1. Archive

Author's lies shouldn't obscure book's truth

Re: Journalist lies about Primary Colors authorship.

The July 19 Germond-Witcover column was headed A journalist lies, and the profession suffers.

What hypocrisy! The writers state there is a "simple rule of public life. If you can't tell the truth, no comment." Isn't that the same rule which the liberal and admittedly Democrat-biased media has applied to coverage of Democrat presidents from FDR to the present? The public has been denied the truth about FDR's health, JFK's sexual exploits while in office and Bill Clinton's political philandering and extramarital adventures.

Using the "no comment" veil for the truth, JFK was presented in such a way that he became the political idol of an impressionable 12-year-old from Arkansas, who apparently did learn later, but with no help from the silent press, that a Democrat president protected by a biased media can get by with adulterous conduct in or out of the White House. Should not the media be charged with sins of omission?

The Times editorial, "A traitor to truth and the profession," states that Joe Klein's credibility as a journalist is questioned. Isn't the pot calling the kettle black? Isn't the Times repeatedly guilty of failing to divulge truths that would be harmful to the administration of its choice? I do see occasional instances that the Times editorial staff is facing up to some of the obvious negative realities of the administration, but I'll bet my last dollar that Clinton will get the Times' ringing endorsement for re-election.

The editorial also refers to "plot twists as the works of a wicked imagination." Please review a tape of CNN's Early Prime show, week of July 14, in which Bernard Shaw and Ken Bodie, respected journalists, discuss aspects of Primary Colors, now known to be the work of Joe Klein. Ken Bodie stated that the book was an accurate picture of the Clinton campaign and, more importantly, he was a witness to the incident described in the Times editorial.

There appears to be much more concern over a lie about authorship than to the many truths of the book. Whose sense of values is at work here?

Ruth D. Rosell, Tarpon Springs

It is refreshing to see such moral outrage at Maynard Parker and Joe Klein for their secrecy about the authorship of Primary Colors. Perhaps the future will see such editorial high standards equally applied to all. Just how much difference is there between "Deep Throat" and "Anonymous"?

Under slightly differing conditions it is imaginable Joe Klein would have been lauded as a most ingenious investigative reporter and heralded for promoting his fiction book in such a creative way. His real sin has been to dare imply in a fictional writing that the darlings of the press just might be a duplicitous Democrat presidency. In this unique case it seems that even though unbiased, informed sources admit there are considerable real-life facts in the fictional tale, somehow the morality flaw is with the messenger. When it comes to wrapping oneself in a cloak of morality, methinks one's red dress is showing entirely too much cleavage.

Douglas Fairbanks, St. Petersburg

Revealing identity was wrong

Re: Uneasy columnist shows true colors, front page, July 18.

As an aspiring writer, I feel the need to defend Joe Klein. First, the article from the Washington Post identifies the book Primary Colors as a work of fiction. It only takes a small amount of common sense to know that even an outright lie has to contain a certain amount of truth to be believable. A fictional story is no different, but unlike a lie or factual claims, a work of fiction should not have to be defended or proven accountable. Second, Joe Klein's reputation as a journalist should never have been "at stake." His colleagues at Newsweek, the editor at the Washington Post and the person who performed the handwriting analysis are the ones who should be criticized here. Shame on them. In my opinion, they are the ones who contribute to the public's feeling that journalists are "all seedy, slimy bums." A question raised in the article was, "Who has been hurt by this?" The hurt has occurred by the unveiling of an anonymous writer. Third, these same "seedy, slimy" journalists who adore their constitutional right of freedom of speech have used that same right to take it away from a fellow journalist. This was the real crime, not that Joe Klein denied being the anonymous author. He should never have been questioned, let alone unveiled to begin with. Finally, the Washington Post and all others involved with this unveiling should not be commended for their great efforts, but rather condemned to the fullest extent of the law for willfully and/or forcefully imposing on one of the greatest "rights" American citizens have regarding "the freedom of speech:" the "right" to be (and remain) anonymous.

Monica Glenfeldt, Pinellas Park

Re: Joe, we hardly knew you, by Mark Shields.

After saying that he knew and liked Joe Klein for a quarter of a century, Mark Shields goes on to blame him for "lying so emphatically and dramatically, he should have thought first about the work he has done to feed his family for 25 years."

By the way, Klein just made $6-million by honest writing. Is there some law against denying you authored a book? I thought there was only a law against saying you wrote a book when you stole the idea from someone else.

When Shields compares this act of Klein's with Bush saying, with a straight face, that Clarence Thomas was the best man in the country for the job and that race had nothing to do with the choice, or Clinton saying that he didn't remember receiving the draft notice when he was at Oxford, or dozens of Ross Perot's utterances, he is probably making correct analogies. There was not a reporter taken in by any of these fibs (even though they reported the fibs with a straight face). Now we find that the majority of reporters pointed out from the beginning that Klein was the logical author. This includes Shields who asked his erstwhile friend face to face months ago if he had written Primary Colors.

I fail to see why any of this should diminish my respect for Klein's, or anybody else's, reporting. On the other hand, I have now seen that Shields will assemble facts to improve his own grandiosity _ oh, he would never tell a lie, even for $6-million.

Robert O. Fulton, Dunedin

Vocabulary violations?

Re: Help keep score of NBC's on-air sexism, July 17.

In reference to Mariah Burton Nelson's commentary on NBC's on-air sexism, I'm very sorry that Mariah did not have the desired attention from men in her life because this is nothing but sour grapes.

As to "vocabulary violations," as a man I don't have a problem with being referred to as "boys of summer," "golden boys," "boys next door" and various classifications as "hunks" and even "jocks."

Bela Karolyi referred to Dominique Moceanu as "a little bird on a wire."

Hello, Mariah, that was a compliment. The whole world loves little birds. You need to get a life.

Charlie Varner, Largo

After reading Mariah Burton Nelson's article on NBC's on-air sexism, I decided to take her advice and "get mad, get effective!" I take no offense in being called a woman, lady or girl because I feel I am all of those things at various times. Offensive terms to me are "bimbo," "chick" or teenagers' favorite, "ho." The way Bela Karolyi described Dominique Moceanu tells what her personality and heart are like _ nothing offensive about it.

I am one of the lucky people, along with Cher and President Clinton, turning 50 this year. Most of my friends are secure enough with themselves and their contributions to life that they are not going to be offended by these terms. I personally am a strong believer in turning the other cheek and not in getting even.

I love the Olympics and watching all of the events. The Dream Team (as an example) draws enough interest to be on prime time, where the women's basketball team, unfortunately, does not at this time. It is a matter of supply and demand. Hopefully, the women of the U.S. team will do as predicted and win more medals than the men and get some deserved credit. But until the recognition comes, being negative and degrading is not going to help. Being mouthy will get you nowhere. To use one of my favorite quotes as a mother: It's not becoming.

The goal of the Olympics is for peace and unity. Let each of us, with a positive attitude, live our lives accordingly and be blessed with the results.

Joanna S. Ritch, St. Petersburg

I am happy to say that after watching some of the opening ceremonies and a few of the events at the Olympics, I have failed to hear any of NBC's on-air sexism that Mariah Burton Nelson warned us against in her silly article in the July 19 sports section of the Times. If she cannot find better use of her time and the Times cannot find better articles to print, then I think that you both have problems.

I will watch the Olympics and listen to the reporters because I will enjoy rooting for our fine U.S. athletes, but I refuse to lower myself, looking for sexist actions and words. My message to Mariah: Get a life. My message to the Times: Smarten up and don't waste your paper and ink on trash.

Albert R. Siebert, Pinellas Park

Dehumanizing the victims

A news item on July 18th reported the manhunt is continuing for the murderer of four young women who were prostitutes. The word "prostitutes" was impressed and repeated in said article, having a chilling effect of dehumanizing the murder victims.

What next: "They were murdered because they were only prostitutes"? I resent the implication very much!

My two uncles, with their wives and children, were sent to the gas chambers in Poland by the Nazis during World War II _ because they were only Jewish.

Among our circle of friends are people who are only Jewish, only Catholic, only gay

Methinks you get the picture.

Al Kutner, St. Petersburg

No fun allowed

I have just gotten back from visiting my folks "Down Under," so let me get a few things straight upon my return to Pinellas County:

1. No beer on the beach.

2. No coffee-drinking on the beach (near Belleair).

3. No T-backs.

4. Possibly no MTV unless you pay extra.

Horrors! I observed thousands of people overseas romping around beaches in T-backs (or even worse: topless), drinking beer and coffee, then running back to their homes to watch MTV. All of these activities seem to be totally unregulated by elected officials. The strange thing is, I am told, the crime rates are lower than here. I find violent movies and electronic ministers hustling for "love offerings" distasteful, but do not feel it is my place to push for restricted cable access. A remote control has many buttons. We, as adults, should use them and teach our kids the same.

Wayne Kearns, Clearwater

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