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Jeffrey Bruce Klein (born January 15, 1948) is an investigative journalist who co-founded Mother Jones in 1976.[1]

For its first issue he found a piece that won a National Magazine Award.[2] He forced the resignation of Ronald Reagan’s chief foreign policy advisor, Richard V. Allen, at the 1980 Republican National Convention.[3] At the San Jose Mercury News in 1983–92, he investigated The Pentagon’s secret programs to dominate space. Susan Faludi began Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women[4] while working for Klein there. Returning in the 1990s to be Mother Jones’ editor-in-chief, Klein directed exposés of Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, the top 400 political contributors in the U.S. and Donald Sipple, the Republicans' 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.[5] Klein made Mother Jones the first general-interest magazine to place its content on the Internet.[6] In 2005, he co-produced for The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer a series on China's rising economy that won a Gerald Loeb Award.[7]



Early careerEdit

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 JonesEdit

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.[8] 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.[9] 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.[10] Allen resigned a second time when other personal scandals came to light.

At the San Jose Mercury NewsEdit

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.[11] Susan Faludi began her book Backlash as a series of articles for West. 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".[12] He also wrote a thriller called The Black Hole Affair[13] based on his reporting; the novel was first serialized in the Mercury-News.

Returning as editor-in-chiefEdit

In fall 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.[6] 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.

House Speaker’s reprimandEdit

Klein directed a series of exposés, 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,[14] 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 committee's recommendation, the first time in its 208-year history that the House disciplined its speaker for ethical wrongdoing.[15]

Bob Dole and tobaccoEdit

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".[16] Dole was subsequently forced[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] 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.[17]

Exposing the Republicans' image-maker Edit

In 1997 Klein accepted and fortified an investigative piece on Republican image-maker Donald Sipple, who had crafted “strong character campaigns”[This quote needs a citation] 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.[citation needed] 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.[18] When the exposé appeared in Mother Jones, Sipple responded with a $12.6 million defamation suit, but both ex-wives vouched for the accuracy of the article.[19] 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.[20] All of these exposés brought the magazine and Klein into the full glare of the talk-show circuit.[citation needed]

Controversial departureEdit

Klein often took a critical stance towards traditional progressive positions. A special issue on spirituality [21] published during the 1997 holiday season was praised by columnists such as The Washington Post’s William Raspberry [22] and sold well, but also led to Klein’s resignation from Mother Jones because of the parent board’s displeasure.[citation needed]

Recent workEdit

Klein subsequently taught journalism at Stanford University and started a software company. He co-produced for The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer a seven-part series on China’s economy. The series won a 2006 Gerald Loeb Award, journalism’s top award for economics and business reporting, in the Television Enterprise category.[7] 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.”[23] 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 [24] and the anthology Multiculturalism in the United States.[25]


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 August 9, 1996, the couple's 25th wedding anniversary.[26] 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[This quote needs a citation]

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. ^ Carmody, Deirdre, (June 21, 1993). "The Media Business; Mother Jones Tries to Reinvent Itself. The New York Times, from
  2. ^ "National Magazine Awards Database". Archived from the original on June 29, 2007. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
  3. ^ Television News Archive, retrieved April 18, 2008, from, quoting the NBC Evening News for Sunday, July 13, 1980, Jane Pauley reporting
  4. ^ Faludi, Susan (July 19, 1991). "Backlash: the undeclared war against American women". Crown. Retrieved July 19, 2017 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ "Countdown to Indictment", Mother Jones, November 1, 1999
  6. ^ a b Hochschild, Adam, "The First 25 Years," Mother Jones', May/June 2001 Issue, from
  7. ^ a b Lowe, Mary Ann (June 27, 2006). "2006 Gerald Loeb Award Winners Announced by UCLA Anderson School of Management". UCLA. Retrieved February 1, 2019.
  8. ^ Kipnis, Laura, Bound and Gagged: Pornography and the Politics of Fantasy in America, Duke University Press, 1996, preview
  9. ^ Anderson, Walter Truett, The Upstart Spring: Esalen and the Human Potential Movement: The First Twenty Years, iUniverse, 2004, preview:
  10. ^ Klein, Jeffrey, "A Tribute to Senator Metzenbaum", Mother Jones, retrieved April 19, 2008, :
  11. ^ Malone, Michael, The Valley of Heart's Delight:A Silicon Valley Notebook, 1963-2001,, preview:
  12. ^ 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
  13. ^ "9780821734704 - Alibris". Retrieved July 19, 2017.
  14. ^ "The White House of Ill Repute". March 10, 1997. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
  15. ^ Yang, John E. (January 22, 1997). " House Reprimands, Penalizes Speaker". p. A01. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
  16. ^ Rich, Frank, "Journal; Smoking out Starrgate", The New York Times, April 6, 1996, retrieved April 19, 2008 from:
  17. ^ Bob Dole Wikipedia article
  18. ^ Blow, Richard, American Son: A Portrait of John F. Kennedy Jr., page 181, Macmillan, 2002, preview:
  19. ^ "AllPolitics - Allegations Of Spousal Abuse Rock GOP Consultant - Sep. 2, 1997". September 2, 1997. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
  20. ^ "Judge Throws out Suit Against Mother Jones",, October 30, 1997, retrieved April 19, 2008 from:
  21. ^ Editor's Note, "Stepping on Sacred Ground," November/December 1997,, retrieved April 19, 2008 from:
  22. ^ Raspberry, William, "Spirituality: A Force for the Public Good", October 27, 1997,, retrieved April 18, 2008 from:
  23. ^ Emert, Carol (August 29, 1998). "Culture Clash / Mother Jones magazine's liberals at odds". Retrieved July 19, 2017.
  24. ^ Backtalk, "Exchanging Colors", November/December 1997,, retrieved April 19, 2008 from:
  25. ^ Kivisto, Peter and Georganne Rundblad, Multiculturalism in the United States: Current Issues, Contemporary Voices, Pine Forge Press, 2000, page 289, preview:,M1
  26. ^ Welch, Mike (April 16, 1996). "Judith Weinstein Klein, pioneering therapist, dies at 48". Retrieved July 19, 2017.

External linksEdit