Guthrie Asks Lewinsky About FX Series, ‘Betrayal’ of ‘Treacherous’ Linda Tripp


On Tuesday, NBC’s Today show promoted the upcoming FX series on Bill Clinton’s impeachment following his affair with Monica Lewinsky by painting one of his sexual harassment victims, the late Linda Tripp, as a “treacherous” villain who was guilty of “betrayal.” In addition, the broadcast featured a live exclusive interview with Lewinsky, who was a producer for the mini-series set to premiere that evening.

“Monica Lewinsky is back in the spotlight this morning with a highly anticipated new series premiering on FX tonight, Impeachment: American Crime Story,” co-host Savannah Guthrie announced as the segment began. Before talking to Lewinsky, a brief taped report ran reminding viewers of the scandal that swirled around President Clinton in 1998.

 

 

“An affair…And a betrayal,” Guthrie narrated as clips from the dramatized series played on screen with actress Beanie Feldstein depicting Lewinsky and actress Sarah Paulson depicting Tripp. Moments later, Guthrie made it clear the “betrayal” she referred to was an attack on Tripp, not Clinton:

Impeachment: American Crime Story has all the ingredients of a good drama, but in 1998, it was the reality for 24-year-old Monica Lewinsky. That’s when an affair between Lewinsky and then-President Bill Clinton was revealed following a betrayal of friendship. Linda Tripp secretly recorded Monica confessing to her relationship. Those recordings and news of the affair posted on The Drudge Report….Ultimately leading to the impeachment of President Clinton and the public shaming of Monica.

During her lengthy chat with Lewinsky, Guthrie noted: “It’s not a documentary. It’s a dramatic series.” The anchor then eagerly asked: “How much dramatic license is there? Did these conversations really take place like that? Did you really call Linda Tripp a treacherous B-word?” The host even chuckled as mentioned the insult of Tripp.

Chuckling as well, Lewinsky responded: “Yes….People will understand when they see the series why.”

The treatment of Tripp by Clinton defenders in the liberal media was similarly atrocious at the time. Appearing on the November 18, 1998 Today show, then-CNBC host Geraldo Rivera launched into this unhinged tirade:

I thought that Linda Tripp now takes her place in the Hall of Infamy as a betrayer of the order of Benedict Arnold in the, in the, at least in the love ’90s….I think anybody who wrapped themselves around Linda Tripp and her tapes is now soiled. You felt the need to take a shower. What that woman did to her young friend is beyond the pale. I think it’s much worse than anything Bill Clinton did.

While NBC now seems enthralled by the dramatic retelling of the Clinton impeachment saga, as the proceedings took place in 1999, reporters there and on the other broadcast networks didn’t hide their contempt for the effort to hold the Democratic president accountable.   

Only near the end of her Tuesday exchange with Lewinsky did Guthrie ask about the actual perpetrator – Bill Clinton: “The story affects a lot of people, not just you. Linda Tripp, who has recently passed. The Clintons. Would you want Bill Clinton to see this series?” Lewinsky shrugged: “You know, I don’t even know how to really answer that. So, yeah, I don’t know.”

Guthrie followed up: “I mean do you ever wish that you could speak to him? Do you feel like he owes you an apology after all these years?” Lewinsky answered:

You know, there was – I think there was a long period before my life changed the last six or seven years where I felt a lot in terms of there not being this resolution. And I’m very grateful that I don’t have that feeling anymore. I don’t need it. He should want to apologize in the same way that I want to apologize any chance I get to people that I’ve hurt and my actions have hurt.

When Clinton himself was pressed on that very question by Today co-host and MSNBC anchor Craig Melvin in 2018, the disgraced former president suffered a complete meltdown and even lashed out at the reporter: “You are giving one side and omitting facts….I dealt with it 20 years ago plus, and the American people, two-thirds of them stayed with me….That’s all I have to say to you.”

Even after two decades and the #MeToo movement, the media are still eager to blame others like Tripp – one of his victims – for the scandal that Clinton caused through his own sleazy behavior.

This continued attempt to smear Tripp was brought to viewers by Folgers Coffee and Honda. You can fight back by letting these advertisers know what you think of them sponsoring such content.

Here is a transcript of excerpts from the lengthy September 7 segment:

8:10 AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Monica Lewinsky is back in the spotlight this morning with a highly anticipated new series premiering on FX tonight, Impeachment: American Crime Story. Monica is co-producer on the series, which covers her affair with then-President Bill Clinton and his subsequent impeachment. We’re gonna talk with Monica exclusively in just a moment but before we get to our conversation, a look back at her journey.

GUTHRIE: An affair.

BEANIE FELDSTEIN [AS MONICA LEWINSKY]: Hi, handsome.

CLIVE OWEN [AS BILL CLINTON]: Hey.

GUTHRIE: And a betrayal.     

FELDSTEIN: I’m kind of in something.

SARAH PAULSON [AS LINDA TRIPP]: Tell me about him.     

(…)

GUTHRIE: Impeachment: American Crime Story has all the ingredients of a good drama, but in 1998, it was the reality for 24-year-old Monica Lewinsky. That’s when an affair between Lewinsky and then-President Bill Clinton was revealed following a betrayal of friendship. Linda Tripp secretly recorded Monica confessing to her relationship. Those recordings and news of the affair posted on The Drudge Report.

TOM BROKAW [1998]: Reports of a new sex scandal involving President Clinton, a young White House intern.
                                        
GUTHRIE: Ultimately leading to the impeachment of President Clinton and the public shaming of Monica.

(…)

GUTHRIE: She found her purpose first as an anti-bullying advocate and more recently as a TV and film producer. Co-producing the new FX series covering the darkest days of her life, now reclaiming her story through storytelling.

Monica, good morning, it’s good to see you.

MONICA LEWINSKY: Good morning.

GUTHRIE: We’ve talked before over the years, but it’s always been about a project or something. And now here we are talking about that time and one of the most searing times of your life. How are you feeling right now in this moment?

LEWINSKY: I’m nervous, it’s live TV. But other than that, you know, I really have worn two hats in this project. And so, as a producer, I’m very proud. I’m really proud of the project, of the show. And as a subject, I’m nervous. I’m nervous for people to see some of the worst moments of my life and a lot of behavior that I regret. If you remember your 20s, not that long ago, it’s pretty cringe-worthy.

GUTHRIE: Well, I think a lot of people will connect with that and relate to it.

(…)

GUTHRIE: It’s not a documentary.

LEWINSKY: No.

GUTHRIE: It’s a dramatic series. But I found watching it, you know, you do wonder, especially because it has your blessing, how much of this is real? How much dramatic license is there? Did these conversations really take place like that? Did you really call Linda Tripp a treacherous B-word?

LEWINSKY: Yes.

GUTHRIE: You know, like, how real is it?

LEWINSKY: People will understand when they see the series why.

GUTHRIE: Yes.

LEWINSKY: But you know, it is a dramatization. But there is an enormous amount of emotional truth and I think that’s what was really important. I think people – you know, a lot of people know about this story, but people are going to be very surprised, when they watch it, of things that they didn’t know happened. I mean, I, myself had – there were so many margin notes I had in the scripts of, like, did this really happen? So even I learned things.

GUTHRIE: And to be clear, you gave notes on the scripts.

LEWINSKY: Correct.

GUTHRIE: You were a producer. You didn’t have veto power?

LEWINSKY: No, no, I didn’t.

(…)

GUTHRIE: Sometimes what’s best for the show might not have been what you would have wanted to see?

LEWINSKY: No, exactly.

GUTHRIE: Although there was that – there’s a scene, and it’s sort of an infamous moment in this whole scandal, where you flash your thong underwear at the President.

LEWINSKY: I know.

GUTHRIE: But here’s what’s interesting about you, Monica. You told the producers you should include that scene. You pushed for it?

LEWINSKY: I did, I did.

GUTHRIE: Why?

LEWINSKY: Well, you know, I was – 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. But more than that is – was really I shouldn’t get a pass.

(…)

GUTHRIE: Were there parts that were kind of painful to go back and to watch?

LEWINSKY: Oh, it was – I do not recommend watching your early 20s be dramatized on TV. So I mean especially in this instance where the truth really was stranger than fiction and moments where I just thought, oh, gosh, you know, 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 hard — really hard to see.

GUTHRIE: The story affects a lot of people, not just you. Linda Tripp, who has recently passed. The Clintons. Would you want Bill Clinton to see this series?

LEWINSKY: You know, I don’t even know how to really answer that. So, yeah, I don’t know.

GUTHRIE: I mean do you ever wish that you could speak to him? Do you feel like he owes you an apology after all these years?

LEWINSKY: You know, there was – I think there was a long period before my life changed the last six or seven years where I felt a lot in terms of there not being this resolution. And I’m very grateful that I don’t have that feeling anymore. I don’t need it. He should want to apologize in the same way that I want to apologize any chance I get to people that I’ve hurt and my actions have hurt.

(…)



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