Monica Lewinsky, the former White House intern turned anti-bullying advocate, walked offstage Monday night at a conference in Jerusalem when she was asked a question relating to former president Bill Clinton.
Yonit Levi, one of Israel’s top news anchors, asked Lewinsky — who has spoken in recent years about the humiliation she endured after her affair with the former president was made public — whether she still expected a personal apology from Clinton.
“Now recently in an interview with ABC News, former president Clinton was rather irate when he was asked if he ever apologized to you personally and he said I apologized publicly, do you still expect that apology? That personal apology?” asked Levi.
“I’m so sorry I’m not going to be able to do this,” said Lewinsky, before laying her microphone down and walking off the stage.
Later, Lewinsky, who became a household name in the late 1990s for an affair that nearly brought down Clinton’s presidency, published a statement on Twitter saying Levi had put that same question to her when they’d met ahead of the conference and she’d responded that it was off-limits.
“When she asked me it on stage, with blatant disregard for our agreement, it became clear to me I had been misled,” Lewinsky wrote.
She said the parameters about what would be covered in the discussion were clear — it was to focus on the subject of her speech, which talked about the perils and positives of the Internet.
A spokesman for the Israeli Channel 2 News Co., which hosted the conference in Jerusalem, said Levi had kept all the agreements she made with Lewinsky and honored her requests. “We believe the question asked on stage was legitimate and respectful and one that certainly did not go beyond Ms. Lewinsky’s requests and did not cross the line,” said Alon Shani.
Levi is one of Israel’s most prominent journalists, hosting the highest-rated prime-time daily news show on television. A journalist for many years, she has interviewed numerous world leaders, though she is known for asking tough questions.
Since the affair with Clinton nearly 20 years ago, Lewinsky has built a career speaking out against bullying, and many public figures have expressed remorse or regret at how she was treated two decades ago.
In her post on Twitter, Lewinsky apologized to the audience for ending her presentation so abruptly, writing, “I left because it is more important than ever for women to stand up for themselves and not allow others to control their narrative.”