CBS ‘Early Show’: Clinton Sex Addiction vs. ‘Political Rock Stars’

A segment on Monday’s CBS "Early Show" by co-host Julie Chen about accusations by the late President Ford of Bill Clinton being a "sex addict," was in sharp contrast to an interview last week with author Sally Bedell Smith, when co-host Harry Smith referred to the Clintons as a "still-young couple" and "political rock stars."

Smith teased the Monday segment on Clinton’s sex addiction by saying, "Plus, a presidential scandal comes back in the spotlight. Find out who's calling Bill Clinton a sex addict." Contrast that statement with Smith’s glowing assessment of the Clinton marriage from last Tuesday’s segment on Bedell-Smith’s new book on the Clinton marriage:

A simple Google search reveals there are more than 40 books about this still-young couple. They met in law school, two bookish, wonkish, idealistic kids who somehow transformed themselves into political rock stars.

Strangely, in last week’s segment Smith never thought to ask a single question about the affect of Bill Clinton’s sex scandals on the marriage.

During Monday’s segment, Chen described the accusations by the late President Gerald Ford and Betty Ford as chronicled in "Write It When I'm Gone: Remarkable, Off-The-Record Conversations with Gerald R. Ford," by author Thomas DeFrank. Chen then asked sexual health expert, Dr. Jennifer Berman, to define the term "sex addict," and followed up by scolding the Fords for even making such an allegation:

What's your reaction to this book and the Fords saying this? I mean, how would Gerald Ford, or Betty Ford, for that matter, know if Bill Clinton was or was not a sex addict?

Berman responded by discussing the fact that the Fords had a "personal relationship" with the Clintons and had simply "observed sort of the ways that he interacted with women." Berman even went on to say of Clinton, "All I can say is that he definitely engaged in high-risk behavior that is concerning --" Chen seemed a little surprised by this observation and pressed Berman:

CHEN: Like what?

BERMAN: That almost cost him the presidency.

CHEN: Like?

BERMAN: I mean, high-risk behavior is defined as, you know, something like having unprotected sex, having sex with prostitutes, or engaging in activity that is high risk in terms of to your family --

CHEN: But you're not saying Bill Clinton did that, you're saying these are typical behaviors of someone who --

BERMAN: "Of sex addicts. Well, Bill Clinton having a relationship with an intern in the White House, if in fact he did, would be considered, you know, a high-risk behavior."

While Julie Chen’s shock at the idea of Clinton actually showing signs of being a sex addict is interesting, Berman’s "if in fact he did" comment in reference to his admitted affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky is even more troubling. But I guess that depends on what the definition of the word "is" is.

Finally, just in case Bill Clinton really is a sex addict, it’s certainly not his fault:

CHEN: Betty Ford said in the book -- this is a quote -- "you know that -- you know there is treatment for that kind of addiction. A lot of men go through it with a lot of success." Is that true?

BERMAN: There is treatment. And actually, it is a real addiction.

CHEN: What's the treatment?

BERMAN: The chemicals that are released in the brain are similar to the chemicals that cocaine causes. So the treatment is much like the 12-step programs in alcoholism and drug addiction, and it requires therapy and it requires changes in behavior, and there are even some medications that treat obsessive-compulsive disorders.

Here is the transcript of the 7:49am segment:

7:22AM TEASER:

HARRY SMITH: Plus, a presidential scandal comes back in the spotlight. Find out who's calling Bill Clinton a sex addict.

7:31AM

HANNAH STORM: Also, what President Ford and his wife had to say about Bill Clinton's sex life and why.

7:39AM

HARRY SMITH: Plus, President Ford calls President Clinton -- yeah, listen -- a sex addict. We'll ask sex expert Dr. Jennifer Berman if he's right.

7:45AM

HANNAH STORM: And stay with us, we're coming right back to take on sex addiction. It's in the news because one president said another president needed help for it.

7:49AM SEGMENT:

JULIE CHEN: This morning in "Health Watch," sex addiction. In a new book, "Write It When I'm Gone: Remarkable, Off-The-Record Conversations with Gerald R. Ford," author Thomas Defrank writes that the former president considered Bill Clinton a sex addict and that he ought to get treatment for it. Betty Ford, who practically invented rehab, as founder of the Betty Ford clinic, apparently agreed with her late husband. Dr. Jennifer Berman is a leading expert on sexual health. Good morning, Dr. Berman.

JENNIFER BERMAN: Morning.

CHEN: First of all, define what a sex addict is for us.

BERMAN: Well, sex addiction is really defined as engaging, a person that engages in multiple sexual acts, sexual activity, sexual partners, that he is, or she, is unable to stop or control. Generally, these experiences or these relationships are unfulfilling, and there is a compulsive nature to it.

CHEN: What's your reaction to this book and the Fords saying this? I mean, how would Gerald Ford, or Betty Ford, for that matter, know if Bill Clinton was or was not a sex addict?

BERMAN: You know, apparently, they had a personal relationship with him and observed behavior and observed sort of the ways that he interacted with women, and I'm sure they're drawing these conclusions on speculation. I certainly couldn't say, you know, whether Mr. Clinton is a sex addict or not. All I can say is that he definitely engaged in high-risk behavior that is concerning --

CHEN: Like what?

BERMAN: That almost cost him the presidency.

CHEN: Like?

BERMAN: I mean, high-risk behavior is defined as, you know, something like having unprotected sex, having sex with prostitutes, or engaging in activity that is high risk in terms of to your family --

CHEN: But you're not saying Bill Clinton did that, you're saying these are typical behaviors of someone who --

BERMAN: Of sex addicts. Well, Bill Clinton having a relationship with an intern in the White House, if in fact he did, would be considered, you know, a high-risk behavior.

CHEN: You mentioned -- you said he or she. How often are women falling into this category of sex addicts?

BERMAN: Well, that's a good question. It actually affects more men than women. Women can be sex addicts as well. However, in women, the incidence is more love addict, they're more addicted to what the relationship and the endorphins associated with falling in love than necessarily the sex act itself.

CHEN: Betty Ford said in the book -- this is a quote -- "you know that -- you know there is treatment for that kind of addiction. A lot of men go through it with a lot of success." Is that true?

BERMAN: There is treatment. And actually, it is a real addiction.

CHEN: What's the treatment?

BERMAN: The chemicals that are released in the brain are similar to the chemicals that cocaine causes. So the treatment is much like the 12-step programs in alcoholism and drug addiction, and it requires therapy and it requires changes in behavior, and there are even some medications that treat obsessive-compulsive disorders.

CHEN: Dr. Jennifer Berman, thank you so much.

BERMAN: Thank you.

CHEN: You're welcome.

 

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC