Today on TODAY: Former President Bill Clinton talks to @craigmelvin about the Monica Lewinsky scandal in the wake of the #MeToo movement as well as his new thriller with co-author James Patterson. pic.twitter.com/97oK4fUoNK— TODAY (@TODAYshow) June 4, 2018
Presidents have a long history of getting away with bad behavior. And while we witness President Donald Trump being a living example of that, another one of America’s former commanders-in-chief is finally being publicly pressed for taking advantage of young women while in power.
Wow. Bill Clinton having a meltdown on the Today show when asked if he had apologized to Monica Lewinsky pic.twitter.com/PQ4WrXU1ez— Comfortably Smug (@ComfortablySmug) June 4, 2018
When asked if Clinton now felt differently about the incident in light of the #MeToo movement, the former president appeared to try to distance himself from responsibility, shifting the attention instead to how many women he employed as an elected official and to how much money he lost as a result of the backlash.
“No, I felt terrible then and I came to grips with it,” he answered, adding that he was already “litigated 20 years ago.”
Justifying the fact that he left the scandal in good shape because the country “sided with” him, Clinton was asked if he owed an apology to Lewinsky.
He answered: "No, I do not — I have never talked to her. But I did say publicly on more than one occasion that I was sorry. That's very different. The apology was public."
Bill Clinton is asked if he feels more responsibility in light of the Me Too movement. He answers by saying he was $16 million in debt when he left the WH and argues he did a lot for women in Arkansas, including a sexual harassment policy and two women chiefs of staff. https://t.co/V5zEsGNuzz— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) June 4, 2018
Earlier this year, Lewinsky wrote about her experience in a heartfelt essay for Vanity Fair. She mentioned how the #MeToo movement helped her look at her experience through a different angle.
"Now, at 44, I'm beginning (just beginning) to consider the implications of power differentials that were so vast between a president and a White House intern," she explained. "I'm beginning to entertain the notion that in such a circumstance the idea of consent might well be rendered moot."
While Clinton wasn’t asked about this particular view and whether he ultimately agreed with her, users on social media were highly critical of the president. Even those who openly support and even like the former leader.
I could imagine about 20 different ways Bill Clinton could've answered these very fair and reasonable questions from @CraigMelvin and it come out OK.— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) June 4, 2018
Bill Clinton chose none of those paths.
Instead he was downright nasty and deflective.
A complete mess. https://t.co/bT0RCAfbuT
Clinton is probably correct that history (and public sentiment) have validated his view of the impeachment drive against him as basically illegitimate.— Nick Confessore (@nickconfessore) June 4, 2018
But the opposite is happening regarding his underlying personal behavior.
And he does not seem prepared to grapple with it.
I know Bill Clinton.— Ana Navarro (@ananavarro) June 4, 2018
I like Bill Clinton.
I think b/c so many of us like him, we treat him w/kid gloves on this, despite changing times.
This was a chance for a “mea culpa” & self-reflection.
His defensive deflection does not help him, Lewinsky or #MeToo. https://t.co/LXzm2BlAXH
Bill Clinton manages to make #MeToo about himself and evades @craigmelvin when asked if he ever apologized to Monica Lewinsky. Thanks @craigmelvin for asking an important and obvious question that WJC should be able to answer. https://t.co/kxEzzGYlAL— Elise Jordan (@Elise_Jordan) June 4, 2018
Just because it’s the past doesn’t make it go away. Weinstein isn’t being accused for things that happened today-his actions go back just as long. When we shove actions like this in the past and ignore they will continue to happen!— Suzie (@SuzieLogan) June 4, 2018
Others were not happy that Clinton was being pressed. And some even victim-blamed Lewinsky.
Let’s talk about what’s happening now NBC come on Clinton again?— diane mcculloch (@dianemcculloch3) June 4, 2018
20 years ago! Can we just let it go? https://t.co/kkHWwNZNeE— Joan's Daughter (@ang3LRene) June 4, 2018
Yawn, this irrelevant Tramp crawls outta the woodwork everytime the name Bill Clinton is in the news— Ms. King (@mshotspot70_kc) June 4, 2018
I used to relate to her but she isbreally showing her true colors https://t.co/TYxPVtXd9n
Now that the #MeToo movement has helped countless victims of abuse step into the light to finally obtain justice, powerful men like Clinton himself are finding that their old ways are no longer tolerated. And it’s precisely because the current president has been accused of misconduct that holding people like Clinton accountable is so important.
As we see the public ready to concede that Clinton is also guilty of using his power to abuse women, we also hope that the same happens to Trump. And that, he too, is held accountable for his actions.
Banner/Thumbnail Credits: Reuters/Yuri Gripas