Joe Klein, Jamie Kirchick End Up In Fight After Panel Discussion

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Attendees of yesterday's Jewish Federations of North America's General Assembly meeting in Washington, DC were treated to an angry shouting match between Time Magazine's Joe Klein and The New Republic's Jamie Kirchick, after their disagreements on a panel discussion entitled "The Pro-Israel Lobby and the Media" spilled out into the hallway and devolved into some sort of profanity-laced session of yelling. The Reliable Sourcers have the pyrotechnics:

A heated debate between Time magazine's Joe Klein and the New Republic's Jamie Kirchick spilled off the dais Tuesday into a hallway confrontation where Klein called the younger pundit a "dishonest [expletive]" and a "[expletiving] propagandist."

Klein told us today he's not sure he uttered the "propagandist" bit -- heard by a few witnesses -- but stands by the "dishonest [expletive]" part.

"Absolutely. He's a [expletive]," Klein, 62, told us. "He's 25 years old, and he's one of those people who has opinions but no facts or experience."

Apparently, the two were only slightly more restrained whilst paneling:

People in the room say things heated up on the panel when Klein said he was dismayed that John McCain was swayed, he said, by Jewish neocons to support the war in Iraq, and cited his own experience with soldiers on the front line. Kirchick noted McCain's Vietnam experience -- and Klein said it wasn't the same, since McCain fought from the air. Kirchick lit into Klein, saying Klein was denigrating McCain's service and hard years in a POW camp. Klein argued back, saying he honors McCain's time as a prisoner -- but that the senator's experience doesn't relate to current troop experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Klein apparently attributes the spat to some broader set of circumstances involving the "desperation of a dying [media] industry." The Sourcers wonder if it's an "an old-pundit vs. new pundit thing." I tend to think that this is the sort of thing that happens any time you schedule a panel discussion on "The Pro-Israel Lobby." But maybe there's another explanation! The discussion in question took place at the Marriott Wardman Park in Washington, DC, where in previous adventures, our own Sam Stein witnessed Hillary Clinton flack Lanny Davis losing his mind completely, and where Stein encountered an angry mini-mob, bent on preventing his enjoyment of a Reuben sandwich. Maybe that hotel is located atop an ancient and angry burial ground, or something?

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