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Ed Klein: Ambitious Hack?

    Ed Klein, former New York Times Magazine editor and Vanity Fair contributor, has written a Hillary book that raises the awful specter of lesbianism in the Hillary ranks. I know, I know: We need a Constitutional amendment banning lesbianism in government, lest it become, like flag-burning, an imminent threat to national security. Anyway, Tina Brown writes about Klein today: She comes to Hillary's defense, and reveals that Klein is an ambitious hack. She writes that "Klein used to be a workmanlike scribe with glamour aspirations when he was flat-footing around in the Jackie O crypto-sphere." I don't actually know what the Jackie O crypto-sphere is, but I think it's pretty much Tina's beat. [A hardship posting, like our Baghdad bureau.] She goes on to say of Klein: "In my experience when he wrote for me at Vanity Fair, he was motivated only by success. In those days I appreciated his zesty pursuit of headline stories, even when he was totally unqualified to write them."

     Ouch. This is a good column, with a strong point and a victim who dangles pathetically on the writer's skewer. I do worry about the precedent of this breakdown in the editor-reporter relationship. Reporter-editor should be like doctor-patient or attorney-client. If my editors ever revealed what it is like to work with me, my career would be over. They would mention, for example, my bad habit of waiting until a story has been edited and copy-edited and laid out and sent to the printers before I bring up the 12 huge factual errors that will get the paper sued. They would mention that I refuse to be at my desk or even reachable for most of the day, and that I can only write on my porch or at Starbucks. The fact is, most of us are unqualified to write any of the stuff we write, and we're all workmanlike, and we all have sad dreams of glamour and success somewhere out there in the future. We are all hacks. But by gosh, at least I'm not flat-footed.

By Joel Achenbach  |  June 23, 2005; 8:08 AM ET
 
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Comments

There's a big difference between being ambitious in the sense of wanting to create excellence and even to be recognized for it, and just wanting to be rich and famous. The difference, I guess, between a professional and a hack.

Keep up the good work, Joel. You may not make as much money as Ed Klein, or be the subject of as many articles, but you can look your kids in the eye when they ask you how you earn your living.

Posted by: kbertocci | June 23, 2005 8:48 AM | Report abuse

You don't have to be a feminist to find the anti-Hillary agitation a sign of severe mental disorder. A healthy male is not terrified by Hillary Clinton. He may in fact be enthralled.

Posted by: norman | June 23, 2005 8:57 AM | Report abuse

I say ban all lesbians from office! Next thing you know, men will be reduced to the level of breeding stock, used by hoards of women for procreation, living a life of captive leisure punctuated by anonymous sexual encounters.

Um...on second thought, where do I get my Hillary '08 button?

Posted by: jw | June 23, 2005 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Is anyone having trouble accessing this blog? Reading the latest updates? There is something buggy going on...

Posted by: Achenbach | June 23, 2005 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Just curious Joel, what's a "factual editor"? Does it have something to do with virtual reality?

Posted by: kurosawaguy | June 23, 2005 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Back in the day, I was a journalist. I had a factual editor once. Man, was he a pain in the patootie. Ed Klein should write a book about these people.

Posted by: tashman | June 23, 2005 9:29 AM | Report abuse

You know, with the more adult content that's been promulgated on this blog & comments lately, I think Joel's positioning himself for a nationally syndicated morining radio talk show starting in January 06.

We're all hacks.
Those that can, do.
Those that can't,teach.
Those that think they can, write.

bc

Posted by: bc | June 23, 2005 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Hey, what happened to the "Less Filling vs. Tastes Great" entry?

Well, jw, I see we have the same aspirations....

Posted by: Eric | June 23, 2005 9:43 AM | Report abuse

"Is anyone having trouble accessing this blog?"

Reminds me of a friend of mine who includes this in his email messages: "let me know if you don't get this email."

Posted by: Anonymous | June 23, 2005 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Did Ed Klein and Tina met over the internet?

Posted by: fdg31 | June 23, 2005 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Joel's next book should be a best-seller chock full of innuendo. But what celeb's crypto-sphere should he decipher?

Posted by: Videlicet | June 23, 2005 10:48 AM | Report abuse

"Is anyone having trouble accessing this blog?"
Reminds me of a friend of mine who includes this in his email messages: "let me know if you don't get this email."

I wish we had those smileys I would use that :lolpoint: right now

Posted by: fdg31 | June 23, 2005 10:48 AM | Report abuse

We don't need a Constitutional Amendment, we just need to let the "Truth" hang out. Shouldnt the veracity of Klein's book be the topic and not just gossipy innuendo? Don't be afraid , maybe theres a majority that agree with you, Joel (down in Georgetown at least)

Posted by: all11 | June 23, 2005 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Those who are interested in the veracity of the book might be interested in a photo in it of Bill Clinton supposedly open-mouth kissing a woman. The photographer says that isn't what happened in the picture, which was cropped and put to use by Matt Drudge.

http://www.mediabistro.com/fishbowlDC/books/claim_klein_misrepresents_clinton_photo_22821.asp#more

Posted by: Baggins | June 23, 2005 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Joel,

There's a typo in your last paragraph -- "12 factual EDITORS..." should be "errors."

Posted by: peters43 | June 23, 2005 11:28 AM | Report abuse

oops

Posted by: Achenbach | June 23, 2005 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Pretty funny, Joel. And to jw, your post is just downright hilarious. (jw | June 23, 2005 09:10 AM)

Posted by: Andrew | June 23, 2005 12:24 PM | Report abuse

What's the differnce between an editor and a plagiarist? One corrects copy and the other copies correctly.

Posted by: Videlicet | June 23, 2005 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Don't encourage me.

Posted by: jw | June 23, 2005 12:49 PM | Report abuse

I am glad to see Hillary attacked. She is a liberal wolf in supposed "centrist" clothing. If the Republicans run McCain or Giuliani aganist Hillary in 2008, either one of them should clean up against her, especially in the swing states. And the Swifties will easily take care of her because she has major credibility issues--regarding her political ideology (remember the 1994 health care plan), her statements about Whitewater, and her stance on Bill and Monica in 1998. If the Republicans were able to tie Kerry to the early 1970s, they should have no trouble tying Hillary to the 1990s.

Posted by: JMolay | June 23, 2005 12:55 PM | Report abuse

I am glad to see Hillary attacked. She is a liberal wolf in supposed "centrist" clothing. If the Republicans run McCain or Giuliani aganist Hillary in 2008, either one of them should clean up against her, especially in the swing states. And the Swifties will easily take care of her because she has major credibility issues--regarding her political ideology (remember the 1994 health care plan), her statements about Whitewater, and her stance on Bill and Monica in 1998. If the Republicans were able to tie Kerry to the early 1970s, they should have no trouble tying Hillary to the 1990s.

Posted by: JMolay | June 23, 2005 12:55 PM | Report abuse

I think this piece epitomizes how far afield from actual stories blog content has gotten. The real story is that a major publishing house has printed a book that is full of salacious material from anonymous sources. The writer is a hack, but the publisher is deplorable.

Posted by: dewarner | June 23, 2005 1:02 PM | Report abuse

I note that Tina Brown in the Post claims that Hillary was attacked by a man from Mars. If so, then maybe the "War of the Worlds" has already started! Please alert Tom Cruise, so he can drop his promotional tour and prancing around with Katie and start defending us. Joel, you are the space exploration expert around here--would the Martians rather capture Hillary or Katie (or maybe a lesbian)? And can Tom Cruise really defend us if he can't fight back against a water squirt? What would the Martians squirt at us if there is no water on Mars?

Thanks for the opportunity to participate in your blog.

Posted by: JMolay | June 23, 2005 1:08 PM | Report abuse

JMolay-

Would the Martians rather capture Hillary or Katie (or maybe a lesbian)?

Hello? Both. All three of your questions answered.

We are men, after all.

- John Carter, Warlord

PS DT's hot, but she doesn't go in for that kind of stuff.

Posted by: Man from Mars | June 23, 2005 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Has any of the 15 noticed that you can tell from the comments exactly when the blog goes "public" on washingtonpost.com?

Posted by: jw | June 23, 2005 1:35 PM | Report abuse

"The real story is that a major publishing house has printed a book that is full of salacious material from anonymous sources."

This is America, not Canada.. what, books are to be honest and publish the truth?

Posted by: nottamember | June 23, 2005 2:24 PM | Report abuse

jw,

yes, Joel, not unlike Madonna, suffers from overexposure when thrown into the public arena.

(responding although I am not one of the 15.)

Posted by: nottamember | June 23, 2005 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Sooooooooooooo, Molay.... you wore happy to see W attacked because he's a hardline southern evangelical chip-on-your-shoulder, gift-the-rich hack in "compassionate" clothing?

Posted by: proxl | June 23, 2005 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Has any of the 15 noticed that you can tell from the comments exactly when the blog goes "public" on washingtonpost.com?-jw

Yes, it's embarrassing. I am also one of those who has some double posts on some blogs. If you had done so, does that make you a member of the SAOF?

Where is Achenfan?

Posted by: fdg31 | June 23, 2005 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Hey Joel, so, you got a problem with flat-footed people, eh !?!?!

Posted by: nottamember | June 23, 2005 3:55 PM | Report abuse

I have 2 comments:

1) Couldn't the Hillary '08 group have found a better defender than Tina Brown? After Tina ruined the New Yorker, I care as little about her opinion as I do about Ed Klein.

2) The Clinton's are the living embodiment of the phrase "bad press is better than no press." Far right people will always be against Hillary because she is a true liberal. The attacks from the right allow Hillary to continue to portray herself as the Joan of Arc fighting against the nasty conspiracy, endearing herself to the far left. In her core, she believes in a Vast Right Wing Conspiracy against her, personally. Not against liberalism, but against Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The whole thing is very synergistic. People like me, in the middle of the political spectrum, tune out both of them.

Posted by: Karen | June 23, 2005 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Has any of the 15 noticed that you can tell from the comments exactly when the blog goes "public" on washingtonpost.com?-jw

Yes, it's embarrassing. I am also one of those who has some double posts on some blogs. If you had donde so, does that make you a member of the SAOF?

Where is Achenfan?

Posted by: fdg31 | June 23, 2005 3:56 PM | Report abuse

I like Karen.

Posted by: jw | June 23, 2005 3:57 PM | Report abuse

jw-

Easy, big fella.

I don't want to have to fill in any more holes from you digging under the fence once you catch a scent.

bc

Posted by: bc | June 23, 2005 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Who says I'm a fella? Maybe I work for Hillary. Ha! That could be a new euphemism for lesbian. "I think she works for Hillary."

Posted by: jw | June 23, 2005 4:12 PM | Report abuse

"The real story is that a major publishing house has printed a book that is full of salacious material from anonymous sources."

And in another real story, dog bites man...

Posted by: DD | June 23, 2005 5:02 PM | Report abuse

I too was rather surprised to read Brown comment about her professional relationship with Klein. That kind of comment should scare the heck out of everyone else who has worked for or with her, putting them on notice that she'll gladly burn anybody she worked with if she doesn't like what they write.

It kinda reinforces the impression that journalists are snakes who cannot be trusted with any information, even from friends or colleagues. While this is certainly not true of the vast majority of journalists, it really makes you wary of what you say in the newsroom.

Posted by: DD | June 23, 2005 5:08 PM | Report abuse

I too was rather surprised to read Brown comment about her professional relationship with Klein. That kind of comment should scare the heck out of everyone else who has worked for or with her, putting them on notice that she'll gladly burn anybody she worked with if she doesn't like what they write.

It kinda reinforces the impression that journalists are snakes who cannot be trusted with any information, even from friends or colleagues. While this is certainly not true of the vast majority of journalists, it really makes you wary of what you say in the newsroom.

Posted by: DD | June 23, 2005 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Joel, Ed Klein writes a book packed with outright lies and slander about a U.S. Senator and former First Lady and all you can worry about is the ramifications of Tina Brown violating some ethic related to the reporter-editor relationship?

What planet do you live on?

Is this all the media can do these days, avoid the real issues and report on peripheral stuff that is meaningless and irrelevant?

By the way, to take your bait, obviously, Tina Brown owed Ed Klein nothing. The guy is obviously an opportunistic scumbag, human trash, and deserves every skewering he gets, and worse. Put your pity where it belongs, with the slandered, not with the slanderer. OK?

Posted by: disgusted with this newspaper again | June 23, 2005 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Read the code: Daily HUMOR and observations. Not "real issues."

Posted by: jw | June 23, 2005 6:32 PM | Report abuse

"Put your pity where it belongs, with the slandered, not with the slanderer."

Does Senator Clinton desire pity? Then pity she will get!

Posted by: DD | June 23, 2005 7:00 PM | Report abuse

fdg31, funny.

I agree with those who do not care a whit about Tina Brown. She's a horrible excuse for a human, and perfect for Hillary's cheerleading squad. I have no plans to read Klein's book, and don't care about its allegations (having already made up my mind about Hillary), but I agree with Joel: what would happen in a world where editors later freely bashed their writers when they were making it big? And by the way, Tina, what's wrong with wanting to be successful, and sin she accuses Klein of committing?

Joel, on the other hand, do we all always have to hang together and agree with what the former co-worker writes (or the way they do it)? I want a porch that I can write on, too. And a Starbucks that always gets my order right, and has a free table near the fireplace.

Happy Fourth.

Posted by: KMact2 | June 23, 2005 7:01 PM | Report abuse

Hey Joel,

No metro-sexual ambi-hack, you!

Who's handling your PR these days? What about being THE public spokesperson for Starbucks?

Think of it, sitting at a small table for a couple of hours autographing cup-sleeves with a sharpie for your adoring fans and pushing one of your fine books while drinking a well-made cup of your favorite beverage.

Starbucks could be the ticket! You know how Starbucks sells a single music CD in their stores. They must sell millions of copies of that CD. How much space would it take to sell a single book--YOUR BOOK.

Just imagine, while we are all standing in line waiting for the nice lady with the Latte to find her Starbucks card and then carry on a conversation with the associate about what three drinks she could get with the remaining balance, we could be staring at "Captured by Aliens."

One week in Starbucks and "C-B-A" will be sending at least one of your wonderful kids to an Ivy League school--leaving you plenty of valued porchtime.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | June 24, 2005 6:41 AM | Report abuse

It wouldn't take hours to autograph 15 cup sleeves.

Posted by: jw | June 24, 2005 7:20 AM | Report abuse

jw,

I suppose you are right.

Anyway, we, being a practical lot, would use the cup sleeves--and on a nice humid Warshington summer day--we would all have "Best Wishes, Joel Achenbach" smeared backwards on our hands.

Then, if we met someone in passing on the street and shook hands, we would leave them with a puzzled look, as they tried to figure out how the hell they ended up with "Best Wishes, Joel Achenbach" on the palm of their hand.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | June 24, 2005 7:58 AM | Report abuse

It's pretty ironic that you call Ed a hack.

Posted by: Ian | June 24, 2005 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Hey, fdg31,
Thanks for asking after me. I'm outta town on a secret mission. And how pathetic is this? -- I FELT THE NEED TO GO TO AN INTERNET CAFE TO CHECK IN ON THE ACHENBLOG!! Addiction is a terrible thing. Seeya soon.

Posted by: Achenfan | June 25, 2005 7:26 PM | Report abuse

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