Monica Lewinsky, the former White House intern who had sexual relations with President Bill Clinton in the late 1990s, is finally breaking her silence about the affair, saying she was “made a scapegoat” by the Clinton administration and others “to protect his powerful position.”
In the forthcoming issue of Vanity Fair, Lewinsky, now 40, writes: “Sure, my boss took advantage of me, but I will always remain firm on this point: it was a consensual relationship. Any ‘abuse’ came in the aftermath, when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position. …
“The Clinton administration, the special prosecutor’s minions, the political operatives on both sides of the aisle, and the media were able to brand me. And that brand stuck, in part because it was imbued with power.”
Explaining that “It’s time to burn the beret and bury the blue dress,” Lewinsky also says: “I, myself, deeply regret what happened between me and President Clinton. Let me say it again: I. Myself. Deeply. Regret. What. Happened.”
Read all about the women Bill Clinton targeted, in “Their Lives,” and hear the first-person testimony of Kathleen Willey, who chose to tell the story of her encounter with Clinton in “Target: Caught in the Crosshairs of Bill and Hillary Clinton.”
Monica’s silence over the years sparked numerous rumors about her allegedly being hush money to keep quiet.
“The buzz in some circles has been that the Clintons must have paid me off; why else would I have refrained from speaking out?” she writes. “I can assure you that nothing could be further from the truth.”
She indicated it’s time to stop “tiptoeing around my past – and other people’s futures. I am determined to have a different ending to my story. I’ve decided, finally, to stick my head above the parapet so that I can take back my narrative and give a purpose to my past. (What this will cost me, I will soon find out.)”
She’s coming forward in the wake of the case of Tyler Clementi, the 18-year-old Rutgers freshman who committed suicide in 2010 after he was secretly streamed via webcam kissing another man.
Lewinsky says she cried over Clementi’s death, but her mother was especially distraught.
“She was reliving 1998, when she wouldn’t let me out of her sight. She was replaying those weeks when she stayed by my bed, night after night, because I, too, was suicidal. The shame, the scorn, and the fear that had been thrown at her daughter left her afraid that I would take my own life – a fear that I would be literally humiliated to death.”
Monica stressed she never actually attempted to kill herself, but was strongly tempted to during the investigations and afterward.
In the aftermath of Clementi’s tragedy, Lewinsky writes “my own suffering took on a different meaning. Perhaps by sharing my story, I reasoned, I might be able to help others in their darkest moments of humiliation. The question became: How do I find and give a purpose to my past?”
When the Clinton sex scandal broke in early 1998, Lewinsky says was she arguably the most humiliated person in the world, but, “thanks to the Drudge Report, I was also possibly the first person whose global humiliation was driven by the Internet.”
She’s now looking “to get involved with efforts on behalf of victims of online humiliation and harassment and to start speaking on this topic in public forums.”
Lewinsky says she could have cashed in on her notoriety at the height of the scandal, but says “I turned down offers that would have earned me more than $10 million, because they didn’t feel like the right thing to do.”
Monica moved to Britain and earned a master’s degree in social psychology at the London School of Economics, then returned to the U.S. and resided in Los Angeles, New York, and Portland, Oregon.
She interviewed for a variety of positions in communications and branding with an emphasis on charity campaigns, but, “because of what potential employers so tactfully referred to as my ‘history,’” she writes, “I was never ‘quite right’ for the position. In some cases, I was right for all the wrong reasons, as in ‘Of course, your job would require you to attend our events.’ And, of course, these would be events at which press would be in attendance.”
Lewinsky’s remarks were the subject of radio giant Rush Limbaugh’s opening monologue Tuesday.
“She says it’s consensual, fine and dandy,” Limbaugh said. “But when it was learned and discovered, she loved the guy. I mean, she may have been 19, and love is love at whatever age. It’s a different thing to different people, but she loved the guy. They destroyed her. The group – the people – that claim to be protecting women, that claim to want to shield women from the evils of the world including conservative Republicans, led the charge in destroying this woman, after the fact.
“After Clinton got what he wanted, after he got his jollies, after he got his consensual whatevers, then it was time to destroy her – along with every other woman that popped up, not just Monica Lewinsky – and it was Hillary right in there. The left and every supporter, the hypocrites that they are, didn’t think anything of it.”
Regarding her comments about the Drudge Report humiliating her online, Limbaugh noted, “In her mind, the humiliation was having people find out what she did. … If it was consensual, then what in the world is humiliating about it? Why was it humiliating? … The humiliation was not the act of engaging in the act itself. … The point is: what people think of you matters more than what you are actually doing.”
Bill Clinton eventually was impeached by the U.S. House, but was not convicted in the U.S. Senate.
Congressman James Rogan, now a judge, describes in “Catching Our Flag,” the details of what happened when the media force-fed America and the world a steady diet of Monica Lewinsky’s blue dress, a wagging presidential finger and the parsing of phrases like “the meaning of ‘is.’”
He describes how on his first day on the House Judiciary Committee, Rogan knew if the scandal ever led to impeachment proceedings, future accounts would suffer from faulty memories or faulty motives.
To combat the threat of factual or historical error, Rogan kept copious notes during every significant meeting relating to impeachment from his first day on the committee. He did this so there would be a complete and accurate historical chronicle – the best evidence – of what really happened behind the scenes in the unfolding drama.”
Even though the impeachment of President Clinton cost Rogan his congressional seat, the author said he still believes trying the president before the Senate was the right thing to do.
Rogan also explains that many Americans forget that Clinton signed a plea bargain on his last day in office admitting his lies to avoid criminal prosecution for perjury.
“Who really remembers he resigned his law licenses before the U.S. Supreme Court and the Arkansas Supreme Court in order to avoid disbarment?” he said.