- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 5, 2003

Please. Read the whole book, not just the good parts.

That’s the message from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who wants the world to get over the crying, the yelling, the heartbreak and outrage described in her new book.

Those very terms studded unauthorized excerpts from the New York Democrat’s memoirs, mysteriously obtained by the Associated Press and made public Tuesday night.

Now there may be litigation, which the Clintons seem to attract like a Hope watermelon attracts flies. Reuters, the British news agency, reported last night that “sources close to the situation” say that Simon & Schuster, the publishers, will seek damages from the Associated Press, and that Time magazine, which bought serialization rights, may pull out of the deal.

The Associated Press account, which appeared in many newspapers yesterday, included just 214 select words gleaned from “Living History,” Mrs. Clinton’s lengthy examination of her own life, fiercely guarded by publisher and press agents, and the source of much speculation. Would the former first lady, uh, dish?

Dish she did.

Is former President Bill Clinton prepared to stand by his woman through all this?

Somewhat ungallantly, for a Southern good ol’ boy, he declined to say, and a spokesman in his Harlem office said only that he is a “private citizen.”

Meanwhile, the Associated Press wouldn’t say much about their scoop. “The AP obtained the book through good, old-fashioned reporting,” said spokesman Jack Stokes yesterday.

Another official of the Associated Press acknowledged that “representatives of Simon and Schuster have been in touch with us.”

“We disagree completely with their legal conclusions concerning our story,” the official said.

The publisher remains neutral. “Well, the AP story was unexpected, that’s for sure,” said Simon & Schuster spokeswoman Aileen Boyle.

Nevertheless, the “old-fashioned reporting” delivered the goods, including Mrs. Clinton’s admission that yes, she wanted to throttle her husband after he confessed his affair with intern Monica Lewinsky.

“I want everyone to read the whole book,” Mrs. Clinton told New York’s NY1 news crew yesterday. “I touch on the good times and the not-so-good times.”

But look out.

“I was furious. I was dumbfounded. I was — you know, just beside myself with anger and disappointment” about the affair, Mrs. Clinton tells ABC’s Barbara Walters in an interview scheduled to run Sunday. “The jury was really out about whether the marriage would survive, whether I wanted it to survive.”

AP’s big score is a big disappointment for Time magazine, which paid a reported $100,000 to run excerpts of the book in its next issue. Time editor Jim Kelly declined to comment on the situation yesterday.

International rumors are aswirl, though. Observers in London are saying that the Associated Press had illegally bribed a printing-company official for an advance copy of the book. The leak hasn’t hurt “Living History,” already No. 2 on the top-100 bestsellers list at online bookseller Amazon.com, outranked only by the latest Harry Potter adventure.

In an ideal publishing scenario, blockbuster books roll seamlessly through the publicity cycle, churning up buzz and throwing off sparks. There’s a nice serialization, TV appearances — the juice of the book is not meant to be spilled in a wire service report.

“There are 1 million copies of this book moving through commerce — in warehouses, printing plants. Short of keeping an armed guard on every copy, we’re vulnerable to this type of thing,” said Robert Barnett, the lawyer who helped Mrs. Clinton negotiate her $8 million book deal.

“While we carefully planned the rollout of the book, this event was not expected,” he said. “The rollout will go forward as planned. The unauthorized disclosures are only a minuscule part of an overall story that is fascinating and interesting and compelling.”

Perhaps not to all. A CNN/USA Today poll taken Sunday found that only 15 percent of the respondents were “eager” to read Mrs. Clinton’s book. Another 39 percent said they “may” read it, 34 percent said wouldn’t read it, and 21 percent said they wouldn’t read it “if they were paid to.”

And while Mrs. Clinton had the help of three ghostwriters during the two years it took to write it, the book could enhance her political aura.

“Perused, scrutinized, studied — people will be going over this book looking to see the extent Senator Clinton separates herself from her husband and his personal scandals. The book will help put it all behind her and make her a distinct figure, not an adjunct,” Fred Barnes, a Fox News talking head, said yesterday. Politically, the book will probably be good for her career. Actually, she doesn’t really need it to cut a formidable figure. If the Democrats had their druthers, she’d be their 2004 candidate right now.”

Others paid to speculate suggest that Mrs. Clinton is still protecting her husband by claiming she had not discovered his affair with Miss Lewinsky until late in the game. Though she wouldn’t speculate on the state of the Clinton marriage, Dr. Joyce Brothers, the psychologist, dismissed the notion that “the wife is the last to know.”

“Typically, she knows he’s cheating, in her gut. But sometimes she must put her intuition aside, or be forced to make a quick decision about whether she should stay in the marriage,” Miss Brothers said. “I’ve seen multiple studies which indicate about three-quarters of the wives opt to stay.”

But Hillary Clinton has evolved.

“Originally, people couldn’t understand why she stayed with him. He let her run around and say the affair was part of a vast right-wing conspiracy, when he was lying,” said Miss Brothers, a talking head for MSNBC. “So she was shamed publicly, and she picked up the pieces. And I think people admire that kind of fortitude.”

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