Nearly two decades after becoming the nation's most famous White House intern, Monica Lewinsky opens up in an upcoming Vanity Fair essay about how difficult it’s been to move on past her well-known scandal.
“It’s time to burn the beret and bury the blue dress,” the now-40-year-old writes about her affair with then sitting-President Bill Clinton.
Yet, she has found it harder than expected to bury her tainted past, TODAY anchors noted Wednesday.
In her essay, Lewinsky expresses deep regret for her affair with Clinton, while insisting the relationship was between two consenting adults. But she also describes the long-lasting impact the scandal has had on her life, specifically, her ability to prove to potential employers that she won’t be a liability because of her name recognition.
TODAY’s Tamron Hall said many on social media see Lewinsky’s problem indicative of a double standard “with how this has played out in history: Bill Clinton at his most popular right now, and Monica Lewinsky unable to get a job.”
Tamron said it would be hard for Lewinsky to move past the affair when the general public continues to bring her up in political campaigns, song lyrics and various other pop culture references.
“I’m perplexed when folks say, ‘Well, let’s just move on.’ Well, no one’s moved on. She can’t move on. She owns her story. It is a part of her life,” she said. “If she wants to talk about it every year, folks don’t have to read it. But I think that visceral reaction to, ‘Why is she bringing this up again?’ — it’s a part of her journey, and it still haunts her journey.”
Natalie Morales noted that Lewinsky earned a master’s degree from the London School of Economics so "she's obviously a smart woman.” But that won't be enough to give her “a second chance at life.”
“Unfortunately, that incident has forever tainted her at the age of 21. That is her history,” she said.
And Tamron defended Lewinsky's right to talk about the scandal.
"The topic is not going away — if Hilary Clinton decides to run [for president] — including already with folks who may run against her," Tamron said. "Sen. Rand Paul bringing it up multiple times, so why can’t Monica?"
TODAY asked on our Facebook page whether viewers “feel bad” for Lewinsky. An overwhelming majority said “no.”
“You fooled around with a married man and then went on national TV to talk about it. No, I do not have sympathy,” wrote Becky Fowler.
“You make your bed you lay in it. She was old enough to know right from wrong,” added Nickie Hampson.
Others supported her.
“She was young, made a mistake that follows her for a life,” said Zdena Simova. “I feel bad for her. It takes two to tango, and everybody blames mostly her. I wish her the best.”
Willie Geist said nobody is giving Lewinsky a pass on the decisions she made when she was younger, but he questioned why that should continue to have a lingering effect on life she wants to pursue.
"Bill Clinton paid, in real time, paid a price. There was an impeachment vote," he said. "But in the long term, clearly she’s paid the higher price."