During a 2008 meeting of the left-wing umbrella group Democracy Alliance outside San Diego, Brock’s unusual behavior drew considerable attention. According to a fellow attendee, “David completely lost his shit. He started getting incredibly aggressive. He alienated important people in the progressive movement, like John Podesta [of the Center for American Progress] and Anna Burger [of the Service Employees International Union]. Lots of drama. There were a lot of conversations about David’s mental health.”
Two years later, at another Democracy Alliance meeting shortly after the 2010 election, Brock behaved in a way one prominent liberal who was there described as “erratic, unstable and disturbing.” Brock’s aggression, this person said, was “hard to ignore and noticed by a number of people,” generating “quite a bit of concern” about his condition. A number of demonstrably odd media appearances Brock made around this time only reinforced those concerns.
All of this, sources say, has caused anxiety for prominent Democrats. Brock’s profile has risen recently, mostly due to American Bridge 21st Century, the political action committee he founded and runs. Brock boasted loudly and in public that American Bridge would be an answer to Karl Rove’s American Crossroads GPS, a claim some found unsettlingly grandiose.
At some point, Brock received a prescription for his condition. “Some days he’d come in and you could tell he was on his meds because he would just sit in his office alone and not engage with staff,” says a coworker. Other days, “he’d be intensely engaged. He’d get manic, very reckless and grandiose. You’d see this level of self-confidence in him that would spiral.”
Last spring, some at Media Matters headquarters and in other parts of the progressive world were caught off guard by an interview Brock gave to Ben Smith at Politico, in which he promised to wage “guerrilla warfare and sabotage” against Fox News. “It was insane,” says a coworker. “David was totally manic at the time. We were all shocked.”
Friends say Brock, who has publicly admitted drug use in the past, was working obsessively and staying out late with compatriots. “They’d close [local bars] and party till six in the morning,” said one.
A number of people in Brock’s orbit believe he was regularly using illegal drugs, including cocaine. “It’s not like he was trying to keep it a secret,” says a female friend of Brock’s.
Sources back at the Media Matters offices describe an atmosphere of tension and paranoia. “Many of us lived in fear that at any point we could be fired,” one said. Brock believed he had received credible death threats, and employed a two-man security detail, at least one of whom was armed and acted as his driver. A new security system was installed in his house. He became concerned that one of his bodyguards was plotting against him.