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The View devolved into full-on chaos Wednesday morning as the co-hosts relitigated Monica Lewinsky's role in the Clinton scandal, the media's treatment of her, and whether the scandal falls under the umbrella of "cancel culture." The dust-up saw Joy Behar refuse to apologize for cracking jokes about Lewinsky in the late 1990s, Sunny Hostin and Sara Haines throw down about whether the former White House intern was really "canceled," and Ana Navarro make a failed joke about Lewinsky's involvement with weight loss company Jenny Craig, among other moments. Whoopi Goldberg is probably thanking her lucky stars she was out today...
The co-hosts' dramatic morning began with a Hot Topics discussion about Lewinsky's new documentary 15 Minutes of Shame, which looks at the impact of online shaming and cancel culture. After playing a clip from the doc, in which Lewinsky claims she was "Patient Zero of having a reputation destroyed" by the internet, Behar asked if Lewinsky was unfairly "dragged through the mud," while former President Bill Clinton got off easy. The longtime The View co-host added that "all comedians, including me, took her on in those days — it was the funniest story, we thought," but she admitted that looking back, "there's something about it that doesn't smell right."
Yet, when Navarro asked if she now "regrets those jokes," Behar insisted she does not. "I don't regret any joke I ever did," she replied. "Because in the moment it was funny and it was relevant. My intention is never to hurt anybody's feelings, so I'm coming from a pure place with it."
Behar explained that during the scandal, she had a bit called "Monica's Diary," where she would joke about "how [Lewinsky] felt" every day. "It was funny. And Leno and the rest of them took big shots at her," she said. "But with the lens of feminism, and with the lens of cancel culture, and with the lens of the #MeToo moment, maybe it looks a little bit different."
The discussion soon shifted to whether Lewinsky is the "victim" of this story, with Sara Haines arguing that she is, and Hostin and Navarro disagreeing ("Her life was ruined by the actions — her decisions and the mistakes — and the consequences of what happened because of what she did, not by the internet," said Navarro). Behar, however, insisted that "the real victim was the United States of America and Hillary Clinton," as Trump brought in "all these so-called victims of Clinton's peccadilloes" during the 2016 presidential debates. "The country lost a great person. Hillary Clinton could've been the president instead of that criminal we had there for four years! And that's the real victim. That's the real loser."
After the commercial break, Hostin and Haines got into it about Lewinsky's claim that she was "Patient Zero" of cancel culture. While both co-hosts agreed that Clinton "abused his power" with the affair, Hostin argued that Lewinsky wasn't actually "canceled," as she's built an entire career off the scandal. "She's managed to really give this powerful TED Talk, become the spokesperson for Jenny Craig, among other things, and is now producing films," she said. "I'm sure she suffered, but there are consequences, again, to choices in life."
Haines then chimed in to ask "how long should [Lewinsky] be punished," and she reminded the panel that she was just 22 years old at the time of the affair. She and Hostin then proceeded to yell over each other, with Haines insisting that equating Lewinsky and Clinton's roles in the scandal is to unfairly "put them on the same level," and Hostin claiming that Lewinsky's success as a Hollywood producer "shows she's empowered now."
With time running out, Navarro managed to get one final (if ill-advised) word in. "I'll tell you what: she looks like a very good Jenny Craig spokesperson 'cause she's lost a lot of weight and looks pretty damn good!" said the guest co-host, just as Behar threw the show to commercial.
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Claire Spellberg Lustig is the TV Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.