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Seth Meyers congratulated Jake Tapper for his new book Hellfire Club when the CNN correspondent visited Late Night on Monday. The host commented that he was surprised the author chose to write a book with a plot that is similar to his day job.
“I went right back into the swamp,” said Tapper. “It was exciting and I could write about Washington today in a way by looking at it in 1954.” He explained that the book follows a congressman and his wife who go to Washington, D.C., with good intentions and become involved in a conspiracy. Actual figures like John F. Kennedy and Joe McCarthy are featured in the novel.
During the interview, Meyers asked Tapper about Bill Clinton’s recent, controversial comments about his Monica Lewinsky sex scandal, viewed through the lens of the #MeToo movement. “Someone else who’s doing press right now is President Bill Clinton and he seems very caught off guard when he is also asked about specifically the #MeToo movement,” said Meyers. “Have you been surprised at his failure to predict that those questions were coming?”
“First of all, I know some of the people on that team and I’m sure that they tried to prepare him,” responded Tapper. “I’ve been amazed at how poorly he’s handled these questions. I mean a lot of them you could have anticipated.”
“The world has changed in just the last year,” Tapper said, pointing out that Kevin Spacey was the host of the 2017 Tony Awards, before Spacey faced a series of sexual misconduct claims this fall. “The world has changed so you have to adapt and I would think he would have had automatic answers for ‘Do you owe Monica Lewinsky an apology?’ ‘What do you make of the #MeToo movement?’… Harvey Weinstein, whoever.”
“If you wanted to write the worst answer you could give, it is almost as if…,” said Tapper before recalling one of Clinton’s recent answers about groping: “People have different rules today about where you’re allowed to touch them on their bodies involuntarily,” Tapper paraphrased.
Meyers responded that Clinton’s answer for that particular question, in which he defended Al Franken regarding claims of sexual misconduct, was not thought out. “And then he ended it with, ‘Maybe I’m old-fashioned,’” added Tapper.
The interview was not the first time Tapper has been critical of Clinton. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Tapper criticized the former president for the way he handled the Monica Lewinsky scandal. “Taxpayer dollars were spent on people going out and lying to the American people and trying to destroy her. If that blue dress didn’t exist, he’d be denying it today,” he said. He also praised Lewinsky for handling the scandal the way that she did. ”I think she’s handled it incredibly — and what she went through, the Clintons owe her an apology.”
Clinton recently said that he didn’t privately apologize to Lewinsky and didn’t think he needed to.
Tapper and Meyers also discussed the late Anthony Bourdain, who was one of Tapper’s colleagues at CNN. “I knew him OK. I wasn’t one of his closest friends, but I knew him OK and in fact it was through the #MeToo movement that he and I started talking a lot because he was so outraged and we had done a lot of coverage about Harvey Weinstein last year and he would reach out and we would talk a lot,” recalled Tapper.
“It’s such a loss for people who were inspired by him for any number of ways. His show was about the humanity of us all,” he said. “The side that I saw of his that I loved was his passion, his righteous indignation against injustice and against all the people who let Harvey Weinstein get away with it for so long.
“It’s not like there’s a ton of people that have that righteous indignation, so the world is much poorer for his having left,” said Tapper.
Watch the full clip above.
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