One of the more memorable media moments of 2012 was when Laura Ling sat down with former President Bill Clinton to discuss his experiences with high school bullying. It was for a special August 13 celebrity-tinged episode of Ling’s series E! Investigates, for which she also chatted with Lance Bass, Mike Tyson and Jillian Michaels.
There was Ling, three summers after being retrieved from North Korea by the 42nd Commander-in-Chief, discussing how he was ridiculed for being overweight and not wearing cool clothes to the dance. How did it all come about, we wondered?
“I had read about President Clinton being picked on as a young man, even “slugged” by a bully, and I knew that he would be able to offer some invaluable insight and perspective,” Ling tells FishbowlLA. “To think that this poor, self-described “band geek,” who was bullied growing up, could emerge to be one of the most powerful figures in the word – now that’s an inspiring story for young people.”
“I wasn’t sure if he’d agree to do the interview given his crazy schedule,” she continues. “But he was so gracious to lend his voice to this issue and I was honored and grateful that he gave his time to share his experience and wisdom with our audience. I’ve seen the President on a few occasions since our rescue. Lisa and I spoke at his Presidential Library and the Clinton School for Public Service in Little Rock, and I was honored to welcome the audience to the Hollywood Bowl for the Clinton Foundation Decade of Difference concert.”
“Each time is incredibly special and I am reminded of that time when I was given a second chance at life. For this interview, I was able to bring my daughter, Li Jefferson, who my husband and I named after the former President. The first thing she said was, “It’s nice to meet you Mr. President… We have the same name!”"
The most recent episode of E! Investigates premiered in mid-December. For that one, Ling chatted with various women survivors including Sarah Shourd, one of the American hikers imprisoned in Iran. Ling says she received lots of powerful feedback from people who said how much they were inspired by the Bullying: Celebs Speak Out episode.