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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 June, 2004, 13:35 GMT 14:35 UK
Clinton chides media over affair
Former US President Bill Clinton has hit out at the media's treatment of his affair with Monica Lewinsky in a BBC television interview.

Speaking on a Panorama programme to be broadcast on Tuesday night, Mr Clinton accused the press of helping the far- right and liking "to hurt people".

He said the media cared more about the affair than the conflict in Bosnia.

Mr Clinton said he was relieved his wife, Hillary, did not decide to throw him out but make him sleep on the sofa.

Bill Clinton during the Panorama interview with David Dimbleby
Mr Clinton reacted after presenter David Dimbleby asked him why he had an affair with Ms Lewinsky when he knew he was under investigation by special prosecutor Kenneth Starr for other matters.

Wagging his finger and getting visibly agitated, Mr Clinton expressed anger at the media's behaviour.

He said: "Let me just say this. One of the reasons he [Kenneth Starr] got away with it is because people like you only ask me the questions.

"You gave him a complete free ride. Any abuse they wanted to do. They indicted all these little people from Arkansas, what did you care about them, they're not famous, who cares that their life was trampled. Who cares that their children are humiliated.

"Nobody in your line of work cared a rip about that at the time. Why, because he was helping their story.

People like you always help the far-right, because you like to hurt people, and you like to talk about how bad people are and all their personal failings
Bill Clinton

"And that's why people like you always help the far-right, because you like to hurt people, and you like to talk about how bad people are and all their personal failings.

"Look, you made a decision to allocate your time in a certain way, you should take responsibility for that, you should say 'yes, I care much more about this than whether the Bosnian people were saved, and whether he brought a million home from Kosovo'."

Banished to sofa

But despite the shaky start, Mr Clinton quickly recovered his composure and was questioned for a further 30 minutes by Mr Dimbleby.

Bill Clinton's autobiography

During that time he laughed and joked, talking frankly about UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, about life at home and his views on the war on terror and the Iraq war.

It is believed that he even made time in his tight schedule to talk off camera to the Panorama team for 15 minutes after the interview ended.

Mr Clinton also revealed that in the wake of the Monica Lewinsky affair he was banished to the sofa by his wife Hillary at home, while ordering bombing attacks on al-Qaeda at work.

But he told the programme that he saw sleeping on the sofa as a positive sign.

"I thought that in a funny way the fact that I was sleeping on the couch and they were still in the same house with me meant that Hilary and Chelsea hadn't given up on me," he said.

"I figured out that I was getting a whipping at home where I should have gotten it. I felt that everything they [Hillary and daughter Chelsea] wanted to say or do to me, they had an absolute right to do so.

"The fact that I was still able to stay under the same roof... I thought that was progress.

"I was just glad to be among the living there at home and frankly, perhaps I shouldn't acknowledge this, but it was a relief to have to go to work and concentrate on something else because otherwise I would have nothing to think about all day long but what a bad fella I'd been."

The BBC's Jeremy Cooke
"It is America's obsession with Bill Clinton's private life that is driving sales"

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