GW, along with the rest of Washington D.C., has been caught in the media frenzy swirling around allegations President Clinton had an affair with a former White House intern and encouraged her to lie under oath.
Students, alumni and professors have been asked to appear on television and in newspapers to offer information connected to Monica Lewinsky, the intern secretly taped speaking of an affair with the President, and accused of lying in a deposition in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case.
Mike Freedman, GW’s director of public affairs, said the University has received almost 50 calls from the media, ranging from The Washington Post to “Geraldo.”
Freedman said journalists are looking to learn more about the White House intern experience, in which many GW students have participated, and to discuss Clinton’s future in light of these charges.
“People have been seeking interviews with professors and students who have had internships at the White House,” Freedman said. “There’s a vibrancy at GW that doesn’t exist at other campuses.”
Some students have felt pressured by media outlets to talk, Freedman said.
“We’re asking that all media calls be funneled to our office,” he said. “Any student who doesn’t want to take a call can refer that call to me.”
Shannon Joyce, a senior who interned with Lewinsky in Chief of Staff Leon Panetta’s correspondence office in 1995, said she has been offered up to $10,000 for photos of Lewinsky and similar amounts to give interviews.
“It is starting to turn into a situation where everyone is trying to get anything they can,” Joyce said. She estimates she has given five or six interviews this week, and turned down many others.
Joyce said she understands why the media frenzy has taken place.
“As a journalism major, this is what I do every day, asking people to tell me everything they know,” Joyce said. “I think it’s been a good learning experience for me.”
Joyce also said she remembers Lewinsky as a hard worker who aspired to a full-time position in the White House, which she later received.
Joyce said for now, she has stopped giving interviews.
“I wouldn’t say it was my 15 minutes of fame,” Joyce said. “It’s more a situation where people assumed I knew more than I did.”
Michelle Von Euw, a 1995 GW graduate, also worked with Lewinsky and Joyce as a White House intern.
“I’ve gotten calls at home and work,” Von Euw said. “CNN has called eight or nine times.”
Von Euw said she has spoken to legal counsel about being subpoenaed, and is skeptical of reporters offering her money.
“I’m kind of suspicious because if people are going to give me money, they probably want something for the money,” Von Euw said. She said she doesn’t want her words manipulated or to be urged to lie.
Stephen Saltzburg, a GW law professor, also has spoken with The Post and appeared on “Dateline NBC” this week.
“I’ve been talking about the legal issues involved and what (independent counsel) Kenneth Starr’s options are,” Saltzburg said. “As a law professor, the one thing you appreciate is that our system does work. The truth does come out.”
Saltzburg said the story has had a “demoralizing” effect on the country.
“I think the media has covered it very well,” he said. “It is a major event and serious set of accusations.”
“Washington Journal,” a C-SPAN morning program which aired live from GW’s University Club Sunday, was slated to preview Tuesday’s State of the Union address. But the discussion featuring GW student panelists and guests quickly turned to Clinton and Lewinsky.
College Democrats President Adam Segal tried to defend Clinton as most audience members said they believe the president should be impeached if he is found guilty of lying.
“I thought it was a comfortable position that they put me in,” Segal said. “The students there and the panelists were all very mature about the issue.”