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Carol's latest work includes:    




For more than a year, Carol has been writing a political blog, FELSENTHAL FILES, for Chicago magazine. Click 'HERE'
for links to all her posts.

Her posts for The Hill can be found at



Chicago magazine Wins Excellence Online at 35th Annual CRMA Conference
Posted May 5, 2011 at 11:39 AM

The City and Regional Magazine Association honored Chicago magazine with two awards at the 2011 conference on Monday, May 2 at The Drake Hotel in Chicago. Competing among 143 finalists, representing 35 publications, Chicago magazine took home the following awards:

Excellence Online
Chicagomag.com dovetails with its print namesake in helping readers get the most out of Chicago, and the website has become a destination in its own right. You’ll find the latest information on dining, nightlife, culture, news, politics, communities, and trends in Chicago—everything to help you make the most out of living in and around the city. Felsenthal Files:

Blog Column – "Felsenthal Files"
Written by Carol Felsenthal
Edited by Esther Kang
Felsenthal Files: Political reporter Carol Felsenthal is a lifelong Chicagoan whose blog focuses on Chicago politics, which, in the age of Obama, extends to the national and international spheres. Through Q & As with government power players and informed analysis, she takes you inside Chicago’s political machine.


magazine, February 2010
Our Man in London: On Louis Susman's appointment as ambassador to the U.K.
By Carol Felsenthal

The retired Chicago businessman Louis Susman recently became the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom, an appointment widely regarded as the prize for his ferocious fundraising on behalf of the Obama campaign. Derided by the British press as the "vacuum cleaner," Susman is only the most prominent example of a continuing-and questionable-American tradition

Our Man In London - 2010



Key Obama campaign backers who were appointed ambassadors
Winners' Row: A sample of bundlers for Obama who are now ambassadors posted abroad

Carol discussed the story with WBEZ's Richard Steele. You can hear their
conversation, broadcast on January 25, 2010 here:

(read article at 100%)




Carol Felsenthal's latest biography, a candid, objective look at Bill
Clinton's post White House years, was published in paperback by HarperCollins in June 2009.

It is available for ordering from:


Carol is now blogging for

Go to:
At the top right of the page, type Carol Felsenthal into Search theHill.com

Carol continues to be regular featured blogger The Huffington Post. 
See her archive at


Learn more about Carol at
HarperCollins - Click on Image for Link to Video

Carol Felsenthal talks about her new book.

On September 4, 2008 Carol appeared on a NBC Today Show panel, with co-hosts Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb. Fellow panelists included Jodi Kantor of the New York Times and Janice Min, editor in chief of US Weekly. The subject was Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, John McCain’s just-selected vice presidential nominee.



Stop the love train! Burris tied to Blago's wife's sudden $80K job; where's the scrutiny?

January 8, 2009
Aaron Barnhart

Carol Felsenthal has done it again. The Chicago investigative journalist -- and author of the most damning exposé of Bill Clinton's post-presidential career, Clinton in Exile -- is back with disturbing evidence that that very nice man, Roland Burris, may have had something to do with the wife of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich getting a very nice $80,000-a-year job in August.

Here's what we know: Patti Blagojevich (pictured) was hired as development director for the Chicago Christian Industrial League. One of the board members is a partner in Burris' lobbying firm. Carol first blogged about it on the Chicago Huffington Post on Monday. No one bit at first, but CNN jumped on it on Wednesday.

Of course, as you could infer just from reading a news story at the time, Patti Blagojevich had any number of people in Chicago she could call on who would be willing to help the daughter of longtime alderman Dick Mell out of an ethical pickle. The CCIL position allowed Patti to exit a career in real estate that was coming under increasing federal scrutiny. Burris's partner's role may have been nonexistent, the link coincidental.

Nonetheless, this story deserves wider media attention than it's getting.

As you may recall from my account of attending the impeachment hearings in Springfield, the governor's chief antagonist was State Rep. Jack Franks. He asked the most questions, he asked the smartest questions, he waved papers in the air. Asked about the possibility that the governor's wife had not gotten her job fair and square, Franks this week was surprisingly noncommittal. I don't know if this is because he was being ambushed by the information on a radio show (he was being interviewed by the longtime WLS morning team of Don Wade and Roma), or if Franks had decided he'd rather not be the man who lies down on the tracks in front of the Roland Burris Express.

The impeachment panel will talk to the senator-designate today. And the Republicans, at least, plan to bring this matter up.

I want to say word about Carol Felsenthal. Ever since her profile of Roger Ebert appeared in Chicago Magazine a few years back, I have admired her probity and her passion for a good yarn, regardless of whose toes she has to step on to get it. Her Clinton book is excellent, and unlike other journalists, she was able to get a number of key sources to talk on the record about the ex-president.

I also want to say a word about Mr. Burris. I remember that amazing 1984 Democratic primary for the US Senate, in which he ran against Tom Hynes and the eventual winner, Paul Simon. He was a good candidate then, and he's a good candidate now. But this just does not look good at first blush. He is to be testifying in Springfield today, and hopefully he can clear this up.

If I were Jack Franks and I read that Carol Felsenthal had seen smoke, I would be picking up the phone to dial 911. I'm not saying that Burris is definitely guilty of acquiring his office through pay-to-play. I'm saying that Bill Richardson just gave up a cabinet position based on not much more information (at least what has been made public). And that maybe the Coors Light Love Train should be slowed down a little bit. It won't really be the U.S. Senate until the honorable members from Minnesota and New York show up -- so what's the rush?

Posted on January 08, 2009 at 11:54 AM | Permalink

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Why Would a Pro Write for HuffPo?

One freelancer explains why she’ll work gratis for a $200 million company

By Michael Miner

January 15, 2009

Carol Felsenthal
Randi Shepard

If the Huffington Post is the future of journalism, I don’t believe in the future. There’s no news-oriented Web site with a higher public profile, and possibly none more entertaining to visit (if you’re a Democrat), but HuffPo doesn’t pay contributors a dime and it aggregates (some would say poaches) tons of content from media that do. That’s “not our financial model,” Ken Lerer, a HuffPo founder, once said about the old-fashioned idea of paying the people who do the work. “We offer them visibility, promotion, and distribution with a great company."

Remember Calvin Trillin’s joke that the Nation used to pay him in the “high two figures”? The Huffington Post’s brilliant insight—if such it proves to be—is that the high two figures was still too much. Slate, Salon, Tina Brown’s newish Daily Beast—all pay contributors. “We have 200 new blog posts a day and about 2,500 bloggers with a password who can post any time day or night,” says Arianna Huffington, another founder and HuffPo’s public face. What she offers them is “a platform with millions of readers,” a “civil environment” maintained by moderators paid to purge the readers’ comments of vulgarity and stupidity, and the opportunity to write “whenever they have something to say, with no expectations of being paid.” This assures her that her writers are driven only by their big ideas. “Do you think,” she asks, “that someone doing an op-ed for the New York Times is doing it for the $100?”

Web sites—including the Reader’s—routinely aggregate articles from other sources, offering the best work of reporters who may soon be laid off by newspapers that before long may not exist. What sets HuffPo apart is its horde of bloggers lured by its vaunted visibility. In the long run, visibility alone butters less bread than visibility plus a little cash, which is why I’m far from the first person to question Huffington’s battle plan. But in the short run HuffPo is riding high. My friend Carol Felsenthal was telling me the other day that her husband, Steve, “loves the Huffington stuff—he’s always on the site. He just finds something fun about it.”

But it’s not Steve’s enthusiasm that puzzles me. It’s Carol’s. She’s not an academic or celebrity, the sort of contributor for whom the blogging is not, as Huffington puts it, “their primary job.” Felsenthal is a professional writer. Her most recent book, Clinton in Exile: A President Out of the White House, came out in May. Her latest magazine article, on Michelle Obama, will run in the next issue of Chicago magazine. Felsenthal is an old-school freelancer—she takes the assignment, does the work, and cashes the check. And yet she—like everyone else on the site—writes for HuffPo for nothing.

The relationship began with Clinton in Exile. Two months before it came out Felsenthal told HarperCollins, her publishers, that she wanted to start a blog to drum up interest in the book. “I was naive about the process,” she says. Start a blog, a marketer replied, and no one will ever see it. Instead, the marketer sent her to HuffPo. Her first post, dated March 17, examined Bill Clinton’s “pangs of envy” at Barack Obama’s acclaim as a speaker and memoirist; she was off and running. She says, “It just surprised me how effective it was, and how addictive it became to me because it’s immediate. Everything else—magazine or book writing—there’s such a lead time. But this—put something out at 4 PM and go out with the dog, and you have e-mail on your Blackberry saying your piece has been posted.”

The Clintons provided a mother lode, and Felsenthal blogged steadily until September, when she stopped to work on her Michelle Obama story. “Steve said, ‘Don’t do that. It’s a mistake. You’re building up a following. You can do both.’ But I said, ‘No, I can’t.’” But the Michelle Obama piece is finished—and Felsenthal’s gone back to blogging. With Hillary at the State Department the Clintons remain a fertile topic, and now Felsenthal can draw on the notebooks she filled writing a profile of Rod Blagojevich for Chicago in 2003. Her last post noted that the governor was impeached on Richard Nixon’s birthday and recalled that Blagojevich once told her "Nixon had a lot of fascinating qualities" and was “a Greek tragedy in many ways."

The thing about doing it for nothing, says Felsenthal, is that “these profiles I’m writing for Chicago magazine—I always turn in these insanely long first drafts. What ends up running is a small fraction of what I have, so I can go back to them—I can use my outtakes in a way I never could before. It’s kind of satisfying to me.” Besides, “It’s not like I could get a job—there are no jobs. It’s not like someone would say, ‘Write a column every week and we’ll pay you.’

“It’s ridiculous that Ariana Huffington doesn’t find a way to pay people like me,” Felsenthal continues. “And you know what—she’s not going to. She doesn’t need to. What really makes the site go are the news stories put up there. There are people my daughters’ age”—mid-20s—“who instead of going to the New York Times site they go there and get all their opinions confirmed. The stories are all pro-Obama. They lift them from the AP or Reuters or the Times or the Washington Post.”

Sometimes HuffPo lifts them all too completely. Whet Moser, the Reader’s online producer, ripped HuffPo last month in his blog (blogs.chicagoreader.com/chicagoland/) for swiping concert previews in their entirety from the Reader. (The perfunctory links to the Reader originals provided little solace.) Moser protested, a chorus of like voices chimed in, and Huffington wrote Moser and apologized. “This episode has led us to carefully reexamine how our posting guidelines are being applied,” she said.

When Felsenthal finishes a HuffPo item she files it in the system and e-mails the editors, who post it. That can happen right away, but she’s waited as long as two days, and that’s not a pleasant experience—speed is so central to blogging that waiting even a few hours for your story to show up online is like waiting inside a burning building for the fire trucks. Whenever her story is primarily local she files through Ben Goldberger, the editor of HuffPo’s recently launched Chicago edition, and lets him pass the story on to the national editors. “Not that there’s anything wrong with them,” she says, “but they’re kids. And they tend to make you feel like you’re some kind of overeager, overly ambitious person when I might have spent two hours on something and I want to make sure it’s up there and featured and it stays up long enough.”

As a UPI reporter years ago, I learned the joys of writing faster than I could think and flinging stories one after another into the ether, but for loftier authors this kind of spontaneous combustion is a new experience. “It keeps my juices going,” Felsenthal says. “It’s not like I go snowboarding or anything. I lead a kind of quiet life. And I never sleep. So at three in the morning I’ll be reading the New Republic and I’ll say, ‘Oh, that’s an interesting connection,’ and I’ll run up to my office and do something right on the spot.”

She reflects, “I do radio, and now I’m introduced as a Huffington Post blogger, as if that’s the key thing I did in my career. It’s kind of funny, but there’s a cachet to it, and it’s become in such a short time a brand name.”

“I think daily newspapers are finding they’ll have to change their model,” Arianna Huffington tells me. “I don’t believe we’ll see the end of newspapers in our lifetime. I believe the papers that successfully produce content online will be able to survive and thrive.”

With newsrooms of their traditional size? No, she says. The bundling and sustaining of journalists will have to take a different form.

“We’re doing our part,” she says. “We’ll be launching a fund for investigative journalists—we’ll put a fund aside so journalists can send us ideas about what to investigate and they will be paid for them. And we’re expanding our citizen journalism project that we launched during the campaign. Twelve thousand [unpaid] contributors—teachers, judges, college students who want to express what they’re seeing. So that’s the platform we provide—especially if you’re young and starting out. We tell them it’s another way to get your work out there and get known, instead of submitting articles for years before you get published.”

But get known to whom? To editors at newspapers and magazines that no longer exist? Well, to book publishers, says Huffington, “and others who have a budget much larger than ours and can pay.” She recalls a contributor who was hired by a English newspaper.

“There are still active markets out there,” says Huffington.

Though she agrees they’re disappearing fast.

As of May, 2006, Carol Felsenthal has been named a Contributing Editor at Chicago magazine.

Chicago Magazine
May 2008

'A Slippery Subject'
Read article here


Bill Daley has long history as lobbyist
Published September 25, 2008 Chicago Sun-Times


According to Michael Sneed in Tuesday’s Chicago Sun-Times, mayoral brother William “Bill” Daley is “steamed” over a new John McCain ad that blasts Barack Obama by linking him to supposed Obama buddies, “convicted felon” Tony Rezko, Gov. Blagojevich, who carries “a legacy of federal and state investigations,” as well as Illinois Senate President Emil Jones Jr. (“under ethical cloud”). But first on the list of sinister associations — even before “his money man” Rezko — is Obama’s “economic adviser,” who the voice on the ad tells us is not only the “mayor’s brother,” but also one of those creatures so prevalent in Mc-Cain’s upper echelon — a “lobbyist.”

The ad seems sleazy and unfair — although none other than the New York Times, which McCain campaign senior adviser Steve Schmidt declared is “completely, totally, 150 percent in the tank for” Obama, fact-checked it and, under “accuracy,” declared that it contains “nothing that is outright wrong.”

Bill Daley vehemently disagrees, calling the ad “an outright lie.” He told Sneed that not only is he offended by being tied to Rezko — the ad makes “it look like I’m a thief and a gangster like Rezko” — but he objects to being called “a lobbyist.”

“I’ve never been a lobbyist! My son, Bill was a lobbyist five years ago.”

In 2005, I published a profile of Bill Daley in Chicago magazine, where I’m a contributing editor. I looked back at my research and at various drafts of the article and here’s what I found.

Hired to build lobbying practice

In late 1984, Daley, a John Marshall Law School graduate, was offered a partnership at Mayer, Brown & Platt. He was hired to help build the lobbying practice at the firm, which barely had one in its Washington office, much less in its Chicago headquarters. His father was dead; his brother was not yet mayor — but his being a favorite of then-congressman Dan Rostenkowski, the man who was writing the nation’s tax laws — made him an attractive addition to a firm that did not hire many John Marshall graduates.

“Bill did represent clients before Rostenkowski and other members of the Congress, as well as before the White House,” one Mayer, Brown partner told me at the time. In the mid- to late ’80s, according to another Mayer, Brown partner, Daley’s practice “involved mostly tax lobbying . . . with Rostenkowski. Bill was in Washington almost all the time.”

He took a leave of absence from Mayer to become President Bill Clinton’s “NAFTA czar,” steamrolling the North American Free Trade Agreement through a reluctant Congress in Clinton’s first term. Daley’s friendship with Rostenkowski, an avid free trader, again helped. Organized labor opposed the trade treaty, negotiated by the first President Bush with Canada and Mexico, for fear that the United States would lose low-wage manufacturing jobs to Mexico. Although the press celebrated Bill Daley for helping a president who had so recently humiliated him — Clinton seemed to have promised Daley a Cabinet position; there was all kinds of press predicting it, and then he was passed over — a former law partner had a less lofty view: “NAFTA was a way for Bill Daley to get into the game, pick up chits.”

According to a writer for the Tribune Magazine, Clinton, distracted by a rough start to his first term, was so pessimistic about passing NAFTA that he dubbed it “the Lazarus Project.”

“Nobody wanted to touch NAFTA,” Rahm Emanuel told me at the time. When I interviewed Al Gore, he assigned Daley “virtually 100 percent of the credit. . . . Nobody thought that we could get [NAFTA], but he was able to pull it out of the bag.”

‘They called me the czar’

“They called me the czar,” Bill Daley chuckled during one of my interviews with him. They also called him the dealmaker.

“We had it won until the last week and half,” recalled anti-NAFTA crusader David Bonior, the former congressman from Michigan who led the opposition to NAFTA in the House. Bonior cited “two or three dozen members of Congress, [who] if they don’t have passion one way or the other, they stay neutral and get the best deal.”

Bonior explained that each was trying to get something — a bridge, a change in the treaty “to reflect some economic situation in their district. We didn’t have anything to give.” The administration had plenty to give and, Bonior charged, passed out $20 billion in goodies.

Daley was able to win NAFTA, writer and political strategist Don Rose told me, because of his “ability to find everybody’s price.”

In 2001, in the wake of the Gore fiasco — Bill Daley was chairman of Gore’s campaign — Daley, who finally got his Cabinet post in the second Clinton term, went to work for SBC Chairman Ed Whitacre. Whitacre had befriended Bill Daley while he was commerce secretary. As chairman of the highly regulated company, Whitacre needed help in making his case. He hired Daley, fancy title and job description aside, to lobby, to “grease the skids with regulators and politicians,” in the words of one reporter who covers the industry. (SBC was regulated in 13 states and also by the FCC in Washington.) Daley’s job was to lobby the FCC to ease regulations, to lobby politicians to write telecom laws more friendly to former Baby Bell monopolies like SBC, to end federal government rules forcing SBC to lease access to its local wires, at cut rates, to competitors such as AT&T and MCI. Daley’s Midwest clout, particularly in Illinois, a key market for SBC, multiplied his value to Whitacre.

As for Bill Daley’s son, Bill Jr., yes he was a lobbyist, for Fannie Mae, on whose board his father once sat.

‘A big, fat, no-sweat bone’

In the wake of the Cabinet appointment that never materialized, the new president called Bill the father to Washington to play golf. Clinton gave Bill Daley senior a seat on the Fannie Mae board, which included a stock option plan. Jim Johnson, one of Daley’s closest friends, was then chairman.

“It looks like a big, fat, no-sweat bone thrown his way,” wrote James Warren, then at the Chicago Tribune. Daley also successfully approached executives at the government-financed mortgage giant about sending some of its securities work to Mayer, Brown. “Whether I was on the board or whether I knew somebody,” Bill Daley was quoted in the Tribune as saying, “Fannie Mae would not have hired Mayer, Brown & Platt unless the firm was competent in securities matters.”

Back to Bill Daley Jr. One Chicago journalist told me at the time that “Billy,” who has an MBA from Northwestern and who started in Fannie Mae’s Chicago office before earning a transfer to the Washington headquarters and the title of vice president, is “nice and capable, but there are lots of nice and capable young people around. If his name were Billy Jones he certainly would not have that job.” If the name Jim Johnson sounds familiar, it’s because he was briefly head of Obama’s vice presidential vetting committee; Johnson stepped down because, in part, of the press ruckus over his past ties to Fannie Mae.

There has been some debate since the ad came out about whether Bill Daley is a lobbyist. On Wednesday, his brother the mayor insisted otherwise.

I do believe that Bill Daley has worked as a lobbyist.

Is it fair to link him to Rezko, Blagojevich and Jones? No, definitely not. Is it fair to describe Bill Daley as a lobbyist? Yes, although “former lobbyist” would have been more accurate.

Carol Felsenthal is a Chicago writer.

Biden's History of Lies and Lifted Quotes

Published August 26, 2008 Chicago Sun-Times
Recommend (15)


I wonder whether Barack Obama’s vetters, Caroline Kennedy and Eric Holder, knew what they were doing when they settled on Joe Biden. Journalists and McCain opposition researchers must be logging onto Nexis and searching 1987-1988 using the key words “Biden and plagiarism.” There is a feast of material that would make even the most partisan Obama backer question the wisdom of this choice.

Biden, then 44, was forced out of the 1988 presidential race — he officially dropped out on Sept. 23, 1987 — just when his candidacy seemed to be taking off in Iowa, the all-important first caucus, and just as he seemed to be gaining on Michael Dukakis, the eventual nominee.

A Dukakis staffer noticed and fed to Maureen Dowd, then a New York Times reporter rather than columnist, that Biden had lifted almost verbatim his closing remarks at a debate at the Iowa state fairgrounds in August 1987. The lines were lifted from a passionate speech delivered by British Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock.

Here’s Kinnock: “Why am I the first Kinnock in a thousand generations to be able to get to university? . . . Was it because all our predecessors were thick? Was it because they were weak? Those people who could work eight hours underground and then come up and play football? Weak? . . . It was because there was no platform upon which they could stand.’’

Not only did Biden not credit Kinnock, he fooled his audience by using the classic liar’s technique of burnishing a lie with detail: “I started thinking as I was coming over here, ‘Why is it that Joe Biden’s the first in his family ever to go to a university? Is it because our fathers and mothers were not bright? . . . Is it because they didn’t work hard, my ancestors who worked in the coal mines of Northeast Pennsylvania and would come up after 12 hours and play football for four hours?. . . It’s because they didn’t have a platform upon which to stand.’’

Biden was not the first member of his family to go to college, and the closest his ancestors came to a coal mine was a grandfather who was a mining engineer.

Stealing from RFK

Once Dowd broke that story on the front page of the Times on Sept. 12, 1987, it spread quickly through newspapers, magazines, radio and television. The dam holding back Biden’s exaggerations and penchant for lifting words from others broke, and he nearly drowned in his own deceit.

Biden also lifted words from Bobby Kennedy’s speeches — paragraphs that political junkies prized so much they knew them by heart.

Here’s RFK: “Few will have the greatness to bend history itself. But each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.’’

Here’s Joe Biden: “Well, few of us have the greatness to bend history itself. But each of us can act to affect a small portion of events, and in the totality of these acts will be written the history of this generation.’’

Bobby Kennedy: “The gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry, or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our devotion to our country. It measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile, and it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.’’

Here’s Joe Biden: “‘We cannot measure the health of our children, the quality of their education, the joy of their play. . . . It doesn’t measure the beauty of our poetry, the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate, the integrity of our public officials. It counts neither our wit nor our wisdom, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country. . . . That bottom line can tell us everything about our lives except that which makes life worthwhile, and it can tell us everything about America except that which makes us proud to be Americans.’’

Biden said at the time that RFK was “the man who I guess I admire more than anyone else in American politics.” No doubt about that.

Anyone following the primary campaign in 1987 could see there was something eating at Joe Biden. He needed desperately for people to see him as the smartest guy in the room, and that, coupled with his hot temper and surging insecurities, resulted in the following exchange, which was captured on C-SPAN. Although more than 20 years old, it will no doubt find its way into political advertising.

‘I have a much higher IQ’

On April 3, 1987, at a campaign stop in Claremont, N.H., a voter named Frank innocently asked Biden what law school he attended and how he performed there.

“I think I have a much higher IQ than you do,” replied Biden, who went to Syracuse University College of Law. “I went to law school on a full academic scholarship.”

He told the astonished man that while he admittedly did not do well his first year because he didn’t want to be in law school, he did much better his second and third years and ended up in the top half of his class. “I won the international moot court competition.”

Without being asked, Biden then boasted about his performance in college, at the University of Delaware, telling Frank that he had been named the “outstanding student in the political-science department. . . . I graduated with three degrees from college. . . . And I’d be delighted to sit back and compare my IQ to yours if you’d like, Frank.”

There were a number of lies in this outburst and it was not long before they too were enumerated:

• Biden got in trouble in 1965, during his first year in law school. He wrote a paper in which he lifted five pages verbatim from the Fordham Law Review. He was given an “F” in the course. He managed to avoid being bounced from law school, retook the course and earned a B.

• He claimed that he was “the only one in my class to have a full academic scholarship.” He didn’t. He did have a half scholarship that was need-based.

• He did not graduate from law school in the top half of his class. He graduated 76th out of 85 — and he was near the bottom of his class all three years.

• If he won the moot court competition — and he claimed at the time that he actually did — he did not put it on his resume, surprising for a man prone to so egregiously exaggerating his accomplishments.

• He did not win the award for being the outstanding student in the political science department at Delaware, and he graduated with one degree, not three. He had a “C” average and graduated 506th in a class of 688.

At the time, he told a reporter, “I exaggerate when I’m angry.”

There are other weird outbursts by Biden in more recent years, grandstanding questions to Supreme Court nominees in which it’s impossible to find the question, but not hard to find all kinds of personal information about the senator from Delaware.

One example comes from Samuel Alito’s confirmation hearing in 2006. When it was Biden’s turn to question Alito, he mentioned that his daughter had applied or been accepted — not clear which in Biden’s ramblings — to graduate school at Princeton, but decided instead to go to the University of Pennsylvania. Biden showed up at the hearing wearing a Princeton hat. Keith Olbermann asked, “Will the hat hurt his hair plugs?”

And that leads to the easy warning that I’ve been telling friends for years, “Never trust a man who gets hair plugs.” The insecurity is right there in the peculiar set of his hair — for all to see. Apparently Caroline Kennedy and Eric Holder missed it.

Carol Felsenthal is a columnist for the Chicago Daily Observer, where this essay was posted.

Chicago Tonight

Getting to know Michelle Obama

Carol Felsenthal talks about Michelle
06:49 February 23, 2009
Click on above graphic or this link to view video clip: http://www.wttw.com/main.taf?p=42,8,8&vid=022309g

Sunday Sun-Times 06-11-06 Man of the People


Sunday Sun-Times 03-26-06 Founding Fulminators of the Press
Chicago magazine - Roger Ebert - December 2005
Other New Announcements, Engagements and More


March 2, 2008 -- Bill Clinton arrived at his $1.3 million dollar home in Westchester at 6 p.m. Jan. 21, 2001, deeply in debt, jobless and struggling to adjust to his downgraded lifestyle, according to Chicago journalist Carol Felsenthal, whose unauthorized biography, "Clinton in Exile," hits stores next month.

As his final days in the White House waned, supermarket magnate John Catsimaditidis, a longtime Clinton backer, flew down to Washington to bolster his friend's spirits.

The self-made billionaire - who now is preparing his own bid for mayor of New York - tried to convince Clinton he should run for mayor in 2001.

"He didn't rule it out as foolish the minute it was mentioned," Catsimaditidis says in the book.

"I think for a few seconds he considered it."

It wasn't until after 9/11, however, that Clinton really began to regain some of his confidence and focus.

As America's popularity overseas diminished, Clinton's personal fame grew; he nabbed six-figure speaking fees at summits and seminars abroad while still somewhat shunned by the party establishment at home, Felsenthal says.

His true re-entry into politics came in 2006, Felsenthal writes, when his wife began planning in earnest for her run for the White House.


Los Angeles Times

December 24, 2007 Monday
Home Edition

Publishers will hit the campaign trail

BYLINE: Josh Getlin, Times Staff Writer

Political celebrities

Former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich penned "Real Change," which Regnery's Ross described as a critique of Republicans and Democrats for losing touch with Americans. Meanwhile, Democrats are putting out a flurry of books: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has written "Open House," Virginia Sen. Jim Webb "A Time to Fight," and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid "The Good Fight." Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright is releasing "Memo to the President-Elect," and former White House Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers has written "Why Women Should Rule the World: A Memoir." Nobel Prize winner Al Gore will publish another environmental title, "The Path to Survival," on Earth Day.

Books on the Clintons have become a publishing niche unto themselves, and new titles include "Thirty Ways of Looking at Hillary," a collection of essays edited by Susan Morrison; "Clinton in Exile," a look at Bill Clinton's post-presidential years by Carol Felsenthal; and "Clintonisms: The Amusing, Confusing and Even Suspect Musing of Billary" edited by Julia Gorin.


April 10, 2007

BY ROBERT FEDER Sun-Times columnist

Chicago magazine contributing editor Carol Felsenthal's 1993 biography of the late Washington Post Publisher Katharine Graham is about to be made into a movie by HBO Films.

Writer Joan Didion has adapted Power, Privilege and the Post: the Katharine Graham Story into a screenplay. No word yet on who'll play the legendary media mogul in the film to be directed by Tom Hooper.

Meanwhile, Felsenthal is busy working on a new biography of former President Bill Clinton, to be published by William Morrow.

June 12, 2008

Lynn Sweet
The scoop from Washington

Obama at first downplayed vetter Johnson problem. Chicago's Carol Felsenthal new "Clinton in Exile" book looks into Obama veep vetter Holder role in Marc Rich pardon.

WASHINGTON -- Presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama -- after first downplaying questions about the ethics of his chief vice presidential vetter Jim Johnson, the former Fannie Mae chief -- on Wednesday accepted his resignation.

"Jim did not want to distract in any way from the very important task of gathering information about my vice presidential nominee, so he has made a decision to step aside that I accept," Obama said in a statement.

"We have a very good selection process under way, and I am confident that it will produce a number of highly qualified candidates for me to choose from in the weeks ahead. I remain grateful to Jim for his service and his efforts in this process."

Johnson, Caroline Kennedy and former Deputy U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder were the three-member team Obama tapped to vet potential running mates.

On June 5, Obama told reporters traveling with him that "there is no decision that I am going to make that is more important before the November election. I intend to do it right and I'm not going to [do it] in the press."

But that was before Saturday's Wall Street Journal report that Johnson obtained below-market mortgages from Countrywide, the national home lender under investigation for subprime loans -- and a company singled out by Obama for contributing to the housing market crisis.

The apparent sweetheart deal, coupled with rehashes of Johnson's lucrative pay packages while at Fannie Mae -- executive boondoggles are another Obama target -- exploded on the Internet, cable political shows and into mainstream newspapers.

On Monday, Obama brushed aside questions about Johnson and Holder. Republicans started using Johnson to bash Obama's holier-than-thou anti-lobbyist drive, throwing Holder into the mix because of his role in the controversial pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich by President Bill Clinton.

"I mean, first of all, I am not vetting my VP search committee for their mortgages. . . . I would have to hire a vetter to vet the vetters," Obama said.

In a new book about Bill Clinton, Clinton in Exile by Chicago author Carol Felsenthal, Holder -- then the No. 2 man in the Clinton Justice Department, with responsibility for pardons -- was seen as "so ambitious to be attorney general in the expected Gore administration" that he "played ball" with a Gore confidant, Jack Quinn, who was Rich's lawyer. Felsenthal wrote that Holder ''adamantly denies there was any secret deal.''

(Holder, also a former federal prosecutor, headed the team that indicted former Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Dan Rostenkowski.)

Several people I talked to in Obama's orbit were surprised that Obama tapped Johnson. For a candidate running on a change platform and against Washington, Johnson is an insider's insider. He vetted vice presidential contenders for Walter Mondale in 1984 and John Kerry in 2004.

Alex Conant, spokesman for the Republican National Committee, said if Obama "is concerned his campaign's ties to special interests are distracting from his VP search and message, why is Eric Holder still on his search committee," adding "Obama's hypocritical attacks show he can't stand up to his own standard -- and that he just isn't ready to make change."

Shot back Obama spokesman Bill Burton, "We don't need any lectures from a campaign that waited 15 months to purge the lobbyists from their staff, and only did so because they said it was a 'perception problem.' "


"Media Mix," The Examiner.com
POSTED June 13, 2:25 AM

Carol Felsenthal is the author of “Clinton in Exile: A President Out of the White House.” The book takes readers everywhere from Bill Clinton’s humanitarian efforts to his role in his wife’s presidential campaign.

Q: What CD are you listening to now?
“Sain-Saens: the 5 Piano Concertos,” by L’Orchestre du Capitole de Toulouse, Michel Plasson

Q: What was the last movie you saw?

Q: What Web sites do you visit in the morning?
CNN Political Ticker, PoynterOnline (Romenesko), MSNBC’s First Read, Huffington Post, Washington Post

Q: What book are you reading?
“Obama: From Promise to Power,” by David Mendell, and “Shelley’s Heart,” a novel by Charles McCarry

Q: What’s your favorite TV show?
“Hardball” with Chris Matthews

NOTE: Today we welcome a new columnist to our Observer fold—Carol Felsenthal, author of the best-seller “Clinton in Exile” available at your local booksellers. Carol is a resident of Old Town and a blogging contributor to The Huffington Post.com. She is a contributing editor of “Chicago” magazine and has written book and magazine profiles of such people as Donald Rumsfeld, Bill Daley, Alice Roosevelt Longworth and Katharine Graham. Her Katharine Graham piece is being adapted to cable TV by HBO. She has been a guest on my WLS-AM program and frequently appears on “Beyond the Beltway with Bruce DuMont.” We welcome her to our growing list of columnists. –Tom Roeser.

Carol's columns can be found at:


Spring reads
New Vonnegut, a big debut, a pig in the city . . .
By Brandon Griggs
The Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated: 03/29/2008 08:34:35 AM MDT

It's spring, traditionally a time of year to emerge from hibernation and get outside. Publishers don't issue as many major books this season as they do in the fall, but that doesn't mean there's nothing new to read.
Here are a handful of titles - high-profile, provocative or just intriguing - scheduled to hit bookstores in April and May.

Armageddon in Retrospect, by Kurt Vonnegut - To be released on the first anniversary of Vonnegut's death, this volume collects 12 of the the master satirist's new and unpublished writings on war and peace. Included are Vonnegut's last speech, selections of his artwork and an introduction by Mark Vonnegut, his son. (April; Penguin, $24.95)

Where Are You Now? by Mary Higgins Clark - Clark, America's reigning queen of guilty-pleasure suspense novels, returns with this tale about a young New York lawyer investigating the mysterious disappearance of her older brother 10 years earlier. He places a ritual call to their mom every Mother's Day, tells her he's fine and then hangs up. (April; Simon & Schuster, $25.95)

The White Tiger, by Aravind Adiga - Reviewers already are hyping this literary debut by a young Indian novelist. Adiga explores India's infamous class struggles through a darkly comic story about an impoverished but cunning man whose fortunes rise after he's hired as a driver for a rich landlord. (April; Free Press, $24)

Boots on the Ground by Dusk: The Remarkable Life & Death of Pat Tillman, by Mary Tillman - Tillman chronicles the life of her son, who walked away from a multimillion-dollar NFL contract to enlist as an Army Ranger in Afghanistan, where he was killed by friendly fire. She also recounts her efforts to pry the truth about his death from a reluctant and secretive U.S. military. (April; Modern Times, $25.95)

Story of a Marriage, by Andrew Sean Greer - Set in a pre-liberated 1950s San Francisco, this novel is about an agonizing love triangle among a dutiful housewife, her childhood sweetheart-turned-husband and his male lover, all of them trapped by the conformist nature of the era. Dave Eggers calls it "a haunting book of breathtaking beauty and restraint." (April; Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $22)

What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and What's Wrong with Washington, by Scott McClellan - Political pundits already are speculating about what's in this account by McClellan, White House press secretary from 2003 to 2006. His publisher says the book was "written with no agenda other than to record his experiences and insights for the benefit of history." We'll see. (May; Perseus, $27.95)

Clinton in Exile: A President Out of the White House, by Carol Felsenthal - If you're wondering what Bill Clinton has been up to in recent years besides campaigning ineffectively for his wife, here's the book for you. Felsenthal promises fresh insights into the ex-prez's post-White House life, his health and the true nature of his complex relationship with Hillary. (May; HarperCollins, $25.95)

Swine Not? by Jimmy Buffett with illustrations by Helen Bransford - The tropical crooner's latest, pitched at adults and kids alike, is the tall tale of a family who move from the South to a posh New York hotel and must hide their beloved pet pig, Rumpy, from the staff. Think Eloise meets "Babe: Pig in the City." (May; Little, Brown, $21.99).

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