WashPost Unloads Both Barrels on Ed Klein's Anti-Obama Book

The Washington Post suddenly discovered Ed Klein’s best-selling anti-Obama book The Amateur on the front page of Thursday’s Style section. Reporter/book blogger Steven Levington announced the book "contains scenes that did not occur or that were vastly misconstrued, according to those who Klein says were present."

Levingston completely ignored the most headline-grabbing allegations in the book, that in a recorded interview, Rev. Jeremiah Wright said Obama pal Eric Whitacre tried to buy his silence in 2008. Instead, Levingston went on a tear against Klein’s 2005 book about Hillary Clinton.


The Post used a pull quote from an old review by John Podhoretz: "Thirty pages into it, I wanted to take a shower. Sixty pages into it, I wanted to be decontaminated." Klein’s most unbelievable tale had Bill Clinton telling someone he was going to "rape his wife."

Levingston reported he conducted a two-and-a-half hour interview with Klein -- and somehow, Reverend Wright isn’t worth mentioning? He reported Klein insists he does not publish a fact unless at least two sources corroborate it. What Levington does not mention is that this same tactic – grab headlines with anonymous sources recreating meetings that just a few insiders attended – is the bread and butter of Washington Post bigfoot Bob Woodward (that, and controversial tactics like an alleged deathbed interview with William Casey).

Levingston makes space for Klein so he can be denounced as a fabricator by an Obama flack, a Clinton flack, and by "Media Matters in America" [sic].

The bias is really on display when Levingston writes the Klein book "repeats longstanding conservative opinions about Obama – that he is a Muslim, a closet socialist and riddled with delusions of grandeur."

To review: most of us conservatives think Obama is a agnostic golfer, a most obvious socialist, and find it funny when people find humility in a guy who announced "We are the change we’ve been waiting for" and claims to CBS that only a president or three have a greater record than he does.  

Levingston raised one example from the book, a meeting Obama held with (liberal) historians, one of whom apparently dished to Klein:

In June 2009, Obama invited a group of nine eminent historians to the White House for dinner and an off-the-record discussion of presidential history, an evening Klein re-creates in "The Amateur" based apparently on one anonymous historian who attended and left disillusioned with his host. In Klein’s telling, Obama regaled the historians with a long list of his intended accomplishments as president.

"It was, by any measure," Klein concludes, "a breathtaking display of narcissistic grandiosity."

Douglas Brinkley, a history professor at Rice University and author, most recently, of a biography of Walter Cronkite, attended the meeting. He describes it as a casual history book club discussion — the president did not grandstand about his ambitions, nor did he discuss policy.

"It was more to talk about other presidents, not himself," Brinkley recalled. "I found the president to be breathtakingly humble." Brinkley said he was disappointed Klein "inflated and twisted and distorted" the meeting. "It sounds like a ‘Saturday Night Live’ skit of the reality. It’s nonsensical." 

It's quite likely Obama wanted to at least feign humility while buttering up historians (no doubt with a long view on the old legacy). But it's also quite likely that Douglas Brinkley -- the man who wrote a syrupy biography of John Kerry for campaign use in 2004 -- is an Obama voter who knows which side he's on when discussing whether Obama has been amateurish as president.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis