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'An Average American?' Really?

After Tuesday's release of the secretly recorded tapes Linda Tripp made of an unaware Monica Lewinsky, many people have finally heard the emotional agony of a confused young woman and the horror of her former friend's betrayal. It gave extra insight into tapes that fueled an investigation of President Clinton's affair with former White House intern Lewinsky.

In Wednesday's Reality Check, CBS News Correspondent Eric Engberg reports on the other tapes that Tripp made of Lucianne Goldberg, her own accomplice, an upfront Clinton basher.

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Before her tapes came out, former White House employee Linda Tripp told reporters that she only did what anyone in her shoes would have done.

"I am you," she said, after her testimony before independent counsel Kenneth Starr's investigators. "I am just like you. I am an average American who found herself in a situation not of her own making."

However, the tapes she secretly recorded show this "average American" carefully coordinating her betrayal of Lewinsky with a co-conspirator -- Lucianne Goldberg -- book agent and self-proclaimed Clinton-hater.

On October 6, 1997, Tripp pumps a distraught Lewinsky for possible dirt:

TRIPP: So let's not burn the bridges. are you going to...what are you going to do?

LEWINSKY: I don't know. I need to go home.

TRIPP: All right. I would really like to hear from you.

Then, Tripp calls Goldberg and excitedly reports the taping is going well:

TRIPP: What I want to tell you...things are hitting the fan over there with her.


TRIPP: You know what she said on tape last night to me?


TRIPP: "I think he's on drugs."

GOLDBERG: Wow. On tape. You got it on tape.


GOLDBERG: Good for you.


GOLDBERG: Well, I tell you, that justifies everything. That son of an [expletive deleted].

Occasionally, Tripp sounds concerned about Lewinsky's fragile emotional state:

TRIPP: I worry about her. She, she cries all the time.

But then makes it clear the dirt-gathering is the main priority.

TRIPP: ....So anyway, what I got on tape is very little. I mean, I'll get more.


TRIPP: Because this isn't over, in terms of what she'll want to re-hash over and over.


Tripp tells Goldberg she thinks the broken-hearted Lewinsky's emotional state is fragile and that she might break down. Tripp is anxiously awaiting Lewinsky's phone call, because, she says, "if she's flipping out, I want to get that on tape."

Just an "average American" helping out a friend.

Reported By Eric Engberg

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