Ponder a few questions dear readers.
If a woman tries to heal her broken heart by writing a sexually and emotionally explicit revenge memoir about her affair with a cardiac-impaired ex-president, is she legally and/or morally to blame if he drops dead from shock? (Should the word “morally” even appear in this story?)
If Bill Clinton can get a $15 million advance for his “My Life” memoir, not to mention a new career as global philanthropic and political rock star after leaving office, how much is an unexpurgated Monica Lewinsky confessional worth 14 years after some — but clearly not all — of their mess became public?
The National Enquirer, which exposed the John Edwards-Rielle Hunter soap opera in great detail and grainy photos, now tells us the one-time White House intern could get $12 million for her sizzling story.
At 39, never wed and mad as hell, Lewinsky “can describe how Bill went on and on about his insatiable desire for three-way sex, orgies and the use of sex toys of all kinds,” unnamed “friends” reveal to the tabloid. She can also describe how he trash-talked about first lady Hillary Clinton, and she can explain how the president’s incriminating DNA came to be on that notorious blue dress.
Oh, and Lewinsky also apparently wrote him a passel of love letters, some so “raw” she never hit the send button. Neither, however, did she hit delete.
The fallout from such a book is hard to gauge, but Enquirer sources take a whack at marital, medical and career clairvoyance. “Friends feel the blockbuster expose could finally torpedo the high profile Clinton marriage, wrecking Hillary’s future political hopes, and trigger a potentially fatal health crisis for the already ailing 66 year-old-politician.”
Last week the New York Post broke the news Lewinsky was shopping a “top-secret” book to Manhattan publishers.
But $12 million does seem high, considering that Amanda Knox got a $4 million advance for her story involving the grisly killing in Italy of her female British study-abroad roommate, says Washington literary agent Gail Ross, who specializes in non-fiction. (Full disclosure: She’s repping me if I ever finish my own half-written book).
In May, New York publishing buzz was that Lewinsky tried shopping a much less racy version of her story, but was told, “it wasn’t juicy enough,” Ross recalls. Now Lewinsky appears to have hit pay dirt with a far more graphic tale, but runs the risk of spoiling any blockbuster surprises should too many more details leak out, says the agent.
What about legal liability if Lewinsky’s revelations send Clinton into cardiac arrest? Not happening, says my favorite go-to judge, Prince George’s County Circuit Court Judge Vincent J. Femia, in Upper Marlboro, Md.
“If writing stories about people with a heart condition were actionable, the National Enquirer would be out of business,” he says. “ The same thing goes for a kiss-and-tell book. There is no tortious action.”
Tortuous, perhaps, but that is a matter for literary critics, not lawyers.
Annie Groer is a former Washington Post staffer and PoliticsDaily.com reporter/columnist who writes widely about politics, culture and design and whose work has also appeared in Town & Country, More, The New York Times and Atlantic.com.