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Vanity Fair landed its Monica Lewinsky essay the old fashioned way

Vanity Fair

Former Second Lady Lynne Cheney and other Republicans have been raising some interesting theories about Vanity Fair's much-discussed essay by Monica Lewinsky. Cheney, from her perch at Fox News, suggested that Hillary Clinton (or her allies) ordered the magazine to run the piece on Lewinsky now so that the old sex scandal with her husband would be old news (again) by the 2016 presidential race. Others have suggested it could be a play for sympathy by Team Clinton.

The fact that we're still discussing the article, "Shame and Survival," after two days — before the Lewinsky issue even hits the stands later Thursday — is probably explanation enough for why Vanity Fair solicited the essay: It wants to sell magazines (or, failing that, at least the more elusive reward of "buzz"). And getting Lewinsky to write about the Clinton affair and her life since took a lot of time and effort, Vanity Fair editor in chief Graydon Carter tells The New York Times.

How much time? About 16 years. Vanity Fair started building a relationship with the most famous White House intern back in 1998, when it published a controversial photo spread of Lewinsky accompanied by some musings by Christopher Hitchens. Over the next few years, Lewinsky met Carter, Hitchens, and other staff members at Vanity Fair. She and David Friend, the magazine's editor of creative development, started talking about a profile or first-person essay in 2007. The essay started taking shape in earnest (and in secret) last year.

"She's had a rough 15 years," Carter tells The Times. "I was hoping the next 15 might be better, and that this might prove a turning point."