Early in the episode, Linda Tripp gets a call from Lucianne Goldberg (Margot Martindale), a conservative publisher and activist (via PBS). Earlier in the season, Goldberg passed on a book pitch from Tripp about her recollections working for Vince Foster. Now, Tripp pitches her on an even more salacious story: Monica Lewinsky’s secret relationship with President Bill Clinton. Goldberg is interested, but she encourages Tripp to begin recording her conversations with Lewinsky for proof and advises her that it’s legal to do so. Tripp agrees.
The suggestion to record the phone calls did indeed come from Goldberg, who admitted as much to “The New York Times.” However, the show characterizes the advice as motivated by Goldberg’s desire to sell Tripp’s book. Goldberg and Tripp have both claimed that their reason for taping the phone calls was for self-preservation, not money (via Slate).
“I warned her to cover herself,” Goldberg told the Times. “I told her that without a tape nobody would believe this stuff, that it’s too painful to believe. And I warned her what would happen to her if she went ahead with this, that the [Clinton] slime machine would start putting out all kinds of things about her.” But as with many moments on this show, it’s impossible to know people’s true motivations. All we have to go on is what they’ve said publicly.
Goldberg also did tell Tripp that it was legal to record Lewinsky without her consent. In fact, different states have different rules regarding consent to wiretapping. While it was legal in Goldberg’s home state of New York, it was illegal in Maryland, where Tripp lived. Tripp later characterized this as “an honest mistake.” Federal prosecutors later considered prosecuting Tripp for illegal wiretapping but ultimately dropped the charges (via Vulture).