You would expect that any new charges by Ms. Kelley--who previously said that Ronald Reagan was a date rapist and Nancy Reagan had an affair with Frank Sinatra (and you can tell how much lasting impact all that had on the Reagans' reputation)--would be pretty much ignored. But Drudge is saying that Kitty Kelley's screed about the Bush family is now the best selling book in the country, so I guess we should probably talk about it some.
Its kind of funny, I guess. The Bush family is probably the most examined and reported on in the country today (except maybe for the Jacksons). There are thousands of people who know them personally, and many of them aren't shy about talking. And, heaven knows, when a member of the Bush clan screws up, the media hasn't shown any reluctance about reporting it. Look, for example, about the numerous time Bush's daughters got in trouble for drinking, or when Jeb Bush's wife had her little problem with the Customs Declaration.
But generally, the picture that comes out of the media focus on this family is fairly positive. George H.W. is genial and honorable (although a bit too willing to compromise), his wife is a nice lady and fiercely protective of her family, George W. was a hell raiser in his youth but got religion, climbed on the wagon and came around, and his wife Laura is a thoroughly decent person.
Yet, it turns out that everything we know about the Bush Clan is wrong. According to Kitty Kelley, they are really mean, wicked people who do drugs, sell drugs and commit adultery. According to the New York Times, Ms. Kelley even relates how Barbara Bush (the former first lady) eats too much, gets fat, and dresses funny:
"Unfortunately, she had no taste in clothes and she was fat," Ms. Kelley quotes an assistant of Mrs. Bush as saying of the former first lady. "She said she wished she was smaller, but then she'd eat 10 meals."
Given that there are literally hundreds of reporters whose full time job is to ferret out things about George W. and his family, how is it that Ms. Kelley knows all these things and nobody else does?
Apparently, she makes things up.
No, that isn't really fair. What actually happens is that Ms. Kelley is willing to quote other, anonomous people who make things up.
This was pointed out by our old friend, Chris Matthews, on Hardball the other week. Now, I have been hard on Chris in the past, but he did a competent job, in a very short interview, of pinning Ms. Kelley to the wall as to her method of reporting.
For example, in her book Kelley quotes one First Lieutenant Robert Rogers for the suggestion that Bush's apparent failure to get a flight physical was due to the fact that he was taking drugs. Matthews forces Ms. Kelley to admit that this Rogers person had no real knowledge of anything:
MATTHEWS: Who is Robert Rogers, Lieutenant Rogers, and what is his role with regard to Bush‘s role in the Air National Guard?
KELLEY: He is retired First Lieutenant Robert Rogers, an 11-year veteran of the National Guard. And...
MATTHEWS: What was his relationship to President Bush when he was in the Air Guard?
KELLEY: I don‘t think there‘s any relationship.
MATTHEWS: Well, why—what does he know—what does he know about - what does he know about the possibility or impossibility or plausibility of our current president having involved himself with substance abuse, as he says in this book of yours?
KELLEY: He says that this is a logical assumption to make.
MATTHEWS: Who is he to tell us that? I‘m just curious of why you chose this man...
KELLEY: He is a member...
MATTHEWS: ... to talk about President Bush‘s use of illegal substances or whatever.
KELLEY: [An unsuccessful attempt to change the subject]
MATTHEWS: Excuse me, I‘m sorry. I just want to talk to you about Lieutenant Rogers.
MATTHEWS: Did he ever meet President Bush?
KELLEY: Didn‘t ask him.
MATTHEWS: Well, do you think he ever met president—did he know anything about President Bush, the man? President Bush as he was when he was with the Guard?
KELLEY: I don‘t know that.
* * *
MATTHEWS: Was he a contemporary of President Bush? Was he in that Guard unit down in Texas, or not? Did he ever meet President Bush?
MATTHEWS: And yet he‘s here speculating on President Bush‘s use of drugs.
In the course of the same interview, Matthews exposed how Kelley's stories about Laura Bush the drug dealer and George W. Bush involvement with prostitutes were done the same way, attributed to persons (in one case a Democratic "consultant") who had absolutely no actual knowledge of the allegations reported in the book.
At the end of the day, Ms. Kelley is forced to defend her reliance on anonomous sources, and the fact that she is telling stories missed by the rest of the media, by suggesting that everyone is "afraid to speak out".
KELLEY: I think you have just—you have just underlined the power of this family, Chris. This is a sitting president. His father is a former president, a former director of central intelligence. People are frightened.
Yeah sure, ever since Michael Moore was snatched by the black helicopters and sent off to the re-education camp people have been terrified to speak ill of the President. The only people who are going to buy the "I am the only one who is not afraid to speak out" are the nutballs (of whom, unfortunately, we have no shortage).
If anyone wants to do a little more reading, here is the review by the New York Times (apparently trying to make up for the front page treatment it gave Kelley on her book about Nancy Reagan) and here is Howard Kurtz. And if you haven't, read the wonderful Ferguson piece I mentioned the other day, which described Kelley as more then a little bit nuts.