CNN senior political analyst (and former Clinton adviser) David Gergen, responding to Todd Purdum’s recent Vanity Fair article on Bill Clinton during a segment on Monday’s "Anderson Cooper 360," acknowledged that the former President "does have a temper, and he goes off like Mount Vesuvius," but then went on to criticize Purdum’s article, that it "does not give enough weight to what he has done in the non-profit sector," specifically referring to the Clinton Global Initiative.
Clinton had called Purdum a "scumbag," "sleazy," and a "really dishonest reporter." He also accused the Vanity Fair editor of trying to "nail Hillary for Obama. It's the most biased press coverage in history."
Gergen participated in a panel discussion which included CNN correspondent Candy Crowley and another of CNN’s senior political analysts, Gloria Borger. Host Anderson Cooper asked Gergen for his thoughts on Clinton’s "lashing out" in response to the Vanity Fair article. After acknowledging the former President’s "Mount Vesuvius" temper, he explained that Bill Clinton "typically, in the past, has done it in private. And I think this -- in this campaign, for the first time, we have seen him do it in public or two or three occasions." Despite these outbursts, Gergen thought that the idea of Barack Obama/Hillary Clinton "dream ticket" "makes more sense than I originally thought it did, but... comments like this really do not help"
All three panelists unanimously extolled the journalistic credibility of Purdum at some point during the segment, which began at the top of the 10 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program. Gergen suggested that Clinton "really doesn't feel that way of Todd Purdum, of The New York Times, after all, Todd Purdum, who is married to his first press secretary, Dee Dee Myers." Crowley, during her answer on the matter, stated that she knew Purdum and that "he's a great reporter." Borger replied, "I agree with everyone here that Todd Purdum is a very -- you know, is a very serious journalist."
After all three had weighed in on the matter, Gergen tried to sympathize with Clinton concerning one key point that, as Tim Graham noted in his earlier blog, the former President has claimed that he "helped save the lives of 1,300,000 people in his post-presidency:"
GERGEN: Let me just say one other thing, Anderson, if I might.And that is, the article, I do think -- I do think the Clinton people have -- and Bill Clinton's people have a fair point that the article does not give enough weight to what he has done in the non-profit sector. The Clinton Global Initiative is actually an extraordinarily important initiative, very similar to what Jimmy Carter has done, in a different way, in his own way. I think it has provided enormous help in places in Africa. I think -- I think he's thrown himself into this. And what we have seen of Bill Clinton on the trail is only a piece of who Bill Clinton has become, you know, the pieces we have seen of him campaigning for Hillary, and I think he has thrown himself into this race for Hillary. But he has had this other portfolio.
COOPER: Todd Purdum said earlier to Wolf Blitzer, well, look, you know, plenty of people have written articles about all of that stuff in the Clinton Initiative, and, sure, there's plenty of good work. That's not what this article is about.
GERGEN: Well, but if you're going to assess Bill Clinton's post presidency, it does seem to me that that portion of his life, which is 55...
COOPER: Needs to be a full portrayal.
GERGEN: ... 60 percent or 70 percent, probably, of his time in the last six or seven years.