One woman almost brought down a president, a second reduced the public's faith in a sporting hero. Monica Lewinsky and Rebecca Loos took to the stage at the Edinburgh TV Festival on Saturday to talk about chequebook journalism and its role in British broadcasting.
By Darren Waters
BBC News Online entertainment staff in Edinburgh
A packed auditorium gathered expectantly to hear about scandal, but left having heard two women defend their decisions to accept money for television interviews.
Ms Lewinsky said she took money because she had to pay the bills
Ms Lewinsky, whose relationship with Bill Clinton led to impeachment proceedings, and Ms Loos, who had an alleged affair with David Beckham, both said they accepted payment to set the record straight.
"It was about me being able to introduce myself as a real person to the world," said Ms Lewinsky, who gave an interview to Channel 4 for a reported £400,000.
Ms Loos, who was paid a reported £150,000 by Sky One, echoed the comments: "I was reading so much about myself in the papers that was not me."
She added: "I wanted control over what was said and what was not said, rather than holding my head down in shame.
"I wanted to step forward and be on TV and for people to see who I really was."
Ms Lewinsky was clearly confused about why such a debate was taking place at all.
Rebecca Loos said she was fired from her job and "was on the streets"
"Why not call it entertainment news? It's not news," she said in response to BBC journalist John Sweeney's comment from the audience that the public was being duped by chequebook journalism.
She added: "I don't think that's around any more. Not since 1980."
Both women said the money on offer had been important to them at the time.
"I had enormous legal bills. I had not been working for a year. I needed to put my life together and need to pay the bills," said Ms Lewinsky.
Ms Loos said she had been fired from her job and "was on the streets".
"I did not know what my future was going to hold," she added.
But there was a warning from panel member Peter Horrocks, the BBC's head of current affairs, who said payments could affect the viewers' perception of the story.
He said he now regretted a fee paid to George Best in 2002 for an interview, reported to be about £25,000.
"I would not spend that amount of money in the future. George Best had a huge amount of public sympathy and that coloured the decision we took."
David Yelland, former editor of The Sun, said the public did not understand that TV companies were paying for interviews.
He said fellow panel member Max Clifford, who arranges many celebrity interviews for newspapers and television, had become one of the most feared men in tabloid journalism.
Mr Clifford admitted he tried to influence the content of the story "as much as possible".
"The media used to make lots of money from these stories - now the people interviewed make lots of money. What's wrong with that?"
Max Clifford has brokered deals in England football sex scandals
But BBC journalist Sweeney took issue with Mr Clifford's views.
He said when money exchanged hands, there was a "secret collusion between the interviewer and interviewee and the public do not know about it ".
He called on broadcasters to show on screen how much interviewees had been paid and denounced Mr Clifford, saying he should "return to the gutter".
Mr Clifford merely sat there stony faced.
At least there was no money exchanging hands at Edinburgh - none of the panel's members were paid for their time.