Kitty Kelley Book Implodes as Key Witness Recants

The big bombshell promised by Kitty Kelley in her scorching anti-Bush book "The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty," has prematurely imploded, with a key witness behind the book's central charge now denying Kelley's version of her account.
"I categorically deny that I ever told Kitty Kelley that George W. Bush used cocaine at Camp David or that I ever saw him use cocaine at Camp David," ex-Bush sister-in-law Sharon Bush said in a statement issued yesterday, according to the Washington Post. Instead, said the one-time Bush family insider, "When Kitty Kelley raised drug use at Camp David, I responded by saying something along the lines of, 'Who would say such a thing?'"

The recantation of the book's central charge has flummoxed media outlets that were planning a mega roll-out for the anti-Bush screed.

When contacted by NewsMax Thursday morning, a spokesman for NBC's "Today Show," which had planned to showcase Kelley's book for three straight mornings in a row next week, couldn't say whether Sharon's statement would change their plans.

Newsweek magazine had already rejected an offer to excerpt the Kelley book because the Bush ex was the sole source of Kelley's big bombshell, with lead reporter Howard Fineman complaining Tuesday that the cocaine story was "un-checkable and an otherwise un-witnessable allegation. So if that's the best she's got, that's why we took a pass on it."

Despite the Sharon Bush debacle, Kelley's publisher is so far hanging tough.

"Doubleday stands fully behind the accuracy of Ms. Kelley's reporting and believes that everything she attributes to Sharon Bush in her book is an accurate account of their discussions," Associate Publisher Suzanne Herz told the Post. "Ms. Kelley met with Sharon Bush over the course of a four-hour lunch on April 1, 2003, at the Chelsea Bistro in Manhattan."

Still, industry insiders are wary of a repeat of the publishing disaster that transpired the last time a book claimed Bush was a coke user.

In 1999, St. Martin's Press was forced to recall 90,000 copies of "Fortunate Son," which alleged that then candidate George W. Bush had been arrested on a cocaine charge in 1972.

Only after the book hit stores did St. Martin's learn that the author of "Son," J.H. Hatfield, had served five years in jail in connection with a conspiracy to commit murder. The Bush book debacle is believed to have contributed to Hatfield's 2001 suicide by drug overdose.