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@THISHOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
Monica Lewinsky's Article for "Vanity Fair"; Nigerian Militants Kidnapping Eight More Girls While Nigerians Question the Government's Inability to Contain Militants; White House Correspondents' Dinner
Aired May 6, 2014 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Monica Lewinsky, her name has been synonymous with scandal since the 1990s. Really, we haven't heard a peep from her over the last few years. Now, she's back, though, and writing about her affair with President Clinton.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: You know, I think it's that notion that her name is synonymous with scandal that has her writing again. She says it's time to burn the beret and bury the blue dress. We want to bring in our national correspondent Suzanne Malveaux. Suzanne, you covered the White House during this era. I remember the months and months of time we devoted to coverage here. So, the question is, you know, where does this come from now from Monica Lewinsky?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, you know, it's fascinating because so many of us have wondered where has she been over the last 16 years. It was 16 years since I covered the story. I used to see her actually quite often at the Watergate apartment complex. That is where we would stake her out as journalists just to get a shot of her or to see her coming and going during this very difficult time for her. She was always very gracious. Occasionally you would see her in a coffee shop in D.C. She disappeared after the trial. She was just 24 at the time. She is now 40 years old. Who knew?
She moved to London. She got a master's degree in social psychology at the London School of Economics. She's lived in L.A., New York, Portland, Oregon. She has had some difficulty holding down jobs and she talks about that in this article. Some ups and downs. She turned down a $10 million job offer because she said it wasn't the right thing to do. Now, this is what she says of the affair. She says "It is time to burn the beret and bury the blue dress." She takes her responsibility. She says, "I, myself, deeply regret what happened between me and President Clinton." She says let me say it again. "I. Myself. Deeply regret what happened."
And how does she actually see this relationship with the president? She goes on to talk about it. She says sure. "My boss took advantage of me, but I will always remain firm on this point. It was a consensual relationship. Any abuse came in the aftermath when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position. The Clinton administration, the special prosecutors' minions, the political operatives on both sides of the aisle and the media were able to brand me and that brand stuck in part because it was imbued with power."
And, you know, this is one of those things. I mean all of us covering that story at the time, we've - you know, there was a lot of hand wringing, if you will. There were discussions from managers and journalists and how do we handle this. Because there was such controversy around this. And then finally why is she doing this at this time coming forward? It turns out that she was really deeply impacted by the Tyler Clementi suicide. You guys might recall. That was the 18-year-old freshman at Rutgers who committed suicide after he was seen kissing another man on a Webcam that basically went viral. And she says, "My own suffering took on different meaning. Perhaps by sharing my story I reasoned I might be able to help others in their darkest moments of humiliation. The question became how do I find and give a purpose to my past."
BERMAN: All right. Suzanne Malveaux, very interesting to think once again about these times and to hear her take on it now. I think a different take than she might have had way back when in '98 and '99.
PEREIRA: Well, think about - she was 24 years old. Think about where you were at 24. It is a 40-year-old woman. You have different perspective, especially in light of the things that have happened in her life and knowing the choices she made and how they impacted her. And impact her until now.
BERMAN: I've got to say - it is a fascinating read. The parts that we have seen. We want to talk more about it after the break including, you know, what does it mean now? What does it mean for the Clintons' future? Not just Bill Clinton's, but Hillary Clinton's? That's just ahead @ THIS HOUR.
BERMAN: It really is fascinating. Monica Lewinsky back in the news this morning. Just a few minutes ago, really this blast from the past.
PEREIRA: Certainly, it feels like it. After a decade of silence she's talking now about her affair with President Clinton in the new issue of "Vanity Fair" she says she wants to hell her side of the story and essentially take back her own narrative.
BERMAN: You know, but this has implications, obviously, way beyond Monica Lewinsky. There's a presidential election coming up in a few years I'm told.
BERMAN: So, let's talk about this with two CNN political commentators and two friends we're happy to have here with us. Sally Kohn and Will Cain.
PEREIRA: You didn't tell me rock stars were coming to the show.
BERMAN: We have rock stars today. (INAUDIBLE). We have Sally Kohn and Will Cain here with us. Sally, you know, let's talk about Hillary Clinton here. Because Mrs. Clinton called Monica Lewinsky a narcissistic loony tune. And Monica comments on that in the piece - She says, you know, "I find her impulse," - Hillary's impulse to blame women not only me, but herself, troubling.
SALLY KOHN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Troubling would be a delicate word for that. Look, the timing of this is interesting. And you could go either way, right? You could say oh, look, it's good that it's kind of - that she's coming out now that maybe there is sort of a - I don't know, she doesn't want to hurt the Clinton family in whatever political prospects are coming up in the next year and a half. Or you could say this is actually a revenge plot. Who knows? I do think it is really problematic. And I wonder if this will be an opportunity for Hillary Clinton to maybe retract some of that. That, you know, this female political figure who has been so much hurt by sexism in the media was also propagating it against Monica. It's not cool.
PEREIRA: I couldn't help but notice you smiled evilly when she said - sorry.
BERMAN: Evil in a good way. I'm sure that you meant that in good way.
KOHN: Evil smile.
PEREIRA: Which side of the coin do you think helping, hindering, timing is suspicious?
WILL CAIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Is there a helping side oF that coin, this actually helps the Clinton campaign in some way? I don't think there is. Clearly, this hurts Hillary. However, I want to say this, I find Monica asympathetic figure at this point. I know that's at least why she says she wrote this, she was branded a certain way, not just by the administration, it's not just perhaps that she wants revenge on the administration, but by conservative media as well. For over a decade now Monica has been a source of mockery and at some point you have got to go enough is enough. Look, she made a mistake in her life and she wants to escape what she has been branded as for over a decade. I kind of - I want to grant her that ability.
BERMAN: She says "I was possibly the first person whose global humiliation was driven by the Internet."
KOHN: Right. And I think we all have to own the fact that, you know, we have the sort of very scandal driven media cycle. Right? And we move on. 24 hours we have forgotten about the last person we were all yelling and screaming about, but their lives have been tarnished. You know, she talks in the piece about her trouble just getting a job. You think now about, you know, the Christie scandal. And Bridget Kelly who the Christie administration dragged through the mud. That's going to be over at some point, but her life is still going to be ruined. These people's lives are still ruined. And good for her for wanting to speak up.
CAIN: And we can say this about Monica. She didn't try to be V. Stiviano. She didn't ask for all the cameras to come there. She went away for a long time. She didn't want the attention.
BERMAN: She did do a Barbara Walter's interview, which V. Stiviano did also. Let's not forget that.
KOHN: But who doesn't want to do a Barbara Walter's interview? Can we talk, though, about whether this hurts Hillary or not. Let's be clear. I mean the Republicans are going to try and drag everything they can through the mud, Benghazi, to try and hurt Hillary Clinton. But it's not like Hillary Clinton slept with Monica Lewinsky, OK? It's not like this is actually about her behavior and what Hillary Clinton did, her ability to lead. This is sort of really reveals the Republican desperation that, Will, is going to try to be giddy.
KOHN: This was coming out now.
PEREIRA: Sally Kohn and Will Cain. I hope that you two will come back to this program.
CAIN: I hope you invite us to come back.
PEREIRA: I won't call you rock stars anymore.
KOHN: Oh, please do. You can have that up your game next time.
PEREIRA: I have new names for you both next time. How about that? Good to have you here.
Ahead, another group of girls. This is coming out today. And I think we all cannot understand it. There is no understanding it. Eight more girls kidnapped by terrorists in Nigeria. This just a few weeks after 200 school girls were abducted sparking outrage around the world. What can be done to bring our girls back?
BERMAN: All right, this just into CNN a few minutes ago. Terrorists kidnapped eight more girls in Nigeria. A witness telling CNN that armed men stormed a village overnight and took these girls from their homes. This, of course, comes just three weeks after more than 200 girls were taken at gunpoint from their boarding school. This happened in the northern area of Nigeria.
PEREIRA: The leader of the terrorist group Boko Haram has gone public with his horrific and outrageous plan to sell the girls. They would likely be forced to become sex slaves or child brides. Doctor Chido Nwangwu is founder and publisher of U.S. Africa multimedia networks. He is joining us now from Houston.
Doctor, Nwangwu, thank you for joining us. I think that most of us or all of us are astounded to hear that even more young girls have been kidnapped. And it makes us wonder is the Nigerian government capable of stopping this terror group, the information minister announced the creation of a fact finding committee. A committee doesn't seem strong enough or decisive enough.
DR. CHIDO NWANGWU, USAFRICA MULTIMEDIA NETWORKS: Michaela, I agree entirely with you. The approach to headliners, fundamentalists is not to drop a committee and announce a committee, but to go out with what I call the pressure of an iron fist to materially inoculate and defeat them in order to ensure the safety of the children. And the more they have opportunities to kidnap, the more kids that they will take. And it's unfortunate that the government has not responded (ph) quickly to the challenge of Islamic fundamentalists and terrorism in Nigeria.
BERMAN: Dr. Nwangwu, there's a bit of an international outcry now and so many people are pressuring the United States government, other governments to try to provide support to Nigeria, to fight back against this terrorist group. The question is, is there internal pressure or enough internal pressure in Nigeria to the president there to fight back against this terror group to get the 200 girls back?
NWANGWU: John, you're right on the mark with your question. Initially we didn't have strong enough pressure on the issue of Boko Haram, but currently, several Nigerians are demonstrating. There is a lot of activity on the social media networks. And also, in the diaspora, in different cities, Los Angeles, Houston, New York, Atlanta, London, in order to put pressure on the government to do more. But, you know, more Nigerians need to express and show their outrage at the level of criminal impunity that the Boko Haram is exercising. And in terms of internal pressure, the second level, which I think the government of Nigeria ought to take into consideration is the fact that there are Nigerians and there are external interests who are funding the Boko Haram. Why should they be allowed to make the country - part of the country ungovernable? Why should the government not go after these folks in order to close and drain the swamps and fanaticism and recognize their bigotry and terrorism? Those are issues that the government needs to take into consideration quickly before there are more activities of terrorism and kidnappings across the country.
PEREIRA: Dr. Nwangwu, I know and as you mention it, there's other acts of terrorism. People have been killed. We know there's been other acts of violence, not just these 200 or more girls kidnapped. And I almost hate to ask this, because we never want to give up hope on our children. Do you feel confident they're going to find these girls and bring them home?
NWANGWU: I am more hopeful than I am confident. I am more hopeful than I am confident, just based on the experience of past efforts.
BERMAN: Dr. Chido Nwangwu, thank you so much for joining us to talk about this. Let's remain hopeful, let's pressure as many governments as we can to provide support for the Nigerian government and pressure the Nigerian government itself to take action as soon as possible.
PEREIRA: And if you'd like to find out ways that you can actually help, you can impact the world by helping girls get an education. Because we know that this is at the core of what these terrorists want to keep from happening. Visit our Website, cnn.com/impact.
BERMAN: That's a good idea. All right, ahead for us, @ THIS HOUR, the White House correspondents dinner, always good for a few laughs, if you're invited. This year didn't fall short. We will pick the executive producer of this year's really comedic video hit.
PEREIRA: This was funny.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH) SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Hey, girl.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, J-dog, are you going to this dinner thing tonight?
BOEHNER: Well, hell, no, I'm not going. I got important things going on here in the capital.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ooh, yeah, okay, right. Thanks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PEREIRA: I'm going to say it right here @ THIS HOUR, the team are big fans of the HBO show "Veep" with Julia Louis-Dreyfus. It's a sharp video based on the show is quite a hit, at the White House correspondents dinner over the weekend. It's also been kind of a monster hit on YouTube.
BERMAN: And that's where those of us not cool enough to get an invite to the dinner, like some people saw it. We saw it on YouTube. Let's take a look now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm going to remember that. Oh, yeah. OK. Ha!
JOE BIDEN: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, no, no, don't touch the desk, don't touch the desk.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.
BIDEN: Come on, let's get out here and get something to eat.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah.
BIDEN: This is good? My granddaughters like the sprinkles.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is like the sweetest thing you can get in the executive branch.
MICHELLE OBAMA: Hey, guys. What are you doing?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nothing.
MICHELLE OBAMA: What's in your mouth?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Carrots.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: All right, so this clip, funny with a capital "F," which, by the way, is a letter you hear a lot on the show "Veep" every Sunday night. Armando Ianucci is the creator of this show. He joins us right now. We're honored, honestly, to have you here with us. It's a delight to say. You know, one of the things you hear in Washington from people is, you know, they always compare people to characters, in the show.
ARMANDO IANUCCI, CREATOR AND EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, HBO'S "VEEP": Yes.
BERMAN: These are awful, horrible people in the show. What does it say to you that people are comparing themselves?
IANUCCI: Well, politicians never identify themselves as someone on the show. They say they always work with someone who reminds them of someone on the show.
PEREIRA: Ah. That's a problem because you seem to have all of these people, we saw the correspondents video, it was genius. You had so many people play along. Really, really well. Did you have to twist arms?
IANUCCI: We had Nancy Pelosi, we had John Boehner.
IANUCCI: The biggest manifestation of bipartisanship in Washington the last week.
BERMAN: You were bringing people together. Where everyone else, by the way, has failed, you have succeeded.
IANUCCI: Great, am I in charge? Can I run the country for the next five minutes?
PEREIRA: We both talk about how much we love the show. Even on this, how much improvising do you allow or do they sort of run with?
IANUCCI: Well, it's something like that, I think the thing is you discover when you're working with people like the vice president, they don't have much time, you know, you're told months in advance, ten minutes here, five minutes there. Even getting into the Oval Office, which was a bit of a feat in itself. There were only 15 minutes to shoot. On the show, I wanted to sound very natural and spontaneous so we encourage the cast to ad-lib.
BERMAN: If you swear a lot, it has to sound natural, I think.
BERMAN: Else it's hard to believe.
BERMAN: You - I can tell by your accent, you're not actually from the United States.
IANUCCI: No, I'm from the U.K.. I did show in - I worked a lot for the BBC and did a political comedy there. So "Veep" is the sort of distance cousin to that show.
BERMAN: What's interesting to me, though, is there something about the vice presidency, because it's fairly unique in terms of the job around the world. Is there something about the vice presidency inherently funny even from the outside?
IANUCCI: Well, yes, several vice presidential chief of staff have told me the thing about - you know, thing about America, it's all about coming first. It's about victory and success. If you're vice president, you're effectively going around with a button saying two all the time. And yet any second you could be in charge. That's the thing. You're so close and so far.
PEREIRA: A little bit of respect yet not much.
PEREIRA: So, it must have been - I loved seeing Veep Joe and Veep Selena together off camera with their - because he's got a great sense of humor. She's got a wicked sense of humor.
IANUCCI: Oh, yeah, absolutely. And the chemistry comes across I think.
PEREIRA: Yeah, it really does.
IANUCCI: So think about - I mean all the people were doing it out of good will really, and it's just as an entertainment.
BERMAN: I don't want to give away the plot of the show, but you have a presidential election going on, right? There are some of us who are concerned about what happens after the election.
PEREIRA: Wait, you're right, you might have to change the premise of the show here.
BERMAN: You think you're concerned?
BERMAN: No, you, yeah.
IANUCCI: We're still - we are just starting work on the next season. And we're just trying to get to grips with what happens next. This season, she's campaigning now. I think we'll get as far as the New Hampshire primary at the end of this season. And then we'll see what happens next.
BERMAN: You want to give us a preview right here, @ THIS HOUR?
IANUCCI: She certainly is on the ballot for the New Hampshire primary. How well she does, I can't reveal.
PEREIRA: Well, if you need newscasters --
BERMAN: You're more informative than most of our political guests. So thank you for that right there.
PEREIRA: All right. Armando Ianucci, really a delight, thanks for coming.
IANUCCI: Thank you very much.
PEREIRA: Thank you for making us all laugh. Because we certainly could use it.
BERMAN: We have got a few seconds left to spare here. We'll use the opportunity to pitch our Facebook page, by the way. I've been on it a lot. So have thousands and thousands of you. I think thousands more should go there right now.
PEREIRA: And they should tell a thousand of their friends.
BERMAN: And they should tell a thousand of their friends also to watch Veep. What you do, you go to the Facebook page, it's Facebook/ThisHour. You like it, you tell a thousand people, so on, so on, and my kids can go to college.
PEREIRA: And the other - a few of us on Instagram you and I, and also on Twitter as well. So we're doing things. Thanks so much for joining us @ THIS HOUR. Michaela Pereira.
BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. "LEGAL VIEW" with Ashleigh Banfield starts right now.