Michael Wolff and Kitty Kelley: Both Took Heat and Sold a Lot of Books

John Podhoretz‏ on Twitter, January 5, 2018:

In essence, Michael Wolff is the new Kitty Kelley—shoddily sourced book asserting everything in equal measure; there’s no way of knowing which stories are true and so all stories are retailed as true.

The “shoddily sourced” Kitty Kelley book that Podhoretz references is The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty; it was published in September 2004, eight weeks before the 2004 presidential election.

Despite the book and a general media attitude that President George W. Bush would deservedly lose to Senator John Kerry, Bush won 31 states and Kerry won 19, the same state breakdown as the Donald Trump win over Hillary Clinton in 2016.

One difference: In 2004, President Bush won the popular vote, getting 62 million votes to John Kerry’s 59 million. In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, getting 66 million votes to Donald Trump’s 63 million.

One media fallout from the Kitty Kelley book: After the 2004 election, the Washington Post published this:

Kitty, Cut Loose and Put Out

After a relationship of more than 30 years, Washingtonian magazine and writer Kitty Kelley are divorcing, and the terms are not amicable. Kelley is in a snit because the mag unceremoniously booted her from the masthead of its current issue, citing her controversial book “The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty.” In an e-mail last week, Editor Jack Limpert lashed Kelley for what he called the book’s partisan timing and its irresponsible reporting about President Bush:

“We are always willing to attack the policies, and the behavior, of the President,” Limpert wrote to Kelley. “But it seems to us that the office deserves respect. We don’t think we should attack a President personally—his relations with his wife and family, his use of alcohol or other drugs, things like that—without a very solid basis for doing so. . . . We felt strongly enough that we didn’t want readers to feel that your appearance on the masthead meant we endorsed the book.”

Kelley, a contributing editor who’s been friends with Limpert for 32 years, says she was stunned to find her name dropped when she picked up the magazine. In an e-mail, she accused Limpert of being cowed by owner Philip Merrill, who she noted “has had a long relationship with George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Dick Cheney.” (Merrill served on the Defense Policy Board during Bush’s father’s administration and currently heads the Export-Import Bank—a position for which the president nominated him in 2002. Upon acceptance, Merrill stepped down as Washingtonian’s publisher and his wife took over.)

Limpert told us, “I never talk to Phil about this.” The editor acknowledged that he has only “scanned” Kelley’s book but said that allegations of past drug use by Dubya “crossed the line for responsibility.” The White House denounced the book as “garbage” when it came out in September.

Kelley last wrote for Washingtonian in 2001 but told us yesterday she contributed ideas to Limpert as recently as August. “What Jack did was very hurtful,” she said. “Thirty-two years . . . I’ve stood by them.”

Why didn’t Limpert pick up the phone to deliver the bad news? “I would have had to call her and say, ‘Kitty, I think you’ve written a sleazy, irresponsible book and we don’t want to be associated with it,’ ” he told us.

Right. Knowing the author’s reputation for sharp claws, maybe we would have been scared, too.

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