Wall Street Journal contributing editor Peggy Noonan and nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh wrongly denied that conservatives are behind the promotion of Edward Klein's discredited attack book The Truth About Hillary (Sentinel, June 2005).
Limbaugh claimed that conservatives "have nothing to do with" the book, instead speculating that it was a "left-wing idea" intended to "inoculate" Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) from criticism through the dismissal of the book's claims as "a right-wing hatchet job." Limbaugh drew a parallel to the controversy over his own 2003 comments suggesting that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb received favorable media coverage because "[t]he media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well." Limbaugh said: "Because I deigned to criticize the media's coverage of McNabb, McNabb is now inoculated against any criticism whatsoever by media people in the NFL. Because they don't dare risk being on the same side of the issue with me."
In her June 23 column, Noonan similarly denied conservative involvement with the book, which she called "poorly written, poorly thought, poorly sourced." Claiming the book will "inoculate" Clinton "against future and legitimate criticism and revelations," she characterized Klein as having "no conservative bona fides" and described the book as "an anti-Hillary book by the MSM [mainstream media]."
Limbaugh claimed that The Truth about Hillary "has nothing to do with anybody in the conservative wing of any party. It has nothing to do with a bunch of right-wingers." He further stated that it was neither written by a conservative author nor published by a conservative publishing house like Regnery, the publisher of Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry, the book co-written by Jerome R. Corsi and Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (SBVT) co-founder John E. O'Neill. But as Media Matters for America has noted The Truth About Hillary has much in common with SBVT's discredited attack on Sen. John Kerry (D-MA):
- Sentinel, the two-year-old conservative imprint of the Penguin Putnam publishing house that published Klein's book, has stated as its goal: "Just as the Swift Boat Veterans convinced millions of voters that John Kerry lacked the character to be president, Klein's book will influence everyone who is sizing up the character of Hillary Clinton." Similarly, the New York Post reported on April 12 that Sentinel spokesperson Will Weisser "said he hoped that The Truth About Hillary would do to Clinton what the Swift Boat Veterans bestseller did to Kerry. 'That would be our fondest wish,' he said, before adding, 'We're just trying to sell books. It will be up to the voters to read the book and decide for themselves about Senator Clinton. We're not out to get anyone, per se.' " SBVT was explicitly formed to defeat Kerry's presidential campaign; thus, the publisher's comparison of the book to the Swift Boat group reveals the book to be little more than a partisan political tool designed to influence an election.
- SBVT repeatedly lied, misled, and distorted the truth about John Kerry, as Media Matters and others extensively documented. The Truth About Hillary contains numerous factual errors, sleazy gossip and gay-baiting innuendo.
- Like SBVT antipathy towards Kerry, The Truth About Hillary author Edward Klein reportedly has a personal dislike of Hillary Clinton. He told Fox News host Sean Hannity in a June 21 radio interview that he does not want Clinton to be president. He called her "darkly Nixonian," "insincere" and a "congenital liar." He told Reuters in an interview, "I do not want to see her become president of the United States. I think that would be a dangerous thing; to have another darkly paranoid president like Richard Nixon, who has an enemies list and is inclined to do illegal things."
- Former Regnery editor Bernadette Malone now works as an editor for Sentinel.
Noonan claimed that the book "has been heavily promoted not by a conservative publication but by Vanity Fair magazine." In fact, the promotion machine for Klein's book includes 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 the book was published in a June 4 subscriber-only e-mail from the right-wing website NewsMax.com, in which Scaife is an investor and the third-largest stockholder. NewsMax, which has promoted the book for weeks, is currently offering it (a $24.95 value) for free with the purchase of a $39 one-year subscription to NewsMax's magazine. NewsMax has also purchased ads hyping the book on right-wing blogs, including MichelleMalkin.com and BlogsforBush. "NewsMax pundit" John LeBoutillier, a fervent Clinton attacker and a former one-term, right-wing GOP congressman from New York, interviewed Klein for the June 4 "exclusive" promotional e-mail. In a June 7 NewsMax column promoting Klein's book, LeBoutillier stated that he had been plotting the course of the book with Klein since its inception.
Other conservatives have joined in promoting the book, including Hannity, syndicated columnist and CNN political analyst Robert D. Novak, Washington Times editorial page editor Tony Blankley, and Limbaugh himself.
Limbaugh also falsely claimed that The Truth about Hillary is the first book published by Sentinel and stated that "that alone is designed to discredit the thing." In fact, Sentinel published five books in 2004, including: A Matter of Character: Inside the White House of George W. Bush by Ronald Kessler (August 2004) and Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim To Help (and the Rest of Us) by Mona Charen (December 2004). Sentinel plans to publish 10-15 books in 2005 and in subsequent years.
From the June 21 edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show:
LIMBAUGH: Yeah, I think that's a distinct possibility. I mean, if you want to talk about conspiracies, I wouldn't be a bit surprised if this whole thing is a left-wing idea -- put the book out there, label it a right-wing hatchet job, and use that to inoculate any information in the book or to inoculate her against any criticism down the road. Forget what's in the book, but just say, "Well, you can't believe the critics. They're all right-wingers."
It's sort of like good old Donovan McNabb. The guy is very lucky. Because I deigned to criticize the media's coverage of McNabb, McNabb is now inoculated against any criticism whatsoever by media people in the NFL. Because they don't dare risk being on the same side of the issue with me. So, you know, that's why McNabb wants to hire me or should hire me as his marketing agent because he's been inoculated against criticism.
Well, the same thing with Hillary here. Hillary, because of this book, the real risk is that after this book comes out and if the press successfully tars and feathers the right for having anything to do with this it's gonna -- any further criticism of her down the line after this book will be shrugged off as, "Ah, it's no big deal," to personalize it again.
What really ticks me off about this is that this whole Hillary book has nothing to do with anybody in the conservative wing of any party. It has nothing to do with a bunch of right-wingers. No right-winger wrote the book. No right-winger collaborated -- well, there might have been.
I don't know about that, but I do know that no right-winger wrote it and no right-winger works at this publishing house, and it's not a right wing publishing house. They may have a conservative imprint, and that's another thing. I forget who published this book, but this is the first book in their new "conservative imprint." Well, that alone is designed to discredit the thing. Don't you think? With the mainstream -- "Oh, yeah, probably just another one of these Regnery books. Ah, it's probably just somebody from Human Events. Ah, it's something out there from The American Spectator. You can't trust these people, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah."
And it's the same thing -- that if I can go back to it -- this Hillary book. This Hillary book, even though it's written and published by a bunch of left-wingers, this Hillary book is all of a sudden the fault of Republicans and conservatives -- conservatives are trying to trash Hillary. We had nothing to do with this book.
It just shows up in the stores today, so it's just the same old thing. Democrats accuse Republicans of doing what they, the Democrats, do.
- Klein's "The Truth About Hillary"