In an interview with former President Bill Clinton for TODAY, the former future first husband got combative with NBC anchor Craig Melvin when asked repeatedly to reflect on his relationship with Monica Lewinsky through the lens of constant ongoing revelations of powerful men exploiting female subordinates in the workplace.
Appearing on TODAY and Sunday Morning over the past couple days to promote his novel co-written with James Patterson, Clinton seemed caught off guard when asked about the ‘inappropriate relationship’ he admitted to with Monica Lewinsky who worked as a White House intern in the mid-90s. After a highly-politicized and public debate over Clinton’s misdeeds, he was impeached by the Republican Congress, but not removed from office.
Melvin, a Columbia native, Wofford College graduate, and alumni of his hometown WIS-TV, has been getting more airtime on TODAY since the show’s longtime host Matt Lauer was fired in November when graphic allegations of his own “inappropriate sexual behavior” came to light.
Clinton broached the subject with a wry smile, saying that he thought current comparisons were being stoked by Republicans in reaction to sexual allegations against President Donald Trump. Clinton went on to say that the #MeToo movement was “way overdue,” with the caveat, “it doesn’t mean that I agree with everything.”
But when Melvin began reading from Lewinsky’s March oped in Vanity Fair, Clinton’s demeanor tightened.
Melvin: “Looking back on what happened then, through the lens of #MeToo now, do you think differently or feel more responsibility?”
Clinton: “No I felt terrible then and I came to grips with it.”
Melvin: “Did you ever apologize?”
Clinton: “Yes, and nobody thinks I got out of that for free. I left the White House $16 million in debt. But, you, typically, have ignored gaping facts in describing this and I bet you don’t even know them.”
Clinton went on to defend his record of employing “women leaders” before and after his terms as president before again saying that Melvin was “giving one side and omitting facts.”
Melvin responded, “Mr. President, I’m not trying to present a side,” before Clinton cut him off. “You asked me if I agreed, the answer is, no I don’t.”
Avoiding the Clinton dodge, Melvin pressed, “Well, I asked you if you’d ever apologized and you said you had.”
Clinton: “I have.”
Melvin: “You apologized to her?”
Clinton: “I apologized to everybody in the world.”
NBC then cut to video of Clinton’s 1998 apology to “everybody who has been hurt,” mentioning specifically his family and Lewinsky’s.
Melvin: “But you didn’t apologize to her.”
Clinton: “I have not talked to her.”
Melvin then asked if the former president felt like he owed her an apology, Clinton responded shaking his head, “No.” Pressing Clinton one last time, again asking if a “private apology was owed,” the president’s partner in fiction, James Patterson, attempted to shift the subject.