The Washington Post

Ed Klein’s book is out-selling Hillary Clinton. He will not beat her with the critics or fact-checkers.

News broke late Thursday that Ed Klein's book about the Obamas and the Clintons, "Blood Feud," is actually out-selling Hillary Clinton's own memoir, "Hard Choices." Given that surprising turn of events, we figured we would re-surface this post from a couple weeks ago looking at just who Klein is and what literary critics think of his work (hint: there is no love lost -- if it ever existed).

Ed Klein's new book, "Blood Feud: The Clintons v. the Obamas" is going to sell many copies. That is one fact about the book that will be hard to dispute. Klein's last book on President Obama, "The Amateur," displaced the latest volume in Robert Caro's Lyndon B. Johnson series in the number one slot on the New York Times bestseller list. His book, "The Truth about Hillary," sold about 200,000 copies.

You should probably fact-check anything else you hear about the book. The other defining characteristic of Klein's biographies, besides their popularity with people who despise the subjects unpacked within, is that the salacious details revealed often have a tenuous relationship with reality -- as commentators of all ideological stripes have pointed out time and time again.

The reviews of Klein's work, filled with contempt and adventurous adjectives, often mirror the gossipy edges of the books they describe. The reviewers may not believe all of Klein's reporting, but they are more than happy to borrow his skillful hatchet job techniques, if only to use it against him.

In anticipation of the reviews that are bound to follow the tabloid-y book excerpts featuring Michelle Obama's supposed nickname for Hillary ("Hildebeest") and new (and questionable) "revelations" about Hillary's response to the Benghazi attacks, here is a retrospective of Ed Klein book reviews. Only one features a septic tank metaphor.

The Amateur

US President Barack Obama speaks during the White House Summit on Working Families on June 23, 2014 in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGANMANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

“The Amateur” by Edward Klein is a book about an inept, arrogant ideologue who maintains an absurdly high opinion of his own talents even as he blatantly fails to achieve his goals. Oh, and President Obama is in this book too.

Of course Mr. Klein does not see himself as the amateur of his title. As he announces in the very first sentence, “This is a reporter’s book.” It is based on “dozens of four-inch-thick three-ring notebooks” that detail interviews with “nearly 200 people,” some of whom even allowed Mr. Klein to mention their names in print.

-- Janet Maslin, The New York Times

“It’s an excellent read and very insightful.”

-- Donald Trump, The New York Post

“Ed Klein has a proven history of reckless fabrication in order to sell books. Nobody in their right mind would believe the nonsense in this one.”

-- White House spokesperson Eric Schultz

The Truth About Hillary

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks about her new book "Hard Choices" on Friday, June 20, 2014, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

The book is poorly written, poorly thought, poorly sourced and full of the kind of loaded language that is appropriate to a polemic but not an investigative work.

-- Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal

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.

-- John Podhoretz, The New York Post

The book is so far out there with lurid allegations that I'm beginning to suspect that Mr. Klein is a double agent, pretending to be objective but in reality hoping to drum up visions of a vast right-wing conspiracy to do in poor Mrs. Clinton. 

-- Alicia Colon, The New York Sun

Consider the arrival, last month, of an aggressively unflattering biography, "The Truth About Hillary: What She Knew, When She Knew It, and How Far She'll Go to Become President," by Ed Klein, which climbed the best-seller lists despite condemnatory reviews. Senator Clinton didn't read it, but Mr. Reines did.

He had to. It was up to him to provide the news media with an informed -- if uppity -- response from the Clinton camp: "This is a book full of blatant and vicious fabrications contrived by someone who writes trash for cash." Catchy. Mr. Reines now adds this: "His 15 minutes of fame are up. I'm looking forward to his biography: 'The Truth About Ed Klein: He Writes Trash for Cash.' "

-- Robin Finn, The New York Times

But Senator Clinton cannot become President of the United States. The reason, as her latest pornographer, Edward Klein, makes plain, is the lesbian situation. It is entirely possible, Klein allows, that the junior senator from New York is not herself a Sapphic practitioner. But she imbibed the “culture of lesbianism” as an undergraduate at Wellesley College in the nineteen-sixties; she has certainly known a few lesbians in her time (many names are unearthed); she definitely read a Methodist magazine called motive that published, among others, Rita Mae Brown, the author of a “lesbian novel”; and once, at a White House reunion of her Wellesley classmates, she rubbed the “butch cut” hairdo of one Nancy Wanderer, remarking, lesbianically, “Maybe I’ll get a haircut like this and really shock everyone.”

Reading “The Truth About Hillary,” one can easily envision Klein’s well-appointed desk in mid-composition, an antique lamp casting a lambent beam on his files of political smut.

-- David Remnick, The New Yorker

There are lots of reasons to distrust or even dislike Mrs Clinton. She exudes an overpowering whiff of entitlement. She seems to believe that successful career women like herself are morally superior to women who stay at home and bake cookies. She was responsible, with Hillarycare, for one of the greatest political debacles of recent years. And, most infuriating of all, she tries to play both the victim and the strong woman. But Mr. Klein has succeeded in doing the near impossible: he has written a book that will make all but fire-breathing conservatives sympathetic to her cause.

-- The Economist

Unfortunately, The Truth About Hillary fails even as pornography. It's about as arousing as footage from a hidden camera in the bathroom of a highway truck stop.

-- John F. Harris, The New York Observer

Christians should repudiate this book and determine to take no pleasure in it.

-- Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

If I were a right-winger, I would be offended by both Klein and[Karl] Rove. But I am not a conservative, and so I can only wonder at their gullibility. Right-wingers are the useful idiots of our times and while they have their occasional left-wing counterparts, the lefties will not buy essentially the same book over and over again -- if only because they lack the funds. Maybe Klein has taken this as far as it will go. I hope not. My book on Hillary's romp with Paris Hilton will be out soon. It's hot.

-- Richard Cohen, The Washington Post

It's hard to believe that these voices on the right are part of a vast left-wing conspiracy to protect Hillary Clinton. Here is a far more believable explanation for the treatment of the anti-Hillary book: The networks decided -- correctly in my opinion -- that this piece of junk journalism did not deserve free publicity.

-- Paul Janensch, The Hartford Courant

He focuses overmuch on Hillary's alleged lesbianism, for instance (she didn't shave her legs and underarms at Wellesley!), and even writes that Chelsea was conceived one night when Bill raped Hillary. Only the fringiest Clinton-haters could find pleasure with that level of prurient tabloiding of a former U.S. president and a present-day U.S. senator. After a few paragraphs, you find yourself reaching for the Brillo.

-- Kathleen Parker, The Chicago Tribune

There's a danger when you throw together rumor, innuendo, mind reading, and unsubstantiated blind quotes from sources who overtly hate your subject. And it's not just the risk of looking (as Edward Klein does) like an author devoid of credibility.

-- Nina J. Easton, The Boston Globe

The latest assault is by Edward Klein, whose name commonly appears in print these days in close proximity to words like smarmy and sleazy.

-- Clyde Haberman, The New York Times

This book is the literary equivalent of a backed-up septic tank.

-- Larry Cox, The Tuscon Citizen

What I am saying is that if Klein purposely set out to write the sleaziest, most derivative, most despicable political biography ever, he has failed both himself and his readers miserably. ''The Truth About Hillary'' is only about the 16th sleaziest book I have ever read. Though, in fairness to the author, reading creepy, cut-and-paste books is my hobby.

-- Joe Queenan, The New York Times


Katie: The Real Story

Well, by now, you get the general flavor of Edward Klein's unauthorized biography, which seeks to portray its subject as a little bullet fired into the heart of the fourth estate. You may wonder why making that point was worth a book. You may also wonder if the same book would have been written about a male broadcaster. Finally, you may wonder why you should expect anything very serious from the author of "The Kennedy Curse," which describes the late Carolyn Bessette Kennedy as "sprawled on the floor in front of a sofa, disheveled and hollow-eyed, snorting cocaine with a gaggle of gay fashionistas."

It takes a tough man to write a phrase like "gaggle of gay fashionistas," and, in fact, Klein has made a second career of leaving knuckle prints on famous women.

-- Louis Bayard, The Washington Post

All Too Human: The Love Story of Jack and Jackie Kennedy

Ed Klein as every legal right to author a book like this one. St. Martin's Press has every right to publish it.

But neither one of them should feel especially proud today.

-- Ellis Henican, Newsday

Fact Checker
Clinton?s misleading citation of '15 million jobs' under Obama
The Clinton campaign is clearly fond of saying that 15 million jobs — or, alternatively, 15 million private-sector jobs — were created in the Obama administration. Clinton frequently indicates that she’s talking about the entire Obama administration. She uses phrases such “than when they took office” or “in the last 7 1/2 years.” But that’s 5 million jobs too many. Clinton is clearly trying to use the biggest jobs number possible. All she needs to do is make it clear that she is talking about this particular streak of job creation. Until then, she earns Three Pinocchios.
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Fact Checker
Pro-Clinton group takes a Donald Trump quote out of context
The ad shows individuals who might be affected personally by Trump's language watching his remarks as they are played on the television. But two of the quotes require a little more context and explanation. One quote about a wife working is missing some context but the essence of Trump's attitude is captured. Another quote about how you need to be wealthy in order to be great is simply devoid of context. Context is important -- and quotes from politicians shouldn't be used if a snippet leaves a different impression than the reality.
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Fact Checker
Trump’s misleading claim that 58 percent of black youths are unemployed
Youth unemployment is higher among blacks than whites, regardless of the method you use. But Trump's figure doesn't show how it?s a persistent problem for black youth compared with white youth, and fails to accurately reflect the state of the labor market for black youth 16 to 24 years old. Per Trump's math, a 24-year-old college graduate who is actively looking for a job but can't find one is in the same situation as a 16-year-old high school sophomore who is in school full time and going to band practice or playing on a school sports team when not in class.

His analysis defies internationally accepted measures of unemployment while ignoring an actual measure of disengaged youth that could prove his point.
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Fact Checker
Does Huma Abedin have ‘ties’ to the Muslim Brotherhood?
Huma Abedin is a longtime aide to Hillary Clinton and vice chair of the Clinton campaign, who has also been the subject of suspicion on the right, given that she grew up in Saudi Arabia. Roger Stone, a top adviser to GOP nominee Donald Trump, described Abedin on Aug. 23 as a "Saudi asset." Her name popped in the news again after the New York Post published an article Aug. 21 titled, "Huma Abedin worked at a radical Muslim journal for a dozen years."

Abedin has lived in the United States for 23 years, working in the White House, the Senate and the State Department. Vague suggestions of suspicious-sounding connections to her parents don't pass the laugh test, even at the flimsiest standard of guilt by association. The journal edited by her mother, meanwhile, is a sober academic journal with a range of viewpoints on Muslim life around the world.
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