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Monica Lewinsky TED Talk to bring personal story of Clinton sex scandal

03/19/2015 01:03 EDT | Updated 05/19/2015 05:59 EDT
Monica Lewinsky, the White House intern who rose to notoriety for having an affair with sitting U.S. President Bill Clinton, is giving the headline address at the TED2015 conference in Vancouver today — speaking about how that event 17 years ago has haunted her ever since.

Lewinsky was 24 years old when the scandal broke, and retreated to silence for more than a decade before writing a piece in Vanity Fair magazine last year about the humiliation and harassment that followed revelations of the affair.

"She was the epicentre of a maelstrom here in the United States that was so immense and fascinating to watch and live through, " AlisonDagnes, the editor of the book Sex Scandals in American Politics, told CBC Radio's The Early Edition. 

"President Clinton is only one of two presidents to be impeached in American history … that impeachment process for a president is massive, and that's exactly what happened because of what came out of this Lewinsky affair, and so it held the United States government hostage for many months."

Hilary Clinton, who stood by her husband's side through the affair, went on to become a U.S. senator, then ssecretary of state, and is widely expected to make a bid to replace Barack Obama as the next U.S. president.

"Hilary Clinton was and remains a formidable woman, and so I think in situations like these it's just human nature to try and cast roles as villain or as heroes," said Dagnes.

"It's easy to look at Hilary as the victim. It's easy to look at President Clinton as the villain here, but it was also easy to look at Monica Lewinsky as some sort of temptress and that's a far simpler and not accurate portrayal of what happened."

While Dagnes is looking forward to today's talk, she's also wondering what Lewinsky could say that will add to the Vanity Fair article.

"On the other hand, she was such a young woman and it was so long ago, that it is sort of curious that we still pay attention to her."

To hear the full interview with Alison Dagnes, click the audio labelled: Monica Lewinsky to speak to TED Conference.

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