A hack returns: Ed Klein’s new Benghazi bombshell is garbage

Ed Klein reports on Hillary Clinton and Benghazi, and gets just about everything wrong

Topics: Hillary Clinton, Ed Klein, Benghazi, Media Criticism, ,

A hack returns: Ed Klein's new Benghazi bombshell is garbageEdward Klein (Credit: Fox News)

There’s a certain rhythm to politics, an element of predictability that is as reliable as the tides, or a finely made Swiss timepiece. Among these imperturbable political rhythms is the hackery of Ed Klein: Whenever Hillary Clinton is in the news, it’s guaranteed that Klein will pop up with a salacious and poorly sourced book attacking the former first lady, and that it will get a lot of attention from conservatives who should know better than to trust Klein but don’t actually care.

Klein’s latest is called “Blood Feud: The Clintons vs. the Obamas,” and he’s making the rounds to promote it. Like most of his bombshell scoops, Klein’s newest effort leans on anonymous sources close to the Clintons who are curiously eager to dish to the guy who wrote that Hillary is secretly a lesbian and that Chelsea Clinton was conceived through rape. His new book touches on Benghazi, and in a New York Post Op-Ed published yesterday he argues that Clinton, as secretary of state, bristled at being asked to take part in a Benghazi coverup but ultimately did so because she wanted to be president. The book is already being promoted by Drudge, Fox News, Powerline, etc.

In typical Klein fashion, he got lots of stuff wrong.

Klein wrote:

By 10 p.m. on Sept. 11, 2012, when Hillary Clinton received a call from President Obama, she was one of the most thoroughly briefed officials in Washington on the unfolding disaster in Benghazi, Libya.

She knew that Ambassador Christopher Stevens and a communications operator were dead, and that the attackers had launched a well-coordinated mortar assault on the CIA annex, which would cost the lives of two more Americans.



The situation he describes here is impossible. Hillary Clinton could not have known by 10 p.m. on Sept. 11, 2012, that the CIA annex had come under mortar fire for the simple reason that the mortar attacks began over an hour later, at around 11:15 p.m. EDT. So according to Klein, Clinton was so “thoroughly briefed” that she saw into the future.

Moving on, Klein wrote that Hillary called Bill Clinton to complain that Obama was forcing her to blame the attacks on the anti-Islam video. She was, per Klein’s anonymous source, “stunned when she heard the president talk about the Benghazi attack,” so she phoned her husband to strategize:

After her conversation with the president, Hillary called Bill Clinton, who was at his penthouse apartment in the William J. Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, and told him what Obama wanted her to do.

“I’m sick about it,” she said, according to the legal adviser, who was filled in on the conversation.

Did Hillary call Bill? I can’t say, but I do know that at the time Klein places Clinton in Little Rock, Arkansas, the former president was on a campaign swing for Obama in Florida. Bill Clinton headlined a rally at Florida International University on the evening of Sept. 11, 2012, and then attended a fundraiser in West Palm Beach on the morning of Sept. 12. Regardless of where Bill Clinton actually was, Klein is purporting to give us dialogue of his interaction with Hillary based on a “legal adviser, who was filled in on the conversation.” It’s not exactly the strongest sourcing, which perhaps explains his next screw-up.

Klein wrote that Hillary and Bill went over her options to protest the president forcing her participation in a Benghazi coverup:

Hillary’s legal adviser provided further detail: “During their phone call, Bill started playing with various doomsday scenarios, up to and including the idea that Hillary consider resigning as secretary of state over the issue. But both he and Hillary quickly agreed that resigning wasn’t a realistic option.

If her resignation hurt Obama’s chances of winning re-election, her fellow Democrats would never forgive her. Hillary was already thinking of running for president in 2016, and her political future, as well as Obama’s, hung in the balance.”

Here’s where Klein should have been a little more suspicious, since his source’s information is contradicted by reporting by … Ed Klein. In October 2012, Klein talked to “a member of Hillary’s inner circle” who told him that “Bill Clinton and some of the members of the legal team advocated that Hillary consider a ‘nuclear option’ — threatening the White House that she would resign as secretary of state if it continued to make her the scapegoat for Benghazi.” So that’s two separate reports from Klein, one saying that Bill Clinton pushed Hillary to consider resigning, and another saying he realized it “wasn’t a realistic option.”

Either someone is lying to Ed Klein, or Ed Klein is lying to all of us. Or both. Probably both.

Simon Maloy

Simon Maloy is Salon's political writer. Email him at smaloy@salon.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SimonMaloy.

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