Air America Radio host Al Franken criticized the vetting process for Edward Klein's attack book on Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), The Truth About Hillary: What She Knew, When She Knew It, and How Far She'll Go to Become President. The book will be released June 21 by Sentinel, an imprint of publisher Penguin Putnam; Franken's book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right and his upcoming book are published by Dutton, which was acquired by Penguin in 1986. Media Matters for America has documented several errors and distortions (here, here and here) in released excerpts from the book.
From the June 16 edition of Air America Radio's The Al Franken Show:
FRANKEN: Anyway, oh, gosh, I should talk -- quickly, I want to talk about the Hillary book. Because this is --
KATHERINE LANPHER (co-host): Which Hillary book?
FRANKEN: There's a new book on Hillary called The Truth About Hillary, or something like that. This is a shameful thing. They're saying it's like the new Swift Boat Vets book. Or like the new Unfit for Command.
LANPHER: Isn't it by, I believe, a man named Edward Klein?
FRANKEN: Edward Klein. And already we've had -- [New York Observer columnist] like, Joe Conason read it. And Joe Conason, of course, did The War Against the President [sic: The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton] and knows the Clintons real well, and just has written a scathing review of this in the New York Observer. All the things that are rumored to be in the book are in the book. Rumors about lesbianism. This is all like crap that's just recycled. It's been through and debunked before.
We've already heard about a couple of things that are just carelessly, like the idea that [former Sen. Daniel Patrick] Moynihan [D-NY], when he introduced her, when she was announcing that she was going to run for the Senate, didn't say her name. And he said her name three times. Things that could have easily been vetted. That sort of thing. Just scurrilous, scurrilous, scurrilous stuff.
Now, the Swift Boat Vets were, you know, they were financed by these right-wing guys, with their ads and stuff like this. You know who this is financed by? My publisher. By Penguin.
I mean, it's really -- It's being published by Sentinel, which is the right-wing imprint of Penguin, which is the parent company of Dutton, which published Lies and the Lying Liars who Tell Them and which is going to publish my next book, which I'm writing now.
When I was told, this is the Pearson group [Penguin Putnam's parent company], which is a multi-billion-dollar organization out of England. And, on their website, it says, "Our values: In everything we do, we aspire to be brave, imaginative and decent."
LANPHER: Sounds like the -- scout's honor.
FRANKEN: Well, this is not a decent book. And, you know, what's interesting is when I do a book, my books are usually about the truth, you know, about really holding -- you know, debunking lies. And this book is actually going to be called The Truth. With jokes.
And, you know, I have to -- I'm vetted by the publisher, and I want them to. Gosh, I hope they -- and we are meticulous. I mean, once again Ben Wikler is working on the book with me, Andy Barr is working on the book with me. These are guys who worked on Team Franken for the last book.
We're held to a very, very high -- we hold ourselves to a high standard, and Dutton holds us to a very high standard. We have to keep records of everything. It appears that their right-wing imprint doesn't have the same standards.
Now, I have asked, Joe's read the book. Joe -- I want to go in and find out who vetted this thing, and I want to have a meeting with them, with Joe, and go through their vetting of this book. And see if, if -- 'cause I was promised when I heard that Sentinel was making this right-wing imprint, I was promised -- you know, I don't mind. Listen, the right should be doing books, of course. [Conservative author and Washington Post columnist] George Will does a book. I don't think George Will goes out there and lies. I don't agree with almost anything he says, but --. Well, I agree with some of the things George Will says. That's fine.
But, I was saying, this isn't going to be one of these, you know, right-wing crap mills. And it looks like it is. And that really, I don't know, it really, really upsets me.