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June 27, 2005

Ed Klein Defends Himself To RWN

I wasn't sure if I wanted to link this, but given the fact that the blogosphere has pretty much trashed him (yes, before reading the actual book), it just seems contrary to the spirit of "fair and balanced" and open discourse to not let him fire back.

RWN has the interview. Interestingly, Ed Klein does a little interviewing of his own, asking John Hawkins about the conservative take on the book, to which Hawkins replies:

Off the record, pretty bad, Ed. I think that rape thing really hurt because a lot of people took a look at it and they said, "Alright, this is not going to help, it’s going to be a smear book, it’s another Kitty Kelley sort of thing" and I think a lot of people because of that are very, very cautious about it...I mean, you know, looking at Hannity and National Review, they’re giving you a rough time. People are really cautious about it, I think.

I did at least want to give you some time to talk about (the book) because I’m listening to all these other interviews and nobody’s even giving you a chance to talk about Hillary. You’re talking about Ed Klein the whole time, defending yourself. So I think it’s been kind of lukewarm from what I’ve seen in a lot of places...

Ed Klein: What can I do about it?

Klein says the rape quote was taken out of context, and that he hadn't intended to suggest a genuine rape and all that. Not having read the book, I don't know how out of context this line was.

I do know that when you report something like that, people are naturally going to take it to mean what it seems to mean (i.e., that Klein is suggesing Clinton raped Hillary), and therefore it's better to omit such a detail (even if true) because the implications are so slanderous and outlandish.

And if you're going to report it, you'd better state pretty clearly you think the "rape" line was a joke.

But then, if it was a joke, the value in reporting it seems rather weak. It's newsworthy to report that someone said something racist in seriousness. On the other hand, I don't think it's newsworthy that I once joked with a Puerto Rican friend of mine that I was worried he was stealing from my desk when I went to the bathroom, "because that's what you people do." He laughed (we had that kind of relationship, where I was Mr. Dumb Racist White Guy and he was Puerto Rican Hubcap Burglar).

What value is there in reporting a joke meant ironically? Even if Bill said this, Klein now says he knows he was making some not-quite-in-good-taste ironic joke, so what's it matter? The whole point of irony (Type A irony, let's call it) is to say the opposite of what you mean. And therefore irony doesn't really reveal much about your true thinking.

That said, the interview is filled with creamy salacious goodness, and we get to revisit all the various affairs both Bill and Hillary are rumored (and, in a couple of cases, proven) to have had.

If you still care.

And perhaps we should. Yes, this is all very sordid and personal, but there is the potential for real-world, policy-making impact. As RWN asks,

Do you think that could be a security liability for the United States? Let's say a foreign intelligence agency gets Frank Gifford style pics of Bill Clinton having an affair and then asks Hillary to look the other way on something or face maybe a 6 month feeding frenzy in the press when it breaks? Do you think that could be a security liability for the US?

It's fanciful but not implausible. I suppose many politicians can be compromised, but this is a fairly spectacular form of compromise, and it's not exactly unlikely.

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posted by Ace at 01:24 PM

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