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Klein Admits He Wrote "Primary Colors"

[Primary Colors]

NEW YORK (AllPolitics, July 17) -- The author of "Primary Colors" is no longer "Anonymous."

Newsweek columnist and CBS commentator Joe Klein admitted today he wrote the fictional novel that satirized presidential politics and became the talk of the American politics earlier this year. (256K WAV sound)

"I had a lot of fun with it," Klein said at a New York news conference. "In fact, it was the most fun I've ever had with a keyboard."

Klein said he wanted to be anonymous because of a "combination of cowardice and whimsy."

"I didn't want to be embarrased if it was awful and I wanted the book to be judged on its own merits, not on my reputation as a journalist," he said.

He said he wanted "to capture the hilarity and intensity" of a presidential campaign.

Klein said he also wanted to "strongly emphasize" that the book, which followed the political scheming of a presidential couple that resembled the Clintons and other Washington stars, was a work of fiction.

President Bill Clinton joked about the book, saying its authorship was "the only secret I've seen kept in Washington in three years." At White House correspondents' annual dinner earlier this year, Clinton told the crowd that Klein had introduced "his invisible friend" to guests at the Newsweek table.

Partly because of the mystery over its authorship, the novel took off. More than a million copies of the book have been printed. And the book has been the subject of speculation on TV talk shows and print stories.

[Joe Klein]

Klein had previously denied speculation that he was "Anonymous," and even staked his journalistic reputation on the denial.

But he said a Washington Post article today which said a handwriting expert had matched notes in the margin of a draft of the book his handwriting convinced him it was time to come out of the closet.

"I greet this with a mixture of relief and sadness," Klein said. "I found I really liked being 'Anonymous' and I will miss that."

At the Post's request, a handwriting expert looked at handwritten changes to the best-selling novel's manuscript and Klein's handwriting. The expert concluded the two samples were "absolutely consistent throughout."

When the Post confronted Klein with the new handwriting analysis on Tuesday, Klein did not repeat his past denials that he wrote the book. Instead, he said he had no comment. "I've said everything I have to say," Klein said then.

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