WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Is the sensational Clinton sex scandal a political smear orchestrated by right-wing foes of the president, as first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton contends? Or is it a colossal act of political self-destruction, as some more detached observers fear? In an NBC "Today" show interview on Tuesday, Mrs. Clinton charged that Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr is "allied with the right-wing opponents of my husband." Some conservative forces are certainly fanning the scandal, including Lucianne Goldberg, a New York literary book agent on the fringes of the Paula Jones lawsuit -- the sexual harassment case that detonated the current scandal involving former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Goldberg, a friend of the Lewinsky co-worker who taped the former intern's tale of White House trysts with Democrat Clinton, was a spy for Republican President Richard Nixon's campaign on Democratic rival George McGovern's campaign plane in 1972. Her cover story -- that she was a magazine reporter -- was exposed during the Watergate investigation that drove Nixon from the presidency in 1974. Starr, a top official in the administrations of Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush, later issued a statement calling the first lady's charge "nonsense." But Stephen Hess, a presidential historian who also served several Republican presidents, said Starr had given the Clinton camp "plenty of ammunition" to link him to a right-wing plot. Starr is investigating allegations that Clinton, 51, had an illicit affair with Lewinsky when she was a 21-year-old intern and, in concert with Washington lawyer Vernon Jordan, encouraged Lewinsky to lie about it under oath. Clinton and Jordan deny the charges.