In an New York Times op-ed prompted by the death of Fox News founder Roger Ailes, Monica Lewinsky demonstrates that she sees herself as a pathetic victim, and blames others for what happened to her after a President of the United States decided to indulge himself and use a star-struck White House intern as his sex toy. Yet Monica’s others barely include Bill Clinton (he is mentioned just once in her screed), who did victimize her. Instead, she is accusing Ailes and Matt Drudge, who committed the sin, Lewinsky implies, of preventing the mainstream news media from burying the story, as it was in the process of trying to do.
Monica’s attack on Ailes is just the latest in the hate-fest from the Left in reaction to his death. His primary crime, in their eyes, was interfering with the left-wing media’s ability to spin the news to recruit the public in uncritical and ignorant support of all things liberal. Many of the vicious tweets from reporters (When Al Sharpton stands out for being fair, you know something is amiss) focused on Ailes’s sexual harassment, but it is fair to assume that Clinton, another serial harasser, will not be memorialized by these critics in the same way. Ailes was a sexist, power-abusing pig, but these people work with and cover and vote for sexist power-abusing pigs all the time. They revile Ailes because he broke up their monopoly.
The Times can only have decided to publish Lewinsky’s jaw-droppingly obtuse and self-serving column as part of its own post-mortem smear of Ailes, even though it makes Monica look deluded and juvenile. Yes, she is being used again.
Mr. Ailes, a former Republican political operative, took the story of the affair and the trial that followed and made certain his anchors hammered it ceaselessly, 24 hours a day. It worked like magic: The story hooked viewers and made them Fox loyalists. For the past 15 years, Fox News has been the No. 1 news station; last year the network made about $2.3 billion. Some experts have noted that viewers found Fox for the first time because of the crisis. John Moody, a Fox executive editor, reflected on that period: “The Lewinsky saga put us on the news map.” As he put it in another interview: “Monica was a news channel’s dream come true.”
Their dream was my nightmare. My character, my looks and my life were picked apart mercilessly. Truth and fiction mixed at random in the service of higher ratings. My family and I huddled at home, worried about my going to jail — I was the original target of Kenneth Starr’s investigation, threatened with 27 years for having been accused of signing a false affidavit and other alleged crimes…Just as television news was devolving into a modern coliseum, the internet came along and compounded this culture of shame and vitriol. Remember: The story of my affair was not broken by The Washington Post, The New York Times or the networks, but online by the Drudge Report. The comments on television and online were excruciating. I ceased being a three-dimensional person. Instead I became a whore, a bimbo, a slut and worse. Just days after the story broke, Fox asked its viewers to vote on this pressing question: Is Monica Lewinsky an “average girl” or a “young tramp looking for thrills”?
Imagine! An intern has a sexual relationship with the President of The United States who has constantly promoted his marriage as the perfect team, prompting him to lie under oath in court, triggering cover-up and making impeachment a real possibility, and Fox News was so cruel and venal that they treated it as worthy of round-the clock coverage! The monsters! The worst part was that had it not been for Drudge and then Fox News, maybe the pro-Clinton media could have minimized public attention on a historic scandal.
Lewinsky, as she has shown before, is hardly a history or media scholar. Those of us who remembered the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy’s assassination, the Watergate hearings, and the O.J. trial, among other long-running stories that captivated the public interest, didn’t regard the intense media focus on this obviously important episode as out of proportion.
I am sorry about what happened to you. Had Bill Clinton not been such a cur, you would be a happier person today. He betrayed you and your trust, and you weren’t the only one. However, the other individual at fault for your fate is you–not Ken Starr, not Matt Drudge, not Linda Tripp, not Roger Ailes.
Do you know how you could have shortened the coverage, Monica? You could immediately have told the truth, handed over the blue dress, and admitted who actually drafted that affidavit you gave to Linda Tripp to sign. If you didn’t want to look bad in the reports, you could have called Bill Clinton on his brazen lie to the nation when he said, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.” You could have pointed the finger of blame at the one who earned it: President Bill Clinton, who violated his own sexual harassment law after handing out pens to NOW officials and women’s right activists in his signing photo-op, who jeopardized his marriage, his political agenda and his party, who made the United States look foolish and tawdry, all while placing a naive young woman in a disastrous situation that he knew might destroy her future. He just didn’t care.
Bill Clinton had an obligation to you as your superior and as the President. Roger Ailes’ obligation was to only his audience, and he met it, spectacularly well.
Fox News didn’t invent the narrative that you were the villain. Democrats seeking to circle the wagons around their scummy leader did that. I heard Maxine Waters, in a committee hearing, say that young women like you trap vulnerable elected officials like Bill Clinton, using their seductive wiles. (Yes, Maxine has been saying stupid and irresponsible things that long.) She was not alone. Is Monica Lewinsky an “average girl” or a “young tramp looking for thrills”? I agree that’s a bad poll question. I don’t believe average girls with appropriate values and common sense jeopardize a Presidency and a President’s marriage by allowing him to institute an illicit sexual relationship. The term “tramp” is needlessly harsh, though just about any wife of a businessman who discovers that her husband has been getting blow-jobs from an office worker half his age would use that term or worse to describe her, would she not? Roger Ailes is not responsible for your character and reputation being tarnished. Your own actions, inadequate ethics and miserable decisions are.
Until you accept responsibility and accountability for that, you will never be able to escape the fate a charming, powerful, sociopathic leader charted for you.