Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsBook Review

Correspondence

March 12, 2000

To the Editor:

In his review of Jeffrey Toobin's book, "A Vast Conspiracy" (Book Review, Feb. 20), Stanley Kutler describes me as a "sour, churlish" journalist who "hated" Bill Clinton and was obligingly manipulated by the president's enemies during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Since I have never met Kutler, I can only assume he has chosen to accept as accurate the almost comically crude account of my reporting in Toobin's book.

That being the case, I thought both Kutler and your readers might be interested in the following: One, though Toobin repeatedly insinuates that I was used to "launder" false charges against the president, he is unable to cite a single factual mistake in any of my many articles in Newsweek--a body of work which last year was awarded the National Magazine Award for editorial excellence in reporting, as well as a host of other journalism prizes; two, Toobin's own reporting, by contrast, is so riddled with sloppy errors and grotesque distortions that it recently prompted Newsweek managing editor Ann McDaniel to fire off a scathing protest to his publisher, Random House; three, upon receipt of McDaniel's letter, Random House pledged to retract one of Toobin's principal accusations against me--that I acted to "protect Ken Starr's investigation"--from all future editions of "A Vast Conspiracy"; and four, Toobin himself recently acknowledged to the Washington Post that "perhaps" he was negligent in failing to disclose a rather pertinent historical detail: that before beginning his project, Toobin had invited me to be his coauthor!

Indeed, in an effort to persuade me about the benefits of such a collaboration, Toobin suggested to me over lunch in New York City on April 27, 1998 (well after the bulk of my reporting on the Lewinsky episode had been published) that I could split with him a jacked-up book advance. It was only after I turned him down and instead wrote my own best-selling account of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, "Uncovering Clinton: A Reporter's Story"--a book from which Toobin shamelessly lifts whole passages without attribution--that Toobin developed his theory that I was really a disreputable, Clinton-hating low-life who, among other flaws, was driven by my supposed "greed" for a book contract.

At the risk of sounding sour or churlish, I'm sorry that a respected historian like Kutler--dedicated as he surely is to getting things right--did not make any independent inquiry before embracing the patently fraudulent, and brazenly hypocritical, attack of one author against another.

Michael Isikoff

Washington, D.C.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|