ABC's Shipman Slams Linda Tripp on Lewinsky Anniversary

Half a decade after observing the fifth anniversary of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, "Good Morning America" correspondent Claire Shipman filed a report on Monday's show that commemorated ten years since the event. Shipman used the January 21 piece to take a swipe at Lewinsky-gate figure Linda Tripp, snidely labeling her "that questionable, tape-recording friend" and pointing out that she "has remade her face and her life." After observing that Tripp has since opened a store selling Christmas trinkets in Virginia, Shipman mused, "Atonement? Simply irony? Who knows?"

During the fifth anniversary segment, on January 16, 2003, this same GMA reporter appeared dismissive of the Lewinsky scandal. She claimed, perhaps hopefully, "It may be, especially in this newly-sobered world, that the Lewinsky episode, as riveting as it seemed at the time, will have little lasting impact, will be little more than a memorable footnote in our political life." A similar tone pervaded Shipman's report on Monday when she described the event as the "national political episode that a decade later, and in a post-September 11th, Iraq-dominated world, seems surreal."

The ABC correspondent closed her segment by noting that Monica Lewinsky has finally reclaimed some of her belongings from the investigation, but doesn't know what to do with them. Making a connection, Shipman solemnly lectured, "I guess, much in the same way as we're just not sure what to do with that year of our political lives." In 2003, she appeared even more blunt, likening the intern sex scandal that almost brought down the Clinton presidency to "a bad acid flashback." At one point during the fifth anniversary piece, Shipman demonstrated her distaste at covering a story that had such negative ramifications for the Clintons. "Our stomachs lurched as the bottom dropped out of our national political life," she breathlessly lamented. (To read the entire transcript of that story, see the January 17, 2003 CyberAlert.)

A transcript of the January 21 segment, which aired at 7:42am, follows:

DIANE SAWYER: And now, Monica Lewinsky. Believe it or not, it's been a decade since one of the biggest political sagas in U.S. history began. The world has changed a lot since then and so have the key players. And GMA's senior national correspondent Claire Shipman decided to look back at how much. Claire?

CLAIRE SHIPMAN: Diane, you know, everybody involved in that chapter has said, at one point or another, they'd like to forget about it. Well, some have had more success than others. It's a national political episode that a decade later and in a post-September 11th, Iraq-dominated world, seems surreal.

BILL CLINTON: I did not have --

KEN STARR: We have experienced people working on all expect aspects of our investigation --

SHIPMAN: Hmm, we should be able to move on, right? It's been ten years, after all. Some of the players have. Paula Jones, whose accusations led prosecutors to Monica, has tried hard to lie low. She's remarried in Arkansas, selling real estate. And Linda Tripp, that questionable, tape-recording friend, has remade her face and her life. She, too, married again, a high school sweetheart. They sell Christmas notions in Virginia. Atonement? Simply irony. Who knows? But it doesn't help a scandal's burial when the wrong spouse is making a run for the White House.

TODD PURDUM (National editor, Vanity Fair): I think what's unclear yet is whether the presence of them both on the national stage and the thought of him back in the White House as a spouse will ring bells in people's minds that make them think about things that they hadn't thought about in a while.

TYRA BANKS: Hillary Clinton, come out here right now.

SHIPMAN: And Hillary in her more emotive mode these days, opened up uncharacteristically about those dark times to Tyra Banks.

BANKS: Were you embarrassed? I would be embarrassed.

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON: Well, sure. I mean, all of that. You know, you're mad. You're really upset. You're disappointed. All of that goes through your mind.

SHIPMAN: One person remains remarkably fixated, bringing up the subject even when nobody asks.

BILL CLINTON: Ken Starr spent $70 millions and indicted innocent people to find out that I wouldn't take a nickel to see the cow jump over the moon.

SHIPMAN: Speaking of, Ken Starr is dean of the law school at Pepperdine University, but he's not shying away from Washington. He's had a few cases before the Supreme Court. And that other person at the center of the storm --

PURDUM: I think it's proved hard for her to get on with her life in way that other people have been able to get on with heir their life.

SHIPMAN: Monica has spent the decade making purses, making money on a silly relationship reality show, making fun of herself on "Saturday Night Live."

MONICA LEWINSKY: Well, I did have phone sex with this one guy, his name really doesn't matter.

SHIPMAN: And these are making good with a degree from the London School of Economics. But she's told friends not only is it impossible to date, she can't get a job. The Clinton connections are so pervasive, most firms are afraid to hire her. And do you know, Monica, recently, just recently, Diane, after ten years, got some of her belongings back from investigators. They sit in a box along with that blue dress in an anonymous storage unit. She's not really sure what to do with it all. I guess much in the same way as we're just not sure what to do with that year of our political lives.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the associate editor for the Media Research Center's site.