Check Book Journalism
by Deanna Spingola
5 July 2006

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Standards of public and private conduct have declined drastically. Dishonesty, adultery, stealing, bribery and a number of other behaviors are pervasive among both Democrats and Republicans. Officials from both parties appear to feel that whatever activities they can get away with are therefore allowable. Expediency and financial gain appear to be more critical than morality and character. Some like-minded media personalities, using creative license, regularly portray liberals and conservatives as moral opposites. Trash generates cash! Real issues get buried under a barrage of garbage. This might all be perversely entertaining but does little to enlighten or inform. That just might be the purpose – deliberate distraction with an additional advantage: division of the masses.

David Brock is a recovering conservative and is currently registered as an independent. He wrote Blinded by the Right, the Conscience of an Ex-Conservative. He says in the prologue: “The conservative culture I thrived in was characterized by corrosive partisanship, visceral hatreds, and unfathomable hypocrisy. I worked for leading institutions of the conservative movement – the Washington Times, the Heritage Foundation, and The American Spectator – where I fought on the wrong side of an ideological and cultural war that divided our country and poisoned our politics.” Brock, compared to a tabloid artist by some, [1] states that he wrote the book as an “act of conscience” to attempt to provide a “public record” for the events he was involved with. [2] It takes courage and humility to publicly admit connivance. Brock deserves credit for his efforts to set the record straight.

Brock’s first book was The Real Anita Hill and was written at the suggestion of The American Spectator which had received a healthy contribution from Elizabeth Brady Lurie (Brady Foundation). Tax-free foundation monies often surreptitiously support the witch hunts that divide and control our culture. Apparently “Lurie wanted to finance a special investigation.” Define “special investigation” as a smear campaign. Brock viewed the offer as his introduction to “right-wing checkbook journalism.” [3] Clarence Thomas, against affirmative action, was “beloved by the right, a prized symbol whose presence in the GOP legitimized conservative attacks on civil rights policies.” [4] Washington conservatives organized for the battle of getting Thomas confirmed with ad hoc groups including the Christian Coalition and women’s groups. Thomas was coached by the Federalist Society (organized 1979), a tax-exempt nonprofit organization, on how to answer the questions posed by the Judiciary Committee who conducts hearings prior to the Congressional confirmation of U.S. Supreme Court justices, court of appeals judges, and district court judges.

Then Anita Hill’s claims about Thomas were leaked to the press. Under testimony, she was specific and sincere – so much so that Brock intuitively believed absolutely everything she said. However, Hill’s testimony was disputed by the righteous right – who could doubt? Thomas was ultimately confirmed after Hill was unjustly dragged through the moral mud. But voter backlash became a reality because of the Republican’s unfair treatment of Hill. Bob Packwood was booted out of office over sexual harassment charges. “Sexual harassment claims were skyrocketing, and sexual harassment laws were being tightened.” [5] Brock accepted the currency-laced offer “to turn back this feminist tide, exposing the treachery of what we saw as a liberal cabal” that leaked Hill’s charges. [6]

Senate treatment of Anita Hill set a new low but Brock was determined to go even lower. Sexual harassment cases depend on the credibility of the accuser. Elected officials could publicly only go so far and remain unscathed, but an independent like Brock, without constraints, could write anything using all of the filthy rumors, FBI interviews, sexual analysis prepared by biased “experts” who merely watched the televised proceedings and depositions eagerly supplied by the Senate. Brock was relentless in hunting down every negative hint of a dirty rumor he could find and remotely associate with Anita Hill. Even though Thomas was confirmed, legitimacy for his tenure was lacking. Creative speculation concerning Hill was forthcoming from every direction. Brock began with a supposedly well sourced, footnoted, legitimate 16,000-word article The Real Anita Hill which appeared in The American Spectator in March 1992 including a full-page cover highly exaggerated caricature of Hill. [7]

Rush Limbaugh gave Brock and The American Spectator credibility (circulation soared 300 percent) by reading sections of the article on his radio show. The American Spectator also paid to advertise on Limbaugh's radio and TV shows, reaching an audience of 20 million. The American Spectator’s circulation went from 30,000 copies per issue in 1990 to 279,106 as of December 31, 1994. [8]

Clarence Thomas befriended Limbaugh and later officiated at his wedding. Brock said: “Limbaugh was making me famous for calling Anita Hill a slut.” And “I had stumbled onto something big, a symbiotic relationship that would help create a highly profitable, right-wing Big Lie machine that flourished in book publishing, on talk radio, and on the Internet through the 90s.” [9] That Big Lie machine has only gotten bigger. The original article, fleshed out, ultimately expanded into a book. Brock went from believing Hill to portraying her as a deranged liar, among other things.

Brock, wanting to be taken seriously as a journalist, was coached by a media trainer so as not to appear to have an agenda. Brock did the Today Show and others, believed in his own spin and helped to create the façade of a liberal conspiratorial cabal in the process – everything that Brock wrote about was filtered through conservative antagonists. Ethical standards went by the wayside. His book helped Thomas but ruined Hill. It was pure political propaganda meant to sanitize Thomas, portrayed as the victim instead of the victimizer, who Brock now says should never have been confirmed. Brock states: “I sincerely believed my own propaganda.” [10] This book made money and put Brock, with “the moral certainty of a young warrior,” [11] into the inner circle of the right-wing conservatives: Robert Novak, Fred Barnes, Bill Kristol, Lally Weymouth, Brit Hume and others. In all likelihood, it also provided other “checkbook journalists” a ready example for their agenda-driven books, of which there are dozens.

Brock’s book was reviewed by Christopher Lehmann-Haupt of the New York Times, often accused as being part of the liberal press. The review was favorable – calling the book “well-written, carefully reasoned, and powerful in its logic…must reading for anyone remotely touched by the case…” Considering the “case” was widely televised and concerned the confirmation of a Supreme Court judge that might ultimately affect many Americans. Clarence Thomas voted along with four other judges to halt the Florida vote recount, putting Bush into the White House in 2001. [12] Keep in mind that Thomas was nominated by President George H. W. Bush on July 8, 1991, to replace Thurgood Marshall.

Brock also received favorable reviews from other well-known critics which put his book on the best-seller lists. Another review, more factual, referred to Brock’s book as “Sleaze with Footnotes.” [13] He winced at this and began to wonder what he had done. A friend encouraged him to forget the facts and think of the casualties that were taken.

Just prior to the November 1994 elections a book was published about Clarence Thomas. The book, Strange Justice was written by Jane Mayer and Jill Abramson, senior editors with the Wall Street Journal. This book validated Anita Hill’s testimony regarding Thomas’ apparent pornography proclivity. It included the credible statements of video store employees affirming that Thomas was, in fact, an avid consumer of pornographic videos during the time that Anita Hill worked with him.

Upon reviewing the book previews in the Journal, Brock and two cohorts immediately prepared and faxed a script to Rush Limbaugh for his very next show which he read verbatim after which he added some of his infamous contentious “feminazi” allegations. These “conservatives” wanted to accomplish three things:

·        Discredit the information in Strange Justice

·        Defend Supreme Court Judge Clarence Thomas which would automatically discredit Anita Hill, again  

·        Promote the Republican candidates in the impending elections

·        Get Newt Gingrich into a major leadership position  

As a full time “investigative reporter,” Brock wrote additional money-making articles slamming the left. The election of Bill Clinton provided ample ammunition during eight years of soap opera media propaganda. The American Spectator viciously attacked Bill Clinton and his family, friends and associates. The results: circulation went up as their credibility went down. However, credibility notwithstanding, people bought the magazine as well as the stories it peddled. [14]

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr., editor in chief of The American Spectator, made a name for his magazine while ruining the names and reputations of scores of people. “Whitewater, Troopergate, Travelgate, Vincent Foster's death and Hillary Rodham Clinton's commodities trades have provided Tyrrell's writers with storehouses full of ammunition. And they have fired at will.” [15]

This orchestrated media attention set up the perfect environment to alter party control in Congress and literally take the White House in 2000. Based on what the so-called liberal media force-fed the public, it was pretty difficult to ignore the allegations against the Clintons. If the media were indeed liberal, Clinton’s lies would have been either marginalized or ignored. In addition, plenty of right-wing books presented more detail than any individual cared to know. More money was spent on investigating Clinton than on the inconsistencies of 9/11. Whatever the charade was – it was for the benefit of the public. Clinton and Bush are both puppets of the One World Order. They just exhibit different personalities to sway the masses.

I admire the new David Brock; he is an isolated exception. There are numerous popular personalities who continue to divide the culture and propagate the party line. Brock has compensated for his fallacious contributions by establishing a web site in 2004: Media Matters for America a “progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.”

Articulate Ann Coulter, the spewing toxic-tongued, mini-skirted, golden haired darling of the Faux Network is one of the best known of the antagonistic “check book journalists.” Her newest bestselling book: Godless: the Church of Liberalism is additional ammunition to fuel the flames in the orchestrated opposition between the so-called “conservatives” and “liberals.” However, if the media were as liberal as she constantly claims, she could not have appeared on numerous TV and radio shows or in print. A liberal media would have buried her and her book in a closet somewhere if indeed it got published at all. She is caustic, clever and overly theatrical with her outrageous, sometimes cruel comments but will undoubtedly achieve the financial and cultural goals of her latest book. 

So with dozens of others, we have Michael Savage and his book Liberalism is a Mental Disorder and Ann Coulter’s book Godless: the Church of Liberalism. The highly visible Coulter was interviewed by Human Events Online: Exclusive Interview: Coulter Says Book Examines 'Mental Disorder' of Liberalism where she said: “It’s the third of a trilogy. Slander was about liberals’ methods, Treason was about the political consequences of liberalism, and Godless is about the underlying mental disease that creates liberalism.” Her hatred of liberals has made her very rich and famous. I wonder – does Merck or some other giant pharmaceutical company have an expensive medication for this disease? If so, perhaps some well-known, recovering “liberal” could endorse it in the media.

While I may briefly browse Coulter’s book, I wouldn’t purchase it as I prefer well substantiated original non-fiction. Chapter One is online; in it she states: “Environmentalists want mass infanticide, zero population growth, reduced standards of living, and vegetarianism. The core of environmentalism is that they hate mankind. Everything liberals believe is in elegant opposition to basic Biblical precepts.” Nevertheless, Ann, it is interesting to note that six of the nine judges who sat on the court during Roe vs. Wade were appointed by Republicans.

Alito and Roberts, recently confirmed “conservatives” consider abortion a settled law. Prior to their confirmations, media focus was directed on their views of abortion. Rather, voters should have focused on personal liberty issues. As far as the standard of living – our current big-spending administration has certainly affected living standards, in America and elsewhere, and how about that deficit and the costs of war – in terms of lives and money? Why not ask the former residents of New Orleans and vicinity about their standard of living. And the elite may be unaffected by illegals storming our borders but the average American notices.

Critical reviews tell us what we should think about a particular movie or book. Writers are very well paid, often by elite foundations, to produce books designed to misinform, vilify, divide, manage our perceptions, brainwash or to incite a particular behavior. With any information, we must be responsible and astute enough to differentiate between repetitious rhetoric and truth and error. It may be very unwise to trust in what the majority believes.

Our government, with our gullible complacency, and a complicit media has developed an arrogant “might makes right” moral superiority promulgated by popular government shills, many who favor preemptive war. Michael Medved, another shilling for killing war hawk, claims that we are “the greatest nation on God’s green earth.” This, he says, is attributed to our values, the way we do things, our principles, our morals, yadda, yadda, yadda.

It is all yadda, yadda, yadda!

[1] American Journalism Review; 5/1/1995; Shepard, Alicia C., by subscription
[2] Blinded by the Right by David Brock
[3] Ibid, p. 88
[4] Ibid
[5] Ibid, p. 94
[6] Ibid, p. 94
[7] Ibid, p. 97
[8] American Journalism Review; 5/1/1995; Shepard, Alicia C., by subscription
[9] Blinded by the Right by David Brock, p. 101
[10] Ibid, p. 99
[11] Ibid, p. 99
[12] Bush vs. Gore
[13] Blinded by the Right by David Brock, p. 117
[14] American Journalism Review; 5/1/1995; Shepard, Alicia C., by subscription
[15] Ibid

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 © Deanna Spingola 2006 - All rights reserved

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