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Monica Lewinsky is behind a powerful new anti-bullying campaign called “The Epidemic” — and, while promoting it, revealed that she herself has “become the punchline ... more than normal” again amid the Trump impeachment investigation.
The activist unveiled the jarring PSA, which compares bullying to a widespread illness, on the Today show Wednesday. Calling online bullying a “global epidemic," she said she helped create the video — which came with a trigger warning — to shine a light on how people, especially kids, may be silently be dealing with it, noting, "It can be hard to see the signs.”
Having been bullied herself stemming from her sexual relationship with President Clinton as a White House intern — which led to the impeachment investigation against Clinton led by prosecutor Kenneth Starr — Lewinsky was asked if the current impeachment investigation into Trump’s Ukraine dealings triggers her emotionally. (She has spoken publicly about her depression stemming from the public bullying and shaming she faced amid scandal as well as admitted she contemplated suicide.)
“Impeachment is a constitutional crisis, right? So obviously it’s much bigger than me,” she replied. “But am I affected personally? Sure. Of course. I mean people are making comparisons to when Bill Clinton was impeached. I’ve become a punchline of a joke a little bit more than normal. And I’ve found myself the last few weeks — I’m certainly more sensitive. Some people in my world might say cranky. I’ve needed more self-care but the truth is if we’re talking seriously about impeachment, it actually means we’re all affected in the country.”
In an interview with People magazine, she expressed a similar sentiment, admitting that she’s “been a little more on edge” as the impeachment inquiry dominates the news. But she also told the magazine it’s “bigger than any one person,” saying, “Yes, this is hard for me but I don’t want to give anyone the impression that in the scheme of things I think that matters... It’s far bigger and greater than me.”
Lewinsky, who has given talks and written extensively about the pain she felt amid the scandal, expressed worry for what was happening in Washington, D.C. beyond just the impeachment.
“I worry that because of the behavior we are seeing come out of D.C. these days, that hate speech, cyberbullying and online harassment are not only being modeled for our young people but that the frequency and level of vitriol becoming the norm,” Lewinsky told People. “It’s not okay,” referring to the president’s frequent witter tirades and attacks.
Lewinsky’s “The Epidemic” is timed with National Bullying Prevention Month. While you view it on a screen — there is also a mobile component where the viewer gets the texts that the young woman in it was sent, making for an even deeper impact.
"I'm very proud of this campaign's innovative approach to storytelling," Lewinsky said in a press release obtained by Yahoo Entertainment. "Bullying is a global epidemic and the signs can often be hard to see, since so much of it takes place online. But make no mistake; there are real, offline consequences that range from bad to grave. With ‘The Epidemic’ we're working to build vital awareness, help people learn empathy through experience and remind anyone who is being bullied: please don't suffer in silence."
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