Barbara Walters, David Letterman have a fascinating conversation about Monica Lewinsky

 

Barbara Walters stopped by “Late Show With David Letterman” Wednesday night before she bids farewell to “The View” and television for good this week. Toward the end of the show, the interview took a turn to Monica Lewinsky, who has been back in the news with an interview with Vanity Fair.

The conversation between Dave and Babs turned fascinating, as the way it only can between two people who have been in the business as long as they have. Plus, they both had their own unique roles as the Lewinsky-President Clinton scandal played out. Walters’s 1999 interview with the scandalized White House intern got practically Super Bowl-sized ratings. And Letterman made lots of jokes. As he said now, he somewhat regrets that, which led to a very introspective moment.

“Monica Lewinsky has resurfaced,” Letterman began. “You would talk to her in a second, right?”

Walters looked like she would certainly enjoy that. “I like Monica and I felt that she’s never had the chance to move on and I hope that she does,” Walters said. “I hope she’s given the chance.”

Letterman noted that in the recent Vanity Fair article, Lewinsky said she can’t get a job anywhere. “And then I started to feel bad,” Letterman said. “Because myself and other people with shows like this made relentless jokes about the poor woman. And she was a kid, she was 21, 22 — ”

“She’s 40 now, it’s hard to believe,” Walters cut in.

“So I’m thinking…it’s sort of like the violence in the elevator,” Letterman continued, perhaps becoming the first person in history to compare Lewinsky to Jay Z and Solange. “Is it funny because they’re just famous? Or overall with some perspective do you realize this is a sad human situation?”

“It is,” Walters said. “And President Clinton has been able to move on. Hillary Clinton may run for president. I wish them both well. Monica is still stuck in the humor of it and she is an intelligent and nice woman.” She brought up that famous interview: “I interviewed her years ago and the last question I said is, ‘What will you tell your children? She said, ‘Mommy made a big mistake.’ And that’s still haunting her.”

“Well,” Letterman paused and let out a deep sigh, and you got the feeling that it was a conversation the two would have had even without a studio audience. “Well, let’s just say it wasn’t the president. Let’s just say she was working at Dairy Queen — and I’m not being funny. But let’s just say the same thing happened at Dairy Queen, would she then tell her kids that it was a big mistake? Or would she just say, ‘Oh for God’s sake I was 22, and 22-year-olds are irresponsible’ and on and on.”

“I never heard her say it’s just that I was young. Because that’s what a lot of us feel. She was just a kid. But she has had been  ridiculed now for all these years,” Walters responded.

The two went back and forth about whether Lewinsky could get hired now in a job on her level (she went to the London School of Economics after all), until Letterman asked,”Would you have ever considered putting her on ‘The View’?”

Walters paused for a beat long and simply said, “I don’t think that’s what she wants.” (Side note: Can we expect Lewinsky on ‘The View’ sometime soon?)

Anyway, Letterman concluded: “I feel bad about my role in helping push the humiliation to the point of suffocation.”

“Good,” Walters said, bringing the conversation to an end. “Then we can stop.” And they did. 

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Monica Lewinsky breaks silence: I want to ‘take back my narrative’

Emily Yahr is an entertainment reporter and pop culture blogger for the Style section. She joined the Post in May 2008, a week before she graduated from the University of Maryland, and worked on Lisa de Moraes' TV Column and blog.
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Emily Yahr | May 15