Lewinsky chose to leave the stage after she says she was "misled"
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Why Monica Lewinsky walked off stage after a Bill Clinton interview question

Two decades later, the media are still trying to control Lewinsky’s narrative

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By Louise Ridley on

Monica Lewinsky walked off stage during an interview in Israel on Monday, saying she was “misled” and asked about Bill Clinton, despite the host agreeing they would not question her about the subject.

Lewinsky, who is a campaigner against online bullying, says she walked off “because it is more important than ever for women to… not allow others to control their narratives.”

She claims the interviewer showed “blatant disregard” for an agreement that she would not be asked about the former US president, with whom she had a relationship in the mid-1990s as a White House Intern.

Lewinsky, an activist and fashion designer, was delivering a speech at a conference in Jerusalem about the pros and cons of the internet, and said she was supposed to be asked follow-up questions relating to her speech, “not a news interview”.

Journalist Tal Schneider tweeted a video of Lewinsky “abandoning” the interview “a short time after being asked whether she is still expecting a personal apology… from former President Bill Clinton.”

Writing on Twitter, Lewinsky told her side of the story, saying: “After a talk today on the perils and positives of the Internet, there was to be a 15 minute conversation to follow up on the subject of my speech…"

“There were clear parameters about what we would be discussing and what we would not. In fact, the exact question the interviewer asked first, she had put to me when we met the day prior. I said that was off limits.

I left because it is more important than ever for women to stand up for themselves

“When she asked me it on stage, with blatant disregard for our agreement, it became clear to me that I had been misled.

“I left because it is more important than ever for women to stand up for themselves and not allow others to control their narratives.”

She apologised to the audience “that the talk had to end this way”.

The Israeli company that interviewed her, Channel 2 News, said it respected Lewinsky’s "sensitivity" but that "the question asked was legitimate, worthy and respectful, and in no way went beyond Ms Lewinsky's requests," the BBC reported.

Lewinsky was shamed and bullied online and in the media after her affair with the married Clinton, who was nearly 30 years older than her at the time, while she was 22. She has called the relationship a "gross abuse of power" on Clinton’s part.

Now 45, she has spoken about the difficulties this media scrutiny caused her. She wrote an essay for Vanity Fair several years ago called Shame And Survival, explaining how she felt forced to be reclusive for 10 years, struggled to find a job and now works to help victims of online shaming.

@louiseridley

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Photo: Getty Images
Tagged in:
Politics
women in politics
women online

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