get me anything and everything on Linda Tripp.’ Which I knew she would do. They couldn’t discredit me professionally because they had promoted me many times over the time that I was in the White House. So, they were lost on that score. So, they had to make me into a villain.”
She took issue with the show’s framing of her as the offender. “Quite apart from being a betrayer, I believe I helped Monica Lewinsky. But the real issue is how the Clinton machine in conjunction with the media portrayed me as evil repeatedly. And frankly I don’t present well photographically so I helped them.”
Tripp subsequently said she found it interesting that liberals espouse “hollow claims to champion civil rights of all, want the federal government to assign gender neutral bathrooms, but were okay with SNL portraying me as a transgender villain. Their PC protections only apply to liberals.”
Media Coverage of Trump ‘A Sabotage of the Truth’
Meanwhile, Tripp said during Sunday’s interview that she sees SNL’s current negative portrayal of Trump and top administration officials, including Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway and White House Spokesman Sean Spencer, as part of a larger news media campaign aimed at discrediting the president and his policies.
“Now I think what is going on on SNL is a part of it,” she said. “It’s all of a piece, though. It’s almost a psychological warfare tactic. I worked with special operations for many years. And I can’t overstate the effectiveness of this campaign that they are waging.
“You have to understand that the media backed one candidate. And after she was defeated and after a campaign where the so-called mainstream media, which is a true misnomer, advocated essentially as an arm of the DNC. After her defeat, they have done nothing but double down in an attempt to take down what they perceive as their opponent. Because he had the nerve to actually win. When, if you will recall, virtually everyone in the mainstream media laughed on air about even the possibility of his winning.”
Tripp called the rampant anti-Trump media coverage a “campaign of disinformation, confusion, and essentially propaganda.”
“It is a sabotage of the truth. And it’s on a grand scale. And for me it is painful to watch because even though the president has a bully pulpit, even he is at the mercy of what people refer to as the mainstream media. A private citizen has no chance. But even the president will face obstacles because this is an orchestrated effort.”
Mocking Took a Personal Toll
Tripp described how SNL’s mocking and the larger negative coverage in the news media caused her to go into hiding, created body image issues, and led to binge eating as a coping mechanism.
“I know that I went into hiding,” she stated. “I know that I have never been a vain person. I kind of have always been a pretty straightforward person. I have never obsessed about my looks. I guess I have never been that much of a girly girl. So, I was stunned at how I looked number one in the pictures.”
“Realizing that I had deteriorated in such an extreme way in my years following my exposure to the Clintons. And that is kind of how I cope. I eat myself into oblivion and it shows when I can’t deal on any level with what I am seeing.
“I took TVs out of my house. We didn’t have TV in my house for a good three years. Because I couldn’t bear to see all the negativity and all the untruths. And it was a helpless feeling because as a private citizen you have virtually no chance at all to defend yourself. They can create the monster that they choose to create. And you are literally helpless to combat that.”
One of many examples of SNL’s targeting of Tripp was a skit jeering Tripp’s February 1999 interview with then-NBC reporter Jamie Gangel.
In the skit, the mock Gangel stated: “Miss Tripp, no one understands, no one. No one understands why you did what you did. You betrayed your friend by taping private current phone conversations.”
Tripp’s character, played by Goodman, replied, “I don’t want to talk about that. Not because I think it was a horrible, gutless, soulless thing to do but apparently, it’s against the law in the state of Maryland. And they want to prosecute me for it. Big time.”
“Do you feel bad about what you have done?” asked Gangel’s character.
“What have I done?” Goodman replies, as Tripp.
“You went out of your way to betray a friend’s confidence. To end a relationship between two consenting adults and in the process caused an investigation that cost the American taxpayer tens of millions of dollars all in the hopes of getting a book deal.”
“Well,” retorted Tripp’s character, “if you put it that way no. I did what I did because I’m a patriot. As a New England Patriot. I’m their new starting outside linebacker.”
Far from that characterization, Tripp said on Sunday she documented evidence of Lewinsky’s phone calls in order to help Lewinsky.
Speaking last September on my show, Tripp made similar remarks.
She stated at the time:
I say today and I will continue to say that I believe Monica Lewinsky is alive today because of choices I made and action I took. That may sound melodramatic to your listeners. I can only say that from my perspective I believe that she and I at the time were in danger, because nothing stands in the way of these people achieving their political ends.
I think that had it not become public when it did, particularly in light of the Paula Jones lawsuit, which was coming to a head with President Clinton’s deposition, that we may well have met with an accident. It’s a situation where unless you lived it as I did you would have no real framework of reference for this sort of situation.
Tripp revealed during the interview that she has been working on a book for the past five years.
Besides the Lewinsky issue, her front row seat during her White House days afforded her access to some inside stories on the scandals known as Travelgate, Filegate and Whitewater, and she says she personally witnessed the handling of documents from Vince Foster’s office the morning after the Deputy White House Counsel was found dead in an apparent suicide.
Tripp stated the book would contain her “version of what happened and what caused me to go forward and the motivation that propelled me forward in the face of overwhelming obstacles.”
“I mean you just do not go up against the president of the United States for frivolous reasons,” she said. “Certainly, not for a book. I do think it may be time to put it out in the public domain.”
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.