An uncomfortable exchange with NBC host Craig Melvin on Monday marked the beginning of what has become a problematic book tour for former President Bill Clinton.
In appearances promoting the new novel “The President Is Missing” with co-author James Patterson, Clinton has instead been met with tough questions about his behavior and attitude toward women.
Specifically, he reacted with hostility when Melvin asked whether he ever apologized to former intern Monica Lewinsky after a sex scandal that ultimately led to his impeachment.
Before confirming that he had not personally apologized or even spoken to Lewinsky in the two subsequent decades, he went on the offensive by suggesting the current depictions of his 1998 scandal are misleading.
He claimed “a lot of the facts have been conveniently omitted” in an effort to make his scandal “work” in the context of current social activism aimed at addressing sexual misconduct.
“I dealt with it 20 years ago,” he said. “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.”
The following night, Clinton appeared with Patterson on CBS’ “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” where critics say his response again fell short when given an opportunity for a “do-over” of his previous answer.
Backlash against the former president through the lens of the ongoing #MeToo movement extended beyond television interviews and has disrupted at least one book signing, as reported by The Blaze.
During a promotional event Tuesday at a Barnes & Noble in Manhattan, one local reporter broached the topic with a question Clinton appeared to ignore.
“Mr. President, in light of the #MeToo movement is there anything you would like to say to the women who say they had affairs with you?” asked WCBS‘ Marcia Kramer.
Other reporters followed suit with similar questions, leading to the realization that the former president was committed to avoiding the issue.
WCBS reported that Clinton aides “made it clear” he was not going to expound on his comments from earlier in the week.
Among the general public, the former president received scant defense for his behavior, though he did get some sympathy.
Larry Levine was waiting for an autograph when he told reporters that Clinton is “going to get in trouble” no matter what he does in this situation.
“If I were he, I would say it was a long time ago, I’m an old man, whatever I did I can’t change,” he said. “Whatever he says, he’s going to be wrong.”
Others were less forgiving, including some who found his reaction now and then to be underwhelming.
“I think he should have done that 20 years ago,” one individual said. “And I think anybody with a shred of common decency would have resigned the office at that time.”
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