How Much Do You Remember About the Monica Lewinsky Scandal?

Torrance Grey

Image: youtube

About This Quiz

"I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky." It's become one of the most famous presidential lies in American history (if by no stretch of the imagination the most harmful). And future events, including a DNA test done on a blue dress, were about to prove President Bill Clinton a liar. Before the whole crisis ended, Clinton would be impeached by Congress - a fate that Richard Nixon avoided, if only by stepping down first. 

Yet Clinton's political reputation remained largely intact. He was a well-liked president remembered for the period of economic prosperity he oversaw. Today, Americans look back on the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal with a certain amount of nostalgia. In an age of Russian hacking, doesn't it seem kind of quaint that we once cared so much about an affair between two consenting adults? Not to mention that our current president once bragged about grabbing women by the ... well, we can't say it here, but you see what we're getting at.  

So if you're nostalgic for that more innocent time, why not revisit it with our quiz? See how much you remember about the Lewinsky affair. Do you remember, for example, what role Linda Tripp played? How about Lucianne Goldberg? And what ultimately became of Monica Lewinsky, the woman at the center of it all? 

Are you ready? Try your luck now!

Finish the famous phrase: "I did not have sexual relations with _________, Miss Lewinsky."

Never has such a neutral phrase, "that woman," sounded so loaded. Ladies, if a man in your life refers to you as "that woman," it's probably time to get your suitcase out of the hall closet and start packing.

Why were President Clinton's sexual relationships a legal matter in the first place?

An Arkansas state employee had filed suit in 1994 against Clinton. She alleged that he propositioned her while governor of Arkansas. Her lawyers tried to prove Clinton had a pattern of behavior with women at work, which led to questions about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. His decision to lie rather than front up and admit the affair proved a tremendous mistake.

Finish the famous phrase: "It depends on what the definition of ___ is."

Clinton tried to assert that he hadn't lied in his deposition because he'd said there "is" no improper relationship (he'd already broken it off). This argument was greeted with derision at the time and doesn't look any more dignified two decades later.

What was the name of the Arkansas woman at the center of the sexual harassment suit?

Although most people would call Lewinsky the person who "nearly brought down a presidency," it was really Paula Jones who set events in motion. Although it should be said that nobody forced Clinton to lie under oath.

Where was Monica Lewinsky from?

Lewinsky had a very comfortable upbringing as an oncologist's daughter in Los Angeles. She attended Beverly Hills High School and then Bel Air Prep. After college, she landed the unpaid internship in the White House.

In 1996, Lewinsky was transferred out of the White House. Where did she work next?

Lewinsky was apparently transferred to keep her away from Clinton. Unfortunately, the strategy backfired when Lewinsky made a very unfortunate friendship within the walls of the Pentagon.

What phrase did Hillary Clinton coin in defending her husband?

Hillary Clinton wasn't actually the first to use the phrase. But after she used it, it became very popular, including with conservatives who liked to identify "vast left-wing conspiracies" as well.

True or false: After his impeachment, Clinton was convicted.

Clinton was acquitted of the charges by the Senate; Party politics played a role here. This is partly because a two-thirds majority, not a simple majority, was required to convict. Some Republicans crossed party lines to vote to acquit.

Who recorded phone conversations with Lewinsky to get evidence against Bill Clinton?

Linda Tripp became friends with Monica Lewinsky, who eventually told her about the affair with the president. Tripp claims that love of country motivated her to secretly record her younger friend's confidences.

Linda Tripp was encouraged to tape Lewinsky's calls by a friend, Lucianne Goldberg. What was Goldberg's profession?

This connection isn't as absurd as it seems. Goldberg specialized in tell-all books about the Democratic Party and she had longstanding ties to conservative activism. She met Tripp while working on a book about White House aide Vincent Foster and his suicide.

Among other things, Tripp encouraged Lewinsky to _______.

Lewinsky had a dress in her possession which the president had, ahem, stained. It went on to become a key piece of evidence in the Starr investigation.

How much time elapsed between the affair and the scandal breaking in public?

Though there were whispers around D.C., the scandal didn't really break until 1998, two years after Lewinsky had been transferred out of the White House.

Which news outlet was accused of covering up the story of the Clinton-Lewinsky affair?

Reporter Michael Isikoff wrote the story, which apparently was quashed (or at least delayed) at a late stage by his higher-ups. While this sounds like corruption, mainstream newspapers and magazines tend to shy away from reporting on individuals' sex lives, and it could have been this kind of discretion that led Newsweek to hold off on the story -- which would break the next day anyway.

In which news outlet did the Lewinsky story actually break?

Matt Drudge is a conservative with a gift for sniffing out breaking news. The Drudge Report was just an email newsletter when it broke the Lewinsky scandal. Today, it's a website, though it remains true to its 1990s roots with a basic white-and-black lists-of-hyperlinks design that looks straight out of 1998.

Which of these were 'collateral' scandals during the Clinton administration?

It'd take too long to explain the controversies listed above, which were loosely related to the Lewinsky scandal. But it's worth noting that Vincent Foster, a White House aide and friend of the Clintons, was struggling with depression and just had been prescribed trazodone. Attempts to build conspiracy theories around his death have not borne any fruit (and are frankly in bad taste).

What was the name of the independent counsel appointed to investigate Clinton?

Starr was initially appointed to investigate the Whitewater real estate deal and Vincent Foster's suicide. But soon, that job would blow up into something that would thrust Starr into the political limelight.

Who was the Speaker of the House during the Starr investigation?

Gingrich was very popular among Republicans during the early days of the Lewinsky scandal. However, he was later embarrassed when it came out that he was having an extramarital affair at the same time that he was publicly criticizing Clinton's behavior.

True or false: Linda Tripp wore a wire while talking to Lewinsky.

After recording phone conversations and bringing them to investigators, Tripp agreed to wear a wire and meet Lewinsky in New York. During the conversation, Lewinsky urged Tripp to lie to lawyers in the Jones case, as Lewinsky had in her affidavit. That couldn't have looked good in the eyes of the FBI!

Where did Clinton's friend Vernon Jordan get Lewinsky a job interview?

The Washington Post reported that Jordan helped Lewinsky land job interviews, including at Revlon, where he was on the board. Lewinsky was offered a job there, but the offer was rescinded when the scandal broke.

How old was Clinton when he began the affair with 22-year-old Lewinsky?

There was a 27-year age difference between Clinton and the barely-out-of-college Lewinsky. Great power has that effect, we suppose!

True or false: Clinton was ultimately impeached.

Many people on the street would tell you that Clinton wasn't impeached, and that President Nixon was. But Nixon stepped down before he could be impeached, while Clinton actually was.

What were the charges against Clinton at his impeachment trial?

The perjury charge is simple; in a deposition, Clinton lied about having had a sexual relationship with Lewinsky. The obstruction charge alleged that he'd directed other people to lie about what they might have known about the relationship.

For which diet company did Lewinsky become a spokesperson?

Lewinsky has had a diverse career since the scandal. After selling handbags, she appeared in Jenny Craig ads, got a master's degree in psychology, was briefly a TV host, and gave a TED talk.

What color was the famous dress at the center of the case?

For a while, the public (helped by the tabloids) had an image of a sexy nightclubbing dress. It turned out to be a rather plain dress, suitable for office work.

Why did Monica Lewinsky give the blue dress to investigators?

Lewinsky might or might not have felt guilty about the affair, but she turned over the stained dress for immunity from prosecution. In a previous affidavit, she'd lied to investigators about having an affair with Clinton, and was avoiding consequences from that.

How many sexual encounters did Lewinsky say she had with Clinton?

According to Lewinsky, these took place between late 1995 and early 1997. This indicates that the affair continued after her transfer to the Pentagon.

Who was Susan Webber Wright?

Wright initially granted Clinton summary judgment -- essentially a dismissal -- in the Jones case, saying she could not prove any damages. Later, however, Wright charged Clinton with contempt of court based on his dishonest answers about Lewinsky while under oath.

Which of these was TIME's "Man of the Year" for 1998?

TIME's "Man/Woman of the Year" is not an accolade, as people tend to think -- it's a person who's dominated the news, for whatever reason. So it shouldn't have surprised anyone that both the president and his legal nemesis were chosen.

What was the ultimate outcome of the Paula Jones case?

Jones appealed after Judge Wright dismissed the case, and the suit eventually went all the way to the Supreme Court. Finally, Clinton paid Jones $850,000, most of which went to pay her astronomical legal fees.

Besides the financial settlement in the Paula Jones case, what other consequence did Clinton suffer?

Clinton received a $15 million advance for his autobiography, "My Life," published in 2004. Somehow, we don't think he missed the opportunity to practice law in his home state that much.

What important legal precedent did the Supreme Court set in Jones v. Clinton?

The Court's decision has its positives and negatives. On the plus side, it sent the message that even the president is not above the law. On the negative, it opens up a sitting president to petty legal harassment that distracts from the affairs of the nation.

How much money did the Starr investigation cost?

Yikes. No matter where you stand on the political spectrum, that's a lot of taxpayer money to spend proving that someone lied about sex in a case that had already been dismissed by the first judge to preside over it.

Who played Linda Tripp on "Saturday Night Live"?

"Saturday Night Live" has a long tradition of comedians cross-dressing in sketches. This continued into the 21st century, with Kate McKinnon playing Attorney General, Jeff Sessions and Melissa McCarthy having played former Press Secretary, Sean Spicer.

Which of these Lewinsky-scandal figures later appeared on Fox's "Celebrity Boxing"?

Paula Jones faced off against Tonya Harding in the almost-universally-reviled show. She was a late replacement for "Long Island Lolita" Amy Fisher, and lost her match.

In 1999, what did Monica Lewinsky begin selling?

Lewinsky began designing bags in the late 1990s. She sold them under the label "The Real Monica."

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