Bill Clinton Freaks Out When NBC Asks Him About Sexual Harassment

During a very contentious interview with NBC’s Craig Melvin over the weekend and aired on Monday’s Today show, former President Bill Clinton lost it when the reporter actually pressed him on sexual harassment in light of the Me Too movement. The Democrat became testy and even accused Melvin of “omitting facts” about the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

 

 

“A few days ago, in response to critics who suggested that you should have resigned in the wake of the Lewinsky scandal, you said that you should not have. If you were president now, in 2018, with everything that’s going on with the Me Too movement, how would you have approached the accusations differently?,” Melvin mildly began the exchange.
 
Clinton predictably painted himself as the victim of unfair treatment: “Well, I don’t think it would be an issue because people would be using the facts instead of the imagined facts. If the facts were the same today, I wouldn’t.”

After explaining how Clinton’s lying about his affair with then-White House intern Monica Lewinsky in1998 led to his impeachment, Melvin noted: “Clinton says critics are now pouncing in light of the Me Too movement, but he stands by his decision to fight impeachment rather than resign.”

Clinton continued to paint himself as the target of media bias:

So a lot of the facts have been conveniently omitted to make the story work. I think partly because they’re frustrated that they’ve got all these serious allegations against the current occupant of the Oval Office and his voters don’t seem to care.

Melvin even helped the former president attack the current one: “You think this president’s been given a pass with regards to the women that have come forward and accused him of sexual misconduct?” Clinton replied: “Well, I think – no. But it hasn’t gotten anything like the coverage you would expect.”

Clinton laughably proclaimed: “I like the Me Too movement, it’s way overdue.” Though he added: “I think the – it doesn’t mean I agree with everything. I still have some questions about some of the decisions which have been made.”

Melvin never followed up to ask if Clinton was referring to the downfall of his longtime friend and donor Harvey Weinstein, who was just recently charged with multiple sex crimes in a New York court.  

To his credit, the reporter quoted a recent op-ed from Lewinsky, describing Clinton’s treatment of her as harassment:

One of the things that this Me Too era has done, it’s forced a lot of women to speak out. One of those women, Monica Lewinsky, she wrote an op-ed that the Me Too movement changed her view of sexual harassment. Quote, “He was my boss, he was the most powerful man on the planet, he was 27 years my senior, with enough life experience to know better. He was, at the time, at the pinnacle of his career, while I was in my first job out of college.” Looking back on what happened then, through the lens of Me Too now, do you think differently or feel more responsibility?

Clinton argued: “No, I felt terrible then. And I came to grips with it.” Melvin followed up: “Did you ever apologize to her?” Clinton again made it all about himself:

Yes. And nobody believes that 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. This was litigated 20 years ago, two-thirds of the American people sided with me. They were not insensitive to that.

Moments later, the former president accused Melvin: “You are giving one side and omitting facts.” Melvin pushed back: “Mr. President, I’m not – I’m not trying to present a side.”

Near the end of segment, Melvin asked if Clinton thought “a private apology is owed” to Lewinsky. At that point, author James Patterson, who just co-wrote a novel with Clinton and was present for the interview, jumped to the president’s defense: “I think this thing has been – it’s 20 years ago, come on. Let’s talk about JFK. Let’s talk about – you know, LBJ. Stop already.”

Clinton eagerly seized on that line of attack:

I don’t think – you think President Kennedy should resigned? Do you believe President Johnson should have resign?...Someone should ask you these questions because of the way you formulate the questions. I dealt with it 20 years ago plus, and the American people, two-thirds of them stayed with me. And I’ve tried to do a good job since then with my life and with my work. That’s all I have to say to you.

Following the taped report, co-host Savannah Guthrie observed: “No question it got a little bit heated there at the end.” Melvin responded by parroting more of Clinton’s talking points:

Yeah, and you know, when the cameras were off, the president acknowledged that the standards in society have changed. But also said that the standards should have changed from what they were 20 years ago. He also reiterated how the facts of his case make it very different from some of the high-profile cases that have been spawned as the result of Me Too.

On CBS Sunday Morning, Clinton was similarly pressed on the topic by Mo Rocca, but only with a single brief question. That segment quickly turned into a discussion about media coverage of the Trump administration.

Here is a full transcript of the June 4 report on the Today show:

7:05 AM ET

HODA KOTB: Also, this morning, former President Bill Clinton is answering questions about the Me Too movement and the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Craig sat down with him, along with author James Patterson. They’ve teamed up to co-write a new thriller. Craig, good morning to you.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Good morning.

CRAIG MELVIN: Ladies, good morning to you. We talked to the two men for a little more than 20 minutes on Sunday. For the first half of the interview, we talked about the novel, their new novel, The President is Missing. We then asked Clinton about the Me Too movement and the recent suggestion by some critics that he should have resigned during the Monica Lewinsky scandal and, whether looking back now, if he would have handled that time differently.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Bill Clinton on #MeToo; Former President Addresses Movement]

A few days ago, in response to critics who suggested that you should have resigned in the wake of the Lewinsky scandal, you said that you should not have. If you were president now, in 2018, with everything that’s going on with the Me Too movement, how would you have approached the accusations differently?

BILL CLINTON: Well, I don’t think it would be an issue because people would be using the facts instead of the imagined facts. If the facts were the same today, I wouldn’t.

MELVIN: In 1998, President Clinton shocked the world, first denying and then admitting to an affair with then-White House intern Monica Lewinsky. The scandal launching a lengthy investigation that ended with Clinton becoming just the second president ever to be impeached.

CLINTON: You’re asking, “Well, don’t we have a right to change the rules?” Yes. But you don’t have a right to change the facts.

MELVIN: Clinton says critics are now pouncing in light of the Me Too movement, but he stands by his decision to fight impeachment rather than resign.

CLINTON: So a lot of the facts have been conveniently omitted to make the story work. I think partly because they’re frustrated that they’ve got all these serious allegations against the current occupant of the Oval Office and his voters don’t seem to care. I think I did the right thing. I defended the Constitution.

MELVIN: You think this president’s been given a pass with regards to the women that have come forward and accused him of sexual misconduct?

CLINTON: Well, I think – no. But it hasn’t gotten anything like the coverage you would expect.

MELVIN: President Trump has been accused by women of inappropriate sexual behavior, all of which he denies.

CLINTON: I like the Me Too movement, it’s way overdue. I think the – it doesn’t mean I agree with everything. I still have some questions about some of the decisions which have been made.

MELVIN: This March, Monica Lewinsky penned an op-ed in Vanity Fair taking responsibility for her part in the scandal but also admitting that years later, she was diagnosed with PTSD from the unrelenting public scrutiny.

One of the things that this Me Too era has done, it’s forced a lot of women to speak out. One of those women, Monica Lewinsky, she wrote an op-ed that the Me Too movement changed her view of sexual harassment. Quote, “He was my boss, he was the most powerful man on the planet, he was 27 years my senior, with enough life experience to know better. He was, at the time, at the pinnacle of his career, while I was in my first job out of college.” Looking back on what happened then, through the lens of Me Too 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 to her?

CLINTON: Yes. And nobody believes that 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. This was litigated 20 years ago, two-thirds of the American people sided with me. They were not insensitive to that.

I had a sexual harassment policy when I was governor in the ’80s. I had two women chiefs of staff when I was governor. Women were over-represented in the attorney general’s office in the ’70s, for their percentage in the bar. I’ve had nothing but women leaders in my office since I left. You are giving one side and omitting facts.

MELVIN: Mr. President, I’m not – I’m not trying to present a side.

CLINTON: You asked me if I agree, the answer is, “No, I don’t.”

MELVIN: Well, I asked if you’d ever apologized? And you said you had.

CLINTON: I have.

MELVIN: You’ve apologized to her?

CLINTON: I apologized to everybody in the world.

CLINTON [1998]: It is important to me that everybody who has been hurt, know that the sorrow I feel is genuine. First and most important, my family, Monica Lewinsky and her family.

MELVIN: You didn’t apologize to her?

CLINTON: I have not talked to her.

MELVIN: Do you feel like you owe her an apologize?

CLINTON: No. I do – I have never talked to her. But I did say publicly on more than one occasion, that I was sorry. That’s very different. The apology was public.

MELVIN: And you don’t think a private apology is owed?

JAMES PATTERSON: I think this thing has been – it’s 20 years ago, come on. Let’s talk about JFK. Let’s talk about – you know, LBJ. Stop already.

CLINTON: I don’t think – you think President Kennedy should resigned? Do you believe President Johnson should have resign?

MELVIN: Mr. President –

CLINTON: Someone should ask you these questions because of the way you formulate the questions. I dealt with it 20 years ago plus, and the American people, two-thirds of them stayed with me. And I’ve tried to do a good job since then with my life and with my work. That’s all I have to say to you.

GUTHRIE: Fascinating.

MELVIN: Yeah.

GUTHRIE: No question it got a little bit heated there at the end.

MELVIN: Yeah, and you know, when the cameras were off, the president acknowledged that the standards in society have changed. But also said that the standards should have changed from what they were 20 years ago. He also reiterated how the facts of his case make it very different from some of the high-profile cases that have been spawned as the result of Me Too.

Coming up in our 8:30 half hour though, more of our conversation with former President Clinton and James Patterson, including what led them to team up to write that new book, The President is Missing.

 

NB Daily Liberals & Democrats NBC Today Video Craig Melvin Bill Clinton

Sponsored Links