Even Fox Guests Say Ed Klein Isn't Credible -- So Why Can't The Network Stop Talking About His Book?
Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ
Let's begin with the obvious: Edward Klein, author of the forthcoming Obama biography The Amateur, lacks anything resembling credibility.
His last offering was coauthored with John LeBoutillier, previously seen pushing various birther claims and trying to build a Counter Clinton Library to push conspiracies like the former president's supposed role in dozens of murders. Their self-published book, The Obama Identity: A Novel (Or Is It?), depicts a CIA agent's fictional (but based on "real stuff") investigation into President Obama, which reveals him to be a Kenyan-born Muslim Manchurian candidate.
Before that, in his thinly sourced, factually deficient 2005 tome The Truth About Hillary Klein insinuated that Hillary Clinton is a lesbian who conceived her daughter Chelsea after being raped by Bill Clinton; the book was widely denounced even by conservatives. That one, Klein claimed, was not a novel.
(ThinkProgress runs down several other examples of Klein's "history of presenting falsehoods as fact" here.)
None of this, however, kept right-wing publisher Regnery away from Klein's latest book, details of which are now being released. On Friday, The New York Post reported that the book claims that Bill Clinton sharply criticized President Obama and urged Hillary Clinton to seek the Oval Office "during a gathering in the ex-president's home office in Chappaqua last August that included longtime friends." Klein supposedly based the claim on interviews with two anonymous friends of the Clintons who attended the gathering. Spokesmen for both Clintons quickly shot down the report, with Bill Clinton's spokesman calling it the "totally false" ravings of "a known liar."
Klein is so radioactive that he taints anyone who pushes his work. But at Fox, no one is so radioactive that their claims can't be aired on the network, which currently employs LeBoutillier and 9/11 truther Andrew Napolitano, and features several hosts and contributors who have promoted birther conspiracies.
And so on Friday, the Fox spent no small amount of time promoting Klein's newest allegations, even as several of the network's conservative employees and guests explained that the author lacks "credibility," is telling a story that seems "too good to be true," and has pushed "extremely controversial" claims that have been "widely denounced." With the Post now teasing another Klein book excerpt on the relationship between Obama and Rev. Jeremiah Wright, it seems likely that this pattern will continue.
On Fox Business' Lou Dobbs Tonight, "Democratic strategist" Doug Schoen said Klein "is not a reporter who in my own personal experience I've had a lot of credibility with." Wall Street Journal writer James Taranto added that the story related by the Post "sounded very odd" and seemed "too good to be true in every particular."
Later that evening on Fox News' On the Record, host Greta Van Susteren had this exchange with the National Review's Byron York:
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Who is this author?
YORK: Edward Klein is a former editor of The New York Times Sunday magazine, has written a number of kind of deep inside tell-all books. His last book in 2005 about Hillary Clinton was extremely controversial, claimed that she was a lesbian and all sorts of kind of out-there stuff. It was denounced as a whole pack of lies by everybody involved.
VAN SUSTEREN: And others. Besides everybody involved, but people who were...
VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, it wasn't just the sort of the inner circle of the Clintons who denounced it.
YORK: Yes, it...
VAN SUSTEREN: It was widely denounced.
Note that none of this is stopping Fox from giving Klein's "explosive," "bombshell" allegations a platform; Dobbs claims that next week he will host the author his own guests call discredited. (It seems unlikely that Dobbs' Klein interview will be a tough one.)
Surprisingly, Fox's right-wing shows have done a better job revealing Klein's record than its leading "straight news" program. On Friday, Special Report ran a Grapevine item on the book, identifying Klein only as "a former New York Times magazine editor" who the Clinton and Obama camps call a "known liar."
Apparently host Bret Baier is unaware that several of his Fox colleagues agree.