Late-night host Stephen Colbert on Tuesday offered former President Bill Clinton a "do-over" to his panned response to a question about his sexual misconduct in the White House, pointing out Clinton was "the most famous example of a powerful man sexually misbehaving in the workplace of my lifetime."
Colbert mentioned at the outset of their "Late Show" interview that he had seen Clinton's "Today" interview with Craig Melvin, during which Clinton grew combative over questions about the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
Colbert wanted to know if he wanted a "do-over" to his original answer, in which Clinton said he did not get out of the situation unscathed and defensively said most of the American public sided with him throughout the scandal.
"Do you understand why some people thought that was a tone-deaf response to his questions about the #MeToo movement and how you might reflect on your behavior 20 years ago, and how that reflection may change based on what you've learned through the #MeToo movement?" Colbert asked.
Clinton said NBC had to "distill" the interview.
"It looked like I was saying I didn't apologize and had no intention to," he said. "And I was mad at me, not for the first time."
"It wasn't my finest hour, but the important thing is that was a very painful thing that happened 20 years ago, and I apologized to my family, to Monica Lewinsky and her family, and to the American people," he added. "I meant it then, I meant it now. I've had to live with the consequences every day since."
He added that the #MeToo movement was necessary and should be supported, leading to cheers and applause from the audience.
James Patterson, the co-author of Clinton's new thriller novel, praised the former president for his charitable work around the world, but Colbert stayed on the original subject, saying Clinton seemed "surprised" by Melvin's line of questioning.
The "spirit of the #MeToo movement," Colbert said, was in part about re-litigating examples of men acting inappropriately in the workplace.
"It seemed tone-deaf to me, because you seemed offended to be asked about this thing, when, in all due respect, sir, your behavior was the most famous example of a powerful man sexually misbehaving in the workplace of my lifetime," Colbert said. "Why are you surprised?"
Clinton protested that the question had been asked of him in the #MeToo context and said he did not mind, but added he did not like Melvin's questioning because of the assertion, in his mind, that he had never apologized for his conduct.
Clinton's sexual relationship in the 1990s with Lewinsky, who was a young White House intern at the time, led to impeachment proceedings against the 42nd president.