Bill Clinton’s book tour with author James Patterson keeps getting interrupted by awkward questions which the former president appears ill-prepared to answer. The Today show spent about 10 minutes asking Clinton about the #MeToo movement. During the exchange, Clinton first said he had apologized to Monica Lewinsky and then said he hadn’t spoken to her and didn’t believe he owed her an apology.
“I asked if you’d ever apologized and you said you had,” NBC News’ Craig Melvin said.
“I have,” Clinton said adding, “I apologized to everybody in the world.”
“But you didn’t apologize to her,” Melvin asked.
“I haven’t talked to her,” Clinton said.
“Do you feel that you owe her an apology?” Melvin asked.
“No…I do…I, I do not…I have never talked to her, but I did say publicly on more than one occasion that I was sorry,” Clinton fumbled. “That’s very different,” Clinton added with a big grin. “The apology was public.”
“And you don’t think a private apology was owed?” Melvin asked.
At that point, James Patterson stepped in to defend the former president, “I think this thing has been—It’s 20 years ago. Come on. Let’s talk about JFK. Let’s talk about LBJ. Stop already.”
Clinton doesn’t appear to have an ounce of genuine remorse. He is grinning and wagging his finger throughout this interview. He brings up twice that two-thirds of Americans were with him after impeachment as if that proves he was right.
When Melvin first asked if he’d apologized to Lewinsky, Clinton replied, “I felt terrible then. And I came to grips with it.” He continued, “Nobody thinks that I got out of that for free. I left the White House 16 million dollars in debt. But you, typically, have ignored gaping facts in describing this and I bet you don’t even know them. This was litigated 20 years ago, two-thirds of the American people sided with me. They were not insensitive to that.
“I had a sexual harassment policy when I was governor in the 80s. I had two women chiefs of staff when I was governor. Women were overrepresented in the attorney general’s office in the 70s, for their percentage of the bar. I’ve had nothing but women leaders in my office since I left. You are giving one side and omitting facts.”
I’m not sure what facts Clinton thinks were omitted but I can think of one big fact that never got mentioned:
WHY Doesn’t any reporter have the guts to ask about Bill Clinton about the sexual assaults and rape???….Monica was Consensual!!! https://t.co/CkuSMCAXAe
— Juanita Broaddrick (@atensnut) June 4, 2018
It’s an entirely fair question. CNN and other networks are happy to devote hours a day to Stormy Daniels but Juanita Broaddrick’s credible allegations of rape never come up. Bill Clinton can still go on a book tour without fear of being asked about the darkest chapter of his personal history. Why is that?
Update: CNBC’s John Harwood states the obvious:
Bill Clinton said he "came to grips with" his conduct in Monica Lewinsky scandal but clearly he has not https://t.co/YJvxYXJZ3C
— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) June 4, 2018
Unfortunately, he then immediately undercuts his own point:
perhaps any of us with the experiences in political life of Bill and Hillary Clinton would feel the same suspicion/anger/bitterness toward the media. in any case it contributed to her 2016 defeat for the presidency https://t.co/YJvxYXJZ3C
— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) June 4, 2018
Meanwhile, NY Times reporter Maggie Haberman seems to not be a very sympathetic mood:
“None of which, of course, changes the salient facts here: Working on behalf of women in general does not spare a person of accountability for his treatment of women in particular.” https://t.co/VQrOkg8X3W
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) June 4, 2018
Monica Lewinsky herself directed people to her own Vanity Fair piece:
grateful to the myriad people who have helped me evolve + gain perspective in the past 20 years.
— Monica Lewinsky (@MonicaLewinsky) June 4, 2018
For me the central question about Bill’s behavior and the media’s response remains this one:
when is someone on tv gonna ask bill clinton about the very credible rape accusation juanita broaddrick made against him? https://t.co/lXaaqMRerA
— eve peyser (@evepeyser) June 4, 2018
Update: Erin Gloria Ryan at the Daily Beast tears into Bill Clinton:
Instead of remorse, Clinton offered a brand of sleazy obfuscation that has come to personify the gaudy detachment political elites still have from the moment in which we live.
There was the self-pity (“I left the White House $16 million in debt”), the argumentum ad populum (“Two-thirds of the American people sided with me”), and the clever, vague distractions (“you typically have ignored gaping facts in describing this”). There was even the misdirection. “I’ve apologized to everybody in the world,” he said when asked whether he’d expressed sorrow to Monica Lewinsky…
But above all, there was the moral preening that, when distilled to its purest form, is just a ham-fisted attempt to avoid taking responsibility. How could he, Bill Clinton, have been bad to Monica Lewinsky if he, Bill Clinton, had been so good for women elsewhere?
Just like Harvey Weinstein (a friend and funder of the Clintons), Bill seems to think his public work makes up for his awful private behavior.