Democratic political operatives have been furious in their denunciations of author Ed Klein and his new book The Amateur, a biography of President Obama which relies heavily (although not entirely) on anonymous sources to paint a highly unflattering picture of its subject.
That is to be expected but surely Klein’s tales might make for good television. Supposedly, journalists care primarily about a good story more than anything else. And Klein’s book certainly has them, including secret feuds between First Lady Michelle Obama and TV billionaire Oprah Winfrey as well as tales of former president Bill Clinton privately bashing Barack Obama as an “amateur.” Unfortunately for Klein, however, he is being almost totally ignored by the elite media.
According to a Nexis search of television news transcripts, not one of them has interviewed him on-air. His name hasn’t even been mentioned by ABC, CBS, CNN, or NBC. MSNBC gave him a tiny mention in a segment condemning conservatives for opposing Obama but didn’t talk about him except in passing.
The closest any network has come to actually discussing the book was ABC News, which included an item in the section of the network's Website entitled “The Note,” which is produced by reporter Michael Falcone, on Friday, May 11:
“‘The country needs you!’ the former president told Hillary Clinton, urging her to run this year, according to accounts of the conversation included in Edward Klein’s new biography of Obama. … whom Bill Clinton said, according to book excerpts, ‘is an amateur.’”
But even that excerpt was picked up from a story in the New York Post written by Carl Campanile that trumpeted the headline “Bill Blockbuster: O's an 'Amateur.'”
The book has drawn the attention of some of the major newspapers—none of which is positive—including a review by Janet Maslin in the New York Times which lambasted Klein in the first paragraph as follows:
“’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.”
Maslin maintained that same tone throughout the piece.
Not surprisingly, the media have a double standard when it comes to book authors making gossipy accusations against Republicans and Democrats. Regarding Dems, they will refuse to report on them at all, such as the Klein book or also the adultery accusations against former presidential candidate John Edwards. Regarding Republicans, however, they jump at the chance to do so.
Last September, NBC News marked the release of a book entitled “The Rogue,” which was written by liberal author Joe McGinniss to attack former Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, by rolling out the red carpet so the author could accuse the former Alaska governor of being “an absolute and utter fraud.”
That same day, CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight also helped McGinniss promote his book and claim that he had received death threats from Palin fans because he dared to write a book critical of her.
Of course, Palin isn't the only Republican who’s been the subject of anonymous liberal smears repeated dutifully by America’s self-described mainstream media.
In June of 2010, former Clinton aide George Stephanopoulos used his position as host of Good Morning America to tout allegations lobbyist Larry Merchant made while claiming he had an affair with South Carolina gubernatorial hopeful and conservative candidate Nikki Haley.
Stephanopoulos’s parading of the slime against Haley is particularly egregious given that he played a significant role in suppressing another book making accusations against his boss Bill Clinton. That book, Unlimited Access: An FBI Agent Inside the Clinton White House, was similarly blackballed by America’s media elite.
At the time, Stephanopoulos argued that salacious accusations deserved no place in the mass media:
"Someone should have to pass a bare threshold of credibility before they're put on the air to millions of viewers. You know, his [Gary Aldrich's] story couldn't get past the fact-checker at the National Enquirer....A 30-year record in the FBI in and of itself is no proof of credibility."
Former GOP presidential candidate John McCain was also victimized by anonymous slime in 2008 when the New York Times printed an article claiming that he’d had an affair with Washington lobbyist Vicki Iseman. Iseman sued the paper for $27 million.
A year later, the paper reached a settlement with Iseman but never printed a retraction regarding the original article.
Given that we don’t know who Klein’s sources were on some of his more sensational accusations, it’s tough to vouch for his credibility. On the other hand, given their previous love of repeating anonymous allegations against Republicans, the TV networks and other elite American media ought to at the very least examine and report on Klein’s allegations against President Obama. That, or stop reporting on such charges altogether.