CNN host Anderson Cooper, the moderator of Tuesday night's Democratic presidential debate, dismissed a Weekly Standard report claiming he was a member of the Clinton Global Initiative, a story amplified on The Drudge Report in the hours before the candidates hit the stage in Las Vegas.
“With all due respect to the Weekly Standard," Cooper said, "this is total bunk”
Cooper was asked about the story, which gained traction Tuesday in conservative media circles, during an appearance on CNN's "The Lead." The Weekly Standard described how Cooper had been listed as a "notable past member" of the organization, linking to a Mediaite story from May that mentioned several prominent journalists who shared that distinction.
Cooper said that he moderated a panel at the Clinton Global Initiative in 2007, but he has had no ties to the organization or personal links to the Clintons in the years since.
“I walked in. I did my moderation. I left," he said. "I wasn’t paid. I’ve never been back to the Clinton Global Initiative. I’ve never been a member of CGI. I’ve never been to a cocktail party for CGI. I’ve never been to a social event with the Clintons."
Cooper said that if he was as close to the Clintons as some believe, he'd be able to easily book Hillary Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner, as a guest on his show. Clinton hasn't appeared on "Anderson Cooper 360" in years. He also noted that he's spoken at the Reagan Library before.
Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol tweeted in response to Cooper's dismissal that "facts are stubborn things."
Fox News host Greta Van Susteren, also identified in May as a CGI “member," wrote then that the description was "weird."
“The idea or suggestion that I am or was a ‘member" of Clinton Global Initiative is just silly -- I think it is just a word the Clinton Global Initiative used in their event program to describe those who were invited and attended,” Van Susteren wrote. “It is never a word I would have used."
The Drudge Report has given oxygen to similar suggestions of bias in past election cycles. In October 2012, the outlet led with a story about how President Barack Obama attended the 1991 wedding of his Harvard Law School classmate Julius Genachowski and ABC News journalist Martha Raddatz, the moderator of that year's vice presidential debate.
Four years earlier, The Drudge Report blasted out the news that PBS's Gwen Ifill was writing a book about Obama and race, shortly before she was set to moderate the 2008 vice presidential debate. Despite the glaring headline, Ifill's book was no secret.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly described the debates Martha Raddatz and Gwen Ifill moderated. They were vice presidential debates.
This article has been updated to include comments Greta Van Susteren made in May.