BOSTON (CBS) – It was 1998 when the world first heard of a White House Intern named Monica Lewinksy. Her affair with President Bill Clinton led to intense public scrutiny and later to his impeachment in the House of Representatives. The Senate later acquitted him of the charges. But to hear Lewinsky tell it, she never got a break.
“I, myself, deeply regret what happened between me and President Clinton. Let me say it again: I. Myself. Deeply. Regret. What. Happened,” she wrote in an article for Vanity Fair magazine, set to publish online Thursday. “Sure, my boss took advantage of me, but I will always remain firm on this point; it was a consensual relationship. Any ‘abuse’ came in the aftermath, when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position,” she said.
Even after 16 years, mention her name on the streets of Boston, and wait for the reactions. “It’s just a bad part of history that makes me sad,” said Jayne Beline-Hecht. “I don’t there’s anything she can say that can help what happened at this point,” Debbie Skyche added.
But Lewinsky feels differently about what her future may hold. She wrote she was prompted to go public after the 2010 suicide of Tyler Clementi. The Rutgers University student took his own life after he was recorded on a webcam kissing another man. Lewinsky recalled the times after the Clinton Scandal broke, when her mother wouldn’t leave her side worried she’d commit suicide. She never attempted it, according to the article, but had strong suicidal temptations.
Lewinsky wrote, “her own suffering took on a different meaning. Perhaps by sharing my story, I reasoned, I might be able to help others and give a purpose to my past?”
Maybe it’ll work, said Boston University Journalism Professor Caryl Rivers, who’s most recent book, ‘The New Soft War on Women’ focuses on discrimination against women. “I think what she wants to do is say hey, I’m older. (She’s 40 now) I’m a mature woman I want to go on with my life a lot of young women have made mistakes in the past I don’t want this to go on forever,” Rivers said.
Lewinsky’s goal, she wrote, is to help victims of online humiliation and harassment and even speak on the topic publicly.
“So, she is saying I know what happens to people when secrets are revealed or they’re outed or in the spotlight I can help these people. So if she can shift her identity to here’s somebody who used this difficulty to become somebody who is a helper rather than just this helpless victim, I think she can get passed it,” Rivers said.
Rivers doesn’t think Lewinsky’s resurfacing will not have any political impact. “Yes, it’ll be used in 2016 if Hillary runs you know but I think most people feel that scandal was a long time ago. We’ve made up our minds about Bill, Hillary and Monica whose fault was it,” added Rivers. “I don’t think people are going to vote for or against Hillary Clinton because of Monika Lewinsky there’ll be a lot of other issues they’re going to be focusing on.”
In the court of public opinion, reviews of Lewinsky and her potential motives are mixed.
“Everyone should get like a second chance and be able to move beyond something,” Alanna Barton said. “She should just fade into the background of history for good,” added Jayne Beline-Hecht. “I don’t there’s anything she can say that can help what happened at this point,” said Debbie Syche.
The full Vanity Fair story will be published online Thursday and will hit newsstands next week.
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