More Than 30 Reporters From Across The Spectrum Explain Why You Shouldn't Trust Anti-Clinton Author Ed Klein
Research ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI
No serious news outlet should trust anything from purported reporter Ed Klein and his new book Unlikeable: The Problem with Hillary. Media Matters has compiled remarks from more than 30 reporters from a wide range of outlets who have found major problems with Klein's work. Media figures have called Klein's work "junk journalism," "devoid of credibility," "suspect," "fan fiction," "lazy, cut-and-paste recycling," "strewn with serious factual errors, truncated and distorted quotes," "thoroughly discredited," "smut," "sordid," "poorly written, poorly thought, poorly sourced," and "bullshit."
Ed Klein Is Releasing Unlikeable: The Problem with Hillary
Book Description: "Unlikeable Is The Stunning, Powerful Exposé Of Hillary Clinton And Her Floundering Race For The White House." Edward Klein is releasing the anti-Clinton book Unlikeable through conservative publisher Regnery. A description of the book states:
Unlikeable is the stunning, powerful exposé of Hillary Clinton and her floundering race for the White House. With unprecedented access to longtime associates of the Clintons and the Obamas, investigative reporter Edward Klein meticulously recreates conversations and details of Hillary Clinton's behind-the-scenes plotting in Chappaqua and Whitehaven. Klein, the former editor in chief of New York Times Magazine and a contributing editor to Vanity Fair, draws a deeply troubling portrait of Hillary Rodham Clinton, a highly unlikeable presidential candidate and a woman more associated with scandal than with accomplishments, with lying than with truth, with arrogance than with compassion. [Regnery.com, accessed 9/22/15]
Klein Has A Long History Of Smearing The Clintons, Including Claiming That Chelsea Clinton Was Conceived After Bill Raped Hillary. Among many false claims about the Clintons, Klein once reported that Chelsea Clinton was conceived when Bill Clinton raped his wife. He later walked back the allegation. Klein has also used sexist rhetoric to attack Hillary Clinton, such as claiming she is "not looking good these days. She's looking overweight, and she's looking very tired." [Media Matters, 6/29/14]
Klein Was Reportedly Dropped By HarperCollins Because His 2014 Book "Did Not Pass A Vetting By In-House Lawyers"
The Guardian: Publishing Industry Was "Privately Withering About The Veracity Of Klein's Reporting." The Guardian senior reporter Jon Swaine reported in 2014:
Publishing industry sources contacted by the Guardian were privately withering about the veracity of Klein's reporting, while declining to allow their names to be associated with such allegations in public. [The Guardian, 7/14/14]
The Guardian: Klein's Work "Did Not Pass A Vetting By In-House Lawyers" At NewsCorp. The Guardian wrote of Klein's 2014 book, Blood Feud:
Two publishing industry sources familiar with the situation confirmed a report by BuzzFeed earlier this year that Blood Feud had been dropped by its original publisher, William Morrow, because the content did not pass a vetting by in-house lawyers. "When you're at an imprint of HarperCollins, which is part of NewsCorp, they take that stuff very seriously, and they check all of your sources and notes and they want to know where you got stuff," said one. The book has instead been released by Regnery, the Washington-based conservative imprint that has also published Ann Coulter and Newt Gingrich. [The Guardian, 7/14/14]
BuzzFeed: HarperCollins Terminated Klein's Book "Over Concerns About The Reporting Quality." BuzzFeed reporter Ruby Cramer wrote in 2014 of Blood Feud:
Two publishing sources said Klein's contract with HarperCollins had been terminated over concerns about the reporting quality. One said problems occurred when the manuscript underwent a standard legal vetting process this spring.
Book contracts are not easily cancelled. Most often, agreements between authors and publishing houses can be terminated when a manuscript is long overdue. But canceling for other reasons -- including quality of the book, or disagreements between the writer and the publishing house -- is more difficult, and less common. [BuzzFeed, 4/29/14]
Reporters Trash Klein's "Junk Journalism"
Journalism Professor Janensch: Klein's 2005 Hillary Book Was "Badly Reported," "Piece Of Junk Journalism." Paul Janensch, a former The Courier-Journal executive editor and journalism professor at Quinnipiac University, wrote of Klein's 2005 book The Truth About Hillary:
I have read Klein's book and found it to be badly reported. Much of it consists of old charges against Hillary Clinton: that she is bossy, a radical leftist and manipulative, and that she rode her husband's coattails to become a U.S. senator from New York.
Rush Limbaugh has touted the book, but other conservative commentators -- such as Peggy Noonan of The Wall Street Journal and John Podhoretz of the New York Post -- panned it as sordid.
It's hard to believe that these voices on the right are part of a vast left-wing conspiracy to protect Hillary Clinton. Here is a far more believable explanation for the treatment of the anti-Hillary book: The networks decided -- correctly in my opinion -- that this piece of junk journalism did not deserve free publicity. [Hartford Courant, 7/7/05]
Fox's Easton: Klein Looks "Like An Author Devoid Of Credibility" And "Basic Journalistic Standards." Nina Easton, a reporter who has worked for Fox News and Fortune, trashed The Truth About Hillary in a Boston Globe review:
There's a danger when you throw together rumor, innuendo, mind reading, and unsubstantiated blind quotes from sources who overtly hate your subject. And it's not just the risk of looking (as Edward Klein does) like an author devoid of credibility.
We are told all this by an author who lacks deft storytelling skills, not to mention basic journalistic standards. Bizarrely, Klein -- who also wrote ''The Kennedy Curse" and ''Farewell, Jackie" -- once held high positions at Newsweek and The New York Times Magazine. [The Boston Globe, 8/2/05]
Politico Editor In Chief Harris: Klein Made "Numerous Factual Errors" Demonstrating He Doesn't "Know The First Thing About The Clinton Story." John F. Harris, currently the editor in chief of Politico and a former Washington Post national politics editor, trashed Klein's reporting for botching "numerous" facts about the Clintons:
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.
Those are errors of detail, and they're a reminder that the author doesn't know the first thing about the Clinton story. His core audience probably couldn't care less. [New York Observer, 6/27/05]
The book is at its most repugnant when it comes to the question of sex. Mr Klein repeatedly hints that the former first lady has a taste for the Sapphic arts. Wasn't she at Wellesley, where, we are informed, lesbianism is strikingly common? And aren't many of her closest friends and aides lesbians? In the book's most bizarre passage, he even suggests that the Clintons' daughter, Chelsea, was the product of a marital rape.
Mr Klein should be ashamed of himself for sinking to such depths. And Mrs Clinton can sail on to the Democratic primary confident that this book will not do her the least bit of harm. [The Economist, 6/23/05]
Pulitzer Prize-Winner Remnick Calls Out Klein Book For "Shoddiness Of Its Reporting And The Vulgarity Of Its Writing." David Remnick, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, labeled Klein's writing "political smut" and added:
Klein's book lacks both the imagination and the engravings of its Jacobin forebears, and it may seem foolish to engage it or its author. In better times, in a better world, the shoddiness of its reporting and the vulgarity of its writing would place it safely beyond discussion. In our own time and place, though, such books are not only published but sell in the hundreds of thousands, and their toxicity has a habit of further poisoning the political groundwater. In the last election cycle, the Kerry campaign was slow to recognize the importance of the Swift Boat slander, and, by the time it did, the damage could not be undone. [The New Yorker, 7/4/05]
NY Times' Suellentrop: Klein Book "Doesn't Meet Even The Low Threshold Of Quality And Reportorial Diligence That Would Qualify His Book As A Guilty Pleasure." Reporter Chris Suellentrop, who has worked for the New York Times and Slate, trashed The Truth About Hillary in The Washington Post:
Hillary Rodham Clinton should be elated by the content of Edward Klein's new book, The Truth About Hillary. The Drudge-fueled buzz that preceded the book's publication promised a juicy, scandal-mongering romp filled with dubious but still delicious rumors about Sen. Clinton's personal life, the sort of too-good-to-check gossip that could have kept blogs and talk radio chattering through the summer, if not beyond. Klein's book doesn't come close to justifying the hype.
The Truth About Hillary is the Hudson Hawk of character assassination, a tedious, mind-numbing bomb. Klein, a former editor in chief of the New York Times magazine and assistant managing editor of Newsweek, doesn't meet even the low threshold of quality and reportorial diligence that would qualify his book as a guilty pleasure in the political gossip genre. Instead, he's written a guilty chore. The Truth About Hillary resembles nothing so much as a bad college term paper, reliant on long quotes from secondary sources -- not to mention a big font and wide margins -- as the author strains to stretch thin material into a respectable page count. [Washington Post, 6/26/05]
Reporter Queenan In NY Times: "Lazy, Cut-And-Paste Recycling Of Other People's Work." Reporter Joe Queenan savaged Klein's The Truth About Hillary in a New York Times review, calling it "a very bad book" that "is a lazy, cut-and-paste recycling of other people's work." [The New York Times, 7/31/05]
Historian Roger Morris: Klein Produces "Smut." Morris wrote of The Truth about Hillary:
Klein, who belongs to the infantile right, gives us none of it. In unrelieved pulp prose, all that rich history and current gravity reduce to cliché, innuendo and thinly disguised bigotry. Put aside the tawdry if predictable publisher's hype that preceded the book, mainly the irresistible sensation that Bill Clinton "raped" his wife to give them a child to enhance their public image. Klein's monotony of the shallow and snide makes us forget even that chunk of smut. [The Globe and Mail, 7/16/05]
National Memo's Conason: Klein Parades "Sewage" "Recounted By The Same Old Parade Of Discredited Or Unnamed Sources." National Memo editor-in-chief Joe Conason, who writes frequently about the Clintons, wrote for the New York Observer:
Only the latest in an ever-expanding catalog of bad books claiming to tell us the "truth" about the former First Lady and potential Presidential candidate, Mr. Klein's poisonous invention reveals far more about its author-and its publisher-than about Mrs. Clinton.
Even the most fanatical Hillary-haters will be disappointed if they're expecting to wallow in fresh sewage. Almost all of this crud floated through the pipeline long ago.
To anyone who, like me, has been required to read previous entries in this subliterary genre, The Truth About Hillary emits a strong smell of toxic mold. Its 250-plus pages are padded out with the same old tales and the same old innuendoes, recounted by the same old parade of discredited or unnamed sources.
It is all so drearily familiar, and yet so uniquely nasty that even some conservatives with a hearty appetite for Clinton-bashing are appalled. [New York Observer, 6/20/05]
The Week's Ambinder: Klein's Reporting Is "Highly Improbable" And "Suspect." In a piece headlined, "Hillary Clinton's quotes in Blood Feud are jaw-dropping. And highly suspect," reporter Marc Ambinder wrote:
A lot of Blood Feud is highly improbable. I cannot say that it is false, or fake-but-accurate, because I cannot know for sure, and it would be reckless for me to assert that this reporting is not true simply because some of his previous reporting has been soundly discredited.
I should also address the irony of writing a blog post about a book that does not deserve any undue publicity. But I am struck by how deeply skeptical conservatives are about Klein, with master logician Rush Limbaugh questioning the truthfulness of his dialogue and Fox News hosts finding aggressive ways to question him. I am not surprised that some people pretend to believe it is true. [The Week, 7/3/14]
CNN's Stelter: "Poorly Sourced ... A Lot Of The Book Passages Honestly Sound Too Crazy To Be True." CNN host and media reporter Brian Stelter criticized Klein and his book Blood Feud:
STELTER: "Blood Feud" purports to be about this: President Obama and the Clintons hate each other. But here's the thing. To call it poorly sourced is a compliment. A lot of the book passages honestly sound too crazy to be true, like when Klein claims that one of Hillary Clinton's arguments with the president turned physical, with her jabbing him in the chest. Normally, we wouldn't even be repeating these kinds of allegations, not when there's no evidence for them and lots of evidence against them. We're only talking about it here on RELIABLE SOURCES to explore the lack of fact-checking on a book that's selling like hotcakes. [CNN, Reliable Sources, 7/13/14]
Wash. Post's Weigel: Klein's Work Is "Clinton Fan Fiction." Appearing on CNN, current Washington Post reporter David Weigel criticized Klein's work and sourcing:
WEIGEL: "Blood Feud" is a version of the last couple of years of relationships between the Clintons and the Obamas.
This is kind of the latest in a series of Ed Klein books.
STELTER: You have called them Clinton hate books.
WEIGEL: Clinton fan fiction, I think I have also called them, where there are characters who definitely resemble the former secretary of state, the current president. And they get into situations that are combinations of facts reported elsewhere and verified and stories that are reported with great detail that Ed Klein could not have personally seen. He will report on the body language in rooms where maybe a friend was present, sometimes where no one else is present...
STELTER: Right. Right.
WEIGEL: ... and will claim at the end of the book that he has 200 -- it's usually around 200 sources he claims in spiral notebooks under deep cover that swore to him up and down that this all happened. [CNN, Reliable Sources, 7/13/14]
Byers And Gold At Politico: "Why We're Not Talking About Ed Klein." Media reporters Hadas Gold and Dylan Byers repeatedly wrote about problems with Klein's reporting in a series called, "Why we're not talking about Ed Klein." Politico also criticized mainstream media outlets for picking up Klein's work without offering "cautionary caveats" given the author's history. [Politico, 7/3/14, 7/14/14; Twitter.com, 7/3/14]
Politico's Thrush: "His Clinton Book Was Strewn With Serious Factual Errors, Truncated And Distorted Quotes." Politico reporter Glenn Thrush wrote of Klein:
On the other hand, his Clinton book was strewn with serious factual errors, truncated and distorted quotes, and the overall themes don't gibe with any other serious accounts of Clinton's life. The disdain for Klein's previous efforts haven't necessarily broken along political lines. [Politico, 5/24/12]
Gawker's Nolan: KIein Is "A Thoroughly Discredited Right Wing Political Conspiracy Theorist." Gawker reporter Hamilton Nolan wrote of Klein: "Ed Klein is a writer of political books, and a thoroughly discredited right wing political conspiracy theorist. He publishes outrageous and untrustworthy political allegations for a living." [Gawker, 9/21/15]
Slate's Newell: Klein's "Sourcing Doesn't Appear To Stand A Second's Worth Of Scrutiny." Jim Newell, currently a politics writer for Slate, wrote in Salon that Klein is the "king of hacks" whose "sourcing doesn't appear to stand a second's worth of scrutiny." He added, "Anyone can do what Ed Klein does. You just take a tiny sliver of news about Hillary Clinton and then come up with the most stilted and obvious imaginable dialogue between two wooden planks that happens to confirm the worst of suspicions about her character in a direct, efficient manner." [Salon.com, 7/7/14]
BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith: Klein Is "Piping Random Fake Scoops" For The New York Post. [Twitter.com, 7/6/14]
Huffington Post Senior Politics Editor Sam Stein: "Klein Once Lifted A Quote From An Interview I Did And Pawned It Off As His Own." [Twitter.com, 7/7/14]
New York Magazine's Fuller: Klein's Work Has "A Tenuous Relationship With Reality." Jaime Fuller, while a reporter for The Washington Post, wrote:
You should probably fact-check anything else you hear about the book. The other defining characteristic of Klein's biographies, besides their popularity with people who despise the subjects unpacked within, is that the salacious details revealed often have a tenuous relationship with reality -- as commentators of all ideological stripes have pointed out time and time again. [WashingtonPost.com, 7/11/14]
Salon's Maloy On Klein's Sourcing: "Either Someone Is Lying To Ed Klein, Or Ed Klein Is Lying To All Of Us. Or Both. Probably Both." Salon.com politics writer Simon Maloy, who previously worked for Media Matters, added: "Whenever Hillary Clinton is in the news, it's guaranteed that Klein will pop up with a salacious and poorly sourced book attacking the former first lady, and that it will get a lot of attention from conservatives who should know better than to trust Klein but don't actually care." [Salon.com, 6/23/14]
Vox's Prokop: "It's Difficult To Find Anyone In DC Who Believes" Klein's Quotes. Vox's Andrew Prokop wrote of Klein:
The reaction is no surprise. Klein is infamous for writing books with salacious details about the Clintons and Obamas, filled with what purport to be direct quotes of the couples spilling their true thoughts in private. These quotes are always attributed to anonymous sources who just happen to be present at the time. They generally portray the politicians in a very unflattering light. And it's difficult to find anyone in DC who believes they happened. [Vox.com, 3/16/15]
NY Times 2016 Reporter Michael Barbaro: "The @nypost Is Embarrassing Itself With This Ed Klein Reporting, Splashed On Cover." [Twitter.com, 3/15/15]
The Guardian Columnist Jeb Lund: "Ed Klein's Work Is Confabulated Bullshit." [The Guardian, 7/21/14]
BuzzFeed's Miller: Klein Offers "Stilted Fan Fiction, Featuring Dialogue That No Human Has Likely Said Or Will Probably Ever Say." BuzzFeed political editor Katherine Miller, who previously worked for the Washington Free Beacon, characterized Klein's work as offering no proof, and being "thinly sourced," and "stilted fan fiction":
Sunday, the New York Post led with a big story: President Obama would support Elizabeth Warren over Hillary Clinton in a 2016 primary.
Except the story is by Edward Klein, the author of the new book, Blood Feud. And Klein doesn't offer any proof this is actually happening.
There is an anonymous source who says that Warren, "like Obama, wants to transform America into a European-style democratic-socialist state." Another anonymous source dubs Warren Obama's "Mini-Me." There are vague reports of White House adviser Valerie Jarrett meeting with Warren.
After the wild success of his previous effort, the thinly sourced The Amateur, Klein signed a two-book deal with HarperCollins. That deal was later terminated. (Two publishing sources attributed the split to concerns about the quality of Klein's reporting.)
These more troubling issues aside: Because the book is largely a simple retelling of known information about the 2012 election and the Benghazi attack, Klein instead promises the sordid, inside details of arguments between the Obamas, Clintons, and Jarrett. What he delivers reads like stilted fan fiction, featuring dialogue that no human has likely said or will probably ever say until you read it aloud to friends and family. [BuzzFeed.com, 7/6/14]
Conservative Media On Klein: "Error Prone," "Revolting," "I Don't Believe Ed Klein"
Even Limbaugh Has Been Skeptical Of Klein's Supposed Scoops. While radio host Rush Limbaugh has promoted Klein's work, he's also been skeptical of his sourcing. In June 2014, Limbaugh questioned the credibility of Klein's unsourced quotes in Blood Feud, stating that "some of the quotes strike me as odd, in the sense that I don't know people who speak this way," and dismissing the purported quotes as "grade school chatter." [Media Matters, 3/16/15]
NY Post: "Hillary Basher Is Error Prone." The New York Post, which nonetheless regularly promotes Klein's work, wrote in 2005 under the headline, "HILLARY BASHER IS ERROR PRONE":
ED Klein's new hatchet-job book on Sen. Hillary Clinton says she was heavily influenced by the "culture of lesbianism" at her alma mater, Wellesley College -- but a classmate of the former first lady tells us there was no such thing. [New York Post, 6/10/05, via Nexis and myway.com]
MSNBC's Scarborough: I Unbooked Klein Because His "Sources Were Weak And The Book's Relevance Was Less Than Zero." Former Republican Rep. Joe Scarborough said on MSNBC in 2005:
And when I learned that Mr. Klein was booked on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, I asked questions. What were the stories? Who were the sources? And, most importantly, what was the relevance? After learning the stories were inflammatory, the sources were weak and the book's relevance was less than zero, I canceled the booking. Why? Because it was the right thing to do. [MSNBC, Scarborough Country, 6/27/05]
WSJ's Noonan: "Poorly Written, Poorly Thought, Poorly Sourced." Conservative Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan trashed Klein's The Truth About Hillary, and implored conservatives to disregard Klein:
I have read the Hillary book by Ed Klein, which has been heavily dumped on by conservatives, and understandably. In terms of political impact it is not a takedown but a buildup. Dick Morris says its sensational charges will only "embolden" her. They will certainly tend to inoculate her against future and legitimate criticism and revelations. The book is poorly written, poorly thought, poorly sourced and full of the kind of loaded language that is appropriate to a polemic but not an investigative work. [Wall Street Journal, 6/23/05]
National Review's Geraghty: "Nobody On The Right, Left, Or Center Ought To Stoop To This Level." National Review editor Jim Geraghty wrote in 2005:
Folks, there are plenty of arguments against Hillary Clinton, her policies, her views, her proposals, and her philosophies. This stuff ain't it. Nobody on the right, left, or center ought to stoop to this level. [MichelleMalkin.com, 6/22/05]
NRO's Lopez To Klein: "Why On Earth Would You Put Such A Terrible Story In Your Book?" NRO editor-at-large Kathryn Lopez asked Klein during a 2005 interview:
NRO: Matt Drudge has highlighted the "rape" claim in your book. Which, to be upfront here, I thought was a terrible story to be highlighting, about a child and her parents. Why on earth would you put such a terrible story in your book?-that looks to be flimsily sourced at that. But even if it wasn't-why tell it? [National Review, 6/20/05]
Conservative Writer Colon: "I'm Beginning To Suspect That Mr. Klein Is A Double Agent." Conservative writer Alicia Colon trashed The Truth About Hillary in a review for The New York Sun:
The book is so far out there with lurid allegations that I'm beginning to suspect that Mr. Klein is a double agent, pretending to be objective but in reality hoping to drum up visions of a vast right-wing conspiracy to do in poor Mrs. Clinton. Already, headlines have appeared that suggest conservatives are pushing up sales of the Klein book. Warning: The book is more likely to push Hillary Clinton into the White House. [The New York Sun, 6/24/05]
Wash. Post's Parker: "Only The Fringiest Clinton-Haters Could Find Pleasure" In Klein's Book. Conservative writer Kathleen Parker trashed Klein's The Truth About Hillary in her syndicated column:
One, that Americans of all stripes are tired of nasty, and Klein's treatment of the Clintons is reminiscent of a time we're trying to forget. He focuses overmuch on Hillary's alleged lesbianism, for instance (she didn't shave her legs and underarms at Wellesley!), and even writes that Chelsea was conceived one night when Bill raped Hillary.
Only the fringiest Clinton-haters could find pleasure with that level of prurient tabloiding of a former U.S. president and a present-day U.S. senator. After a few paragraphs, you find yourself reaching for the Brillo. [Orlando Sentinel, 6/25/05]
NY Post's Podhoretz: "This Is One Of The Most Sordid Volumes I've Ever Waded Through." Conservative columnist John Podhoretz slammed The Truth About Hillary, writing:
This is one of the most sordid volumes I've ever waded through. Thirty pages into it, I wanted to take a shower. Sixty pages into it, I wanted to be decontaminated. And 200 pages into it, I wanted someone to drive stakes through my eyes so I wouldn't have to suffer through another word. [New York Post, 6/22/05]
Syndicated Columnist Saunders: "I Find It Revolting." Conservative syndicated columnist Debra Saunders stated in 2005 of Klein:
SAUNDERS: Well, I'm a conservative and I just don't have a desire to read the book, and I should say I haven't read the book. You know, I had to read the Starr report, that was my job, and that was smarmy enough. I know enough about the Clintons' personal life. I think what the country wants to know about are policies and how they conduct themselves in public. But this -- all the personal innuendo and stories like, Bill told me over drinks, and the fact that that would get into a book, it just violates Hillary Clinton's zone of privacy. I find it revolting. [CNN, Reliable Sources, 6/26/05]
Conservative Columnist Michelle Malkin On Klein's Truth About Hillary Book: "I Have Neither The Time Nor The Inclination To Wade Through This Rehash ... Leave It On The Shelf." [MichelleMalkin.com, 6/22/05]
Wash. Examiner's York: Klein's Book Was "Denounced As A Whole Pack Of Lies." During a 2012 appearance on Fox News, Washington Examiner Chief Political Correspondent Byron York said Klein's previous work "was denounced as a whole pack of lies by everybody involved." [Fox News, On The Record, 5/11/12, via Media Matters]
Weekly Standard Writer Mark Hemingway: "I Don't Believe Ed Klein." [Twitter.com, 3/14/15]