Monica Lewinsky recently gave a TED Talk in which she called herself “Patient Zero” for online bullying and shaming. Lewinsky says before her affair with former President Bill Clinton, the media landscape was quite different. She claims that she was the first person to truly experience online global public shaming, which has now become the norm. Lewinsky notes that she is now working as a social advocate to create a safer and more compassionate social media environment. In the TED Talk, Lewinsky notes that she made a big mistake. However, she questions, “Who didn’t make a mistake at 22?” Lewinsky says that she is constantly reminded of her indiscretion and that she regrets her actions deeply. However, she says that what the media did to her was unprecedented at the time and ultimately set the stage for what was to come in the world in regards to online bullying and public shaming.
“Not a day goes by that I am not reminded of my mistake, and I regret that mistake deeply… In 1998, after having been swept up in an improbable romance, I was then swept up into the eye of a political, legal and media maelstrom like we had never seen before. It was the first time traditional news was usurped by the Internet, a click that reverberated around the whole world.”
Lewinsky says she was “Patient Zero” for the new phenomena of losing a reputation almost instantly via lighting-fast internet news and communications.
“I was Patient Zero of losing a personal reputation on a global scale almost instantaneously.”
Lewinsky is hoping to now use her unique story to push for a more compassionate social media environment and to help victims of online shaming overcome the obstacles in front of them. What do you think of Monica Lewinsky’s new position as an advocate to end cyber bullying? Is she a good role model for victims of shaming, or is she stepping out into the spotlight now due to Clinton’s name being thrust back into the spotlight?
Here’s a look at some of the most high profile TV interviews in recent history.
Bill and Hillary Clinton on “60 Minutes” in 1992
The couple submitted to questions by Steve Kroft when allegations that Bill Clinton had an affair with Gennifer Flowers threatened to wreck his presidential ambitions.
The couple held hands at times as Bill Clinton denied he had an affair with Flowers. Clinton refused to say whether he had ever had an affair.
The interview appeared to salvage Clinton’s campaign, but perhaps the most quoted line of the interview came when Hillary Clinton said, “I’m not sitting here, some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette.”
Michael Jackson and Oprah Winfrey, 1993
In the early 1990s, two of the biggest names in pop culture, Michael Jackson and Oprah Winfrey, came together for an in-depth interview that let viewers get a glimpse of the life of the King of Pop.
The live interview brought in 90 million viewers worldwide as Winfrey interviewed the musician at his Neverland estate.
Jackson, who avoided media attention at the time, opened up to Winfrey about rumors surrounding his life, childhood, and revelations regarding his skin pigmentation disorder.
Hugh Grant and Jay Leno, 1995
British actor Hugh Grant had just being arrested for soliciting a prostitute – shocking his then-girlfriend Liz Hurley – and people wanted to hear what he had to say for himself. A humiliated Grant appeared on “The Tonight Show” in 1995 just weeks after the arrest.
Jay Leno most famously asked the actor, “What the hell were you thinking?”
The interview would also go on to be a symbolic moment in late night seeing that it was the first time Leno beat his late night-rival David Letterman in ratings.
Barbara Walters and Monica Lewinsky, 1999
In one of the most watched specials in TV history, Barbara Walters spoke with Monica Lewinsky for a special “20/20” event on ABC.
The 1999 interview reached 74 million viewers as Lewinsky talked about her relationship with President Bill Clinton — a scandal that threatened to bring down the president.
During the interview, Walters asked pointed questions that ranged from Lewinsky’s feelings for Clinton to how the scandal began.
LeBron James and “The Decision,” 2010
In 2010, sports fans were drawn to TV not for a game, but for an announcement from the NBA’s biggest star.
Nearly 10 million watched as LeBron James told sports reporter Jim Gray that he was “taking his talents to South Beach,” announcing on ESPN that he was leaving Cleveland to play for the Miami Heat.
James eventually returned to the Cavaliers, but “The Decision” was a media event that instantly became a much talked about pop culture moment.
Amanda Knox and Diane Sawyer, 2013
Primetime event interviews are nothing new to Diane Sawyer.
In 2013, the ABC anchor spoke with Amanda Knox, the college student who was exonerated of murder charges after spending four years in Italy, during a special titled “Murder. Mystery. Amanda Knox Speaks.”
The interview brought in 8.5 million viewers, and was the first time Knox had broken her silence on TV regarding allegations that she had murdered her roommate in Italy.
Lance Armstrong and Oprah, 2013
Billed as a “no-holds-barred” interview, cyclist Lance Armstrong admitted to Oprah Winfrey that he did use banned substances during his historic seven Tour de France titles.
The interview, which was spread out over two nights, brought in big numbers for Winfrey’s cable network, OWN, with 3.2 million watching on the first night.