Klein backs off rape smear in Hannity interview meltdown

Asked by interviewer Sean Hannity “about whether or not Bill [Clinton] raped her [Hillary Clinton] and conceived Chelsea that way,” author Edward Klein backed off the claim in two June 21 interviews -- and told two conflicting stories about his own sourcing for it in the process.

In an afternoon interview on Hannity's nationally syndicated radio show to promote his new attack book on Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), The Truth About Hillary (Sentinel, June 2005), Klein said, “My source never said Bill raped Hillary.” He added that the supposed “source” thought that Bill Clinton had made the comment, “I'm going to go back to my cottage and rape my wife,” as a “joke” and in “jest.” But in a later TV interview with Hannity on Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, Klein backed off the story entirely, saying, “Nor do I suggest for a second that he [sic] was raped.”

Within the course of a few minutes in the radio interview, Klein flip-flopped on how many sources he had for the story. In his book, Klein sources the story only to “an anonymous source who was with the Clintons in Bermuda.” Klein's book cites no other sources to support the story.

When initially pressed by Hannity, Klein said he had only one source:

HANNITY: It's only one source.

KLEIN: It's one source who I checked out very carefully.

A few minutes later, however, Klein changed his mind, telling Hannity that he had more than one source on the story:

HANNITY: Is one anonymous source enough, then, to go to print with something like that?

KLEIN: Well, you know, I've been at this for 40-some-odd years, Sean. And I've dealt with anonymous sources all my life.

HANNITY: But one source? Were you able to corroborate the source?

KLEIN: Of course. I wouldn't go to print --

HANNITY: So, you had two sources?

KLEIN: I had -- sometimes I had several sources.

HANNITY: But in the case of this rape story --

KLEIN: Of course I did, yes.

But in the Hannity & Colmes interview, Klein returned to his original claim that he had only one source:

HANNITY: In the case of the story of how Chelsea was conceived, you had one source in the book.


Asked by Hannity to justify the gay-baiting innuendo in his book, Klein once again contradicted himself. In the radio interview, Klein stated that he does not “accuse her of being a lesbian in this book”:

KLEIN: First of all, let me make clear, I do not accuse her of being a lesbian in this book, as you know.

HANNITY: But it comes up on seven different occasions.

KLEIN: Right. It comes up because it is relevant to understanding the basis of her political point of view. It is a political question.

On Hannity and Colmes, however, Klein returned once again to rumor and innuendo, admitting that he was in fact questioning “her sexuality,” and stating that Hillary Clinton has “given all kinds of signals that her sexuality is in question.” But he failed to offer any evidence to back up the innuendo.

HANNITY: You question her sexuality, though, four times in the book, but she's a married woman with a child. I mean, do you not consider --

KLEIN: I'm not the first person who has questioned her sexuality.

HANNITY: I know. But without -- there's no evidence of any such thing. Is it fair? Do you consider her daughter in all of this? Should we consider her daughter?

KLEIN: The rumors of Hillary's sexuality started in Arkansas 30-some-odd years ago.

HANNITY: But is it fair? I don't want to defend Hillary, I have so many political disagreements. Shouldn't we keep it on the political?

KLEIN: Hillary was asked by Bill Clinton's campaign manager in 1974, “Hillary, please come out and deny these rumors. They're hurting Bill Clinton.”

HANNITY: When did you stop beating your child?

KLEIN: And she said, “I'm not going to do it.”

HANNITY: But why does she -- why should she have to? If she's a married woman with a child.

KLEIN: Because she's given all kinds of signals that her sexuality is in question.

Media Matters for America has uncovered numerous factual errors and distortions in Klein's book.