Discussing Politics

Joe Klein, author and political columnist for Time magazine.

By Frank Radosevich II
October 19, 2012

Despite a journalist’s penchant for focusing on the negative, writer Joe Klein didn’t want to end his talk with Bradley students on a down note.

A bestselling author and columnist for Time magazine, Klein said that despite the tumultuous times, he was envious of today’s youth and optimistic for their future. Talking to college students, he said, is a great inspiration for his work and attitude about America.

“For me,” Klein said, “what’s important is not what I’m going to say but the question and answer session with the students.”

A veteran newsman who has covered 10 presidential campaigns, Klein writes the weekly column “In the Arena” for Time and penned the bestseller “Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics” as “Anonymous.” It later became a major motion picture.

Klein touched upon many topics during his time at Bradley, discussing everything from his work as a war correspondent in Afghanistan and Iraq and his road trips across America to his forays into social media and blogging.

“For me, journalism was the way to get an education,” Klein told the crowd of students and faculty. “I’ve had a series of obsessions as time has gone on and learned a great deal about many different issues and areas.”

He cited the 1992 presidential election—between incumbent George H. W. Bush, independent Ross Perot and Democratic challenger Bill Clinton—as his favorite election to cover. Klein said he was wowed by both Clinton’s policy knowledge and personal touch.

“He was the first person my age who had run for president. Up until then, covering presidential campaigns was covering dad,” Klein said. “Since he was a larger-than-life character, he had larger-than-life strengths and weaknesses.”

Klein spoke at Bradley as part of the Department of Communication’s Robison Lecture Series. The late Mary Leslie Robison, a journalism professor at Bradley from 1957 to 1969, established the Robison Lecture Series to bring notable journalists and journalism educators to campus.

His talks gave Bradley students a chance to hear firsthand accounts about American politics, international relations and a career in the media industry.

“This speech provides context and that’s what Bradley is good at doing,” said Sean Flavin, a senior in sports communication. “It let’s you see how professionals work. You get the theory in the classroom and you get the context through your assignments or lectures like these.”

Flavin said he enjoyed Klein’s points on taking time to reflect and analyze the news rather than be the first to report it.

“He likes to not just break the news but break insights which is so different from how a lot of journalist are trained to report today,” he said.