McClellan's Publisher a Liberal: Advances Soros & Slams Limbaugh

Peter Osnos, who wrote Wednesday that he “worked very closely” with Scott McClellan on McClellan's new book published by PublicAffairs which Osnos founded, is a liberal whose publishing house is affiliated with the far-left The Nation magazine and the publisher of The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder. PublicAffairs has a roster of authors who are nearly all liberals and/or liberal-leaning mainstream media figures, including six books by far-left bank-roller George Soros. On Wednesday's CBS Evening News, Ari Fleischer related that “Scott told me that his editor did 'tweak,' in Scott's word, a lot of the writing, especially in the last few months.” In an “Eat the Press” blog entry Wednesday, Rachel Sklar asked Osnos: “Did you work directly on the book with McClellan? (Who was his editor?)” Osnos replied: “The editor was Lisa Kaufman and yes, I worked very closely with them.”

A reporter and editor at the Washington Post during the 1970s and 1980s before going into book publishing, Osnos pens a weekly column for the left of center The Century Foundation. In a March column he denounced Rush Limbaugh as “bombastic, aggressive, and mean,” bemoaning how the late William F. Buckley Jr. left behind “a right-wing culture that tends to be as coarse and leaden as his demeanor could be buoyant,” charging Buckley provided “unfortunate cover to others who followed with a spirit that was distinctly and consistently malevolent.”

In contrast, he hailed the late left-wing columnist Molly Ivins and wished she had more impact: “In the contest for power in America, Molly Ivins had a good perch in her column, nearly perfect pitch, and, alas, too little influence.” Ruminating this week about the Kennedy family's legacy in the wake of Senator Ted Kennedy's cancer diagnosis, Osnos asserted that “we are a distinctly better country for the message” which “Ted conveyed about our priorities as a people.”

Amongst the authors Osnos has worked with at PublicAffairs and previously at Random House: Wesley Clark, Vernon Jordan, Robert McNamara, Andy Rooney, George Soros, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Rosalyn Carter, Nancy Reagan, Sam Donaldson, Morley Safer, Molly Ivins and William Greider. Hard to find more than a few conservative names in the PublicAffairs list of authors.

At the moment, a George Soros book is displayed alongside the McClellan tome at the top of the PublicAffairs home page.

PublicAffairs is part of the Perseus Books Group, which also owns Nation Books, “a project of The Nation Institute” which publishes the magazine of the same name, and Vanguard Press, whose home page now features The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, a new book by Vincent Bugliosi that “presents a tight, meticulously researched legal case that puts George W. Bush on trial in an American courtroom for the murder of nearly 4,000 American soldiers fighting the war in Iraq.”

The PublicAffairs bio for Osnos:

Peter Osnos was a correspondent around the world for The Washington Post and the newspaper's foreign and national editor. He was Associate Publisher and senior editor at Random House and publisher of Random House's Times Books division. In 1997, he founded PublicAffairs, an independent publishing company specializing in books of journalism, history, biography and social criticism. Among the authors he published at PublicAffairs are, Wesley Clark, Dorothy Height, Vernon Jordan, Wendy Kopp, Robert McNamara, Andy Rooney, Natan Sharansky, George Soros, Boris Yeltsin, and Muhammad Yunus, and journalists from America's leading publications and prominent scholars.

He is executive director of The Caravan Project, funded by the MacArthur Foundation, which is developing a plan for multi-platform publishing of books. He is Vice Chairman of the Columbia Journalism Review and is active in a number of other journalism and human rights organizations. He writes a regular media column that is distributed by the Century Foundation ( He is a graduate of Brandeis and Columbia Universities. He lives in Greenwich CT with his wife Susan, a consultant to human rights organizations.

The Century Foundation's bio:

Senior Fellow for Media Program

Peter Osnos is the Founder and Editor-at-Large of PublicAffairs books. Previously, he was Publisher of Random House's Times Books Division from 1991 to 1996 and before that was a Vice President and Associate Publisher of the Random House imprint. Authors he has worked with include President Bill Clinton, former President Jimmy Carter, Rosalyn Carter, Nancy Reagan, former Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill, Boris Yeltsin, Paul Volcker, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Donald Trump, Clark Clifford, Sam Donaldson, Morley Safer, Peggy Noonan, Molly Ivins, Stanley Karnow, Jim Lehrer, William Novak, Vassily Aksyonov, and journalists from The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, and The Economist.

Before entering book publishing, Osnos spent nearly twenty years at The Washington Post, where he was variously Indochina Bureau Chief, Moscow Correspondent, Foreign Editor, National Editor, and London Bureau Chief. He has been a commentator and host for National Public Radio and a contributor to publications including Foreign Affairs, The Atlantic, and The New Republic. He served as Chair of the Trade Division of the Association of American Publishers, Chair of Human Rights Watch Europe and Central Asia Committee and was a member of the Board of Directors of Human Rights Watch. He is currently the Vice-Chairman of The Columbia Journalism Review and Executive Director of The Caravan Project, funded by the MacArthur Foundation and based at TCF. A graduate of Brandeis University and the Columbia University School of Journalism, he lives in Greenwich, Connecticut with his wife, Susan Osnos, who is a consultant for nonprofit organizations.

An excerpt from Osnos' May 28 column, as posted by The Century Foundation:

....The Kennedy saga is so rich a tale of melodrama and pain that it tends to overwhelm the real meaning of what it has meant to our politics and national spirit. We are a distinctly better country for the messages, each in their own way and time that JFK, RFK, and Ted conveyed about our priorities as a people. Regularly over the presidential cycles, "the next Kennedy" has been anointed, invariably ending with disappointment. There was Ted himself in 1980, Gary Hart in 1984 and 1988, and aspects of Clinton in 1992 and John Kerry (another JFK, after all) in 2004. It has happened again this year with Barack Obama, and this time the comparison may be genuinely valid....

Obama definitely has elements of JFK's style and eloquence as well as RFK's appeal to blacks and younger people. Ted Kennedy clearly feels a strong bond with Obama, as does his niece, Caroline, given their endorsement and the campaigning they have done on his behalf. Senator Kennedy has been the only member of his clan able to fulfill the potential of early promise (his son Patrick, in Congress; his nephew Joe, a former congressmen; his niece Kathleen, who ran and lost for a Senate seat, have had small impact so far). It is possible that with the Obama candidacy, as Ted Sorensen once wrote (or as, he insists, helped to write), "the torch has been passed to a new generation."

From his March 4 column:

....But the dominant voices of the Buckley succession are bombastic, aggressive, and mean -- O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, and Ann Coulter, among many others. They are despisers, whose vituperative name-calling regards alternative viewpoints as stupid, venal, or treasonous. The #1 bestseller on the New York Times bestseller list for March 9 is a quintessential example of the genre: Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning. It has sold about 50,000 copies in its first two months. Among his chapter headings are "Adolph Hitler: Man of the Left"; and "Brave New Village: Hillary Clinton and the Meaning of Liberal Fascism." His argument, as summarized in the Washington Post's review is that "fascists and liberals seek to use the state to solve the problems of modern society." Goldberg is an editor at the National Review Online. His mother, Lucianne Goldberg, made her name (and gave his a career boost) as the literary agent who urged Linda Tripp to tape her conversations with Monica Lewinsky. As vice-president of his mother's agency, Goldberg once wrote, he did his time "in the trenches of Clinton's trousers."

William F. Buckley is getting a splendid send-off as befits a long life of creative activity, discernible impact on the world around, him and extensive personal outreach. But in passing judgment on his influence, it is also fair to single out the sour side of what he leaves behind: a right-wing culture that tends to be as coarse and leaden as his demeanor could be buoyant. Buckley was excellent at what he did, giving unfortunate cover to others who followed with a spirit that was distinctly and consistently malevolent.

His September 18 column:

....We could sure use Molly Ivins's impeccable instincts about these expert opinions. Maybe this time, we'd listen. Molly was a populist in a splendid American tradition. One of her best columns opposing the invasion (the one in which she predicted civil war) was on the occasion of Martin Luther King Day in 2003.

"The war is not inevitable," she wrote "and the person who can stop it is you. Monday Jan. 20 is Dr. King's holiday. People all over the country will be rallying and marching in his honor, celebrating not only his eloquent opposition to racism and poverty, but his equally passionate protests against militarism. You get more than a vote in this country. You get to speak up."

In the contest for power in America, Molly Ivins had a good perch in her column, nearly perfect pitch, and, alas, too little influence.

Update 11:02 | Matthew Sheffield. The media's lack of interest in pursuing the Soros angle of McClellan's story is a perfect contrast to Katie Couric's charge that former press secretary's critics were somehow coordinating "talking points."

It's also interesting to note that when it came to former Clinton admin officials writing tell-alls, the liberal press took a decidedly negative approach.

Peter Osnos
Brent Baker's picture

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