Lucianne Goldberg

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Lucianne Goldberg
Lucianne Goldberg.jpg
Goldberg in 1999
Lucianne Steinberger

(1935-04-29) April 29, 1935 (age 84)
ResidenceUpper West Side of Manhattan, New York, U.S
Other namesLucianne Cummings
EducationGeorge Washington University, B.A. 1957
OccupationLiterary agent, author
AgentMary Yost Associates, Inc.
141 East 55th St.
New York, NY 10022
Known forClinton–Lewinsky scandal – encouraged Linda Tripp to record telephone conversations
Notable work
  • Purr, Baby, Purr (nonfiction), Hawthorne, 1970.
  • (With Sondra Robinson) Friends in High Places (novel), Richard Marek Publishers, 1979.
  • Madame Cleo's Girls (novel), Pocket Books (New York), 1992.
  • People Will Talk, Pocket Books (New York), 1994.
Spouse(s)William Cummings (div.)
Sidney Goldberg (m. April 10, 1966 – wid. 2005)
ChildrenJoshua Goldberg (1967–2011)
Jonah Goldberg (b. 1969)
Parent(s)Raymond Leonard and Lucy Jane (Moseley) Steinberger

Lucianne Steinberger Goldberg (born Lucianne Steinberger; April 29, 1935), also known as Lucianne Cummings, is an American literary agent and author. She is the mother of Jonah Goldberg.

Early life and education[edit]

She was born Lucianne Steinberger in Boston, Massachusetts, to Dr. Raymond Leonard and Lucy Jane (Moseley) von Steinberger.[2][3][4] She grew up in Alexandria, Virginia, outside of Washington, D.C., where her father was employed as a government physicist, and her mother was a physiotherapist.[5][6] She attended high school in Alexandria, leaving at age 16 to begin working.[7] She married her high school sweetheart, William Cummings; the couple separated after three years of marriage and later divorced.[7]

Early career[edit]

Goldberg started her literary career at a very early age at The Washington Post, during her secondary education. Goldberg decided to seek the opportunity as a press aide in Lyndon Johnson's unsuccessful 1960 campaign for president.[7][8] After John F. Kennedy won the Democratic nomination, she got a position at the Democratic National Committee followed by a spot on Kennedy's Inaugural Committee.[7] She has said she served on Kennedy's White House staff, but according to the Washington Post, her name does not appear on any staff records.[7] In response, she explained that she worked in the Old Executive Office Building doing opposition research, then worked out of the National Press Building in public relations.[7]

Public relations firm[edit]

In 1963, she opened up her own, one-person public relations firm, Lucianne Cummings & Associates.[7] She received national media attention in 1965 when she attempted to sell a handwritten note from Jackie Kennedy to Lady Bird Johnson through an auction house for $1000 ($7950 in today's dollars).[9] She had come into possession of the note when acting as a messenger for Kennedy in 1960.[9] Upon hearing of the auction, the First Lady became irate, and demanded that the note be returned to the White House.[9][10] Cummings apologized and returned the note, then found out the next day that her income tax returns were going to be audited by the Internal Revenue Service.[9]

In 1966, she married Sidney Goldberg, who was then the executive editor of the North American Newspaper Alliance (NANA), later acquired by United Features Syndicate.[11][12] She took the name Goldberg upon her marriage and worked for the Women's News Service, also a subsidiary of United Features Syndicate.[11][12]

Conservative activism and Watergate era[edit]

In 1970, Goldberg and her friend Jeannie Sakol founded an organization called the "Pussycat League" to oppose the women's liberation movement,[11] and in 1971 she and Sakol published Purr Baby Purr, a critique of feminism.[13][14]

During the 1972 presidential campaign, she joined the press corps covering Democratic candidate George McGovern claiming to be a reporter for the Women's News Service, though she was on leave of absence from that position.[12] In fact Goldberg was being paid $1000 a week – $5990 in today's dollars – to spy on McGovern and those traveling with him on the campaign's planes.[11][12] When recruited, she was told U.S. President Nixon himself had approved the spying, which was to include traditional political intelligence and information on personal habits: "'They were looking for really dirty stuff,' [she] said. 'Who was sleeping with whom, what the secret service men were doing with the stewardesses, who was smoking pot on the plane – that sort of thing. I was told to send it all along.'"[12] Goldberg's role as a reporter-spy came to light in the Watergate hearings that led to the resignation of Nixon.[15]

Feminist Betty Friedan alleged in June 1973 that Goldberg, as an organizer of the Pussycat League, had been attempting to derail the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment by engaging in Watergate-style "dirty tricks" and by touring the country falsely telling women they would lose their husbands and rights to family support if the amendment was passed.[16]

Literary agent and author[edit]

Goldberg ultimately set up her own literary agency and became known as a promoter of "right-wing, tell-all attack books", according to The New York Times.[8] One of her clients, celebrity biographer Kitty Kelley, sued her in 1983 over proceeds from foreign sales of Kelley's unauthorized biography on Elizabeth Taylor. Kelley ultimately won a judgment of $40,000, with the judge declaring that Goldberg was only guilty of "sloppy bookkeeping".[17] Goldberg was also the U.S. agent for the memoirs of Prince Charles' former valet, which were blocked for publication in England by Queen Elizabeth.[18] In the early 1990s Goldberg promoted a conspiracy theory book about the suicide death of Clinton White House aide, Vincent Foster, and several books dealing with Clinton's purported sexual infidelities including one by Arkansas State Troopers who alleged they had procured women to have sex with then-Governor Clinton.[5][19][20] None of the Clinton-themed books were ever published.[5][19] Goldberg was also the agent for former detective Mark Fuhrman's bestselling account of the O.J. Simpson trial, Murder in Brentwood.[6][20]

Goldberg has written several novels. Friends in High Places co-written with Sondra Robinson, was published in 1979. Her first solo novel Madame Cleo's Girls, a story of three high-priced call girls, was published in 1992,[5] followed by People Will Talk in 1994. She has also ghostwritten for celebrities;[5] the romance novel Washington Wives (1987) (penned under the name of Maureen Dean, wife of Watergate figure John Dean) is one of her behind-the-scenes works.[5][8]

Monica Lewinsky scandal[edit]

The Tripp tapes[edit]

Goldberg met Linda Tripp in 1993 or 1994 while working on the proposal for the book on the death of Clinton aide Vince Foster.[5][19] The two women became friends, and in 1997 Goldberg advised Tripp to secretly record former White House intern, Monica Lewinsky, talking about her sexual relationship with President Bill Clinton.[8] Goldberg mistakenly advised Tripp that it was legal to record phone conversations in Maryland without the consent of the other party.[21]

Goldberg urged Tripp to take the resulting 20 hours of tapes to Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr who had a broad mandate to investigate improprieties by Clinton.[22][23] Goldberg also brought the tapes to the attention of lawyers working on the Paula Jones sexual harassment case against Clinton.[22][23] The tapes became crucial to Starr's investigation on whether Clinton committed perjury during a sworn deposition when he denied his affair with Lewinsky,[24] which led to his impeachment by the House and acquittal by the Senate.

Soon after the secret taping began in the fall of 1997, Goldberg arranged for Tripp to speak with Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff, who had been investigating other allegations about Clinton's sex life.[20] After the scandal became public in January 1998, Goldberg was interviewed frequently by the media.[7] She declared that the tapes proved that Lewinsky and Clinton had had a sexual relationship,[19] and previewed other highlights of the Clinton–Lewinsky affair such as the existence of a semen-stained dress which later proved to have Clinton's DNA.[7]

The Washington Post called her "the producer and publicist" who set the stage for the scandal and the investigation, she called herself the "facilitator".[7] Of Goldberg's role in the scandal, Time magazine said; "At a minimum, she is forever sealed in history as the New York City literary agent who uttered to her friend the most ruinous sentence of the Clinton presidency: 'Linda, buy a tape recorder.'"[25] Author Jeffrey Toobin named her as one of the seven "Key Players" in the impeachment.[26][27]

Goldberg said her actions in helping to disclose the Lewinsky–Clinton affair were motivated by her sense that general morality had declined, and that America needed "a wake-up call".[25] She also said that the disclosure of Lewinsky's affair with Clinton helped to protect Lewinsky, who suffered from an obsessive infatuation with Clinton.[8] During this time, Goldberg made no secret of her personal animus toward Clinton, saying she was glad Clinton was getting caught "at something", and that "[i]f it took this to get him, fine."[24] She also said she was a political independent,[8] though she was described in the press as having long standing ties to the Republican Party.[19]


In the aftermath of the disclosures about the Clinton–Lewinsky affair, Goldberg was subjected to media attacks on her character and past business dealings.[8] The Democratic National Committee faxed an unflattering "information sheet" on Goldberg to reporters within days after the story broke.[25] Goldberg admitted that slurs on her own character were to be expected, '"I have never thought of myself as a victim in all this," she [said]. '"Never. Let them take their best shot."'[25] She later said she had been worn down by the scrutiny.[8]

Goldberg denied allegations made in the media that she was part of a vast right wing conspiracy to bring down the presidency of Bill Clinton.[8] When Jeffrey Toobin published his 1999 book, A Vast Conspiracy, that also alleged Goldberg had told friends that she had an affair with Lyndon Johnson,[27] and a Washington Post writer claimed he and others had overheard Goldberg bragging about an affair with Vice President Hubert Humphrey as well, Goldberg threatened Toobin and Random House with a libel suit, denied both affairs, and denied telling any such stories.[28]

Goldberg was subpoenaed to testify before a Maryland grand jury that was contemplating indicting Tripp for having made the recordings. Under Maryland law, knowledge that such recordings were illegal was a necessary element of the crime. Goldberg explained that she had given Tripp incorrect advice, telling her it was legal to make secret recordings.[21] Charges against Tripp were later dropped.[29]

Liberal filmmaker Michael Moore later set up a webcam focused on the windows of Goldberg's Manhattan apartment, that he called "I See Lucy Cam".[30][31] Moore's project did not violate New York State's laws. Claiming that Goldberg did not respect the privacy rights of other people, Moore wrote, "`[s]he believes in keeping an eye on persons who are a threat to the country. So do we.'"

Later career[edit]

Goldberg was a prominent presence on the conservative website, Free Republic in the late 1990s, posting under the name "Trixie". She and other conservatives, including Matt Drudge, left the site when the webmaster, in Goldberg's words, "let all the Y2K, gun-nut, Jew-baiting crazies take over [the forum] and flame the plain-old conservatives.[32] She then founded her own website, "",[32][33] and for a time, was a nationally syndicated talk radio host whose show featured a Washington correspondent.[34]

Personal life[edit]

Lucianne was married to Sidney Goldberg, a wealthy Jewish newspaper executive with United Features Syndicate from 1966 until his death in 2005.[8][25][35] The couple had two children. Joshua (1967–2011) was the editor of her websites, and was the 2009 Republican nominee for the New York City Council seat representing district number six on Manhattan's Upper West Side. He lost the election to the now Manhattan Borough President, Gale Brewer. Jonah (b. 1969) is a best selling author and conservative political commentator. The children were raised in their father's Jewish faith,[36] while Lucianne, who was raised an Episcopalian, remained a Christian.[37]


  1. ^ "Lucianne Cummings Goldberg" (fee, via Fairfax County Public Library). Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale. 2002. GALE|H1000037536. Retrieved January 26, 2012. Gale Biography In Context. (subscription required)
  2. ^ Who's Who of American Women. Marquis Who's Who. 1976. p. 329. ISBN 0837904099.
  3. ^ "Mrs. L.S. Cummings Wed to Sid Goldberg". The New York Times. April 11, 1966. Retrieved March 23, 2011.
  4. ^ Who's who of American women. Marquis Who's Who, LLC. 1976. ISBN 978-0837904092. Retrieved September 6, 2012 – via
  5. ^ a b c d e f g John Cloud, Edward Barnes, and Richard Zoglin (February 2, 1998). "Lucianne Goldberg: in pursuit of Clinton". Time.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ a b Tara George, Mila Andre & Corky Siemaszko (January 23, 1998). "For 'Protection' Agent Says She Urged Taping". New York Daily News. Retrieved March 25, 2011.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j George Lardner, Jr. (November 17, 1998). "The Scandal's Producer and Publicist". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 20, 2011.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Judith Miller and Doreen Carvajal (January 30, 1998). "The President Under Fire: The Book Agent; A Maverick Who Is No Friend of Bill". The New York Times. Retrieved March 18, 2011.
  9. ^ a b c d George Dixon (June 4, 1965). "Amazing Coincidence". The Evening Independent. St. Petersburg, FL. Retrieved March 21, 2011.
  10. ^ George Rush & Joanna Molloy (January 28, 1998). "Poor-old Elton lets the sun go down on him". New York Daily News. Archived from the original on July 7, 2010. Retrieved March 23, 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  11. ^ a b c d NY Times staff reporter (August 19, 1973). "Writer Declares She Was G.O.P. Spy In M'Govern Camp". New York Times. (a free preview)
  12. ^ a b c d e Washington Star staff reporter (August 20, 1973). "Writer admits Nixon campaign paid her to spy on McGovern". The Miami News. pp. 1A, 7A. Retrieved March 21, 2011.
  13. ^ "Two members of 'pussycat league' attack women's liberations". The Montreal Gazette. October 30, 1971. p. 59. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
  14. ^ NY Times staff (September 26, 1971). "Book Review – Purr, Baby, Purr – By Lucianne Goldberg and Jeannie Sakol" (PDF). The New York Times. Retrieved March 20, 2011.
  15. ^ Judy Keen (January 23, 1998). "Linda Tripp: Catalyst in Clinton probe". USA Today. Retrieved March 21, 2011.
  16. ^ Washington Post staff reporter (August 28, 1973). "Betty Friedan Charges 'Sabotage' of ERA". The Milwaukee Journal (Washington Post Service). Retrieved March 23, 2011.
  17. ^ Gerri Hirshey, Washington Post, "Kitty Kelley: Doing It Her Way; For the Biographer, Lawsuits, Charges Of Garbology And Tussles With Sinatra", October 31, 1988
  18. ^ "Memoirs In Print". Lexington, NC: The Dispatch. Associated Press. May 22, 1983. Retrieved March 20, 2011.
  19. ^ a b c d e Paul Schwartzman (April 5, 1998). "Goldberg: Tapes Prove Link". New York Daily News. Retrieved March 18, 2011.[permanent dead link]
  20. ^ a b c Rene Sanchez (February 17, 1998). "The Book Agent's Pleasure Is President Clinton's Pain". Washington Post.
  21. ^ a b George Lardner Jr. (September 12, 1998). "Starr Also Is Probing Tripp Tapes". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 21, 2011.
  22. ^ a b Elisabeth Bumiller (February 13, 1999). "The President's Acquittal: The Agent; Tripp Friend Says She's Proud of Her Role". The New York Times. Retrieved March 20, 2011.
  23. ^ a b Evan Thomas and Michael Isikoff (November 9, 1998). "The Goldberg-Tripp-Jones Axis". Newsweek. Archived from the original on June 25, 2009. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  24. ^ a b David Streitfeld & Howard Kurtz (January 24, 1998). "Literary Agent Was Behind Secret Tapes". Washington Post. Retrieved March 24, 2011.
  25. ^ a b c d e Ferguson, Andrew (December 28, 1998). "The Indiscreet Charm Of Lucianne". TIME. Retrieved March 17, 2011.
  26. ^ Gary Kamiya (January 18, 2000). "Whose vast conspiracy is it, anyway?". Salon. Archived from Whose vast conspiracy is it, anyway? the original Check |url= value (help) on 2011-02-04. Retrieved March 21, 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  27. ^ a b Toobin, Jeffrey (1999). A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President. New York: Random House. p. 102. ISBN 0375502955.
  28. ^ Lloyd Grove, with Beth Berselli, Washington Post, "The Reliable Source", January 11, 2000, page C03.
  29. ^ Robert L. Jackson (May 25, 2000). "No Criminal Prosecution in Md. Case Against Linda Tripp". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 23, 2011.
  30. ^ "Filmmaker makes online privacy point". ZDNet News. May 19, 1999.[permanent dead link]
  31. ^ Patti Hartigan (May 21, 1999). "An on-line Louvre of the art of web design". The Boston Globe. Retrieved March 23, 2011.
  32. ^ a b Jeff Stein (July 13, 1999). "Free-for-all at Free Republic – Lucianne Goldberg, Matt Drudge and other friends abandon the Clinton-bashing Web site over its attacks on George W. Bush". Salon. Retrieved March 18, 2011.
  33. ^ Stephen Lemons (December 8, 2000). "Remembering Dec. 8, 1980". Salon. Archived from the original on January 29, 2011. Retrieved March 23, 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  34. ^ "About Kay Daly". The Daly Report. Archived from the original on August 17, 2011. Retrieved March 21, 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  35. ^ "Paid Notice: Deaths Goldberg, Sidney". The New York Times. June 10, 2005. Retrieved March 23, 2011.
  36. ^ Goldberg, Jonah (December 23, 2004). "Politicizing Christmas". National Review Online. Retrieved March 17, 2011.
  37. ^ Phillip Weiss (June 29, 1998). "The Goldberg Variations: Philip Weiss Tapes Lucianne Goldberg". Observer. Retrieved May 8, 2018.

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