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One Year Later: How the Media Responded to Bill Clinton and the 'S' Word

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

One Year Later: How the Media Responded to Bill Clinton and the 'S' Word

Article excerpt

It wasn't the biggest scoop of the 2008 campaign, but it produced some rather barbed, funny and unusual commentary. Which news outlets, in this day and age, would quote an ex-president, even on the Web, using the word "scumbag"?

In its account of the Huffington Post scoop on Bill Clinton's tirade last June 2 against Todd Purdum for his Vanity Fair profile , The New York Times quoted some of the ex-president's epithets, including "sleazy" and "slimy" but drew the line at "scumbag." Other leading news outlets were not so coy.

Clinton, of course, was responding to the quite negative profile about him written by Purdum. He quickly apologized for some of his "inappropriate" language, captured by HuffPost's Mayhill Fowler.

I would argue that he would not have done that if he had not used the word "scumbag." But he realized that using that word made him look like, well, a "scumbag."

The Times' Michael Luo wrote:

"According to the Huffington Post Web site, Mr. Clinton, as he worked the rope line at an event here, called Mr. Purdum 'sleazy,' 'slimy' and 'dishonest.' Speaking to a reporter for the Web site, Mr. Clinton said the article was part of a pattern of media bias against Mrs. Clinton and in favor of her rival for the Democratic nomination, Sen. …

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