MSNBC’s Alex Witt is clearly one of those journalists who wishes Bill Clinton’s Monica Lewinsky sex scandal would completely fade from memory so as not to obstruct Hillary Clinton’s potential bid for the White House in 2016. On Sunday’s edition of Weekends with Alex Witt, the host went so far as to apologize after her guest mentioned Lewinsky’s name. [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
Witt was talking to Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) about Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) attempts to link Mrs. Clinton to her husband’s sexual misdeeds in the 1990s. Cicilline, a loyal Democrat, stuck up for Hillary and downplayed the importance of the scandal:
I think these recent attempts to talk about President Clinton's relationship with Monica Lewinsky are an effort really to discredit... Secretary Clinton. There will be voters in the presidential election in 2016 who weren't even born during the Monica Lewinsky matter.
Whoops! The congressman mentioned Monica Lewinsky’s name twice. Witt, who had not spoken Lewinsky’s name up to that point, issued an apology to her viewers: “I gotta tell you, I'm sorry we even had to mention that young lady's name – it is what it is.”
Is this what it’s come to? An MSNBC host doesn’t even want to say the name of Bill Clinton’s most infamous sexual liaison anymore?
Some public figures may want to minimize the importance of the Lewinsky scandal in judging Hillary (including the gentlemanly moderate, Mitt Romney), but it deserves to be part of the discussion. In this age of the supposed “War on Women,” it’s worth asking if Hillary set the best example for women by excusing not just the Lewinsky affair, but her husband’s other sexual infidelities as well.
Below is a transcript of the segment:
MITT ROMNEY: I don't think Bill Clinton is as relevant as Hillary Clinton if Hillary Clinton decides to run for president, and in her case, I think people will look at her record as the Secretary of State and say during that period of time, did our relations with nations around the world elevate America and elevate our interests, or were they receding? And I think her record is what will be judged upon, not the record of her husband.
ALEX WITT: That was former presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Meet the Press this morning discussing Hillary Clinton's possible 2016 White House bid, and Senator Rand Paul's recent attacks on President Bill Clinton. Joining me now, Democratic congressman David Cicilline, member of the foreign affairs and judiciary committee. Welcome to you, it’s nice to see you as always.
REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D-R.I.): Great to see you. Thanks for having me on.
WITT: So if Hillary Clinton decides to run, do you think it will all be – at all be, I should say – a referendum on her and her alone, or her husband and as some might say, is Senator Paul pushing for that?
CICILLINE: Well, I think there's no question that Hillary Clinton, if she decides to run for president, will be judged on her performance, on her record, on her experience. I think these recent attempts to talk about President Clinton's relationship with Monica Lewinsky are an effort really to discredit Senator Clinton – Secretary Clinton. There will be voters in the presidential election in 2016 who weren't even born during the Monica Lewinsky matter. So I think, look, voters are tired of that. They're going to look at her record, what she's done, her vision for our country, how she can move America forward and I think they will spend no time talking about President Clinton's record 17 years ago.
WITT: Yeah, I gotta tell you, I'm sorry we even had to mention that young lady's name – it is what it is. But anyway, Governor Romney said that Hillary Clinton will be judged on whether or not U.S. foreign relations were elevated during her tenure as Secretary of State. Were they, and if so, specifically how?
CICILLINE: I think there's no question that Secretary Clinton's record will be an important part of a campaign if she decides to run. I think she performed her work as Secretary of State magnificently. I think she certainly managed some very difficult situations around the world and our relationships internationally. But, you know, there are world events which the Secretary of State can't be responsible, but our response to them and how the United States builds a stronger relationships around the world is important, and I think she’ll be judged on that. I think most fair observers will say she did a terrific and outstanding job as Secretary of State. She's demonstrated real leadership ability and I think if she runs, she becomes our next president.