Why the Scandal Dominates ‘Clinton’

If you wrote a book about Bill Clinton and his presidency, would you spend fully a fourth of it discussing his affair with a White House intern?

That’s what happens in “Clinton,” the two night presentation on “American Experince” that uses one of its four hours dealing with the fallout.

Filmmaker Barak Goodman defended the choice at the TV Critics winter press tour last month. After all, he says, “he’s the first president to be impeached since the 19th century,” he says. “It provided the lever with which his enemies and opponents tried to unseat him from power. So that makes it, de facto, hugely important in the story.”

And while it’s common that the subject of the presidential biographies on “American Experience” are specifically not interviewed for their films, Goodman added, “we consciously did not pursue interviews with either Monica Lewinsky or Linda Tripp for the program because we felt that would tilt it too far in the direction of sort of the sensational.”

David Maraniss, the Washington Post writer who covered the matter and appears in the film says that “time does diminish it somewhat.”

But he adds that the documentary is “not really about just about Clinton and Lewinsky and what they did wrong, but about the context of those times and why it happened — not just what Clinton did, but why his enemies reacted the way they did and how it all evolved. And I think that has many important lessons for the political context that we deal in today as well.”

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