One of the unfortunate side effects of the Clintons’ return to electoral politics will be the rise of the hacks, a narrow class of ethically dubious “journalists” who understand that conservatives have an endless hunger for Clinton “dirt” and aren’t overly concerned when it comes to sourcing or credibility. The most prominent of these opportunist hacks is Ed Klein, the former editor-in-chief of the New York Times Magazine who long ago slid into the journalistic gutter and found he was well-suited to the environment.
Whenever there’s a Clinton-centric story dominating the headlines, Klein will pop up with a thinly sourced and wildly scandalous “scoop” that leans heavily on anonymous quotes from Clinton “insiders.” His track record for accuracy isn’t what you’d call great, given that much of what he reports can be charitably described as “rumors and bullshit” – his last big Clinton “bombshell” reported that Hillary had been briefed about the mortar attack on the CIA facility in Benghazi a full hour before the attack began. But he’s savvy enough to know that the right-wing media will happily buy whatever garbage he’s selling so long as it stimulates the Clinton centers of the conservative brain.
In his latest offering, published by the New York Post, Klein writes that White House adviser Valerie Jarrett is responsible for the simmering scandal over Hillary Clinton’s use of private email while secretary of state:
It’s the vast left-wing conspiracy.
Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett leaked to the press details of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail address during her time as secretary of state, sources tell me.
But she did so through people outside the administration, so the story couldn’t be traced to her or the White House.
“Sources.” Sure sounds like journalism! Anyway, a few paragraphs later, Klein contradicts the thesis of his story by quoting an anonymous Clinton-affiliated person quoting Bill Clinton:
Members of Bill Clinton’s camp say the former president suspects the White House is the source of the leak and is furious.
“My contacts and friends in newspapers and TV tell me that they’ve been contacted by the White House and offered all kinds of negative stories about us,” one of Bill’s friends quotes him as saying. “The Obamas are behind the e-mail story, and they’re spreading rumors that I’ve been with women, that Hillary promoted people at the State Department who’d done favors for our foundation, that John Kerry had to clean up diplomatic messes Hillary left behind.”
Okay, so in the lede Klein writes that Valerie Jarrett is feeding Clinton scandals to the press but doing it “through people outside the administration” so that the Clintons can’t trace it back to Obama. Then he quotes someone quoting Bill Clinton saying that reporters are telling him that the White House is feeding Clintons stories directly to the press. Which is it? Are the Obama people covering their tracks or not? What is truth? How can we really be sure of anything?
Klein also seems to have absolutely no understanding of how the political press works. “My sources say Jarrett saw an opportunity to hit back hard when Monica Lewinsky suddenly resurfaced after years of living in obscurity,” he writes. “Jarrett discreetly put out word to some friendly members of the press that the White House would look with favor if they gave Monica some ink and airtime.” In the universe Klein inhabits, political reporters, faced with a Clinton candidacy in 2016, needed encouragement to cover the reemergence of Monica Lewinsky.
There’s no way to verify or fact-check any of this, which is the point. We just have to take Ed Klein at his word, which is argument enough for not believing a single word of it. But, again, he doesn’t have to prove anything he says, because he knows conservatives will happily pass along whatever nonsense he and his “sources” cook up.