Monica Lewinsky set off a firestorm after she claimed she was uninvited from an event — because former President Bill Clinton was asked to attend.
“Please don’t invite me to an event (esp one about social change) and then — after i’ve accepted — uninvite me because bill clinton then decided to attend/was invited,” Lewinsky tweeted. “It’s 2018.”
p.s. ...and definitely, please don't try to ameliorate the situation by insulting me with an offer of an article in your mag.— Monica Lewinsky (@MonicaLewinsky) May 9, 2018
Lewinsky addressed her criticism to “dear world” but added a postscript that called out a magazine for trying to offer her a byline in exchange for the rescinded invite.
The callout led to speculation that Lewinsky was referring to Town & Country magazine, which hosted its annual Philanthropy Summit on Wednesday, where Clinton delivered introductory remarks.
President @BillClinton welcoming @Emma4Change @alex_king737 and other brave kids working to reduce gun violence. Clinton said they are starting “to do something I failed to do - make this a voting issue.” #tandcphilanthropy pic.twitter.com/y17Xafothk— David Gelles (@dgelles) May 9, 2018
HuffPost said it confirmed with attendees that Lewinsky was uninvited from the event.
Clinton’s press secretary responded to the HuffPost article in a statement on Twitter. Angel Ureña tweeted that the former president was invited to the summit and “gladly accepted.”
“Neither he nor his staff knew anything about the invitation or it being rescinded.”
President Clinton was invited to address the Town & Country Philanthropy Summit. He gladly accepted. Neither he nor his staff knew anything about the invitation or it being rescinded. https://t.co/iZ0xtG4OvQ— Angel Ureña (@angelurena) May 9, 2018
Lewinsky’s apparent disinvitation drew criticism on Twitter, with many expressing support for Lewinsky.
Disgraceful on the part of @TandCmag. Standing solid with you @MonicaLewinsky https://t.co/ftuESVMlmA— Mia Farrow (@MiaFarrow) May 9, 2018
This is what everyone is fighting against. @townandcountry should be ashamed of themselves. Do they let their heads of the magazine prey on their interns? Would they disinvite them after abusing their power to get what they wanted from them? https://t.co/7y5r878JSM— Judd Apatow (@JuddApatow) May 9, 2018
2/ Here's the HuffPo piece https://t.co/GLhMk9VFDT— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) May 9, 2018
and here's @TandCmag tweeting about @BillClinton's presencehttps://t.co/yFfQtdBRHr
A T-shirt and hashtag are not principles and values, @TandCmag.— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) May 9, 2018
Town and Country apologized to Lewinsky in a Thursday morning tweet, and the publication said it regretted the way the “situation was handled.”
We apologize to Ms. Lewinsky and regret the way the situation was handled.— TOWN&COUNTRY (@TandCmag) May 10, 2018
Lewinsky’s comments sparked outrage because she alluded to a blind spot revealed by the #MeToo movement when it comes to protecting powerful men. Lewinsky wrestled with this in a March essay for Vanity Fair, writing that the #MeToo movement forced her to grapple with consent regarding her affair with the president 20 years ago. “I now see how problematic it was that the two of us even got to a place where there was a question of consent,” she wrote.
The abuse of power is often inextricable from the stories of sexual harassment and assault, from Harvey Weinstein to Eric Schneiderman. It protects men in positions of authority and helps silence those would who would speak out. Lewinsky, and others, rightly pointed out the hypocrisy of an event about “social change” that not only deferred to the person in power but seemingly excluded a voice advocating for that very change.