After former President Bill Clinton went after NBC News reporter Craig Melvin for his line of questioning about the Monica Lewinsky scandal, anchors on NBC and MSNBC pushed back hard on Wednesday.
Clinton was widely panned for defensive and self-regarding responses Monday to Melvin's queries about Clinton's affair with Lewinsky in the light of the #MeToo movement. He claimed in subsequent interviews Melvin had asserted he never apologized for his conduct that led to his impeachment.
"Today" host Savannah Guthrie said Clinton had made "false allegations" about Melvin.
"The former president, Bill Clinton, expressing some regret over his controversial remarks about Monica Lewinsky here on 'Today,' but still making false allegations about that interview with Craig," Guthrie said.
Clinton appeared on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" Tuesday and said the interview was not his "finest hour," but he suggested NBC had cheaply edited the interview, saying the network had to "distill" it.
"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."
Clinton said he didn't like Melvin's questioning because it began with the "assertion" he had never apologized for his conduct. Clinton also told the New York Times Tuesday "that young man," referring to Melvin, "aggressively" said he never apologized. However, Melvin merely asked Clinton whether he had personally apologized to Lewinsky.
Melvin reminded viewers the NBC report on Clinton included footage of him during his presidency publicly apologizing to his family, Lewinsky and her family, and the American people about the scandal.
"It must be a little bit surreal for you to hear the former president talking about you, but I think the tape speaks for itself," Guthrie said to Melvin.
MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle replayed Melvin's segment later Wednesday morning and praised Melvin for conducting the interview "masterfully." Melvin encouraged viewers to check out the entire, uncut interview with Clinton on the "Today" website.
Ruhle said she watched the unedited interview, and she said, "it fares worse for the president" than the one airing on NBC.
"What do you think his goal is here?" Ruhle asked.
"I don't know what the goal is," Melvin said. "But I can tell you the assertion that we didn't acknowledge that he'd apologized, that's not a fair assertion."
Ruhle also said it was "baffling" that Clinton would say the #MeToo movement was overdue, but co-author James Patterson also said the Lewinsky issue was 20 years old and compared it to asking about John F. Kennedy's sex life.
"Which is it?" Ruhle asked. "Is it that the #MeToo movement is long overdue, or stop litigating the past? Because that's where, to me, things don't seem to be adding up."