Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2014–…): Season 6, Episode 5 - Public Shaming - full transcript

John covers the New Zealand terrorist attack, and does a long piece on the effects of Public Shaming.

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---
Welcome, welcome, welcome
to "Last Week Tonight."

I'm John Oliver.
Thank you so much for joining us.

Unfortunately, we must begin
with the tragic events

in Christchurch, where 50 people
were killed and many injured

when a white supremacist
terrorist attacked two mosques.

And look, this wasn't just
a disgusting act from a fucking asshole.

It was an affront to the basic values
of the people of New Zealand,

as their prime minister pointed out.

We were not chosen for this act
of violence because we condone racism,

because we're an enclave
for extremism.

We were chosen for the very fact
that we are none of these things.



She's absolutely right, because
New Zealand is an incredible place.

And I know that we make fun
of it on this show all the time.

There is honestly nothing I like more
than making fun of New Zealand,

but part of that may be because
controversies over there

are handled
with charm and good cheer.

How can you not love a country

that has a contest to design a new flag
for itself and someone submits this:

a kiwi bird shooting lasers
out of its eyes?

My point is, New Zealand is amazing,
and it is showing its strength

in how it's responded to this tragedy.

The same, sadly, cannot be said
for Australia's Fraser Anning,

a hard-line racist politician
and melted candle of Ed Harris.

We've actually talked about him
before on this show,

after he proposed a final
solution to Muslim immigration.



And his response to the Christchurch
shooting was very much on brand.

This was the statement
from an Australian senator:

"The real cause of bloodshed
on New Zealand streets

"is the immigration program
which allowed Muslim fanatics

to migrate to New Zealand
in the first place."

It goes on to say, "Muslims may
have been the victims today.

Usually they are the perpetrators."

Holy shit. That might be
the worst possible response

to what happened,
because even if you responded

by saying, "The Christchurch
attack makes me wonder,

"was 'DuckTales' supposed to be
in Scotland or America?

I'm guessing America, but when
did Scrooge McDuck move?"

I mean, you're way off topic there,

but you're also not calling Muslims
terrorists, so still a better response.

Thankfully, there was immediate outcry
following Anning's comments,

and one young Australian
went a bit further.

These sort of things happen.

When people are getting
attacked in their own--

You weren't seeing things there.

The teenager smacked an egg
on the senator's head.

You saw the senator fight back.
The boy was led away by police.

He's reportedly been released.
A fundraising page has been set up

to collect donations to cover
the teenager's legal fees

and to "buy more eggs."

"More eggs."
That is fantastic.

And look, you might argue that an act
like that has no place in politics,

and I'm sure Fraser Anning is furious.
He did punch that boy in the face.

But I've prepared a statement
in response on that.

The real cause of Anning
getting hit with an egg

is Anning saying things
that prompt people to throw eggs at him.

He may be the victim today,
but usually he's a huge fucking asshole.

But for now--for now,
let's move on to Brexit,

which is, of course,
a mash-up of the words

"Britain," "exit,"
and "gone to shit."

Britain's deadline to leave the EU
is March 29th, just 12 days away now.

The country's had two years to prepare
for this, so how's it going?

Well, this week was, to put it mildly,
a little bumpy.

To the casual observer,

it may seem Westminster
and our political leaders

are in a bit of a mess over Brexit.

Experts tend to disagree.

They say it's very much worse
than that.

Wow. Do you know how bad
things have to be in Britain

for something to be very much
worse than a bit of a mess?

Remember, this is a people
who refer to three decades

of sustained sectarian violence
as "The Troubles,"

which sounds like an adorable euphemism
for an infant with diarrhea.

"Oh, dear, it seems Alistair
has come down with the troubles again."

But things are indeed a real mess.

You remember in January,
Theresa May presented to Parliament

an agreement she made with the EU,
not for a final Brexit deal,

but just for a transition period, during
which time that deal would be made.

That plan was voted down
in Parliament by historic margin.

This week, she re-presented essentially
the same deal with minor tweaks,

and even supporters of the deal
defended it in less than glowing terms.

It's a choice I do not want
to have to make

between--excuse my language,
Mr. Speaker-- a turd of a deal,

which has now been taken away
and polished and is now a polished turd.

But it might be the best turd
that we've got before us.

Oh, my God. I only wish
that right before the Brexit vote,

a wormhole had opened up in time,

so people could see
that two years later,

supporters of the plan to leave
will be saying,

"All of our options are turds.
Come join me in my turd menagerie.

"Select a turd
that suits your fancy,

"so we may ride that turd
into a bold new era,

an era of turds."

As if things
weren't already dumb enough,

due to the UK's stupid ban on using
parliamentary footage for comedy,

we once more cannot show
that clip in Britain,

so in place of it, they'll be watching,
with no explanation whatsoever,

this clip from a 1980s dating video.

I'm Mike, and if you're sitting there
watching this tape,

smoking your cigarette,
hit the fast-forward button,

'cause I don't smoke
and I don't like people who do smoke.

Wow.
Hard swipe left from Mike there.

That's the point. Britain will get
Mike the Non-Smoker

followed by a long joke about turds,

and they'll have brought that
on themselves.

Unsurprisingly, May's plan was
voted down by Parliament on Tuesday,

taking Britain closer
to the worst-case scenario,

the so-called "no-deal Brexit."
And the good news is, the next day,

they voted in favor of a motion
saying that, no matter what,

Britain won't leave the EU
without a deal.

The bad news is,
that motion is non-binding.

So it carries all the legal obligation
of a wish painted onto a lantern

and released into the deep purple
of the star-dappled summertime sky.

Or, as one European official put it...

Just by saying we don't want a no-deal
Brexit doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

Now, there isn't an alternative,
or if there isn't an idea

of what the alternative
could be by the 29th of March,

there might be a no-deal Brexit,
even if nobody wants it.

You know, European history
is rife of moments

where things happened
that nobody wanted.

Is it, though?

I'm not saying European history
isn't rife with bad moments,

but almost always, those things happened
because people wanted them to,

even people who might later say
they didn't want the things to happen.

Many of them did.
Not everyone's grandpa was

one of the good ones trying to prevent
the things from happening.

Look at the numbers. They couldn't all
have been one of the few good ones.

Somebody's grandpa must have
wanted the things to happen,

and here is the thing, it was yours.

So Parliament decided that
they didn't want "no deal,"

but they also didn't want
Theresa May's deal.

So in another
non-binding wish lantern,

they then resolved that May should ask
the EU for an extension until June 30th.

What would they do
with that extra time?

That's unclear, and also,
the EU would have to agree to it,

all of which is so deeply
confusing and frustrating,

even journalists were snapping
at cabinet ministers.

Secretary of State, you know better
than I do that Parliament is for once

deeply representative
of the country.

It's completely asunder.

Nobody in the country
knows what's going on.

Nobody in there
knows what's going on.

And you know nothing,
even inside the cabinet.

The cabinet is at sea.
The country's at sea.

- We are a laughingstock.
- Is that a question?

No, no.
You know what? It's not.

It's not actually a question,
so let me take another stab at one.

You really fucked up, right?
See? There's a question.

There's a question for you!

The truth is, a bad Brexit outcome

was guaranteed the minute
the vote went final.

There are not, nor will there ever be
good Brexit options.

So members of Parliament need to accept
their options now are limited,

as this MP, who voted for May's deal,
seems to have done.

We were just discussing
in my office

how we would describe
the current situation,

and using good old
Cumbrian terminology,

we were really torn between
whether it's a pig's ear,

a dog's dinner, or a cat's arse.

Okay, okay. Okay.

First, fuck the dog's dinner,
marry the cat's arse,

and kill the pig's ear.

It's easy. Unless, that is,
you're David Cameron,

in which case, you marry the pig's ear,
'cause you've fucked his face.

You make an honest hog
out of that swine corpse,

'cause you're a good guy who's in no way
responsible for this mess.

But I would actually argue that
that MP

has inadvertently hit upon the perfect
metaphor for Britain's choices.

The pig's ear is the decision to leave,
because it's absurd.

The dog's dinner is the exit plan,
because it's distasteful,

but we have to swallow it,
it's all we've got.

And the cat's arse is the consequence
of what we've done,

because it's shitty, but we'll have to
have it shoved in our faces repeatedly

for a long fucking time to come.

And now this.

And now, in honor
of St. Patrick's Day,

Sean Hannity celebrates
his heritage.

Okay.
I'm hopefully optimistic.

- I'm Irish. Don't worry, it's normal.
- Oh, you are.

I like fear as a motivator.
And I'm Irish.

I'm thinking the worst-case scenario.

Maybe it's because I'm Irish,

maybe 'cause I'm always
expecting the worst.

My grandparents came
to this country from Ireland.

All four of my grandparents
came from Ireland.

What is an Irish seven course meal?

- What?
- A six-pack and a potato.

What's an Irish
seven course meal?

- You tell me, bro.
- A six-pack and a potato.

Seven course meal,
six-pack and a potato.

Six-pack. Six-pack.
Six-pack and a potato.

A six-pack and a potato.
I'd laugh.

- That's funny.
- You never heard that?

Excuse me.
No, I never heard it.

You know what an Irish
seven course meal is?

- A six-pack and a potato.
- Is that right?

Seven course meal is
a six-pack and a potato.

A six-pack and a potato, okay?

A six-pack and a potato.

That's funny.

Moving on. Our main story tonight
concerns public shaming,

or as we call it in England,
parenting.

Thanks to the internet, it's never been
easier to pile onto a public shaming.

In fact, it's now one of
America's favorite pastimes.

A Wisconsin family's
photo shoot's gone viral,

and it's sparking outrage online.

A viral video leads to outrage
on Long Island.

Now the outrage over
another viral video.

The outrage machine
never seems to rest.

As actress Sarah Michelle Gellar
found out,

some people online are just looking
for an excuse to be angry.

Wait, what did
Sarah Michelle Gellar do?

I'm already so angry about it!

Actually, don't tell me.
I just realized I don't care.

The point is, this is a golden age
of internet shaming,

and you've probably
participated in it

if you've been mad at a potential
Oscar host with shitty tweets,

a company who made a blackface shirt,
a beloved Irish actor

who wanted to commit
a racist murder,

and aquarium that called
an otter "thicc,"

a gender reveal party
that started a wildfire,

whoever attacked Jussie Smollett,

whoever didn't believe Jussie Smollett,
and finally, Jussie Smollett.

We're basically goldfish,
except instead of

discovering a new castle in our bowl
every nine seconds

we find something new
to be outraged about online.

You may be expecting me to say
that all public shaming is bad,

but I don't actually think that.

When it's well-directed,
a lot of good can come out of it.

If someone's caught
doing something racist

or someone powerful behaves badly,
it can increase accountability.

This week, it emerged that Tucker
Carlson, the answer to the question,

"What if the sound 'thud'
grew a face?"

had said some awful things
on a radio show a few years prior.

And to hear Tucks tell it, he was
unfairly caught up in public shaming.

The great American outrage machine
is a remarkable thing.

One day you're having dinner with your
family, imagining everything's fine.

The next, your phone is exploding
with calls from reporters.

First, no one having dinner
with Tucker Carlson

has ever imagined
everything was fine.

Most people's answer to the question

"If you could have dinner with anyone,
living or dead" is Tucker Carlson, dead.

And if you look into why Tucker
was caught in that "outrage machine,"

it's because he publicly called Iraqis
"semiliterate primitive monkeys,"

compared women to dogs,
and basically said that

Warren Jeffs,
who is serving a life sentence

for the sexual assault of his underage
brides, wasn't that bad.

Tucker refused to apologize and all week
long, there've been trending hashtags

like "boycott Tucker Carlson,"
and "fire Tucker Carlson,"

and "Tucker Carlson fucks
his Roomba."

That one wasn't technically trending,

but I have this weird feeling
that it will be in 20 minutes or so.

And look, I would argue
that Tucker is actually

a good example of an internet
pile-on being merited.

He's a public figure,
he made his comments publicly,

they are appalling,
and he's standing by them.

But clearly,
it's not always that simple,

because when misdirected,
internet pile-ons

can completely destroy
people's lives.

So tonight, let's try and talk about
the power of public shaming,

because often it is not a famous figure
who's on the receiving end of it.

On a seemingly daily basis, ordinary
people who did not ask for attention

can get sucked into the spotlight,
like this woman did a few years ago.

They're calling her the Aunt From Hell
and the Auntie Christ.

An aunt files suit
against her 12-year-old nephew.

She claims she broke her wrist
when he jumped into her arms.

She sued her young nephew
for $127,000.

That's right, $127,000 over a hug.

Her defense was that
when she goes to a cocktail party,

she actually said this,

she can't hold the plate
when the hors d'oeuvres are passed.

- Oh.
- Because of her wrist.

That sounds terrible, although I'll say
this. I know this isn't the point,

but everyone finds it difficult
to hold an hors d'oeuvres plate.

You have a plate in one hand
and wine in the other.

Do you grab food off the plate with your
teeth, like some kind of trained horse?

Do you hold the wine in your armpit
and grab food with your other hand

then spend the rest of the night
drinking armpit wine?

It's an unsolvable puzzle.

But look, it is pretty shitty
to force a 12-year-old boy

to pay six figures for hugging you
enthusiastically.

Which is, of course,
why she didn't actually do that.

The real story is
much more complicated.

Very basically, her health insurance
didn't cover her massive medical bills.

So to cover her costs,

she had to go through her relative's
homeowner's insurance.

To do that, she had to name
a person in a lawsuit,

even though the kid and his family
were completely fine with it,

and they would not be
required to pay.

She actually went on
"The Today Show"

to explain all of this
after the story blew up.

Unfortunately, it didn't seem
to undo the damage.

Maybe because even while
she was discussing the actual facts,

"The Today Show's" graphics read,
"Worst aunt ever speaks out."

Which doesn't really help, does it?

Meanwhile, she was being
relentlessly attacked on the internet,

meaning anyone Googling her
in the future would likely be inundated

by the inaccurate version of that story,
which, as she'll tell you,

became a real problem when
she was looking for work.

It was very difficult
to find another job.

People reached out
and then canceled interviews

or then said, "Oh, we've
changed our direction."

I've taken--had to take certain measures

in order to reestablish myself.

And I have a refreshed identity.

That's a pretty drastic
measure to have to take.

So to help her move past this,
if you talk about the show tonight,

remember to tag it with the hashtag
"just a normal aunt."

Hashtag "aunt from not hell,"

hashtag "Tucker Carlson
fucks his Roomba."

And look, there was every
reason for her to believe

that refreshing her identity
was necessary,

because fully two months after she went
on TV to correct the record,

Fox News was having this discussion.

Hashtag "worst aunt ever."

But I will tell you that she did then
come on to one of the media outlets

and say that she needed--
she was injured, obviously,

and wanted to sue
her homeowner's association,

but had to--or homeowner's
insurance--and had to name him

as the party and felt bad about it.

By the way, she fell because he was
so excited to see her.

- He jumped up in her arms.
- Right.

"Auntie Jen, I love you!
I love you!"

What are you doing there?

This is the worst aunt ever.
But in all seriousness,

she did the only thing she could have
done and feels bad about it.

But the important thing here is,
she's the worst aunt ever and...

Now, I am not saying those television
personalities are all terrible people.

They just want to fill time more than
they want to say things that are true.

But at some point
it's incumbent on everyone

to consider both context
and consequences

if you're going to pile on
in a shaming.

And I'm not saying
that anything here is easy.

For instance, did I just publicly shame
that lawyer in the last clip?

Yeah, I probably did. And honestly,
I'm absolutely fine with that.

I'm fine with calling him a human popped
collar whose every facial expression

says, "I only wish 'Green Book'
had won more Oscars."

And look-- look, let's be honest.

We make fun of people constantly
on this show. It's a comedy show.

Although, for what it is worth,
we do think,

probably more carefully
than you might imagine,

about who we're making fun of,
why we're doing it, and how.

We ask ourselves questions like,
"Should we use their name?

How much power do they have?"
and "Do they have a soul patch?"

That last one can be
a real deal breaker.

And I'm not saying
that we're perfect at all.

You might disagree with choices
that we've made,

but we've honestly thought about it.

And sometimes the decision is difficult.

Look at another major scandal
that broke this week

concerning fraud in college admissions.

Actresses Felicity Huffman
and Lori Loughlin

among 33 wealthy parents accused of
bribing coaches and administrators

to get their kids
into elite universities.

Loughlin and her husband
Mossimo Giannulli

allegedly put up $1/2 million

in exchange for getting
their two daughters

recruited to the USC crew team,

even though they did not
participate in crew.

Okay, that is such a weird story.

I don't think anyone guessed that
the next celebrity scandal would be

Aunt Becky from "Full House"
allegedly spends $1/2 million

so a guy will pretend her daughters
are good at boats.

And incidentally, if that's all true,
"worst aunt ever."

Now, I have got-- I have no problem--
the truth is, I've got no problem

making fun of the parents
accused of doing that

or the guy who ran that service.

Where it gets more complicated
is with the kids.

How much is it fair
to make fun of them?

Well, I would argue that one of them,
Olivia Jade, is a public figure.

She has nearly 1 1/2 million
followers on Instagram

and has worked with
all these companies.

She's actively made money
off her brand

as a fun, relatable college student,
releasing videos like this.

I don't know how much of school
I'm gonna attend,

but I do want the experience
of, like, game days, partying...

I don't really care about school,
as you all know.

Okay, so even before what we learned
this week, that was a little tone-deaf,

although not quite as tone-deaf as this
sponsored post she made for Amazon,

in which she's decorated her dorm room
at USC with the letters "OJ."

And if you don't see a connection
between the letters OJ and USC,

maybe it should cost $1/2 million
to get you in there.

Now, I'm comfortable
making those jokes.

Am I comfortable with the whole internet
piling on her?

Honestly, that kind of depends on how
and for how long.

If it's death threats and vile comments,
then of course not.

If it defines her forever,
that seems unfair.

The window for making fun of her
is probably closing,

although it should stay open just enough
for me to tell you

one person went to
her Sephora makeup product page

and left a one-star review reading,

"I thought this would give me
the 'just came from crew practice,'

"'spent hours rowing on the lake' glow.
Turns out it was all a sham!"

Because that was excellent.

Just mwah.

But look, that is
the difficult thing here.

When joining in a pile-on,
there's a lot to take into account.

And when millions of people
all feel the need to weigh in

and do it potentially for years,

the punishment can be vastly
disproportionate to the offense.

And perhaps the best example
of this is Monica Lewinsky.

Two decades ago, this country
put her through hell,

as she'll be the first to tell you.

Overnight, I went from being
a completely private figure

to a publically humiliated one
worldwide.

I was patient zero of losing
a personal reputation

on a global scale
almost instantaneously.

Wow.
That has to be terrifying.

Although, in fairness,
almost everything is scary

when you add the phrase
"on a global scale."

If I said, "Karen's ophthalmologist

"says she's gonna need reading glasses
on a global scale,"

you would rightly think, "What the fuck
is going on with Karen's eyes?"

But look, she's not wrong.

And if you're hazy on
the Monica Lewinsky story,

at 22, she and President Clinton began
a relationship that, long story short,

ended up with graphic details
being made public

through the report
by independent counsel Ken Starr.

And it is impossible to overstate
just how globally famous

Monica and private details
of her life became.

The media obsessed over
every angle of her story,

from tabloid stories like these,

to cartoons where microphones pointed
at her face were replaced with penises,

to endless late night comedy jokes.

Look, my hands are not
clean here, either.

I wasn't in the U.S. then,
but ten years after the fact,

I was in a "Daily Show" piece marking
the 10th anniversary of the scandal

above a graphic reading "Ten suckin'
years," which is gross. It's gross.

And many comedians have since
publically expressed regret

about things they said,
although one who hasn't,

and who was among the most relentless,
was Jay Leno.

Let's see what's going on with Monica

or, as President Clinton
calls her, "my little humidor."

1 million samples of DNA.

The largest collection of DNA
in the world,

not counting Monica Lewinsky's closet.

And the humidity--
man, I'll tell you,

people's clothes are stickier than
Monica Lewinsky's. Man, it was just...

You can't get away without one of these:
Lewinsky back on her feet.

All right, ladies and gentlemen.

And the Grammy
for Best Organ Recital

went to Monica Lewinsky,
ladies and gentlemen.

Those jokes have not dated well
in any sense of the word.

And they're pretty rough,
especially coming from a guy

who just this week complained
about late night TV,

saying he'd like to see
"a bit of civility come back."

Like that time that
he did a bit with a fake book

about Lewinsky titled,
"The Slut in the Hat."

And if that's what he means by civility,
may I offer my new book,

"Oh, the Places You Can
Go Fuck Yourself, Jay Leno!"

Look--look how civil I'm being.

Look how civil this is.

Given that, it's frankly a miracle that
Lewinsky seems to have emerged

with her sense of humor,
because when someone recently tweeted,

"I don't know who
Monica Lewinsky is,"

she replied, "I'm the chick
from over 125 rap songs,"

which is both very funny
and also technically true,

because she's referenced
in all these songs.

We actually found 193 of them,
and that is-- and this may shock you--

significantly more rap songs
than have mentioned me.

And to be honest, that kind of feels
like a personal slight.

You know what's an easy name to rhyme?
John.

I'll show you:
begone, swan, Louis Vuitton,

beef bourguignon,
lots of options there.

You know what's also
pretty tight rhyme-wise? Oliver.

Don't want a piece, I want all of her.

Hittin' all the spots like John Oliver.

You can have that for free, rappers.

You know what rhymes with Lewinsky?
Almost nothing.

But look, the point isn't that
I should be in more rap songs,

although I absolutely should.

It's that Lewinsky went through
absolute hell

to get to the point where
she could make that joke

about being the woman
from the rap songs.

And it can be easy to forget
just how ferocious

and devastating
the public attention was.

Hey, pal, get your arms off her!

I don't even know
how to begin to describe...

What it was.
But it was to see my face on TV,

to--to read my name
in the newspaper.

People have no idea what--

what this has done.

What this has done.

Behind the name Monica Lewinsky,

there's a person
and there is a family

and there has been so much pain
that has been caused by all this.

And it is...

It was so...

Destructive, was so destructive.

That's horrifying,
and it's impossible to imagine

how bad that was,
but for a second, just try.

Think of the dumbest thing
you did in youth.

Not the dumbest thing you got caught
doing, the dumbest thing you did.

The thing you stole, or cheated on,

or accidentally sexted,
and again, I am sorry, Mom.

Now, imagine hearing about that

every single day for decades on end.

It's a little bit of what it was like
to be Monica Lewinsky.

And I know everything about the subject
of public shaming is complicated.

But Monica Lewinsky might be
the perfect person

to remind all of us
what the consequences can be

to a misdirected flood
of public anger.

I know this because I sat down
with Monica earlier this week,

and this is what happened.

21 years ago, Monica Lewinsky
was at the center of a media frenzy.

In recent years, she's reemerged
as a major voice on online shaming

and anti-bullying initiatives.

And she was kind enough
to sit down with me

in a fancy apartment
that neither of us live in.

So in the last few years,
you've been doing a lot of work

related to bullying
and people being shamed.

- You think the issue has gotten worse?
- Absolutely.

I think that with the advent of the
internet and, of course, social media,

we now have situations

where it's exacerbated
beyond, I think,

what anybody could have imagined.

And the anonymity that comes with that,

that sort of unleashed
these whole new personas for people.

Yeah, it's sad, isn't it?
If you have a chance to come up with

a second persona, you decide to come up
with one that's a fucking monster.

Yeah, exactly.

"How much of an asshole can I be?"

"I'm gonna amplify every worst aspect
of my personality by 100."

Would you agree that somewhere
on the spectrum of shame,

there can be positive effects to it?

I mean people
whose bad behavior hurts others

and who might not change it
without public attention.

Yeah, it's interesting.

I've spent a lot of time
thinking about this.

And we tend to look at it as this kind
of, um, like a binary question, right?

Should we public shame
or shouldn't we?

I do think there's a spectrum
of behavior

on which we could kind of
sort of judge as a society.

Is this where shaming is effective

to change social behavior
or is it damaging?

You were on the receiving end
of one of the worst

internet-fueled public shamings
of all time,

- ...and hopefully, in a way, ever.
- Mm-hmm.

How the fuck
did you get through that?

Yeah. I, um...
I don't actually know. You know?

- Really?
- I mean, it was a shitstorm.

It was an avalanche
of pain and humiliation,

and obviously, I could not have gotten
through it without my family.

And when I was allowed to talk
to my friends, my friends, too.

And I think at 24 years old,

it was, you know,

really hard to hold on
to a shred of dignity

or self-esteem when, you know,

you're the butt of so many jokes
and being misunderstood.

Right, as everything escalated,
all the reaction to it,

what's it like to see this character
of yourself that has your face and name,

but bears less and less
relevance to who you actually are?

Yeah, it was so bizarre.
I mean, it was just--it was...

I say extraordinary not with
any positive connotation.

And I think it was not only
just the slut-shaming,

not only, you know, having had
an intimate relationship

with someone who is now
describing me in way

that no young woman
would want to be described.

- Sure.
- There was just also my looks.

I, you know, was very about
the touch-ups and the makeup,

'cause I'm--like,
part of my vanity now

comes from just the wound
of having been made fun of

for my weight, for, you know,

people saying I was unattractive.

And it was terrifying,
not only because

I was watching myself

or this version of myself
running away from me.

I mean, stolen. My identity was stolen
in a different way.

Not to say that I wasn't flawed,

that I didn't make mistakes,
or do stupid things,

or say stupid things,
of course I did.

- You were 22.
- Right, so...

Every 22-year-old
is some version of an idiot.

You just lost a lot
of viewers, John.

- So...
- That's true.

- Just let me--
- Cut that.

Not you. Whichever 22-year-old
is listening now, not you.

Not you.
But--so I mean, it's not--

it's not like I was this,
you know, perfect angel, right?

But I watched
this sort of deconstruction of me

and rebuilding of me.
It's like a transformer, almost.

Many victims of public shaming say it
affects their ability to earn a living.

- Did that happen to you?
- Oh, 150%.

I mean, I couldn't get a job.

Actually, it was, you know,
it was interesting,

because I went to graduate school
in 2005 and graduated in 2006,

and I thought, "Oh, okay,
now I will begin my life."

I will now put being
"Monica Lewinsky" behind me

and move on to be
so-and-so's employee.

And when I couldn't
find a job, you know,

either someone offered me
a job for the wrong reasons

like, "Oh, you'll be coming
to our events.

That's your job, and there's
media there," you know?

Or it's people saying to me,

the opposite: "Could you get a letter
of indemnification from the Clintons?"

"We rely on government money
and Hillary might be president."

So I mean, there was this wide range
of not being able to support myself

and also have a purpose,
which is equally important,

to feel that you matter in some way.

Is it tough sometimes to get through--

- A typical day?
- Yes. The answer is yes.

Yes, it is tough anytime.
Sorry.

That's probably a fair response
to basically most of the things here.

Is it tough sometimes
to get through a typical day

without having to deal with this?

'Cause the ubiquity of references to you
is incredible.

Yeah, it's insane.
I think, you know, and in part,

a lot of that happened
because of this, you know,

sexist, really, thing that happened,

which is that the scandal was named
after me, became named after me.

It meant that anytime that
this has been referenced

every single day, every single day
in the past 20 years--

so it may not be
a direct reference to me,

but because the investigation
and the scandal has my name,

I'm then therefore attached to it.

- Did you consider changing your name?
- There were several reasons I didn't.

First of all, I don't think
that it really would have worked.

Like, when I was job hunting,
people even suggested,

"Why don't you put a different name
on your CV when you're..."

I thought, so I'm gonna walk
into an office for an interview,

and the person's gonna be like,
"What?

That person looks like
Monica Lewinsky."

And be wondering, and you're starting
a professional relationship on a lie.

So there's not that.

And then lastly,
I think it was also a principle.

I mean Bill Clinton
didn't have to change his name.

Nobody's ever asked him,
did he think he should change his name.

And so I think that that was
an important statement, you know?

I'm not proud of all of the choices
I've made in my life,

but I'm proud of the person I am.
I'm not ashamed of who I am.

And I think that it'is-- as hard as it's
been to have that last name sometimes

and the pain that I have felt
of what it's meant

for the other people in my family
who have that last name...

I am glad I didn't change it.

I definitely don't have your courage
or strength of character--

Honestly, I believe you don't know that.

Oh, no, I already have a mental list
of fake names that I'm going to do.

Alvin, I like... It's not a great name,
but I think I can carry it off.

No, you actually could
carry off Alvin.

Thank you, Monica.
I think I could too.

But I don't know about
Alvin Oliver.

- That's a lot.
- True. That's not great.

My second one was Jacks, no surname,
no explanation, just Jacks.

I like that.
I could get behind that one.

So let's talk a bit about,
like, laughing.

You joke about your experiences.

How long was it
before you could do that?

I think there were stages,
you know,

or things that have happened
a couple years ago.

A friend of mine had--
she and her friend

had a 25th friend-iversary party,
and they had met in the '90s.

So this party that they had
for all their friends

to celebrate their friendship,
started in the '90s,

meant everybody had to come
dressed from the '90s.

I was like, "Oh, shit," you know.

So I just thought, "Okay," you know.

So for the first time
in about 18 years,

I donned a black beret
and went to my friend's party.

You know, in part,
'cause I thought it was funny.

- Oh, it's definitely funny.
- Right.

Is that not a marker for actually having
come a long way, though?

That you're able to actively
participate in humor

connected to what
you went through,

which, again, to reiterate,
was clearly awful.

Yeah.
Like, beret things, I can laugh at.

Other item of clothing, jokes,
not as much.

What is your experience
of the internet now?

'Cause you're on Twitter now,
and you're very funny on there.

- Thank you.
- So how did you decide to go on it?

I guess some of the times
I get really deflated

watching you tweet something funny and
making the mistake of scrolling down.

- Oh, yeah.
- It can become a sewer pretty fast.

Yeah, it can. I mean, I get a lot of
empowerment out of blocking people.

I wish people would not say
shitty things, but they do.

- Right?
- Sure.

And literally to me, it's like,
when I block someone,

- I'm, like, going...
- Oh, really?

That's what it feels like for me.

I'm basically telling someone
to fuck off. It feels great.

I wish they hadn't said something

that would make me want
to block them,

but blocking is
unbelievably empowering.

Actually, I was lucky in some ways
that social media wasn't around.

I think that would have made it worse
in some ways--

- Could it have made it worse?
- Well--

Have you not maxed out
how bad it could be?

Do you really think it could
have got worse? Maybe.

You know what? I don't know.

It might have been worse in the sense
that there certainly would have been

a lot more opinions
that were out there.

But where it may have been
better would have been that,

I think, I would have
heard some support from people.

It might've been
a bit more balanced.

So would it have been really
meaningful to you, at the time,

had social media been around just
to have a stranger tweet something like,

"I think what you're going
through is bullshit"?

Yeah, yeah, it would.
Absolutely.

Because one of the things
that happens

with these kinds of experiences
is that you start to disappear.

You start to feel like
you don't matter.

And I think that when
somebody sees you,

you know, and just acknowledges
your humanity in the smallest way,

it can make
a world of difference.

And you don't know, it could help save
someone's life, and that's important.

What would your advice be to someone

who's either in the eye right now
of the storm of public shaming

or a kid who's being humiliated
at school, online?

Anything you'd be able to tell them

from your personal experience
that nobody else could?

The first thing I'd probably say is that
you can get through it, move past it.

I know it feels like
in this one moment

that your life will forever be defined
by this, but it won't.

And it may be hard.

It may take more time
than you ever could have imagined,

but you can move past
something like this.

Monica Lewinsky,
thanks a lot for talking with me.

Thank you, Alvin Oliver.
No, I'm kidding, sorry.

Or Jacks.

That's our show.
Thanks for watching.

We're off next week, back after that.
Good night!