The truth about The Truth About Hillary

In an open letter, Media Matters for America president and CEO David Brock denounces the Penguin Group for publishing Edward Klein’s mean-spirited and wildly inaccurate anti-Hillary tome



June 20, 2005

Susan Peterson KennedyPresidentPenguin Group

Dear Ms. Peterson Kennedy,

I’m writing today to seek a public explanation of what, if any, editorial standards and fact-checking processes the Penguin Group applies to its imprints. Specifically, I believe the public, and the Clinton family, deserve an explanation for why Penguin has chosen to publish through its Sentinel imprint Edward Klein’s attack book on Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, The Truth About Hillary: What She Knew, When She Knew It and How Far She’ll Go to Become President, which pre-publication reports have already exposed as an obviously false and defamatory tract.

In light of its false and defamatory charges, many of which are easily discredited, your publication of this book constitutes gross negligence at best.

Throughout his book, Mr. Klein engages in gay-baiting innuendo. One of the most striking examples of such negligence occurs on page 94, where Mr. Klein introduces Nancy Pietrafesa, whose name he misspells throughout, as someone “rumored to be Hillary’s lesbian lover.” An attorney for Ms. Pietrafesa, a nonpublic figure, told the New York Post: “These allegations are totally false and unsubstantiated. Klein has apparently done no investigating. This is scurrilous, despicable, and politically motivated.” On June 15, The [Syracuse, N.Y.] Post-Standard quoted Ms. Pietrafesa, who has been married for 35 years and is the mother of three sons, as saying, “This could hurt my family. This could be an insidious, totally destructive thing in a family. Having that even as a question about my love and loyalty to my husband is very hard, and very sad.” As Ms. Pietrafesa told the New York Post: “No one deserves this kind of crap.”

Proper legal and editorial review of Mr. Klein’s manuscript would have alerted the publisher to Ms. Pietrafesa’s contention that Mr. Klein did not even bother to contact her before repeating a false rumor as if it might be true. That a newspaper in Syracuse easily determined the falsity of the Pietrafesa story suggests a serious lack of due diligence on the part of Mr. Klein and you, his publisher.

Indeed, as illustrated by the Pietrafesa example, much of the gay-baiting “evidence” is simply Klein’s repetition—or creation out of whole cloth—of scurrilous, unsupported, and unsupportable tabloid-style gossip grossly unbefitting a publishing house of Penguin’s pedigree.

Another example: Page 12 contains the following passage about the Clintons (attributed to “water-cooler gossip”):

“Was it true they slept in separate beds?

“Were there any telltale signs on the presidential sheets that they ever had sex with each other?

“For that matter, did the Big Girl [Hillary Clinton] have any interest in sex with a man?

“Or, as was widely rumored, was she a lesbian?”

Tags: Commentary