Jeffrey Bruce Klein

Jeffrey Bruce Klein

Jeffrey Bruce Klein (born January 15, 1948) is an investigative journalist who co-founded "Mother Jones (magazine)" in 1976 [Carmody, Deirdre, (June 21, 1993). "The Media Business; Mother Jones Tries to Reinvent Itself. "The New York Times", from] .

For its first issue he found a piece that won a National Magazine Award [National Magazine Awards Database, retrieved April 18, 2008, from] . He forced the resignation of Ronald Reagan’s chief foreign policy advisor, Richard V. Allen, at the 1980 Republican National Convention [Television News Archive, retrieved April 18, 2008, from, quoting the NBC Evening News for Sunday, July 13, 1980, Jane Pauley reporting] . At the "San Jose Mercury News" from 1983-92, he investigated The Pentagon’s secret programs to dominate space. Susan Faludi began " [ Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women] " while working for Klein there. Returning in the 1990s to be Mother Jones’ editor-in-chief, Klein directed exposes of Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, the top 400 political contributors in the U.S. and Donald Sipple, the Republican's star image-maker. The investigative series on Speaker Gingrich led to his unprecedented public reprimand by the United States House of Representatives and a $300,000 fine ["Countdown to Indictment," "Mother Jones", November 1, 1999, from] . Klein made Mother Jones the first general interest magazine to place its content on the Internet [Hochschild, Adam, "The First 25 Years," "Mother Jones', May/June 2001 Issue, from] . In 2005, he co-produced for the News Hour with Jim Lehrer a series on China’s rising economy that won a Gerald Loeb Award [UCLA Anderson School of Management 2006 Winners listing, from, retrieved April 18, 2008] .


Early career

Klein was born in the Hill Section of Scranton, Pennsylvania to Dr. Harold and Helen Klein. When Klein was 12, his father died of a heart attack on the golf course; his mother’s multiple sclerosis flared and she became bedridden. Klein attended Scranton Central High School and Columbia University. During his senior year at Columbia, he studied “the moral life in the process of revising itself” under Lionel Trilling, who was preparing to give the Norton lectures at Harvard the following year. Klein’s first published article, “A Cuban Journal,” appeared in the Winter 1970 "Columbia Forum"; it critiqued his experiences cutting sugar cane with the Venceremos Brigade in Cuba.

Co-founding "Mother Jones"

Klein was one of the journalists who founded "Mother Jones" magazine in 1976, in the wake of the Vietnamese War and Watergate. For its first issue, Klein found a memoir about growing up in Beijing by Li-li Ch'en that won a National Magazine Award. In 1977, Klein became the magazine’s second managing editor; Adam Hochschild had been the first. When Larry Flynt expressed an interest in distributing Mother Jones, Klein used the opportunity to do a “Born Again Porn” profile of Flynt and Hustler’s demographics, which were disclosed to be much broader than the presumed blue collar audience [Kipnis, Laura, "'Bound and Gagged: Pornography and the Politics of Fantasy in America, Duke University Press, 1996, preview:,M1] . His article “Esalen Slides Off The Cliff” shook up that human potential retreat perched on the California coast by showing its co-founder being duped by a psychic [Anderson, Walter Truett, "The Upstart Spring: Esalen and the Human Potential Movement: The First Twenty Years", iUniverse, 2004, preview:] . His story predicting what might happen during the first four years of a Reagan Administration contained a co-written sidebar exposing that Reagan’s chief foreign policy adviser, Richard V. Allen, had been on the payroll of Robert Vesco (then the world’s largest swindler and a fugitive) at the same time that Allen was working in Nixon’s White House. Allen was forced to resign from the campaign, but was appointed National Security Advisor after Reagan’s landslide victory [Klein, Jeffrey, "A Tribute to Senator Metzenbaum", "Mother Jones", retrieved April 19, 2008, :] . Allen resigned a second time when other personal scandals came to light.

At the "San Jose Mercury News"

After a stint as the editor-in-chief of San Francisco magazine, Klein founded West, the Sunday magazine of the "San Jose Mercury News", in 1982. The magazine sought to penetrate Silicon Valley. A satiric look at Valley’s top powerbrokers provoked ire from the newspaper’s publisher, Tony Ridder, and also led to the founding of the cheeky magazine Upside. [Malone, Michael, "The Valley of Heart's Delight:A Silicon Valley Notebook", 1963-2001,, preview:] Susan Faludi began her book “Backlash” as a series of articles for West. Mother Jones had investigated est founder, Werner Erhard; West magazine’s John Hubner followed up by exposing that Erhard had molested his own daughters. CBS’ “60 Minutes” incorporated parts of Hubner’s taped interview with Erhard into its own piece. [Staff Report, "Est Founder Sues Critics", "San Jose Mercury News", April 7, 1992, retrieved April 19, 2008:] While editing at the Mercury-News, Klein also reported on the Pentagon’s efforts, through its black budget, to dominate space. With Dan Stober, he co-wrote "The American Empire In Space: 'Star Wars' -- The Strategic Defense Initiative -- Has Become The Space Domination Initiative." [Jeffrey Klein and Dan Stober "The American Empire In Space: 'Star Wars' -- The Strategic Defense Initiative -- Has Become The Space Domination Initiative," "San Jose Mercury News", August 2, 1992] He also wrote a thriller called “The Black Hole Affair” based on his reporting; the novel was first serialized in the Mercury-News. [ Out of print, but on]

Returning as editor-in-chief

In the fall of 1992, Klein returned to "Mother Jones" as editor-in-chief. He brought an intense focus on how money influenced Washington politics. Mother Jones began posting its magazine content on the Internet in November 1993, the first general interest magazine to do so. [Hochschild, Adam, "The First 25 Years," "Mother Jones', May/June 2001 Issue, from] In the March/April 1996 issue, the magazine published the first Mother Jones 400, a list of the largest individual donors to federal political campaigns along with reporting on what favors the donors received in exchange. On (then known as the MoJo Wire) the donors were listed in a searchable database.

The House Speaker’s reprimand

Klein directed a series of exposes, called “Countdown to Indictment,” that dissected House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s empire and its shady financing. Thanks in part to this series, the House Ethics Committee hired an outside counsel to investigate Gingrich. With the Speaker in charge of the House, the Committee’s final hearing was unilaterally reduced from five days to one afternoon, the Friday before the Presidential inauguration. For the Pacifica radio stations, Klein co-hosted gavel-to-gavel live coverage with Amy Goodman [, March 10, 1997, retrieved on April 19, 2008 from:] the only media to do so. The Ethics Committee ultimately recommended that Gingrich be reprimanded and forced to pay a $300,000 fine. On January 21, 1997, the full House voted overwhelmingly to accept the Ethics Committee’s recommendation, the first time in its 208-year history that the House disciplined its Speaker for ethical wrongdoing. [Yang, John E., "House Reprimands, Penalizes Speaker, January 22, 1997, Page A01, retrieved April 19, 2008 from:]

Bob Dole and tobacco

In 1996, Klein published a 40-page investigative package on the tobacco industry’s attempt to roll back regulation by electing as president Bob Dole. Frank Rich wrote about the Mother Jones package in "The New York Times" and highlighted Klein’s claim that the 1996 Presidential election was "The Tobacco Election. [Rich, Frank, "Journal; Smoking out Starrgate", New York Times, April 6, 1996, retrieved April 19, 2008 from:] Dole was subsequently forced by reporters to defend his support by and for the tobacco industry. He stumbled, saying nicotine was no more addictive than milk. Rather than appearing corrupt, Dole seemed out-of-touch and his image suffered. In the Family Guy episode "Mr. Griffin Goes to Washington,” Peter meets Bob Dole, who states, "Bob Dole is a friend of the tobacco industry. Bob Dole likes your style...." then Dole repeatedly refers to himself in third person until he falls asleep. [Bob Dole Wikipedia article]

Exposing the Republicans’ image-maker

In 1997 Klein accepted and fortified an investigative piece on Republican image-maker Donald Sipple, who had crafted “strong character campaigns” for Bob Dole, George Bush and his son George W., and Pete Wilson while trashing the personal reputations of their Democratic opponents, such as Bill Clinton, Ann Richards and Kathleen Brown. Sipple's attack ads mirrored the hidden past of a vindictive man who beat his first two wives. The story was originally written for George magazine by staffer Richard Blow, then rejected by George editor-in-chief John Kennedy, Jr. under intense pressure from Sipple and advice from Kennedy’s sister Caroline. [Blow, Richard, "American Son: A Portrait of John F. Kennedy Jr.", page 181, Macmillan, 2002, preview:] When the expose appeared in Mother Jones, Sipple responded with a $12.6 million defamation suit, but both ex-wives vouched for the accuracy of the article [AllPolitics,, "Allegations of Spousal Abuse Rock GOP Consultant", September 2, 1997, retrieved April 19, 2008 from:] . Sipple appealed all the way up to the California Supreme Court, where his suit was dismissed and Sipple was forced to pay Mother Jones’ court costs. ["Judge Throws out Suit Against Mother Jones,", October 30, 1997, retrieved April 19, 2008 from:] All of these exposes brought the magazine and Klein into the full glare of the talk-show circuit.

Controversial departure

Klein often took a critical stance towards traditional progressive positions. A special issue on spirituality [Editor's Note, "Stepping on Sacred Ground," November/December 1997,, retrieved April 19, 2008 from:] published during the 1997 holiday season was praised by columnists such as "The Washington Post"’s William Raspberry [Raspberry, William, "Spirituality: A Force for the Public Good", October 27, 1997,, retrieved April 18, 2008 from:] and sold well, but it led to Klein’s resignation from "Mother Jones" because of the parent board’s displeasure.

Recent work

Klein subsequently taught journalism at Stanford University and started a software company. He co-produced for "The News Hour with Jim Lehrer" a 7-part series on China’s economy. The series won a 2006 Loeb, journalism’s top award for economics and business reporting. With Paolo Pontoniere, Klein authored pieces about secret trade-offs made by the U.S. prior to the Iraq War and about the mysterious deaths of two European telecom engineers immediately after they discovered sophisticated bugs planted in the hubs of their telecommunications systems.


Charles Peters, editor-in-chief of "The Washington Monthly", said in "The New York Times": "There has been this strong movement on the left that is trying to free themselves from the automatic clichés of the left. That is praiseworthy. But I think Jeff and all the former left is in danger of losing the passion for the downtrodden and losing touch with the people I worry most about: the working poor and the lower middle class." A "San Francisco Chronicle" article said Klein’s editorial positions were but one side of a split between two progressive camps. “The rift at San Francisco's MoJo, a liberal standard-bearer since its founding, reflects strains within the left in general. From Washington, D.C., to Berkeley, liberals are divided over whether to adhere to 1960s-rooted values or to rethink approaches toward achieving the goals of feminism, affirmative action and other causes.” [Emert, Carol, "Culture Clash: Mother Jones Magazine's Liberals at Odds", August 29, 1998,, retrieved April 19, 2008 from:] Klein’s criticism that liberals’ continuing support of affirmative action was eroding their moral credibility came under fire from many, including C. Eric Lincoln, Derrick Bell [Backtalk, "Exchanging Colors," November/December 1997,, retrieved April 19, 2008 from:] and the anthology “Multiculturalism in the United States.” [Kivisto, Peter and Georganne Rundblad, "Multiculturalism in the United States: Current Issues, Contemporary Voices", Pine Forge Press, 2000, page 289, preview:,M1]


Klein has two children (Jacob and Jonah) from his marriage to Judith Weinstein Klein, a therapist and authority on ethnic self-esteem. She died at their home on Aug. 9, 1996, the couple’s 25th wedding anniversary. [Welch, Mike, "Judith Weinstein Klein, pioneering therapist, dies at 48", April 16, 1996,, retrieved April 19, 2008 from: ] A second marriage ended in divorce.


*"Because I'm technologically able to find a like-minded person on the other side of the globe, I'm also more interested in making friends with my next-door neighbor." -Jeff Klein, [ Quoteworld]
*“Marx did not recognize that our desire to connect with a transcendent power runs even deeper than our drive for economic satisfaction. Each of us seeks. How we honor each other's search will tell the tale of the next millennium.” -Jeffrey Klein
*“Most reporters are sheep in wolves’ clothing.” -Jeffrey Klein, "Gannett Foundation Calendar"

Notes and references

External links

* [ Editor's Notes Written by Klein] , archives
* [ Controversy Over Klein’s Departure as Editor-in-Chief] , "Media Circus", Ashley Craddock, August 1998
* [ More Controversy Over Klein’s Departure as Editor-in-Chief] ,, August 29, 1998
* [ Radio Interview on the Gingrich Hearing before the House Ethics Committee] , from, January 20, 1997
* [ Article on the 20th Anniversary of Mother Jones] ,, David Armstrong, February 4, 1996
*Al Jazeera series featuring Klein on the mysterious deaths of two telecom security chiefs: [ Greek] and [ Italian]
* [ Articles by Jeffrey Klein for]
* [ Was Presidential Helicopter Deal a Pay Off for Italy's Pre-War Yellowcake Intel?] Article co-written by Klein for
* [,M1 Chapter from The Governance of Knowledge called “The New Human Zoo”] . Klein's chapter predicts that humans will genetically enhance themselves imminently. The Governance of Knowledge is edited by Nico Stehr.

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