Angry Clinton falls out with other Dimbleby after TV grilling

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The Independent Online

Days after Bill Clinton was angered by questioning from David Dimbleby on Panorama about his affair with Monica Lewinsky, the former president pulled out of an interview with Mr Dimbleby's brother, Jonathan.

The official line from the Clinton camp was that there was not enough time. But The Independent on Sunday has learnt that Clinton had already verbally agreed to be interviewed for Jonathan Dimbleby, ITV's weekly political programme.

An insider said: "They pulled out after the Panorama programme because they were worried. You might say that they knew they would have got more tough questioning on our programme and so they went for the easier option."

Jonathan Dimbleby refused to comment as to why Clinton would not be on his show. He said: "I was disappointed not to be able to interview Mr Clinton. I met him two years ago when I introduced him as the lecturer for the Richard Dimbleby lecture and very much enjoyed chatting to him afterwards.

"I was looking forward to talking with him about issues from Africa to terrorism."

Charlotte Bush, publicity manager at Mr Clinton's publishers, Random House, said: "There were loads of television companies that put in bids to interview Mr Clinton, and Jonathan Dimbleby's programme was one of them. But you can't do all of them."

The now notorious David Dimbleby interview, which raised eyebrows in the US for its sharp questioning, was in stark contrast to the other "sofa-based" interviews that the former president conducted earlier this week. Richard and Judy, David Frost and Alastair Campbell were all granted interviews with Mr Clinton. None appear so far to have caused him any trouble.

The David Dimbleby interview was one of the few occasions where Mr Clinton has been seen to lose his cool in public.

His anger came after Mr Dimbleby repeatedly questioned him about why he had had an affair with Monica Lewinsky when he was under investigation by special prosecutor Kenneth Starr for other matters.

Mr Clinton, clearly bristling, told Mr Dimbleby: "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 completely free ride ... 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."

A spokesperson for the Panorama programme said: "You certainly saw a side to the [former] president not normally seen. It was a very searching interview."

Mr Clinton was in London for two days earlier this week to promote his new autobiography, My Life.

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