Monday, July 11, 2005

Analysis Of A Media Blackout

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I was curious to see whether Ed Klein's The Truth About Hillary was a.) the truth and b.) worth reading. I walked down to my local Waldenbooks, pulled a copy off the shelf, and skimmed through it. Noticing the myriad unnamed sources and loaded language, I immediately flipped to the bibliography only to find that many of his cited "sources" were other gossipy anti-Hillary books. So much for a good read. Several other bloggers like myself are staying far away from the book. As said by writer Leon H, "I think it's telling that the right-leaning blogosphere is the most radical element of our party, and by an overwhelming majority, even we are shouting this book down."

Although the book is a loss, the MSM coverage of it is interesting. And by "interesting," I mean "nonexistent." The only thing more interesting is that Klein is getting shut out of the networks, yet his book is still in the top 5 on the Times bestseller list thanks to Drudge and several other Internet sources. This wouldn't be a big deal if Kitty Kelley (author of election-time anti-Bush hatchet job The Family) hadn't received so much coverage in comparison back in the fall. According to the Howard Kurtz-authored article linked above, Kelley was granted a three-part interview on NBC's morning news program Today, despite the fact that some of her own sources disputed the book's allegations. Kelley also got a favorable book review in the New York Times and front page coverage to boot, whereas the Times published a sidebar column in the book section on Sunday denouncing Klein's book as "easily this year's most vilified" by critics. Oddly enough, the Times have not yet published a review of their own (although it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what it would be like).

This is one of the things I most dislike about bias: the double standard is applied with impunity and is obvious to almost everyone except those applying it. If Kitty Kelley gets an interview, then Ed Klein deserves one too. Also, if Kelley was ignored by a program, then Klein should also be ignored. Bill O'Reilly refused to have him on The O'Reilly Factor because he didn't invite Kelley on previously, and Joe Scarborough retracted his invitation for Klein to appear on Scarborough Country because he thought The Truth was trash. The two of them did the right thing in this case. Problem is, many others didn't do the right thing back in the fall. As Scarborough put it:
After learning the stories were inflammatory, the sources were weak, and the book's relevance was less than zero, I canceled the booking. Why? Because it was the right thing to do. But being the contrarian I am, I just wonder: If other networks aren't allowing Mr. Klein on, then why did they allow Kitty Kelley [who wrote a book on the Bush family] during the presidential election? Just curious.

The reason why they let Kelley on and not Klein is the double standard at its worst.

One other note: There has been some discussion about Hillary suing Klein for libel. I doubt that'll happen, and here's why. The ultimate defense against libel is, of course, truth. While I don't buy The Truth as being nothing but the truth, if a libel suit came up, the truths and the lies would get separated very quickly. Even if a small grain of fact exists among all of the hearsay within Klein's book, it would likely be exposed by any legal action. That exposure would hurt Hillary much worse than a book that is mostly being bought by people who already didn't like her in the first place. Unless the entire book is a load of crap (possible, but a million rumors often hold at least one truth), don't expect to see the Clinton camp do much about this in the courts.


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