Media Matters to Sentinel and Penguin: Admit falsehoods in Klein book

Adrian Zackheim
Publisher, Sentinel
375 Hudson Street
New York, N.Y. 10014

CC: Susan Peterson Kennedy
President, Penguin Group USA

Dear Mr. Zackheim:

Less than a week after The Truth About Hillary reached bookstores, its author has acknowledged several factual errors, while Media Matters for America and news organizations have pointed out numerous other indisputable falsehoods.

I am writing today to ask you to commit publicly to correcting these errors in future printings of The Truth About Hillary and to acknowledge them in a press release. Penguin/Sentinel is aggressively promoting Mr. Klein's book as a work of nonfiction; consumers have a right to know that much of the book does not meet that standard.

Specifically, Mr. Klein has acknowledged the following:

  • In an interview on Air America Radio's The Al Franken Show conducted Friday, June 24, Klein acknowledged misrepresenting the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan's introduction of Clinton at her campaign kick-off event. Klein suggested in his book that Moynihan could not bring himself to use Clinton's name. But Klein doctored Moynihan's comments to support his case. When caught, Klein said on The Al Franken Show “My intention in this book was not to deceive anybody. ... Well, I didn't do it intentionally, and if I left out some words, I'm sorry.” Without a correction, those words are meaningless.
  • Also on The Al Franken Show, Klein acknowledged that his claim that Clinton began talking about a Jewish relative only after enduring criticism for embracing Suha Arafat is false. In fact, Clinton had spoken publicly about the relative several months before. Klein: “This is a chronological mistake in the book, and I've admitted to it.”
  • Klein also acknowledged that he has never seen Melanne Verveer - whom he mistakenly identifies as “Melanie Verveer” in The Truth About Hillary -- though he described her as “mannish looking” in the book. Basic fairness and good taste demand that this passage be excised from future editions of the book.

In addition, Media Matters has identified several other errors that Klein has not yet acknowledged but which should be corrected nonetheless:

  • Klein repeated the long-ago debunked claim that Bill Clinton's haircut aboard Air Force One delayed flights at the Los Angeles airport; in reality, the FAA announced at the time -- and major media outlets reported -- that flights were not delayed.
  • Klein wrote that in 1999, Harold Ickes planned to raise an “unprecedented” $25 million for Clinton's Senate campaign. Such a sum was far from “unprecedented.” New York Sen. Al D'Amato raised $27 million for his unsuccessful 1998 re-election campaign.
  • Klein accused Moynihan of giving a “long, rambling discourse” about mowing a hay field at an event to announce Clinton's Senate candidacy. In Klein's telling, this “discourse” seems to support Klein's claim that Moynihan was reluctant to endorse Clinton. In fact, the “long, rambling discourse” lasted less than 30 words, making it quite a bit shorter than Klein's description of it.
  • Klein falsely claimed that a speech Clinton gave on behalf of the Kerry-Edwards campaign was “mostly about herself.” A quick glance at the text of the speech reveals this to be a lie.
  • Continuing on his theme that Clinton was an unenthusiastic supporter of the Kerry-Edwards ticket, Klein claimed that she “made numerous appearances in states, like South Dakota, where John Kerry did not have the slightest chance of winning.” Clinton has not been to South Dakota in several years.

New examples of Klein's sloppy research and false claims appear every day. Recently:

  • Michael Tomasky reports on The American Prospect's web page that Klein altered a quote he took from Tomasky's book, Hillary's Turn.
  • The Washington Post notes: “The book's most telling mistake comes when Klein quotes an anonymous 'Democratic political analyst' describing the expression 'until the last dog dies' as 'that famous line of hers from the New Hampshire primary of 1992.' Actually, that was Bill Clinton's famous line.”
  • The Post further points out: “On one page, Klein cites Hillary's 'carefully cultivated public image as a selfless, holier-than-thou person.' Here he seems to have blended Hillary's preferred public image with the image preferred by her critics. Who wants to be perceived as holier-than-thou?”
  • The Los Angeles Times notes: “Even the most casual reading of this book turns up one error after another. For example, the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan did not endorse Hillary Clinton in the fashion Klein describes nor did the late Ken Kesey reside at the Hog Farm commune.”
  • Washington Post editor John Harris, author of a recent book about the Clintons, notes in the New York Observer: “There are numerous factual errors. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once complained that Bill Clinton regarded welfare reform, not health-care reform, as 'boob bait for the bubbas.' Perhaps some people called Evelyn Lieberman, the former White House deputy chief of staff, 'Mother Superior' -- though in a decade covering the Clintons, I never heard that nickname, and I can assure you that there's nothing 'prissy' about her. Mr. Klein asserts that if Hillary Clinton is elected President, it will mean that political operatives like Stan Greenberg will be back in power -- never mind that Mr. Greenberg got tossed to the outer orbit of the Clinton circle more than a decade ago.”

Edward Klein says that "[m]y intention in this book was not to deceive anybody." Assuming that is true, there can be no reason not to correct these and any other errors in future printings of The Truth About Hillary -- unless Penguin/Sentinel itself intends to deceive readers.

I would also like to reiterate my request that Klein and Penguin/Sentinel “substantiate this maliciously grotesque rape claim and either confirm it publicly as legitimate, or else retract it as a fabrication and apologize to the public and the Clintons.”

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need further information about any of the errors we have identified in The Truth About Hillary. I look forward to your response.

David Brock
President and CEO
Media Matters for America