Hillary pub may sue AP

Time mag may ax $100,000 deal for serial rights

Hillary Clinton’s publisher Simon & Schuster is steaming after the Associated Press got its hands on a copy of the former first lady’s memoir, “Living History,” not due to be published until Monday.

S&S, which sold first serial rights to Time magazine, is said to be mulling a lawsuit against the wire service.

After the AP moved a story on Tuesday night, recounting how Bill Clinton’s admission to her of an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky left her “gulping for air… crying and yelling at him,” quotations from the memoir were splashed widely across the media Wednesday morning, including blaring headlines on the front pages of Gotham tabloids the New York Post and Daily News.

No advanced copies of “Living History,” which was sold for $8 million, had been issued by S&S, but a source there acknowledged that reporters often get copies via unconventional means.

AP spokesman Jack Stokes denied wrongdoing and said the agency had “obtained the book through good old-fashioned reporting.”

Yet sources say that S&S will likely sue the AP and that Time may pull out of its excerpt deal, for which it paid around $100,000.

S&S would not comment on the legal entanglement.

A source at Time said a decision had not been made on whether to run the excerpt.

ABC News, which is airing a one-hour Barbara Walters special with Hillary on Sunday, said the show was still on.

The fracas is similar to one in which another former White House resident found his memoir scooped before publication.

In 1979, the Nation got its hands on Gerald Ford’s memoir, “A Time to Heal,” several weeks before Harper & Row was set to release the book. As with Clinton, Time had purchased first serial rights.

After the Nation ran an article quoting from the Ford tome, Time killed its excerpt and Harper & Row sued in a case that ultimately went to the Supreme Court. The Nation lost and was ordered to pay the $12,500 Time magazine would have paid.

Victor Navasky, editor of the Nation, still disagrees with the ruling. “I think newspapers and magazines should be given the widest latitude in writing about the activities and thought process and memoirs of people who serve the public and were on the public payroll on the highest levels,” he said.

(Gabriel Snyder, Jonathan Bing and Reuters contributed to this report.)