The 71-year-old former president visited The Late Show on Tuesday where he was quickly grilled by host Stephen Colbert about his recent interview with NBC News’ Craig Melvin, which aired in part on the Today show and received widespread criticism. In the interview, Melvin questioned Clinton about his impeachment scandal surrounding his affair with then-intern Monica Lewinsky in light of the recent #MeToo movement.
“When I saw the interview, I thought that [it was tone deaf],” Clinton said. “Because they had to distill and it looked like I was saying, ‘I didn’t apologize and I had no intention to.’ And I was mad at me.”
Saying the interview “wasn’t my finest hour,” Clinton went on to try to clarify his comments.
“The important thing is that was a very painful thing that happened 20 years ago. I apologized to my family, to Monica Lewinsky and her family, to the American people. I meant it then, I meant it now,” he added. “I’ve had to live with the consequences every day since. I still believe this Me Too movement is long overdue, necessary and we should all support it.”
Noting that he’s still learning, Clinton added, “I’d like to think that we’re all getting better as we move along.”
Host Colbert wasn’t quite ready to his famous guest off the hook, saying he felt the interview was tone deaf because Clinton appeared to be offended that the question had even been asked, implying it was old news.
Clinton explained his frustrations came not from the question, but from how it was phrased.
“The question had been asked by other people in [the Me Too] context, and I didn’t mind at all,” he insisted. “But I didn’t like this one because it started with an assertion that basically I had never apologized. As if I had never tried to come to grips with it and as if there had been no attempt to hold me accountable, which anybody who lived through that and knew the facts knew it wasn’t so. None-the-less I realized later a lot of people don’t have any memory of that and all they saw was me mad and I seemed to be tone deaf to put it mildly.”
Colbert wasn’t the only person on The Late Show to address the controversy. Comedian Tig Notaro also took a moment during her own interview to praise Monica Lewinsky while talking about her upcoming presidential comedy.
“I just want to say about Monica Lewinsky -- I know her, not well -- but I want to remind people that to get a job at a young age as an intern in the White House you have to be an exceptional human being. And she is,” Notaro said of the now-motivational speaker. “And I just want to remind people of that.”
Lewinsky, who has not publicly replied to Clinton’s NBC interview, did reply to fans sharing Notaro’s words with her on Twitter.