The promotion machine for Edward Klein's attack book on Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) includes a name familiar for his past bankrolling of attacks against the Clintons -- Richard Mellon Scaife, the right-wing Pittsburgh billionaire who funded the 1990s dirt-digging operation against the Clintons known as the Arkansas Project.
The first "news" of the contents of Klein's The Truth About Hillary: What She Knew, When She Knew It, and How Far She'll Go to Become President (Sentinel, June 2005) -- which proved predicated on a falsehood -- was published this past weekend in a subscriber-only e-mail from the conservative news website NewsMax.com, in which Scaife is an investor and the third-largest stockholder. NewsMax, which has promoted the book for weeks, has published three articles touting it in the last three days, and is currently offering it (a $24.95 value) for free with the purchase of a $39 one-year subscription to NewsMax's magazine. (The NewsMax offer also throws in the so-called "Deck of Hillary," a $4.95 deck of cards NewsMax promotes this way: "As the Pentagon proved with its deck of Most Wanted Iraqis, there's no better way to 'out' the enemy than to depict it on a deck of cards.") Like the NewsMax website, NewsMax Magazine has been a vehicle for promoting right-wing causes, including an error-filled smear of progressive financier George Soros.
NewsMax has also purchased ads hyping the book on right-wing blogs, including MichelleMalkin.com and BlogsforBush. According to NewsMax, "NewsMax pundit" John LeBoutillier, a former one-term, right-wing GOP congressman from New York known as "Le Boot," interviewed Klein for last weekend's "exclusive" promotional e-mail. In a June 7 NewsMax column promoting Klein's book, LeBoutillier revealed that he had been plotting the course of the book with Klein since its inception:
Because Ed Klein and I are friends, we have been talking about this book for almost two years.
Over frequent lunches with our mutual friend, famed TV reporter Liz Trotta, a Columbia Journalism School classmate of Klein's from 40 years ago, we have been discussing the Hillary project from its conception, through the hiring of his research assistants to the actual interview process whereby Klein talked to almost 100 people close to Hillary, going back to the 1960s.
The animus toward the Clintons shared by Klein's two "friends"-- LeBoutillier and Trotta, a Fox News contributor and former New York bureau chief of The Washington Times -- is glaring.
In addition to co-founding of the proposed Counter Clinton Library, a stated purpose of which is to serve as "the headquarters of the Stop Hillary Now campaign," LeBoutillier is also a founder of the StopHillaryPAC, which he compares to the discredited Swift Boat Veterans for Truth: "Those Swift Boat Veterans for Truth were the real heroes of the 2004 election. We at the StopHillaryPAC want to do the same thing to Hillary." LeBoutillier has also accused Bill Clinton of destroying military morale with "gays in military, women in combat," as Media Matters for America has documented.
Trotta, meanwhile, has opined on the "Slick Willie Factor" [Washington Times, 2/16/93], and has written a series of reports that portray Hillary Clinton in a negative light. Among them was a July 18, 2000, Washington Times article reporting on an allegation promoted by conservatives that Hillary Clinton "used an anti-Semitic slur 26 years ago," an allegation forwarded by Paul Fray, manager of Bill Clinton's failed 1974 political campaign for Congress, in the book State of a Union: Inside the Complex Marriage of Bill and Hillary Clinton (HarperCollins, July 2000) by former National Enquirer reporter Jerry Oppenheimer. Fray is "a disbarred lawyer who has admitted to leveling charges 'without factual foundation' against the Clintons in the past" [Chicago Sun-Times, 8/9/00]. Gail Sheehy, author of Hillary's Choice (Random House, 1999), told the Associated Press that she didn't use the accusation in her book because "I realized that even he didn't back it up" and that she found Fray "only moderately reliable" and "kind of flaky."
Scaife apparently withdrew his funding from The American Spectator's Arkansas Project -- a $2.4 million effort to dig up negative information about the Clintons -- in 1997 after the magazine printed a negative review of a book by NewsMax founder and editor Christopher Ruddy, a former reporter at the Scaife-owned Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, suggesting that former Clinton White House counsel Vincent Foster was murdered, despite numerous investigations concluding that his death was a suicide. Newsweek reported on May 18, 1998, that "Scaife no longer gives money to the Spectator. Sources at the magazine suggest that he was miffed when the Spectator panned a book written by his favorite conspiracist, reporter Christopher Ruddy." Even right-wing pundit Ann Coulter, in her book Slander, dismissed Ruddy's book: "Even if Christopher Ruddy's The Strange Death of Vince Foster was considered a conservative hoax book, it was also conservatives who discredited it."