NEW YORK, Feb. 15 -- New York magazine said Thursday it has proven that Newsweek columnist Joe Klein is the anonymous author who penned 'Primary Colors,' a lampoon of the 1992 presidential campaign. The magazine says a Vassar College professor who convinced his peers last month that a little-known elegy was the work of William Shakespeare employed the same computer analysis to determine that the novel was written by Klein. 'Joe Klein wrote this book, or else it's an almost impossibly clever hoax by someone who wanted his work to be taken for Joe Klein's,' Donald Foster said Thursday. Foster gained international attention last month by convincing his academic peers that an obscure 578-line elegy was the work of Shakespeare. New York magazine hired the Poughkeepsie, N.Y.-based professor to use a similar computer-aided textual analysis to unmask the anonymous author. The task has already stumped the Washington press corps, who have made a parlor game out of uncovering the author behind the satirical roman a clef. Foster took a more scientific approach. He read the book, then ran tens of thousands of words of 'Primary Colors' through his computer to find lexical clues that would link Anonymous with one of the suspected authors. He ruled out cartoonist Garry Trudeau, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, Christopher Buckley and novelist Lisa Grunwald (sister of campaign adviser Mandy Grunwald). Foster was then sent writing samples of Joe Klein, who covered the 1992 Clinton campaign for New York magazine.
'Bingo,' the magazine wrote. 'While no single word or group of words establishes Klein's authorship, the profile of his active vocabulary forms a matrix closely matching that of Anonymous,' Foster wrote. Some of the rarely used words that appear in 'Primary Colors' and Klein's writing include 'giddy,' 'gelatinous,' 'scruffy,' 'squishy,' 'lugubrious,' 'jittery' and 'tribal.' Both also describe a campaign as being 'larval' and make up the same non-words, like 'unironic.' Foster says he also discovered a deeply coded message from Klein letting readers know he is the author. In the first paragraph of the novel, the black narrator says 'I am small and not so dark.' Foster notes that the word for small in German is 'klein.' 'And, of course, Joe Klein is white -- 'not so dark.'' he added. In a taped message on his answering machine at Newsweek, Klein denies he authored the book, but admitted the writing style closely matches his own. 'New York magazine hired the wrong computer and the wrong expert,' Klein said. 'From the moment I read the book I realized that whoever wrote it is a very close reader of my column; it may even have been someone I spoke to...I'm really curious about it, but I'm too busy covering the presidential campaign to obsess on it,' Klein added. 'I am flattered and the professor did get one thing right -- I am small and not so dark,' Klein went on. 'For those still looking for the author of this thing, good luck, I hope you find him soon and happy hunting.' (Written and reported by Tracey L. Miller in New York)