“[Bill Clinton] should want to apologize, in the same way I want to apologize any chance I get to people my actions have hurt.”
That was Monica Lewinsky discussing the fallout from her sexual relationship with former President Bill Clinton on the “Today” show on Tuesday. The 1990s political sex scandal between the commander-in-chief and a 22-year-old intern — which led to Clinton’s 1998 impeachment and Lewinsky’s public shaming for decades — is back in the spotlight as “American Crime Story: Impeachment” premieres on FX on Tuesday night.
Lewinsky, herself, had a producer role in the latest installment of Ryan Murphy’s anthology series, which stars “Booksmart” actress (and Jonah Hill’s sister) Beanie Feldstein as Lewinsky. Clive Owen plays President Clinton, Edie Falco steps in as Hillary Clinton, and Sarah Paulson portrays Linda Tripp in the miniseries that Lewinsky describes as “a dramatization,” but with “an enormous amount of emotional truth.”
While Lewinsky did not have veto power on what made the final cut, she said that she was allowed to make notes on the script. And she told “Today’s” Savannah Guthrie that this was a challenge. “As a producer, I’m very proud … as a subject, I’m nervous,” she said. “I’m nervous for people to see some of the worst moments of my life, and a lot of behavior that I regret.”
Lewinsky has pivoted her previous notoriety into a platform to speak out against online bullying and sexual harassment, which she suffered after the details of her affair with the married president of the United States came to light in the 1990s. “It was an avalanche of pain and humiliation,” she told John Oliver in 2019. “I’m not proud of all the choices I’ve made in my life, but I’m proud of the person I am. I’m not ashamed of who I am.”
And Lewinsky told “Today” that being a part of this “American Crime Story” project is another step in reclaiming her narrative — even if the series doesn’t always show her younger self in the best light.
“I do not recommend watching your early 20s be dramatized on TV. Especially in this instance where the truth really was stranger than fiction. (There were) moments where I just thought, ‘Don’t smile back. Don’t talk to her. Don’t confess. Don’t do this, don’t do that. Don’t make bad decisions.’ I think that that was really hard to see,” she told “Today.”
Yet she pushed the showrunners to include a scene where she flashed her thong at the president. “As a subject, I was incredibly grateful when I saw that it was missing. But I realized as a producer that, particularly because I was involved, that the credibility of the show would have been significantly affected, and I didn’t think that was fair to anyone else,” Lewinsky said. “But more than that, it was really, ‘I shouldn’t get a pass.’ … I thought that was important. I think truth and context were really missing in the beginning of 1998 throughout the process, and I hope those are all things that we brought to the show.”
“I shouldn’t get a pass.”
When asked whether she wants Clinton to see the series, Lewinsky responded that, “I don’t even know how to really answer that.”
As for whether she wants Clinton to apologize, Lewinsky said that she doesn’t “need it” anymore, because she has largely made peace with the past. “There was a long period, before my life changed in the last six or seven years, where I felt a lot in terms of there not being this resolution,” Lewinsky said. “I’m very grateful that I don’t have that feeling anymore.”
But that being said: “He should want to apologize in the same way I want to apologize any chance I get to people my actions have hurt,” Lewinsky added.
The interview and FX series led “Monica Lewinsky” to trend on Twitter with more than 3,300 tweets on Tuesday morning.