June 28, 2005
Editor, Vanity Fair
4 Times Square
New York, NY 10036
Dear Mr. Carter:
We are requesting a correction and an explanation of the fact-checking process that allowed your magazine to publish an excerpt from Edward Klein's book on Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), The Truth About Hillary.
In a June 21 Salon.com article, Klein's editor at Vanity Fair, Wayne Lawson, defended your magazine's fact-checking process, saying that "unlike book publishing, everything that we print is very carefully fact-checked and legally vetted." Lawson also touted Klein's credentials as a reporter, calling him "incredibly professional, a very solid reporter who always comes in with lots and lots and lots of notes meticulously presented."
Unfortunately, it appears that whatever "very careful" fact-checking this article went through failed, as Klein himself has backed away from two of the claims published in the excerpt:
- In a June 24 interview on Air America Radio's The Al Franken Show, Klein acknowledged misrepresenting the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan's introduction of Clinton at her campaign kick-off event. Klein falsely suggested in his book that Moynihan could not bring himself to use Clinton's name, doctoring Moynihan's comments to support his case. When confronted with his misrepresentation, Klein said: "My intention in this book was not to deceive anybody. ... Well, I didn't do it intentionally, and if I left out some words, I'm sorry." Without a correction, those words are meaningless.
- Also during the Franken interview, Klein acknowledged that his claim that Clinton began talking about her Jewish relative to quell criticism of her embrace of Suha Arafat is false. Klein said that "this is a chronological mistake in the book, and I've admitted to it."
Since Vanity Fair stands behind the publication of the excerpt from Klein's book, your magazine should not only correct the above statements, it should also explain how claims the author himself has retracted made it through the fact-checking process.
President and CEO
Media Matters for America