"Morning Joe" host Mika Brzezinski said Friday that Bill Clinton was a "predator" who sexually harassed Monica Lewinsky, the White House intern he had an affair with during his presidency.
The remark came during a wider discussion of the recent swirl of sexual harassment and abuse accusations against high-profile men in Hollywood, business and politics; the latter most recently has seen GOP Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore and Sen. Al Franken (D., Minn.) accused of sexual misconduct.
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Brzezinski, who has penned a series of books encouraging women to take charge of their own destinies in the workplace, said it's highly difficult to have an "honest" conversation about sexual harassment.
Brzezinski, who leans left, wondered if acceptance of such a culture started with Clinton's scandal-filled presidency. In addition to earlier accusations of harassment and sexual assault in the White House and in Arkansas, Clinton had a series of sexual encounters with Lewinsky beginning when she was a 22-year-old White House intern in 1995. Clinton was 27 years older than her.
"Didn't this start long before even Bill Clinton, but I will say with Bill Clinton in many ways, who, can I say, sexually harassed an intern in the White House?" Brzezinski asked.
Republican strategist Susan Del Percio pointed out Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) would agree. Gillibrand said Thursday that Clinton should have resigned the presidency because of his relationship with Lewinsky, although Gillibrand campaigned along with him on behalf of his wife Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign.
"This has been happening for decades. It's been accepted as a norm," Brzezinski said.
Panelist Donny Deutsch pointed out the allegations against Moore of sexual misconduct with teenagers were worse, and Brzezinski agreed a line could be drawn.
"Aren't we here because norms have been accepted that have been beyond the pale for a very long time?" she asked.
Del Percio said women were now being believed when they came forward with stories of abuse or harassment, as opposed to being reflexively doubted or questioned.
Later in the show, Brzezinski wondered what the goal of conversations regarding sexual harassment going forward would be, suggesting it should be to shed light on bad behavior and create a safe environment for women.
Brzezinski said there were cases where the "predator" was brought down, such as Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, and others that weren't, like Clinton.
"There are cases where the predator flourished and continued to be the president of the United States. I'm talking about Bill Clinton," she said. "Where the women were attacked, where they were settled with, and their lives were ruined. Monica Lewinsky. And forever stamped with a scarlet letter."
Brzezinski's remarks come as a wide variety of liberal journalists have thrashed Clinton for his past misconduct with women. Matt Yglesias wrote in Vox that Clinton should have resigned for his relationship with Lewinsky, and other liberals have stated they believe Juanita Broaddrick, the woman who has long alleged Clinton raped her in 1978.
The issue of sexual harassment in politics has gripped Washington in recent weeks, particularly with Moore and Franken's scandals.
Moore has denied allegations of several women that he made inappropriate overtures or assaulted them as teenagers, and he has resisted calls from top Republicans to exit the race.
Franken apologized after a photo emerged of him apparently grabbing a woman's breasts while she slept; the woman also said Franken aggressively kissed her without consent while they rehearsed for a USO skit in 2006.
President Donald Trump, who himself has been accused of sexual harassment, tweeted about the accusation against Franken on Thursday night.