Monica Lewinsky turned 44-years-old in 2018. But what happened to the young White House intern whose relationship with the president led to scandal? Lewinsky was only 22-years-old, when, as a White House intern, she had an affair with the president.
The details of the scandal are well known: The blue dress with the president’s DNA on it, the taped conversations with Linda Tripp, the president’s impeachment, the lengthy and graphic report from independent prosecutor Ken Starr, and Bill Clinton’s line, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” He eventually admitted the contact.
Since the scandal, Lewinsky has dabbled in several different careers – handbag designer, weight loss pitchwoman – before virtually disappearing from the public stage for a decade while she attended grad school. In the last two years, though, Lewinsky has reemerged into the public spotlight. She has stayed out of political commentary, though, and did not weigh in on the 2016 presidential race.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Lewinsky Is An Activist Against Cyber Bullying
On Twitter, Lewinsky calls herself, “social activist. public speaker. vanity fair contributor. ambassador @bystanderrev + @antibullyingpro. knitter of things without sleeves #clickwithcompassion.” She has spoken candidly about suffering from online bullying herself:
Lewinsky still avoids giving many interviews, although she granted a rare interview with The Guardian, which called her “a respected and perceptive anti-bullying advocate. She gives talks at Facebook, and at business conferences, on how to make the internet more compassionate. She helps out at anti-bullying organisations like Bystander Revolution.” She told The Guardian, “The shame sticks to you like tar.”
According to The Today Show, “Lewinsky is teaming up with Vodafone to create anti-bullying emojis and GIFs.” The New York Times says she has appeared at New York benefits, participated in an anti-bullying workshop, and “joined a feminist networking group.”
She also appeared at a Forbes conference and spoke about online bullying, saying, “I lost my reputation… And I lost my sense of self.” Lewinsky told Vanity Fair that she was moved to become an anti-bullying activist by her mother’s tearful reaction to the suicide of Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers freshman who jumped off a bridge after being “secretly streamed via Webcam kissing another man.”
In May 2018, when asked whether he planned to apologize to Lewinsky herself, Bill Clinton said no during an interview on the Today Show and added that he believes he did the right thing by not resigning (he was impeached).
“I do not. I have never talked to her. But I did say, publicly, on more than one occasion, that I was sorry,” he said on The Today Show. “That’s very different. The apology was public.” It was rare for Clinton to mention Lewinsky after all of this time. She had not responded on her Twitter page, which she uses to advance her cyber bullying causes.
2. Donald Trump Says Bringing up Lewinsky Is ‘Fair Game’ But She’s Said Little About The Clintons Over the Years
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has said he believes it’s fair game to bring up Bill Clinton’s extra-marital affairs when running against Hillary Clinton, and he specifically mentioned Lewinsky when doing so, said The Today Show.
The Today Show quoted Trump as saying, “You look at whether it’s Monica Lewinsky or Paula Jones or many of them. That certainly will be fair game.” He justified the comment by saying that Hillary had played the “women card,” said the television show. Asked about this, Lewinsky said, according to The Today Show: “I’m not going to answer that. How’s this? I’m affected by what happens on the world stage, but I don’t let it deter me.”
Lewinsky hasn’t spoken much about the Clintons, but she did tell Vanity Fair that she considered the relationship “consensual,” adding, “Sure, my boss took advantage of me… Any “abuse” came in the aftermath, when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position.” She told Vanity Fair that she dates; however, she hasn’t married. Linda Tripp recently told the conservative site Breitbart that Hillary Clinton “made it her personal mission to disseminate information and destroy the women with whom he dallied.”
In 2014, The Hill said that Hillary Clinton refused to deny reports that an old friend of hers had said Hillary called Lewinsky a “narcissistic looney tune”; Hillary said, “I am not gonna comment on what I did or did not say back in the late 90s.” She told Vanity Fair she found it “troubling” that Hillary’s impulse was to “blame the woman.” She called herself a “conscientious Democrat” but said she was fearful of being dragging back into the news because of Hillary’s presidential run. In 2014, Senator Rand Paul accused Bill Clinton of showing “predatory behavior” toward Lewinsky.
3. Lewinsky Went to College In London & Wrote About the Scandal in a Major 2014 Essay In ‘Vanity Affair’ Magazine
In 2005, Lewinsky moved to London, where she studied social psychology at the London School of Economics; she she graduated with a Master of Science in 2006, after writing a thesis called “In Search of the Impartial Juror: An Exploration of the Third-Person Effect and Pre-Trial Publicity,” according to Gazette Review. Lewinsky had obtained the infamous White House internship at age 22, after graduating from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, with a BA in psychology, said Gazette Review. She told Vanity Affair, “I moved to England to study, to challenge myself, to escape scrutiny, and to reimagine my identity.”
She didn’t talk much about the Clinton scandal for a decade until she penned the major article for Vanity Fair magazine in 2014. The Vanity Fair essay was a 2015 National Magazine Award finalist. Entitled, “Shame and Survival,” The essay’s introduction said, “After 10 years of self-imposed reticence, and now hoping to help victims of Internet shaming, she critiques the culture that put a 24-year-old through the wringer and calls out the feminists who joined the chorus.”
In the article, she criticized what she called the “‘culture of humiliation’ that not only encourages and revels in Schadenfreude but also rewards those who humiliate others.” It thrives especially online, she wrote.
In March 2018, in the wake of the #metoo revisiting of sexual harassment by powerful men, Monica Lewinsky herself revisited the topic in Vanity Fair. In the essay, Lewinsky wrote that she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and still feels trauma. She added, “…what transpired between Bill Clinton and myself was not sexual assault, although we now recognize that it constituted a gross abuse of power.”
4. Lewinsky Had a Brief Career Selling Handbags & As a Dieting Company Spokeswoman But Has a Hard Time Getting a Job & Hasn’t Married
For a time, Lewinsky knitted, made handbags, and was a pitchwoman for Jenny Craig. Celebrity net worth says Monica was paid $1 million for the Jenny Craig gig and made another $500,000 with a tell-all book. The site puts her current net worth at $500,000. According to Celebrity net worth, Monica’s family is “well-to-do” and she “attended elementary school in Bel-Air and Beverley Hills High school.”
Those pursuits evaporated. She told Vanity Fair in 2014 that, after leaving grad school in London, “I moved between London, Los Angeles, New York, and Portland, Oregon, interviewing for a variety of jobs that fell under the umbrella of ‘creative communication’ and ‘branding,’ with an emphasis on charity campaigns.” But she kept getting turned down. She told Vanity Fair that she dates, but she has never married.
The Times says that she “splits her time between New York and Los Angeles, where she grew up, and London” and has had a hard time finding employment. Instead, she meditates, does therapy, hangs out with friends and volunteers, The Times said.
5. Lewinsky Gave a Well-Received ‘TED Talk’ & Songs Have Included Her Name
Lewinsky gave an 18-minute TED talk in Vancouver called “The Price of Shame.” In the talk, she described the painful consequences she still endures because of the scandal, and said she believes she was one of the first victims of cyber bullying. She said during the talk, “Anyone who is suffering from shame and public humiliation needs to know one thing: You can survive it. I know it’s hard,” said The Hollywood Reporter.
The rapper G-Eazy made “Monica Lewinsky” the title of a song, and, says The New York Times, her name is “a reference in dozens of others,” including those by Kanye, Eminem, and Beyonce.