Monica Lewinsky penned a scathing new essay Tuesday criticizing how former President Bill Clinton “safely, even smugly” gave interviews for years without ever having to answer for how he treated her in the 1990s scandal that eventually led to his impeachment.
In a piece for Vanity Fair, where she is a contributing editor, Ms. Lewinsky explained why she chose to participate in the new documentary series, “The Clinton Affair,” which premieres Sunday on A&E.
Ms. Lewinsky spoke about how a cultural shift had finally occurred in the wake of the #MeToo movement in which Mr. Clinton was finally being asked tough questions by reporters.
“If you want to know what power looks like, watch a man safely, even smugly, do interviews for decades, without ever worrying whether he will be asked the questions he doesn’t want to answer,” Ms. Lewinsky wrote. “But in June of this year, during an interview on NBC, Craig Melvin asked Bill Clinton those questions. Was I owed a direct apology from him? Bill’s indignant answer: ‘No.’
“He contended that he had apologized publicly in 1998. I did as well,” she continued. “My first public words after the scandal — uttered in an interview with Barbara Walterson March 3, 1999— were an apology directly to Chelsea and Mrs. Clinton. And if I were to see Hillary Clinton in person today, I know that I would summon up whatever force I needed to again acknowledge to her — sincerely — how very sorry I am.
“So, what feels more important to me than whether I am owed or deserving of a personal apology is my belief that Bill Clinton should want to apologize. I’m less disappointed by him, and more disappointed for him. He would be a better man for it … and we, in turn, a better society.”
Ms. Lewinsky, who was a White House intern in her early 20s at the time of her affair with Mr. Clinton, said interviewing for the docuseries made her feel a great sense of grief for the pain she caused others, grief for the “broken girl” she became and “[g]rief for a relationship that had no normal closure, and instead was slowly dismantled by two decades of Bill Clinton’s behavior that eventually (eventually!) helped me understand how, at 22, I took the small, narrow sliver of the man I knew and mistook it for the whole.”
Ms. Lewinsky said she hopes that telling her story will ensure that “what happened to me never happens to another young person in our country again.”
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