Joe Klein's Defining Moment?

Posted: May 28, 2007 7:59 PM

It's not uncommon for politicians to bring in former reporters to serve in their administration.  (After all, who knows how to handle a reporter better than a reporter?) On the Republican side, Lyn Nofziger and Tony Snow come to mind as former reporters turned political operatives.  But while Nofziger and Snow started giving advice after leaving the media, not all reporters have followed this little rule.

In fact, in his new book, Democrat political consultant Bob Shrum accuses Time Magazine's Joe Klein of advising John Kerry -- while covering the campaign.

While some are rightly outraged by this, liberal bias in the media is not a new (or surprising) phenomenon.  In fact, this is nothing new.

According to the Newsweek reporter Jonathan Alter's book on FDR -- The Defining Moment -- a reporter once went so far as to write a major speech for Roosevelt. 

Here's how it came to be.  According to Alter, after some reporters criticized Roosevelt's performance, FDR replied:

"Well, if you fellows think my speeches are so bad, why don't you write one for me?"

Ernest K. Lindley, then of the New York Herald-Tribune (later a long-time Newseek columnist), replied: "All right, I will!"

The reporter's speech -- which today would get him fired for unethical behavior -- became what Sam Rosenman called a "watchword" for the New Deal.

The more things change, the more they stay the same ....