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Actress named in Clinton article wants retraction

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  • Gina Gershon accuses Vanity Fair reporter of "irresponsible journalism," lying
  • Magazine stands by article and refuses to run a correction
  • Former president called reporter "a scumbag" but later apologized
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(CNN) -- Actress Gina Gershon is demanding a retraction from Vanity Fair after the magazine reported "high-end Hollywood dinner-party gossip" that former President Clinton "has been seen visiting" her in California.

Actress Gina Gershon "is extremely offended" by the Vanity Fair article, her lawyers say.

The lengthy article by the magazine's national editor, Todd Purdum, mentioned the actress along with several other women rumored to be associated with Clinton, all anonymously sourced.

"Todd Purdum's insinuation is a lie, and it is irresponsible journalism," said Gershon's publicist, Mara Buxbaum. "We are demanding a retraction."

A letter sent by Gershon's attorneys to Vanity Fair editor-in-chief Graydon Carter, obtained by CNN, demanded a published correction and retraction and threatened possible litigation for defamation.

The actress appeared in 1995's "Showgirls" and the more recent "P.S. I Love You."

Gershon "is extremely offended by the false and defamatory inference that she engaged in an adulterous relationship with the President," the letter says, adding that the actress has been in the same room with Clinton three times, always in the presence of at least a dozen people.

"It is apparent that Vanity Fair was intent upon publishing unsubstantiated rumors, and that it avoided learning the true facts so that the truth would not get in the way," the letter says. "Such conduct is reckless and malicious, giving rise to substantial liability for defamation."

In a statement, Vanity Fair denied that the article indicates any "improper relationship" between Clinton and Gershon.

"The story merely examines the concerns of some of Clinton's aides about reports of his behavior," the magazine said. "We don't believe that any correction is warranted."

Purdum's article, "The Comeback Id," quoted multiple anonymous sources questioning the former president's behavior since leaving the White House.

The article suggested that Clinton's personality had changed since his 2004 heart bypass surgery and said there were reports of Clinton "seeing a lot of women on the road."

Clinton issued a tirade against Purdum on Monday when asked by Huffington Post writer Mayhill Fowler what he thought of "the hatchet job somebody did on you in Vanity Fair," according to a recording of the exchange posted on the Huffington Post's Web site.

"[He's] sleazy," Clinton responded. "He's a really dishonest reporter."

Clinton said that he had not read the article but that he was told that "there's five or six just blatant lies in there. But he's a real slimy guy."

Calling Purdum a "scumbag," Clinton said "he's one of the guys that propagated all those lies about Whitewater for Kenneth Starr. He's just a dishonest guy -- can't help it."

Purdum "didn't use a single name, he didn't cite a single source in all those things he said," the former president said, adding that the article was "part of the national media's attempt to nail Hillary for Obama.

"Anytime you read a story that slimes a public figure with anonymous quotes, it ought to make the bells go off in your head," he said.

Jay Carson, a spokesman for Hillary Clinton's campaign, said late Monday that "President Clinton was understandably upset about an outrageously unfair article, but the language today was inappropriate, and he wishes he had not used it."

Purdum, a former New York Times reporter who covered the Clinton White House and is married to former Clinton press secretary Dee Dee Myers, defended his article on CNN's "The Situation Room" on Monday afternoon, saying he was "very careful to say there is no clear-cut evidence that President Clinton has done anything improper."

"I reject the notion that I'm making an insinuation," Purdum said. "But I'm very comfortable quoting the people I quote because I know who they are, and I know that they are very senior people who have known President Clinton for a very long time and work for him at very high levels."

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