Joe Klein's long journey to embedded journalism

"Wes Brot ich ess', des Lied ich sing!"

German proverb, meaning to express

the opinions of your employer

instead of your own.

Joe Klein, the longtime columnist for TIME magazine, is a smart man. He has proven to be able of analytical thought. His virtual feuds with former co-columnist Charles Krauthammer were always enlightening.

Mr. Klein is also a staunch supporter of the US Democratic Party. But mostly this did not diminish his journalistic efforts.

In his last essay titled "Why the Russian hacks of Hillary Clinton's campaign should reassure us all" (TIME October 24, 2016) he draws an astonishing conclusion of Hillary Clinton's admission that she holds "public and private positions". Mr. Klein takes it for an "uncontroversial, universal truth about how things work in a democracy".

Too sad that this "clarification" wasn't available when Richard M. Nixon made his historic "I'm not a crook"-speech.

Nixon might have begun this way:

"My fellow countrymen, as TIME magazine has recently pointed out, having public and private positions on a topic simultaneously isn't a sign of bland opportunism, nor is it indicating that one is lying to at least one party. Instead, according to Mr. Klein, it is a sign of great statesmanship.

So you will be relieved to hear that I have proven my statesmanship again and again by applying different positions to different parties, namely the Special Prosecutor, the public and my trusted White House staff - a fact that my opponents have always decried as lying without blinking with the eye.

So I will go on instigating illegal actions against my opponents and all the other shadowy things that have emerged in the Watergate aftermath - and I will explain them to you, my beloved countrymen, with proper wording - as they are only my 'public position' on the matter … "

Interestingly, Mr. Klein's explanation of the need to have "public and private positions" follows the same line of thought as Mr. Trumps explanation, why he would be such a great reformer of tax law: just because he was so successful at evading existing tax rules. In the same way Hillary Clinton's ability of holding "public and private positions" shall give her an edge in dealing with policy matters.

But Mr. Klein is confusing something important. Of course you may choose to emphasize different aspects of a topic when dealing with different groups. And if you are in public service and dealing with matters of secrecy, you may in some cases be bound to withhold some information or - in this context - not to express a "public opinion" - as this is the essence of keeping a secret.

But having "public and private positions" simultaneously is either sign of a vacillating mind, opportunism or simply lying to at least one side. We should keep in mind that the phrase was part of a speech given to a selected gathering of Wall Street executives.

And the meaning of having "public and private positions" in this context could only have been that Mrs. Clinton is working to improve the conditions for this clientele while publicly promoting other, "consumer-friendly" policies.

But Mr. Klein has chosen to put on "Hillary"-friendly glasses. In all the material Wikileaks has made public he senses a "careful, intelligent way in which the Clinton staff [at the then state department] goes about the business of politics".

Well - even if this would be true for all other dealings of Clinton while being Secretary of State - her Lybia-policy alone is enough of a desaster to nullify all that. It is hard to imagine what kind of policy in respect to Lybia Mrs. Clinton would develop if elected president. And all her "public" statements on Syria indicate an even hawkisher attitude in that case.

Mr. Klein has been covering the US election campaigns for decades. In one of those reports in TIME he declared the US presidential election system to be complicated, costly, but ultimately thrilling - a great show to be covered.

A great show it is indeed - at least in financial terms. When the voting booths will be closed in November, over 2 billion US-Dollars will be spent for the campaign. To put this figure in perspective: This is thrice the annual budget of the UNESCO.

Not only in total is much money involved - with the rise of PACs and Super-PACs and their endorsement by the supreme court the influence of big money has multiplied. The intention of the founding fathers - "one man, one vote" - has been effectively perverted into a playing ground for big corporations and the super-rich.

This year's campaign now offers the American public to choose between "we-came-we-saw-he-died"-Hillary and "kick-the-muslims-out"-Donald. What a sad outcome! From the european perspective it is hard to understand that there should be no better candidates for the office available in all of the 50 US states.

Mr. Klein has chosen sides - not surprisingly for the democratic candidate. This is not to criticize. But that he dumps all critical approach, praising Mrs. Clinton for things that cannot be praised, is disappointing. From now on we have to consider him an embedded correspondent.

The recent issues of TIME devote much space and effort to promoting candidate Hillary Clinton, and to demonize Donald Trump. So TIME has chosen sides, too. You may call the prevention of Trump becoming president a "worthy cause".

But his becoming candidate of the Republican party has a lot to do with the abundant media coverage he received so far - not the least from TIME magazine. Instead of devoting cover stories, multiple-page picture galleries and lots of comments to this man, the coverage could have been reduced to one short sentence: "This man has no serious plans, he has no qualifications, his overblown ego fringes on lunacy."

And some of the freed space might have been used for serious coverage of the campaigns of Bernie Sanders or Jill Stein.

(October 2016)

p.s.: Of course Joe Klein attributes the "hacking" of the leaked eMails to Russia - despite the fact that no proof of that claim has emerged so far.