Klein nailed on falsehoods in Al Franken Show grilling
Research ››› ››› JEREMY SCHULMAN & DENNIS YEDWAB
Hosts Al Franken and Katherine Lanpher, and guest Joe Conason confronted author Edward Klein on the many factual errors, distortions, and misleading claims in his attack book on Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), The Truth About Hillary (Sentinel, 2005). On the June 24 edition of the Al Franken Show on Air America Radio, Klein acknowledged his falsehood in portraying the chronology of the reporting of Clinton's Jewish step-grandfather and her controversial meeting with Suha Arafat, first noted by Media Matters for America. He also admitted that he had never seen Clinton's chief of staff Melanne Verveer (whose name he misspelled in the book), although he described her appearance as "mannish-looking." But he refused to retract other false claims when confronted by Franken, Conason and Lanpher.
Following is a transcript of the interview in its entirety:
LANPHER: You're listening to the Al Franken Show. I'm Katherine Lanpher.
FRANKEN: And I'm Al Franken. In the studio with us is Joe Conason, and in Washington is Ed Klein. Ed Klein's new book is The Truth About Hillary. It's published by Sentinel from Penguin, which is my publisher, at Dutton. I'm just thrilled about that. He joins us from the Center for American Progress in Washington D.C. Thank you, Ed, for joining us.
KLEIN: Thank you for having me, Al.
FRANKEN: Okay, and now would you call this book your best work?
KLEIN: I think this is the best book I've written, yes.
FRANKEN: Oh, good. Okay, good. Now I think I found a mistake.
FRANKEN: Yeah, now do you have the book?
KLEIN: In front of me, no.
FRANKEN: Okay, but you wrote it, so you know the book.
KLEIN: I think so.
FRANKEN: Yeah. Okay, and on page 172 --
FRANKEN: This is a thing about [Sen. Daniel Patrick] Pat Moynihan [D-NY] and not being able to say her [Clinton's] name [during a press conference to announce her candidacy for the New York seat in the U.S. Senate from which Moynihan was retiring], and now let me quote the book and then I'll quote what...anyway, I'll just quote what you wrote:
"God, I almost forgot," he said, with a mischievous grin."
Or mischievous grin. That's talking about Pat Moynihan, the late senator from New York whose seat Hillary took.
"God, I almost forgot," he said, with a mischievous grin. "I'm here to say that I hope she will go all the way, I mean to go all the way with her. I think she's going to win. I think it's going to be wonderful for New York. For Moynihan, apparently, it was easier to say "she" than 'Hillary.'"
Now did you leave anything out there, in between the two sentences you quoted?
KLEIN: Are you reading from my book?
KLEIN: What's the title of my book? I don't think you mentioned it.
FRANKEN: The Truth about Hillary. Now did you -- well, I did, and I actually did mention it in the lead-in, and I think I just did.
KLEIN: Well, in any case, let me answer your question. Pat addressed -- as Joe Conason who's sitting there with you can, I'm sure, attest -- Pat addressed the assembled press and mentioned Hillary's name three times.
FRANKEN: Now did you leave anything out in between the two sentences that you quoted?
KLEIN: Not that I'm aware of.
FRANKEN: Well, you did, you know. And what you said after you quote the two sentences from Moynihan was --
KLEIN: Were there ellipses between the two sentences?
KLEIN: No. No. So in other words, there's something that is missing.
CONASON: Al, this is Joe. Why don't you read the actual, what Senator Moynihan really said --
FRANKEN: This was --
CONASON: -- as opposed to what's in Mr. Klein's book.
FRANKEN: Well, this is what Moynihan said, and this is how he got into it. He said, "Now I have the great pleasure to welcome Mrs. Clinton to the farm and turn over the microphone to our candidate. Before you do, before I do... Oh, my God, I almost forgot. Yesterday Hillary Clinton established an exploratory committee as regards to her candidacy for the Senate, United States Senate from New York, a seat which I will vacate in a year and a half." And then you pick up with, "I'm here to say, I hope she will go all the way. I mean to go all the way with her. I think she's going to win. I think she's going to be wonderful for New York." So you leave out --
KLEIN: I left out an ellipsis.
CONASON: You did not.
FRANKEN: You didn't leave out an ellipsis. You deliberately left out the --
KLEIN: There's no --
CONASON: I know you don't have the book in front of you. How much would you like to bet there's no ellipsis on that page?
FRANKEN: No, he's saying that's what he left out.
KLEIN: That's what I'm saying, Joe.
CONASON: No, there's no ellipsis.
FRANKEN: No, he's saying he left it out.
KLEIN: I should have put in an ellipsis.
CONASON: Oh. And why would you have cut out the two references to her name and put in an ellipsis? That would have been equally dishonest.
FRANKEN: You know why? Because I -- here -- this is what I think, Ed, and you may take issue with this. I think you deliberately left it out because it would have hurt the sentence where you say, "For Moynihan it was easier to say 'she' than 'Hillary.' " I think that's why you left out the sentence that says, "Hillary."
KLEIN: Well I --
FRANKEN: Really, honestly now, could you address that?
KLEIN: I'd be happy to.
KLEIN: First of all, I didn't know that you were a mind-reader, so that you're reading why I did something.
CONASON: Oh, you're not in a good position to say that --
KLEIN: No? Why not?
CONASON: After writing this. Because you've read her mind over and over again, and I doubt you've ever met her.
KLEIN: Oh, really?
CONASON: Oh, there's quite a bit about what's in her mind in this book that you could have no possible way of knowing.
KLEIN: Well, let's start with the Moynihan --
CONASON: But answer this. Where, if you had put in an ellipsis, wouldn't the purpose of that have been to deceive?
KLEIN: No, absolutely not. Joe, this is ridiculous. You know, we know you know very well that the Moynihans had no use for Hillary.
FRANKEN: No, no, no. I'm just asking you about this specific --
CONASON: I happen not to agree with that, but --
KLEIN: You don't agree with that?
CONASON: But why -- if that were true -- why would you need to deceive the readers into thinking he hadn't mentioned her name?
FRANKEN: That's true, you know, usually when you have a good case, you don't have to deceive people.
CONASON: I mean, I'm not able to read Sen. Moynihan's mind. He's gone. I didn't know then, and I know he had disagreements --
KLEIN: You didn't have to read his mind.
CONASON: I know he had disagreements. You've also ... You got a lot of things wrong about Moynihan in here, but certainly you didn't need to, if he really disliked her so much, why would you need to deceive the readers about what he actually said that day? Did you not look it up?
KLEIN: My intention in this book was not to deceive anybody.
CONASON: Why did you do that, then?
KLEIN: Well, I didn't do it intentionally, and if I left out some words, I'm sorry.
FRANKEN: And how was it vetted?
KLEIN: That certainly was not my intention, and we know that when Pat finally came to do the endorsement, he didn't use her name.
FRANKEN: What? This is the endorsement!
CONASON: This is the endorsement. There's video, there's audio, it's on a transcript.
FRANKEN: Oh, come on, Ed! You can do better than that.
CONASON: He used her name. He used her name twice and you left it out.
FRANKEN: Just, just admit it that you did this, you left it out so you could make your point which is "for Moynihan apparently it was easier to say 'she' than 'Hillary.' "
CONASON: I don't understand how you could write the sentence "It was easier to say 'she' than 'Hillary' " if you read the transcript where he mentioned her name twice.
FRANKEN: Three times. Anyway, Ed, we're going to have to come back. This is gonna be fun. This'll really be fun. Honest.
CONASON: You think about the answer while we're taking a break.
LANPHER: We'll come back to our conversation with Ed Klein, the author of, of The Truth about Hillary here on the Al Franken Show.
FRANKEN: See, it's -- it'll be fun, Ed. Really. Honest.
FRANKEN: Hey, welcome back to The Al Franken Show. I'm Al Franken.
LANPHER: I'm Katherine Lanpher, and sitting with us, of course, is Friday regular Joe Conason. We're continuing our conversation with Edward Klein, who has out the new biography, The Truth About Hillary, published by Sentinel.
FRANKEN: And, and Ed, ah, we, we want to give you a chance to, to kind of respond, because, you know, you might get the feeling it's like three against one, but I've got to tell you, Katherine just loves the book.
KLEIN: Well, that's good to know. Let me ask you a question, Joe.
KLEIN: I'm sorry. Al.
KLEIN: Let me ask you a question.
KLEIN: When you, uh, asked me on this program --
KLEIN: -- ah, and spoke to my publisher --
KLEIN: Ah, did you tell them that Joe Conason was gonna be on?
KLEIN: You did? Well, I -- nobody told me.
FRANKEN: Well, your publisher should have told you, because I, I, I couldn't have emphasized it more. I said, you know, Joe, I, we must have discussed this, ah, the publisher's name, again, is Adrian --
FRANKEN: Zackheim. No, no, no. I discussed that at great length.
KLEIN: Good. Well, he didn't discuss it with me, but in any case, in the interest of full disclosure, don't you think you should tell your, ah, audience where Joe has stood on this book, what -- what he's done up to now?
CONASON: We talked about that last week.
FRANKEN: In -- in full dis -- ah, yeah. We have done that.
FRANKEN: We really have.
KLEIN: Fine. Fine.
FRANKEN: And, you know, he's not alone. There are critics of the book that are even, like John Podhoretz on the right. He says -- writes -- he's a conservative. He writes, "This is one of the most sordid volumes I've ever waded through. Thirty pages into it, I wanted to take a shower. Sixty pages into it, I wanted to be decontaminated. And 200 pages into it, I wanted someone to drive stakes through my eyes so I wouldn't have to suffer through another word." Now this is a conservative, and I gotta say that it wasn't that bad.
CONASON: Yeah, I've gotten, actually, I have to say, more positive mail from conservatives about my column about this book in the Observer than I have from, from right-wingers in a long time.
FRANKEN: But I'm sorry that Adrian didn't tell you, because you should have known that, but that's really your publisher's fault.
LANPHER: And we were getting back to a question that was asked right before the break about just how conscious you were of putting deception in the book.
KLEIN: I don't believe there is deception in the book --
KLEIN: -- and if I've left out, as I said, an ellipsis, I'm sorry. I certainly didn't intend to.
FRANKEN: OK. Ah, let's talk about the FBI files that you talk about, sort of what was called "Filegate." And you call it the "Purloined FBI Files," and you write about it on page 39.
KLEIN: Mm-hmm [affirmative].
FRANKEN: And later, in a Salon interview, you said, "Like Nixon, Hillary has used FBI files against her enemies."
KLEIN: Mm-hmm [affirmative].
FRANKEN: Now, you know that she was absolved of this by the Office of Independent Counsel.
KLEIN: Well, she may --
FRANKEN: I mean, shouldn't you have written about that? Shouldn't you have given that information to your readers?
KLEIN: It's still my -- it's still my belief and contention that Craig Livingstone was responsible for taking those files, and that he was operating under direct orders from Hillary.
CONASON: Do you know whose files those were? I mean, did you ever look at the names of the people whose files they were?
KLEIN: They were a lot of Republican activists --
CONASON: There were not, actually. They were not. Can -- name one Republican activist whose file was taken. One.
KLEIN: I couldn't do that 'cause I --
CONASON: You couldn't! 'Cause you haven't looked at the names! Did you ever look at the names?
KLEIN: No, I haven't.
CONASON: Okay. Ah, you've never looked at the names, but you know they're a lot of Republican activists. How would you know that if you've never looked at the names?
KLEIN: I've read it in The New York Times and other publications.
CONASON: Oh, no, you didn't. You did not. You did not.
FRANKEN: You know, Ed, the first --
CONASON: Because the people whose names were on that list were former White House employees. Most of them were people like gardeners and janitors and people like that. I've looked at every name on that list --
KLEIN: Former White House employees --
CONASON: That's correct.
KLEIN: in the previous Republican administration.
CONASON: Oh, no. James Carville's name was on that list!
KLEIN: Well, ah, yes, but there [inaudible] --
CONASON: Why was his name on the list?
KLEIN: Many Republican officials on that list, as well.
CONASON: There were --
KLEIN: Are you saying there weren't?
CONASON: No, I'm saying there was no, there were no Republican activists of any note on that list. If you look through that list, it's hundreds of names of people that you had never heard of and that the Republican Party had no significant connection to.
KLEIN: OK --
CONASON: And the fact is that those names were taken by mistake, which is what the Office of Independent Counsel determined, and that Mrs. Clinton never used them for any purpose. And you know what, Ed? If you'd done any reporting, you would know that, but you didn't even look at the list.
KLEIN: No, I haven't seen the list. I --
CONASON: You didn't bother to look at the list!
KLEIN: Well, I didn't look at the list because I wasn't doing a book, Joe, on the list. I was doing a -- that was one paragraph in a 300-page book, and --
CONASON: But, but --
KLEIN: -- it was a summary of what the charges, if you recall --
CONASON: But you --
KLEIN: -- were against her. What about --
FRANKEN: But you've been going on, you've been going on like, like, ah, talking in interviews saying, "Like Nixon, Hillary has used FBI files against her enemies." Now, that's a very serious charge.
KLEIN: How about the, how about the, the, um, Internal Revenue Service --
CONASON: Don't change the subject, Ed.
FRANKEN: Oh, wait a minute. I asked you -- let's address --
KLEIN: Why can't we talk about various --
FRANKEN: Because I want you to --
KLEIN: -- organs of the government?
FRANKEN: I want you to answer --
CONASON: Because he can't answer the question, that's why.
FRANKEN: Because I want you to answer one question at a time. "Like Nixon, Hillary has used FBI files against her enemies." I think that's a very, very serious charge. Would you characterize that as a serious charge?
KLEIN: I certainly would.
KLEIN: And I would say that there are many publications who have said the exact same thing.
CONASON: Name one that has any, any, any --
KLEIN: The New York Times, for one.
FRANKEN: Said that, no, it never --
KLEIN: The Washington Post, for two.
CONASON: The New York Times? You mean William Safire wrote that? Is that who you're talking about? 'Cause he had no evidence for it, either.
KLEIN: Well, you think -- you think Safire's a congenital liar -
CONASON: I do. I think he -- I've said it many times in print.
CONASON: He said a lot of things about Hillary Clinton that were totally wrong. He predicted that --
FRANKEN: You know what, let's move on to something --
CONASON: He predicted she would be indicted and said that he would "eat crow" if she wasn't. And she wasn't.
FRANKEN: Well, but, but -- and, and he did eat the crow, and I saw it. Okay. Let's, ah, let's turn to page 188 and Suha Arafat and that hug and Hillary's step-grandfather. Would you like to correct the record on that?
KLEIN: Yeah, one should have gone before the other, and that was a mistake.
FRANKEN: Okay, now, now what was the significance of that mistake, do you think?
KLEIN: Well, I think that Hillary was trying to position herself with the Jewish voters in New York. I think we can all agree on that.
FRANKEN: But what you said was --
CONASON: Unlike every other politician.
KLEIN: Yeah, yeah.
FRANKEN: Well, you said --
KLEIN: But she had a particular problem, which was that she was perceived by many Jewish voters, I think Mr. Conason even would admit to this, as not being sufficiently pro-Israeli -- pro-Israel.
FRANKEN: Well, but what you do is you try to draw a cause and effect. You say that --
KLEIN: I said that that was, in fact, a chronological mistake. She in -- discovered her grandfather, great grandfather or grandfather, step-grandfather, had been partly Jewish --
FRANKEN: Let me read --
KLEIN: And then she went to the Middle East. That's true.
FRANKEN: Let me read you what you wrote. "At the end of Mrs. Arafat's speech, Hillary applauded enthusiastically, then gave Suha Arafat a big hug and kiss."
KLEIN: Is that true?
FRANKEN: The photo -- the photo --
KLEIN: Is that true, Joe?
FRANKEN: Let me read the thing, and, and then you can respond. "The photo of the two women kissing, which played around the world, sewed serious doubts about Hillary in the mind of many Jewish voters. When Hillary realized that she had gotten herself in a jam with Jewish voters, she suddenly turned up a long lost Jewish step-grandfather-an announcement" okay, "that was dismissed by many"--
CONASON: This is such sloppy work.
FRANKEN: Well --
LANPHER: Hang on! I want--
FRANKEN: No, no. But what I'm saying --
LANPHER: -- Ed Klein to respond.
FRANKEN: Yeah, and Ed, but what I'm saying, what I'm saying is, Ed, the, the, the chronology there is there for a reason. You're saying, you're saying that she suddenly discovered this because of the hug.
KLEIN: Yeah, well, we -- this is a chronological mistake in the book, and I've admitted to it.
FRANKEN: Okay. How about the, ah, LAX thing? The haircut that supposedly held up traffic at LAX.
KLEIN: Mm-hmmm [affirmative].
FRANKEN: Now you know that that's not true, right?
KLEIN: No, I don't know that's not true.
CONASON: Again because you didn't do any reporting. That was, that story was debunked at the time that it came out 12 years ago. You, you, I mean it's just astonishing to me --
CONASON: -- how little work was put into this book --
KLEIN: Well, you know --
CONASON: -- in terms of trying to establish whether any of this stuff that you've written here is true!
KLEIN: So, you're saying, Joe, that the president did not hold up traffic --
KLEIN: -- at LAX?
CONASON: I'm saying that not only would I say that, but that's the established fact that's been reported after that story came out in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the FAA made it very clear that not one flight was held up as a result of that.
KLEIN: Well, Joe --
CONASON: And that was established a long time ago.
KLEIN: You and I are reading different, ah, newspapers, I think.
CONASON: No It's, it's not a matter of reading different newspapers; it's a matter of what the Federal Aviation Administration said about this incident. It was debunked at the time.
FRANKEN: Do you want to read -- do you want to hear what the, ah, St. Louis Post-Dispatch said?
KLEIN: Well, if you'd like to read it, that's -- it's your show.
FRANKEN: Well, okay. The story that -- was the planes were kept circling as President Bill Clinton had his hair clipped on Air Force One at Los Angeles Airport. This was 1993, not last month. The haircut by Beverly Hills stylist Christophe became such a metaphor for perceived White House arrogance that the president himself felt compelled to apol...ah, apologize for reported flight delays. But the reports were wrong. According to the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration), records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, the haircut May 18th caused no significant delays of regular scheduled passenger flights, no circling planes, no traffic jams on runways. Commuter airlines that fly routes routinely affected by the President's haircut confirmed that they had no record of delays, etc. etc. etc.
CONASON: What's peculiar to me is, you don't seem to care whether you get these things right or not.
KLEIN: What's peculiar to me, Mr. Conason, is that you're still stuck back in 1993 instead 2005. This book is --
CONASON: No, you were, you were writing about something that happened in 1993.
KLEIN: Yeah, but this book is about whether Hillary Clinton is qualified by virtue of her character --
CONASON: You mean whether you --
KLEIN: -- to be President of the United States.
LANPHER: Well, let me ask you a question, Edward Klein, and that is, when you have so many errors that accumulate, why should we take your interpretation seriously?
KLEIN: Well, but I dispute that there are so many errors accumulating.
CONASON: Well, let's ask about another one. There's a woman you name in this book named Nancy Pietrafesa--
KLEIN: Mm-hmmm [affirmative].
CONASON: Who you say was rumored to be Hillary's lesbian lover.
KLEIN: Mm-hmmm [affirmative]. That's true.
CONASON: Now there are two things about that -- well, I don't know if it's true or not.
FRANKEN: That's true, that she was rumored?
KLEIN: There were rumors, yes.
CONASON: Yeah, those are great journalistic standards. But you misspell her name throughout the book, did you know that?
KLEIN: Well, do you know that three other authors have also misspelled her name?
CONASON: Yes, I figured they must have because that's where you got it from.
KLEIN: Yeah, well, I certainly didn't get it from the three, the other two who spelt it differently than I did.
CONASON: You, you, you got it --
KLEIN: But her name appears in Gail Sheehy's book --
KLEIN: -- on Hillary--
CONASON: On Hillary. Is that where you got it?
KLEIN: It appears in, um --
CONASON: Is that where you got it?
KLEIN: Roger Morris's book.
CONASON: Right. Is that where you got it?
KLEIN: And it also appears in David Maraniss's book.
CONASON: So you're a terrible reporter, but a good stenographer.
KLEIN: All three of these writers spelt her name in three different ways. I'm sorry that I misspelled --
CONASON: Did you try to find them?
KLEIN: -- used an "E" instead of an "A."
CONASON: Well, let me ask you something. Did you try to find her so you could ask her about this rumor?
KLEIN: Of course I did!
CONASON: You did.
KLEIN: Of course!
FRANKEN: And you had trouble, because The New York Post didn't seem to have trouble.
CONASON: Did you try with all the different -- you tried with all the different spellings?
KLEIN: No. I, I --
CONASON: I guess not!
KLEIN: I tried, I tried to reach her, and in fact, left messages for her.
CONASON: Really? Where?
KLEIN: Where she lives!
CONASON: Which is -- where's that?
KLEIN: Listen, Joe, I don't have her address in front of me.
CONASON: You have no idea where she lives, and you're lying right now.
KLEIN: I'm not lying, Joe.
CONASON: Yeah, you are.
KLEIN: Okay, let's - look -- let's, ah --
LANPHER: I'd like to go back to the --
FRANKEN: No, I want to go back to something.
LANPHER: All right, you can. Go ahead.
FRANKEN: Melanie Vermeer.
CONASON: Who is Melanie Verveer?
KLEIN: She was her chief of staff for a while.
FRANKEN: Yeah. You know what?
CONASON: There is no person named Melanie Verveer. There's Melanne Verveer, who you refer to as "mannish looking," which she's not. But her name is Melanne, M-E-L-A-N-N-E.
FRANKEN: Now, I know Melanne.
CONASON: Now, since you don't know the first name of her chief of staff, why should anybody think that you know anything at all about Hillary Clinton?
FRANKEN: Well, I want to go to --
LANPHER: It's not -Please --
FRANKEN: Oh, let him, let him, let him.
LANPHER: Please, let him respond!
KLEIN: I don't think the question is worth my responding.
CONASON: Because you don't know, right?
KLEIN: Not -- no.
CONASON: You don't know, you didn't know her real name.
KLEIN: She was referred to as "Melanie" to me many, many times, and --
CONASON: By who? [laughing]
KLEIN: I think that's how --
CONASON: No one calls her "Melanie."
KLEIN: Well, I think that's how a lot of people referred to her.
CONASON: Nobody refers -- nobody calls her that.
FRANKEN: Now I know Melanne. I know her husband, and I have to take offense on calling her mannish, 'cause I know Melanne, and she's -- ah, I think she's a good-lookin' woman. And like, let's say, Ed, someone referred to your wife in a book as "simian," say. You know. Would you -- which, by the way, I doubt your wife is simian looking. I'm sure that she's very beautiful, because you're a very manly looking man. You're very heterosexual looking, I must say, in the back of the book. You look like you're in really good shape. So...
CONASON: I have this feeling that he's never seen Melanne Verveer, whose name he doesn't know. Have you ever seen her?
KLEIN: Ah, no, I have not.
CONASON: But she's mannish-looking to you? Even though you've never seen her?
KLEIN: She has been described to me that way, yes.
CONASON: She's been ... Who described her to you that way?
KLEIN: Several people who worked -- knew her,
FRANKEN: Who knew her as "Melanie"?
KLEIN: Yes, and who called her "Melanie" to me.
CONASON: Well, maybe they knew someone else. This could all just be a -- another case of terrible reporting or mistaken identity.
FRANKEN: There is a Melanie. There is a Melanie who is -- used to be a male, and is a tennis player, you know, a professional tennis player.
CONASON: You know, Ed, you've been a reporter for a long time, or I know at least purporting to be a journalist. Isn't it true that the first thing you learn when you're starting to be a journalist is to spell the names right?
FRANKEN: Oh, come on --
KLEIN: It's such a silly comment, Joe, that it's beneath --
CONASON: You got a lot of them wrong.
KLEIN: I got some of them wrong, but I, I'm sure you've misspelled names in your career.
CONASON: I try to correct them. And I didn't pretend --
KLEIN: Well, I will try to correct these in my second edition.
FRANKEN: Okay, let me --
KLEIN: And third and fourth edition.
FRANKEN: Okay, let's go to your, your, your -- just your motivation. Ah, you write, "Isn't it Dr." -- or you said, I'm sorry, to Salon, "Isn't it Dr. Johnson who said that any writer who doesn't write for money is a fool? What I do for a living is write popular non-fiction, and the more popular it is, the more books I sell, and the more money I make." Now that, I, I write books, too, and I just gotta tell you that that's not my motivation.
KLEIN: No, you're a political analyst. I'm not.
FRANKEN: Oh. Okay.
KLEIN: You're a political person. I'm a biographer.
FRANKEN: Mm-hmmm [affirmative].
KLEIN: There's a difference.
FRANKEN: And do you think that maybe some of these, ah, conservatives who are reacting to the book, like Peggy Noonan and John Podhoretz and others --
KLEIN: Mm-hmmm [affirmative].
FRANKEN: Are reacting because it feels like you're just cashing out here?
KLEIN: No. That's...I don't think that's the reason. If you'll let me answer, I'll answer that.
FRANKEN: Yeah, go ahead, go ahead.
KLEIN: I think there's a great deal of confusion on the part of the conservatives, how to deal with Hillary. They don't know whether to deal with her directly and in a forcible manner, because the last time they tried that with the Clintons during the whole Whitewater and impeachment imbroglio, they were criticized for going overboard and for being too extreme. And they felt they were, um, burned by that experience. So they have recently been cozying up to her and debating how they're going to handle her. And I think this book, which, um, I've written, is a book that could be written about a man. In other words, it takes, ah, Hillary Clinton seriously, and it treats her as I would have treated a male subject of a biography. And there's a great deal of concern on the part of conservatives that this is gonna turn her into a victim and make her stronger than ever. So that's the fundamental reason there's been this split among conservatives about this book.
FRANKEN: Okay. Well, thank you, Ed. And I will say that John Podhoretz did write his -- the headline on his thing was "Smear for Profit." So I think that he actually does believe that, ah, that you did this for money, which actually you do say that that's why you write books. So -- but I want to thank you for joining us, and I know that this couldn't have been, ah, fun, because it really was us ganging up on you, so I really appreciate it. And, you know, talk to Adrian, because I really did tell him that Joe was gonna be here. Thank you! Really, honestly, thank you for coming on.
And we'll be back with the Al Franken Show here on Air America Radio.
- Klein's "The Truth About Hillary"