Monica Lewinsky is a former White House intern. Her extramarital relationship with then-President Bill Clinton became public during the Whitewater investigation of independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr. Friends of Bill Clinton initially worried that the Starr report and subsequent impeachment scandal of Clinton's second term would hinder efforts to raise funds for the Clinton Presidential Center complex.
The scandal also touched off a debate about how Whitewater and Lewinsky would be interpreted in future Clinton Library museum exhibits. Sharon Fawcett, deputy assistant archivist for presidential libraries at the National Archives and Records Administration noted that while she doesn't "expect exhibits to make the president look bad ... we do expect to have a clear statement of facts, and acknowledgment that there are two sides to the story." Clinton advisor Skip Rutherford acknowledged in 1998 that "[p]residential libraries are not about someone being perfect. They're not shrines or pyramids. They're about history, about the wins, the defeats, the successes, the failures, the goods, the bads of the time the President is in office."
Lewinsky's ignominious place in Bill Clinton's presidency is acknowledged in alcove #5, The Fight for Power, of the main floor exhibit space in the Clinton Library. The text presented in the alcove acknowledges a "serious mistake" on Clinton's part in engaging in a sexual dalliance with the intern, and admits that he had "not been forthcoming" when challenged about the relationship. In defending the president's mistake, the exhibit presents the argument that presidential opponents used the scandal to feed "the media's hunger for constant scandal, real or imagined," and launch a 1998 impeachment witch hunt to "deny the very legitimacy of the president's election."
- Fred A. Bernstein, "Archive Architecture: Setting the Spin in Stone," New York Times, June 10, 2004.
- Kevin Sack, "Testing of a President: The Legacy; As Clinton Library is Planned, Tough Questions Abound," New York Times, September 13, 1998.