As part of its ‘American Experience’ series, PBS is airing ‘Clinton,’ a new documentary about former President Bill Clinton that reveals in part just how much he struggled under the weight of his affair with intern Monica Lewinsky.

Pollster Dick Morris says that the president contacted him shortly after news of the scandal broke in 1998, asking whether he should go public with the truth. “I screwed up with this girl,” Clinton allegedly said. “I didn’t do what they said I did, but I may have done so much that I can’t prove my innocence.”

Morris says he told him the cover-up is often more unforgivable than the transgression itself. “So I took a poll and I tested popular attitudes on that and I called him back and I said, ‘They will forgive the adultery, but they won’t easily forgive that you lied,’” Morris recalls.

Although Clinton (who did not participate in the documentary) first publicly denied the affair, famously saying he “did not have sexual relations with that woman,” he later admitted to having oral sex with Lewinsky and apologized to the American public. The scandal resulted in Clinton becoming only the second US president in history to be impeached.

The documentary also reports that now-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was almost in a no-win situation as first lady. “Voters thought that it was a zero-sum game, that for Hillary to be strong, Bill would have to be weak, and as a result the perception of Hillary’s strength became a perception of Bill’s weakness,” Morris said.

Clinton’s Deputy Chief of Staff Harold Ickes added, “She was outspoken, she was smart, she was hard driving, and some people resented her … Remember during the campaign, it was two for the price of one, well people aren’t electing two for the price of one. They’re electing the president.”

‘Clinton’ airs Feb. 20-21 on PBS.

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