Associate Mosaic Editor
Making questionable decisions in your late teens and early twenties is a rite of passage to becoming an independent adult. When the overwhelming majority of us make a mistake during our adolescence, it does not haunt us for the rest of our lives. Unfortunately, Monica Lewinsky was not as fortuitous. The lapse in judgment she made when was 22 years old has followed her every day since.
26 years ago, Lewinsky and former President Bill Clinton engaged in an extramarital affair and lied about it in a court of law; Lewinsky lied in a sworn affidavit and Clinton lied in depositions and to grand juries. After years of trials and depositions, Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives on grounds of perjury. Though, due to the lack of a majority vote in the Senate, he was not removed from office.
“Impeachment: American Crime Story” starring Beanie Feldstein is the third installment of FX’s critically acclaimed limited series and the first episode premiered on Sept. 7. The series follows the three women who were at the center of this media circus, Lewinsky, Linda Tripp and Paula Jones.
Monica Lewinsky is a producer on the limited series and worked directly with writer, Sarah Burgess. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Burgess detailed that developing this show without Lewinsky would not have been right.
“The story of what happened to Monica was literally the story of someone who did not want this to become public, it became public, and everyone consumed it,” Burgess says. “So for us to do that again without her would be horrible.”
According to Burgess, Lewinsky was heavily involved in the process of writing the script. The pair shared many intense conversations about the condensation of some events into one for the sake of television.
On NBC’s “TODAY” show, Lewinsky discussed that “Impeachment” showcases some of the most harrowing times of her life.
“I do not recommend watching your early 20s be dramatized on TV, especially in this instance where the truth really was stranger than fiction,” Lewinsky says.
During the impeachment trials and the media’s slut shaming of Lewinsky, she was unable to tell her account of events. Her name became a punchline synonymous with many explicit sexual innuendos. It was not until recent years that Lewinsky broke her decade-long public silence.
When asked by Vanity Fair about the series and how it feels to tell her story in full, for the first time, Lewinsky candidly opened up.
“I’m so grateful for the growth we’ve made as a society that allows people like me who have been historically silenced to finally reintroduce my voice to the conversation,” Lewinsky says. “This isn’t just a me problem. Powerful people, often men, take advantage of those subordinate to them in myriad ways all the time. Many people will see this as such a story and for that reason, this narrative is one that is, regretfully, evergreen.”
Prior to watching “Impeachment”, I possessed only surface level knowledge about the truth of what happened to Monica Lewinsky, due to the fact that I did not watch this unfold in real time.
I also did not know who Linda Tripp was. Tripp and Lewinsky became friends after they were both transferred to the Pentagon, for different reasons.
Tripp was a trusted aide in George H.W. Bush’s White House and worked on a multitude of classified operations, yet in the wake of the suicide of her superior, Deputy White House Counsel Vince Foster, she was demoted to a menial job in the Pentagon.
Tripp was Lewinsky’s sole confidante about her affair, other than Lewinsky’s own mother. Tripp eventually started recording their phone conversations in order to compile content for a tell-all book. When Tripp saw that she had much more than just evidence for a book but evidence to catch Clinton perjuring himself in a court of law.
It is hard for someone to recreate their image when they become a punching bag in pop culture. As detailed by Lewinsky in her incredibly well-received TED Talk entitled “The price of shame,” her name is featured in over 40 rap songs in a less than positive light.
However, Lewinsky has managed to stay positive and turn her life and image around from the hateful shaming she suffered at the hands of the media. She is now a staunch anti-bullying activist.
Lewinsky has finally been able to speak her truth over 20 years after the life she knew was blown up by the American media and people she trusted.
In a personal essay to Vanity Fair, Lewinsky detailed the reason why she chose to take part in this project.
“I hope that by participating, by telling the truth about a time in my life — a time in our history — I can help ensure that what happened to me never happens to another young person in our country again,” Lewinsky says.