Conservative activists are going to great lengths to promote Edward Klein's new book, "The Truth About Hillary," in the hopes that his critical tome, in bookstores Tuesday, will help sink the presidential hopes of Clinton, whose term as U.S. senator from New York ends next year.
The first rumblings of the right's promotional efforts for Klein's book came in a subscribers-only e-mail from conservative site NewsMax.com on June 12. "Publishing insiders say the book and its revelations could destroy her bid to run for the presidency in 2008," the e-mail said. (NewsMax is also offering a free copy of the book and "Deck of Hillary" playing cards with the purchase of a subscription to NewsMax magazine.) Then GOPUSA, the Republican outfit that helped catapult White House "reporter" Jim Guckert ("Jeff Gannon") to fame, sent half a million e-mails containing the same message.
"It has all the earmarks of the kind of promotional racket that the right often has at work to try to push the sales of these books," says David Brock of MediaMatters.org, a liberal media watchdog group. According to Brock, Richard Mellon Scaife, the Pittsburgh billionaire who financed a dirt-digging project on the Clintons at American Spectator magazine in the 1990s, is the third-largest stockholder in NewsMax.com. But Christopher Ruddy, president and chief executive of NewsMax Media Inc., suggested to the New York Times that the motivations of NewsMax in promoting Klein's book are purely economic. "The people who buy tabloids with Hillary on the cover are buying it because they are intrigued by her, not necessarily because of the politics," he said.
"I'm sure there's that as well," said Brock -- who once worked at the Spectator on anti-Clinton projects funded by Scaife -- of the economic incentive. "Everyone has found over time that the anti-Clinton industry can also be profitable. I don't think one is exclusive of the other."
The book's publisher, Sentinel, an imprint of Penguin Group that specializes in conservative projects, has compared the book with the campaign against John Kerry waged by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth during the 2004 presidential race. And Klein told the National Review Online, "I intended my book to take a good hard look at Hillary's true character, and if the book is being compared to the Swift Boat Vets' book on that account, then I am proud of the comparison." The Conservative Book Club, whose parent company published the Swift Boat vets' "Unfit for Command," has put Klein's book at the top of its page of anti-Clinton literature.
As in the case of "Unfit for Command," controversial details from "The Truth About Hillary" appeared on the Drudge Report before the book's release. Among the previews Drudge provided of Klein's book is the allegation that Bill Clinton raped Hillary Clinton, which resulted in the conception of Chelsea Clinton.
"It's following a typical path," Brock says of the right-wing publicity for Klein's book, "in the sense that there were early warnings from NewsMax, which was quite similar to the Swift Boat Veterans' campaign, and then a late-Sunday-night, screaming headline from Drudge."
It's still unclear whether Klein's book will ever get the kind of traction that the Swift Boat Veterans' attack did. But if it doesn't, it won't be because of a lack of effort. On June 5, in the promotional run-up for his book's release, Klein gave an interview to Britain's Daily Mail in which he raised questions about Hillary Clinton's sexuality. Two days later, Rush Limbaugh picked up the innuendo on his radio program and teased his audience with the revelations. "I've got some interesting, juicy details on this book on Hillary by Ed Klein," Limbaugh said, "but I'm not going to be the first to mention them. I'm not going there. It will come out eventually. It has to do with sexual orientation, and I'm not going to be the one. That's the book that everybody says is going to be presenting a firestorm."
The book is due out Tuesday, and among Klein's first media appearances will be a turn on Sean Hannity's radio and television programs.