John Avlon, who has modeled himself as a "no labels" moderate, acted as a liberal on Tuesday's New Day on CNN, as he gave his take on Monica Lewinsky's recent "cyberbullying" speech. Avlon praised the "so thoughtful and funny" speech, and contended that "it reminds us 16 years after that constitutional crisis – that celebrity-driven scandal – the human collateral damage in that political witch hunt."
To his credit, left-leaning anchor Chris Cuomo questioned the Daily Beast editor-in-chief's labeling: "Witch hunt? How is it a witch hunt?" Avlon replied with his spin about the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal and related impeachment proceedings: [video below]
JOHN AVLON: Well, it was a politically-motivated investigation to de-legitimize a duly-elected president of an opposition party, and – and whoever was caught in that crossfire was considered collateral damage. And there was an element of shaming; of humiliation; of cyberbullying, as she said. And she was patient zero, to some extent.
Cuomo and co-anchor Alisyn Camerota featured the CNN political analyst and his wife, liberal Republican Margaret Hoover, for an entire segment on the Lewinsky speech. After Hoover gave her initial comment on the speech, the journalist turned to Avlon and asked, "Monica Lewinsky paid a much bigger price for the affair than President Clinton – fact or fiction?" He replied, "Fact," and explained that the former Democratic politician was shielded by his office:
AVLON: No – you know, when you have the bully pulpit, people have to seen you in context – you know? You know, if he had been a manager at a sporting goods store, he would have been fired on day one. But when you have a constitutionally-protected office and won an election-
CHRIS CUOMO: They tried to. They impeached him-
AVLON: Yeah, they tried to. But they can't, right – you know, unilaterally.
Avlon continued with his compliment of the former presidential intern's speech and his "witch hunt" labeling of the scandal. After dropping his "politically-motivated investigation to de-legitimize a duly-elected president of an opposition party" line, the commentator added that Lewinsky "survived. The President survived. He emerged with – you know, left office with 60 percent approval ratings; and 15, 20 years later, you're able to see even her in a deeper context that I think compels compassion."
Later in the segment, Cuomo asserted that "the media won't leave her [Lewinsky] alone. She came out with Vanity Fair. She wrote a very intelligent piece about it, right? Mocked right away – she should shut up. She should go away." He then asked Avlon, "If it happened today, if the sitting president – you know, we don't wish this on anybody on either side of it. But do you think that there would have been this kind of reflexive ignoring of any kind of feminism – of any kind of gender balance – and just putting it all on her like happened then?"
Avlon responded with more liberal talking points about the Clinton scandal:
AVLON: Yeah, I – look. I mean, that was unprecedented in American history, right? I mean, we were all coming to grips with something in real-time that we never had to confront in real-time before-
CUOMO: We'd had presidents who had stepped out before-
AVLON: Absolutely – we'd absolutely had – but we'd never confronted it in real-time with evidence, and here's a country that has a tradition going back to – you know, the scarlet 'A' and our Puritan roots. So, this was a really tough, real-time confrontation with ourselves and our own hypocrisy. She got caught in the middle of it. Now, we're wiser now, and I think the challenge is for us to then, when we see these scandals unfold in real-time, try to remember the human beings beneath them – as well as just that the pile on, and the spin, and the judgement.
Earlier in the segment, Hoover offered her own praise for Lewinsky, and thought she could make a valuable contribution to the debate over cyberbullying:
MARGARET HOOVER: ... I, frankly, garnered such a huge amount of respect for her; for her courage; for her journey; and think that we in the media should – we're ready to move on. We don't want to relive the Clinton legacy. We don't want – let's let her be a spokesperson for cyberbullying. She's an authority on this and she could be an incredible voice in this debate.
Moments before Camerota ended the discussion, the Republican consultant again complimented the former intern: "She's been amazingly thoughtful...I want to hear more from her, and I – really, I applaud her. I think she is a woman of real courage."