Monica Lewinsky abruptly walked off stage amid a live television interview on Monday after she was asked whether she still expects a personal apology from former President Bill Clinton.
Lewinsky, who has emerged as a vocal anti-bullying advocate since the decades-old presidential scandal, later said the interviewer had overstepped clear boundaries that had been agreed upon prior to the broadcast.
“I left because it is more important than ever for women to stand up for themselves and not allow others to control their narrative,” she said.
The former White House intern sat down for a conversation with Yonit Levi, an anchor for Channel 2 in Jerusalem, after delivering an emotional address at a conference organized by the Israeli station.
As video of the exchange shows, Lewinsky walked out within seconds of the start of the dialogue. Levi’s first question asked whether she still expected an apology from Clinton. The former president told NBC News earlier this year that he had “publicly” sought amends for the scandal and did not owe Lewinsky a personal apology.
Upon hearing Levi’s question, Lewinsky said, “I’m so sorry, I’m not going to be able to do this,” before putting her mic down and striding off the stage.
She explained the sudden departure on Twitter.
“There were clear parameters about what we would be discussing and what we would not,” Lewinsky said. “In fact, the exact question the interviewer asked first, she had put to me when we met the day prior. I said that was off limits.”
When Levi went on to ask her the same question on stage in front of a live audience, Lewinsky said it was a “blatant disregard for our agreement,” and it “became clear to me I had been misled.”
Channel 2 did not apologize, but in a statement to the Jerusalem Post thanked Lewinsky for her appearance and said “we respect her sensitivity and wish her luck.”
As the Post noted, Lewinsky spoke candidly about the 1998 Clinton scandal in a speech she gave prior to the interview.
“I was shunned from almost every community which I belonged to, including my religious community. That led to some very dark times for me,” Lewinsky, who is Jewish, told the audience of the period after news broke of her affair with the then-president.
Suicidal thoughts flooded her mind, she recalled. “There were moments for me when it seemed like suicide was the only way to end the pain and the ridicule.”
Lewinsky returned to the public eye in 2014 as an activist against online bullying. In her speech Monday, she said the attacks she endured back in the 1990s would today be characterized as “cyberbullying, online harassment and slut shaming.”