CBS via Getty Bill and Hillary Clinton on 60 Minutes
In 1992, Hillary Clinton wasn't yet a household name — and was still years away from her own trailblazing political career — but she was quickly getting familiar with the white hot spotlight cast by national politics.
Then the wife of a governor whose campaign for president was plagued with rumors of infidelity, she made her first major national media appearance in an attempt to tamp down the reports: a joint 60 Minutes interview with husband Bill Clinton
That interview was depicted in this week's episode of the FX drama Impeachment: American Crime Story, which retells the White House affair between Lewinsky (played by Beanie Feldstein) and President Clinton (Clive Owen) and his related scandals and how those in the president's inner circle — including his wife, played by Edie Falco — handled it.
The couple's real-life interview aired in the highly watched post-Super Bowl slot on Jan. 26, 1992. It detailed how then-Gov. Clinton — the front runner for Democratic nominee for president — was facing allegations of marital infidelity, which first surfaced in tabloids and had recently been picked up by mainstream news outlets.
The 60 Minutes sit-down largely focused on the account of Gennifer Flowers, a former TV anchor who claimed that she had a 12-year extramarital relationship with Gov. Clinton and that he had assisted her in securing a job as an administrative assistant with the Arkansas Appeal Tribunal.
In the interview, Hillary spoke somewhat sympathetically of Flowers as she defended her husband.
"When this woman first got caught up in these charges, I felt as I felt about all of these women ... that they had just been minding their own business and they got hit by a meteor," Hillary told 60 Minutes, adding: "I felt terrible about what was happening to them."
Kurt Iswarienko/FX; Cynthia Johnson/Getty Edie Falco (left), Hillary Clinton
She continued, saying that Flowers had called her husband frequently and he had attempted to calm her nerves: "Bill talked to this woman every time she called, distraught, saying her life was going to be ruined, and ... he'd get off the phone and tell me that she said sort of wacky things, which we thought were attributable to the fact that she was terrified."
The couple did not offer a flat-out denial of the affair, with Gov. Clinton telling 60 Minutes: "Now, no matter what I say, to pretend that the press will then let this die, we're kidding ourselves."
Many have credited the interview with both helping to save the Clinton campaign and introducing the world to Hillary Clinton, who made waves when she said she told interviewer Steve Kroft she wasn't standing by her husband out of some head-in-the-sand allegiance.
"Most Americans would agree that it's very admirable that you've stayed together, that you've worked your problems out, that you seem to have reached some sort of an understanding and an arrangement," Kroft said.
The governor then interjected, saying, "Now wait a minute, wait a minute. Wait a minute. You're looking at two people who love each other. This is not an 'arrangement' or an 'understanding.' This is a marriage. That's a very different thing."
"You know I'm not sittin' here as some little woman, standing by my man like Tammy Wynette. I'm sittin' here because I love him, and I respect him, and I honor what he's been through and what we've been through together," Hillary added, in what became the most famous soundbite from their interview.
She went on: "You know, if that's not enough for people, then heck, don't vote for him."
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PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP via Getty From left: Bill and Hillary Clinton
The Clintons would again be roiled by accounts of his infidelity in 1998, when stories of a dalliance with an intern named Monica Lewinsky began engulfing the country.
In 1998 testimony delivered as part of the investigation into whether he had sexually assaulted Paula Jones — which now-President Clinton denied, though her allegations helped spur his eventual impeachment — he said that he in fact had had a sexual encounter with Flowers.
However, he initially denied the affair with Lewinsky.
The sex scandals nearly ended his presidency, ultimately leading to his impeachment by the House of Representatives when he was charged with perjury and obstruction of justice.
In February 1999, he was acquitted on those two counts by the Senate.
Neither he nor Hillary were ever criminally accused in an unrelated Whitewater real estate controversy that had first fueled independent counsel Kenneth Starr.
Three separate inquiries did not find evidence to tie the Clintons to the criminal conduct of others involved in the Whitewater case.
Hillary opened up about her husband's affair with Lewinsky in Hulu's 2020 documentary series Hillary.
"I was just devastated," she said in the documentary. "I just could not believe it. I was just so personally hurt and, 'I can't believe this. I can't believe you lied.' It was — anyways, horrible. And I said, 'If this is going to be public, you've got to go tell Chelsea.' "
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