Ed Klein perceives a conspiracy in his inability to get bookings on television to promote his new biography of Hillary Clinton. Howard Kurtz notices that Klein hasn’t received nearly the attention given to Kitty Kelley for her load of tripe about the Bush family:
Despite the enormous hype surrounding Edward Klein’s scathing and hearsay-filled book about Hillary Rodham Clinton, the author has been ignored by all but two television talk shows.
This collective cold shoulder hasn’t stopped “The Truth About Hillary” from hitting No. 2 yesterday on the coveted New York Times list. “It’s the biggest example to date of how major media censorship doesn’t stop a book anymore from being a bestseller,” Klein declares. …
Klein says that MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and Chris Matthews, CNN’s Paula Zahn, Fox’s John Gibson and ABC’s “Good Morning America” were among those who had tentatively booked or expressed strong interest in him, only to drop him like a hot potato. “I can’t prove this,” he says, but “the Hillary people” have told the networks “she would be mightily displeased if I got on.” …
Kelley’s book “The Family” also relied on numerous unnamed sources. Bush’s former sister-in-law, Sharon Bush, disputed allegations of past drug use by the president that were attributed to her, and the White House communications director dismissed the book as “garbage.” Yet Kelley was granted a three-part interview on NBC’s “Today” and appeared on a spate of other television shows.
That does appear to indict the media, but not in the way that Klein wants people to believe. As Kurtz points out — and as Bernard Goldberg also pointed out when asked for reaction to Aaron Brown’s cancellation of his interview last week — the media does not have an obligation to promote Klein’s book. Ignoring Klein does not equate to censorship. They have the right to determine which guests will appear on their broadcasts — after all, the shows belong to them, not Klein and certainly not the government. Censorship by definition involves government intervention, and the idea that the Bush administration would want to suppress a book painting Hillary in a negative light is just laughable. Klein’s statement that “he can’t prove” that Hillary has abused her position to keep him off the air and his publishing of the notion regardless of his inability to offer proof speaks volumes about his book and his publication standards.
However, the red carpet that the media rolled out for Kitty Kelley does show a bias in their approach to truth in publishing. I think that based on the exemplars I’ve read of Klein’s book, the media has made the right choice in refusing to promote it. Too bad they couldn’t have had those same scruples when Kelley wrote her similar tome on George Bush. She rounded up rumors and innuendo, offered no substantive proof, and published them in a book almost indentical in ethics to Klein’s — and yet the media couldn’t get enough of Kelley. In her case, the blame goes deeper, as she has a track record of writing poorly-sourced and ethically challenged biographies of famous people, usually dead, and almost always in no position to defend themselves.
Did the media freeze out Kelley? No. As Kurtz points out, she made almost all of the usual television shows, eagerly pimping her book during Bush’s re-election campaign. It might be nice to think that Kelley’s discreditation has played a part in the media’s reluctance to grant Klein the same platform for his muckraking. However, I doubt that to be the case. Klein simply picked the wrong target for his literary mudslinging. If he now acts surprised that all of his former friends in the national media have no use for him, then Klein learned nothing from his years working alongside them.