Is Monica Lewinsky still Getting Publicly Shamed for Affair with Bill Clinton?

Talk show host John Oliver interviewed Monica Lewinsky, known for her infamous affair in the late 1990s with then-president Bill Clinton when she was a White House intern, on a recent episode of his HBO show, Last Week Tonight. The episode included a segment on public shaming featuring Lewinsky, an anti-bullying advocate, as a guest.

What did Lewinsky say?

After discussing online bullying, Lewinsky discussed how she got through the fallout of her affair with Clinton. She referred the situation as a “sh** storm,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“It was an avalanche of pain and humiliation,” Lewinsky told Oliver. She said having her friends and family as a support system really helped her.

Monica Lewinsky
Monica Lewinsky Presley Ann/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

But she did say her sense of self-esteem diminished. “I think at 24 years old, it was really hard to hold onto a shred of dignity or self-esteem when you’re just the butt of so many jokes.”

Her ‘identity was stolen’

“It was, I say, extraordinary — not with any positive connotation — not only just the slut-shaming, not only just having had an intimate relationship with someone who was now describing me in a way that no young woman would want to be described,” she said.

“My identity was stolen in a different way. Not to say that I wasn’t flawed and that I didn’t make terrible mistakes or do stupid things or say stupid things because of course, I did,” Lewinsky said. “I watched this sort of deconstruction of me and rebuilding of me.”

She considered changing her name

Not being able to find a job after the scandal coupled with the intense public scrutiny, Lewinsky considered changing her name. Ultimately she decided against it based on “principle.”

“Bill Clinton didn’t have to change his name,” Lewinsky told Oliver. “Nobody’s ever asked him did he think he should change his name and so I think that was an important statement.”

“I’m not proud of all of the choices I’ve made in my life, but I’m proud of the person I am,” she said. “As hard as it has been to have that last name sometimes and the pain that I have felt of what it’s meant for other people in my family who have that last name, I am glad I didn’t change it.”

Oliver calls out Jay Leno for ‘civility’ comment

In the same public shaming segment, Oliver took aim at Jay Leno. Specifically, Leno’s recent interview on NBC’s Today show. During the interview, Leno talked about how, in his opinion, late-night TV had lost its “civility” because of the country’s current political state.

John Oliver
John Oliver | Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Oliver then brought up multiple jokes Leno made about Lewinsky. One joke involved Leno saying the humidity outside made people’s clothes “stickier than Monica Lewinsky.” Another involved a video clip of Leno laughing at the headline “Lewinsky Gets Back On Her Feet.”

A more elaborate joke of Leno’s involved a book inspired by Dr. Suess’ The Cat in the Hat called The Sl** in the Cat.

Oliver ended the segment by saying, “If that’s what he means by civility, may I offer my new book: Oh the Places You Can Go Fu** Yourself, Jay Leno.”

To watch the 26-minute segment, click here.

Is Monica Lewinsky still getting publicly shamed for affair with Clinton?

The shortest and least complicated answer to this question is “yes.” Lewinsky’s still shamed for an affair she had decades ago. And Clinton? Not so much. But Lewinsky is now able to poke fun at herself and the infamous affair. Being able to joke about it, happened in “stages,” Lewinsky told Oliver. She said wearing a beret — she was known to wear a beret when the scandal broke — to a 1990s themed party helped her make light of the situation.