Bill Press: Brock blows cover off vast right-wing conspiracy
Tribune Media Services
WASHINGTON (Tribune Media Services) -- If you think reporters always tell the truth -- read this book.
If you're looking for proof of corruption and immoral behavior among the nation's most famous conservatives -- read this book.
If you want to learn all about organized crime -- for God's sake, read this book.
David Brock's "Blinded by the Right" reads like the memoirs of a mafia hit man. But it's the personal story of a former Republican hit man, instead.
Throughout the '90s, Brock was the star of Republican conservatives. In March 1992, as an investigative reporter for the American Spectator, he wrote "The Real Anita Hill," savaging Clarence Thomas's accuser as "a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty." In a book by the same title, he attacked her reputation even more viciously, freely quoting her detractors' descriptions of Hill, among other slurs, as "obsessed with oral sex" and "the world's kinkiest law professor."
Brock's next target was Bill Clinton. Again in the American Spectator, in an article titled "His Cheatin' Heart," Brock reported that Arkansas state troopers had frequently been asked by Gov. Bill Clinton to procure women for sex with him -- and had been promised a job in Washington if they kept quiet about it. Brock also made passing reference to a woman named Paula, who visited Clinton in his hotel room and left, telling one of the troopers she'd be glad to be the governor's regular girlfriend.
For his leading role in defending Clarence Thomas and dumping on Bill Clinton, Brock was the hero of the conservative movement. He received standing ovations at meetings of the Conservative Political Action Committee. He was wined and dined by leading conservatives Newt Gingrich, Ed Meese, Bill Kristol, Boyden Gray, Ted and Barbara Olson, and Robert Bork. Rush Limbaugh read parts of his books and articles on the air. He flew around the country, repeating his attacks on countless college campuses and talk-radio shows.
And now Brock admits it was all one big lie.
In "Blinded" he acknowledges that "Hill's testimony was more truthful than Thomas' flat denials." He avows that none of the trooper allegations about Clinton that could be independently checked turned out to be true. (The troopers themselves soon recanted their story of a job offer.) He makes no bones about why he wrote such lies and why the Spectator published them: "The aim was not journalistic, but political." And he apologizes for his role in spreading the lies.
Brock's book is a great read on several levels. It is, first, the fascinating tale of a young liberal who, turned off by ugly, personal attacks on conservatives like Jeanne Kilpatrick, becomes a conservative himself -- only to be sucked into engineering the same kind of personal attacks against liberals. When Brock stunned his conservative friends by writing an objective book about Hillary Clinton -- instead of trashing her, like they expected him to -- they turned on him.
It is also the sad odyssey of a gay man whose sexual orientation was no big deal for his conservative friends -- as long as he sang their song. Once he began challenging their ideology and methodology, they condemned him, like every other gay or lesbian, as a pervert.
But Brock's book is important, most of all, as an insider's expose of the hypocrisy and immorality of the right wing.
Sparing no one, he relates how Gingrich and company steered the Republican party from fiscal conservatism to moral absolutism. How, knowing they could not defeat Clinton's policies, they determined to go after his personal life. How they manipulated the mainstream media into spreading lies, sleaze and ugly rumors. How they reversed their belief in constitutional protection of the presidency to launch a campaign to impeach Clinton. And, how, long before anyone ever heard of Monica Lewinsky, they designed the Paula Jones lawsuit as a trap to catch Clinton in a lie about consensual sex -- thereby creating a crime that, otherwise, might never have been committed.
Brock also, deliciously, names those who were enjoying their own sexual follies while pursuing Clinton for his.
At last we know, Hillary was right. There was a vast right-wing conspiracy -- and David Brock was its high priest. In this book, he apologizes. When will the rest of them?
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