Emmett Tyrrell

WASHINGTON -- Forty years ago this autumn I began my professional life as an innocent procreator of wisecracks by founding The American Spectator, a magazine that I suppose is taking its place in American literature as one extended wisecrack. At the Spectator we have always seen a joke lurking where the humorless and smug perceive a sacred cow or a golden opportunity. This week it became clear that a joke is a dangerous thing -- the humorless and the smug are in the ascendancy.

My most famous wisecrack has denied my fellow Americans the services of a lawyer who would surely be acclaimed in American history as one of our finest attorneys general, Ted Olson. Perhaps I should take a vow against ever again uttering a flippant or sardonic remark. From now on I may growl like the Hon. Patrick Leahy or snarl like the Hon. Harry Reid. In a moment of levity I referred to a series of Spectator news stories that were always factual and remain irrefragable as "the Arkansas Project," and though my friends laughed, Democrats under the Clintons’ weird spell cowered and envisaged images of McCarthyism and the Red Scare. For a decade I have witnessed my harmless flippancy enter the history books as a political hate crime. This was not my intention.

Early in the Clinton administration, when the scandal-prone Forty-Second President of the United States was sweating somewhere between her Travelgate and her Filegate en route to his Monicagate, I decided that investigative journalists were going to have a field day as long as the Clintons held high office, testing the rule of law and attracting the attention of what are called the authorities. Thus I raised funds to improve the investigative reporting of the Spectator. What now sends hysteria through polite society as the Arkansas Project was initially labeled Expanded Editorial and Reporting. It was funded not unlike the funding of PBS' "Frontline," save for our superior record of accuracy.

Emmett Tyrrell

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator and co-author of Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House.
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