Media Watch: America’s Shifting Statehouse Press
The explosive Vanity Fair article about He Who Used To Walk On Water Until The Rise of Barry O. elicited a red-faced response we’ve become accustomed to these last several months from the former prez. Mayhill Fowler writes:
MILBANK, S.D. — Former President Bill Clinton today unleashed a salty stream of epithets to describe former New York Times reporter and current Vanity Fair writer Todd Purdum, calling him “sleazy,” “dishonest,” “slimy” and a “scumbag.”
The former president made the comment at a local campaign event after I asked him if Purdum’s much-commented upon Vanity Fair story was weighing on his mind.
Tightly gripping this reporter’s hand and refusing to let go, Clinton heatedly denounced the writer, who is currently married to former Clinton White House Press Secretary, Dee Dee Myers.
“[He's] sleazy,” he said referring to Purdum. “He’s a really dishonest reporter. And one of our guys talked to him . . . And I haven’t read [the article]. But he told me there’s five or six just blatant lies in there. But he’s a real slimy guy,” the former president said.
When I reminded him that Purdum was married to his former press spokesperson Myers, Clinton was undeterred.
“That’s all right– he’s still a scumbag,” Clinton said. ” Let me tell ya– he’s one of the guys — he’s one of the guys that propagated all those lies about Whitewater to Kenneth Starr. He’s just a dishonest guy– can’t help it.”
Todd Purdum, who wrote the Vanity Fair piece, issued this statement:
“My Vanity Fair article speaks for itself. The reporting is based on interviews with dozens of high-level people who either still work for the Clintons or have worked with them or known them for years, and who continue to admire the former president in many ways.
“For the record, President Clinton’s statements to the contrary, I played virtually no role in the coverage of Whitewater and was never a source for Kenneth Starr.”
A spokesman for Hillary’s campaign said this in response to Fowler’s report:
“President Clinton was understandably upset about an outrageously unfair article,” Jay Carson, a spokesman for Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign, said after her husband’s remarks appeared on the online Huffington Post, “but the language today was inappropriate and he wishes he had not used it.”
I think the fact that the Hillary Clinton campaign made this statement rather than Bubba’s own office is telling. On Sunday, when the Vanity Fair article first hit the web, Bill Clinton’s office responded with a six-page memo blasting the article, proclaiming it was full of lies and unsubstantiated allegations, and complaining it didn’t focus on the good things he’s done in recent years.
This week, especially today, the focus is on Hillary Clinton and what she will say/do in response to the losses she’s expected to see tonight in both South Dakota and Montana. When all is said and done, Obama could pick up somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 or more delegates this evening, and more than enough superdelegates will likely announce today and tomorrow that he is who they will support, effectively putting him over the top of the magic number of 2,118 delegates needed to win the Dem nomination. Understandably, the Hillary Clinton campaign is going to want to keep the focus on tonight, and not the distraction her husband has created by once again flying off the handle when something unflattering is published about him. If this article happened earlier in the campaign, she’d have been all over the media like a barracuda, but at this stage in the game, having to repeatedly counter questions about his behavior is the last thing the campaign needs.
Once again, we see how Bill Clinton expects it to be all about him, even in the face of almost certain defeat. He’s made an a** of himself on and off throughout Hillary’s campaign primarily because he, like her, has felt that they as a team were “owed” another chance to sit in the big chair. The fact that they’ve had to earn every vote, and battle against a very real bias against them that is usually reserved solely for their Republican opposition is not something they anticipated along the way of what they hoped to essentially be a coronation.
It would not surprise me one bit, if Hillary does indeed concede defeat tonight or later this week, to see Bill Clinton make a concession speech of his own at some point in the near future where we see a trembling lower lip, and a couple of tears come streaming down his rosy cheeks as he speaks wistfully about “what could have been.”
Selfish he is, all the way to the end.