A 61-year-old woman elbows her 5-foot-2-inch frame to the front of the crowd mobbing Bill Clinton after a campaign event in South Dakota. As Mr. Clinton shakes her hand and holds it tight, she deftly draws him into a response to an article on the Vanity Fair Web site that examines his post-presidential life. “Sleazy” and “slimy” are among the words that issue from the former president’s mouth. Within hours, audio of the three-minute exchange — including the woman’s description of the article as a “hatchet job,” and Mr. Clinton’s description of Todd Purdum, the author and a former reporter for The New York Times, as “dishonest” — is available for the world to hear on the Huffington Post Web site.
The woman, Mayhill Fowler, who calls herself a citizen journalist, wore no credential around her neck and did not identify herself, her intentions or her affiliation as an unpaid contributor to Off the Bus, a section of The Huffington Post. While her digital audio recorder was visible in her left hand during that encounter last Monday, she says, she did not believe Mr. Clinton saw it. “I think we can safely say he thought I was a member of the audience,” she said in a telephone interview on Friday.