David Brock's bitter little book

Posted: Mar 22, 2002 12:00 AM
David Brock is a pathetic little man. At one time, Brock was the conquering hero of conservative journalism, piercing the propaganda veil that surrounded Anita Hill, the "Rosa Parks of sexual harassment." Then his investigative reporting exposed the ongoing lies about Bill Clinton's serial adultery, confirmed for Brock by the testimony of Clinton's security detail, which participated in the deceit. His legend grew as the liberal media strained to ignore or dismiss every bit of evidence he compiled. But after years on the Clinton-scandal beat, Brock's investigative ambitions broke down. His 1996 book, "The Seduction of Hillary Rodham," began with the author lying prostrate at the First Lady's feet like Margaret Carlson, cribbing Margaret's sycophantic notes on the "high-achieving, straight-A student, world-class organizer, determined operator and gifted proselytizer." Brock defended Hillary as guilty only by association with her much guiltier husband. Brock's bizarre ideological transformation was underway, and it wasn't long before he learned to love Bill, too. In June 1997, he turned on his friends personally and viciously, penning "Confessions of a Right-Wing Hit Man" for Esquire magazine, followed in March 1998 by a public letter of apology to Bill for ever bringing up his dangerous liaisons. "I do know that I didn't learn a damn thing worth knowing about your character." With these articles, he torched all his bridges to conservatives. But a new love affair was underway, now with network bookers. "The Real Anita Hill" had brought him only one sour sandwich of hostility between "Today" host Katie Couric and Hill booster Charles Ogletree. Now, as he turned on the Right, he was the toast of television. There he was alone, on all three network morning shows, and on "Meet the Press," and on "Face the Nation," and on cable, telling his rapt new audience that he regretted all those awful things he reported about Arkansas's finest. No conservative was allowed on the set to rebut the nonsense. The promotional cycle has started anew with his new book, "Blinded by the Right: Confessions of an Ex-Conservative." Now he claims his previous books were thinly sourced and unduly vicious, and conservatives in the 1990s had no ideas to present, purveying only baseless scandals. How very strange it all is. If Brock's telling the truth now, he was lying --
to conservatives -- then. If he was telling the truth then, he's lying now. But no one in liberal medialand seems to care. What Brock is doing now just begs for media scrutiny. Consider that Brock's first two books were weighed down with footnotes, with zealous research of the public record. This new screed against conservatives has no footnotes, no index, no real historical substance. Why not? Brock was correct before, that Clinton used his position of power for personal and sexual gain, and threatened his country's and his party's position over momentary pleasures. Now, with the avalanche of evidence reconfirming the charges, Brock has spent the last few years quixotically trying to ski uphill and ignore his own findings. Why? Brock thinks he was vicious and sleazy before, but his new book mercilessly attacks the personal habits of his former comrades, including several pages denouncing the late Barbara Olson. Classy. Even close friends like Laura Ingraham are raked over the coals for being reprehensible haters, and worse, sloppy dressers. For what purpose? Then there's the slander Brock writes about conservatives in general. He claims the 1992 GOP platform "virtually launched an anti-gay pogrom." Later, he approvingly quotes another ex-conservative gay author, Marvin Liebman, saying he knew he had been working for years as "a Jew in Hitler's army." Is that honest? But liberal interviewers weren't asking about these lowlights. Instead, they are using the book to erase history, to pretend it is still 1992 and everything you've heard about the Clintons are still unproven lies. On NBC, Matt Lauer began: "But after years of lies and, some would say, malicious journalism, this Washington insider wants to clear his conscience. David Brock exposes how he says the GOP tried to destroy the Clinton presidency through a series of well-plotted smear campaigns." On CNN, Aaron Brown claimed, "He helped trash Anita Hill, went looking for the illegitimate children of Bill Clinton, took money from conservative patrons, and made things up if it made Mr. Clinton look bad." But Brock and the networks' Clinton rewrite specialists can't put the toothpaste back into the tube. The Clinton presidency can't be compared to a bad season of "Dallas," where the angelic Bill Clinton pops out of the shower and we all realize it was all just a bad dream. Clinton earned his bad reputation, and Brock has cemented his with this sloppy, bitter, vengeful little book.