In fact, kausfiles has learned, after the Monica story broke in early 1998, Random House approached Isikoff (who had no deal in the works) to write a book about it, but then backed off because Toobin, a big-name Random author, was already interested in doing one himself!
Did Toobin disclose this book project to his New Yorker readers when he wrote five articles for the magazine about the Clinton scandal in the six months after February, 1998? Want to guess?
It gets worse. In April of 1998, according to Isikoff, when both he and Toobin had their publishing deals, Toobin actually proposed over lunch that he and Isikoff join forces and co-author their Clinton books. At that point, of course, most of what Toobin now criticizes in Isikoff's reporting (including the role of Clinton's enemies in advancing the scandal) was well known. If Isikoff was such a disreputable sleazemonger, why would Toobin want to write a book with him? A Newsday story on this incident reports that "Toobin said through a Random House spokesman ... that Isikoff had approached him." Isikoff insists it was the other way around--he'd invited Toobin to lunch, but only to pump him for info on Dennis Kirkland, one of Paula Jones' detractors. He remembers being surprised when Toobin suggested they write the book together.
I believe Isikoff on this. (Neither Toobin nor Random House returned my repeated calls.) Anyway, whoever suggested the arrangement, Toobin doesn't deny considering it for at least a day. Why, if Isikoff's so bad? And shouldn't Toobin, by his own standards, have disclosed his book dealings with Isikoff to Vast Conspiracy readers?
There's more! Let's not forget that Toobin, the man who now decries the baleful influence of book deals, first made his mark betraying Iran-Contra special counsel Lawrence Walsh, for whom he worked as a lawyer, by quitting to publish a book about the case before it was even over! There's not enough room on Slate's server to fully analyze Toobin's possible psychological motives for indulging in the ridiculous innuendoes of A Vast Conspiracy. But one is obvious: He's projecting!
P.S.: Isikoff, as I've written earlier, is a friend of mine. In my experience, he's honest and conscientious. He has a darker view of Clinton than I do, but I can't say that view is unreasonable. Am I motivated to criticize Toobin in part by a desire to defend Isikoff from the slime in Vast Conspiracy? You bet. But I wouldn't do it if I weren't convinced Isikoff is right and Toobin wrong. I'm not that loyal a friend.
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