With the race for the White House entering the home stretch, Hillary Clinton and her surrogates have been intensifying their attacks on Donald Trump and his campaign staff. So have many members of the news media, who are happy to write smear pieces about Trump’s advisors. Witness Ruth Marcus branding Trump deputy campaign manager David Bossie “the Captain Ahab of Clinton haters.” Marcus might think it’s a clever literary reference to compare Bossie to Herman Melville’s fictional whale hunter, who is obsessed with killing Moby Dick to the point of fanaticism. But Clinton’s cheerleaders in the media seem perfectly willing to excuse fanaticism and obsession in their own ranks.
They have remained remarkably silent about one of the most powerful members of Hillary’s own team: David Brock, whose unscrupulous tactics and shadowy empire suggest another literary comparison. Bearing in mind the tyrannical ruler of a far-flung trading post in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, one might call Brock the Mr. Kurtz of conservative haters.
Brock was once a conservative investigative reporter and Clinton critic, but perhaps, like Kurtz, he spent too much time in the Left’s “Heart of Darkness” and got corrupted. He rebranded himself as a prominent Democratic operative and founded the spin-machine Media Matters as well as, according to The Washington Post, “four other organizations that he says were ‘built to counter the right-wing machine.’” By his own recent admission, he doesn’t even have any conservative friends.
For all of his importance to the Clinton crowd, you’d think that he would have garnered some attention from the media. Yet the press has virtually ignored Brock’s unethical tactics and shady background. He appears on talk show after talk show without ever being asked about his own questionable conduct, and specifically his work with Media Matters.
For a journalist actually interested in seeking the truth, there are plenty of questions to ask Brock. In a legal fight that the press has conveniently ignored, Brock’s former long-time live-in boyfriend William Grey (whom Brock has thanked in several of his books) threatened to go to the IRS with damaging information about how Brock was running his Media Matters empire. What did Brock do? He paid Grey $850,000 to keep quiet. Brock reportedly had to sell his home in Rehoboth, Delaware to come up with the money. This certainly seems to indicate that Brock was terrified about what the authorities would uncover.
If Brock were merely a private citizen, this would simply be a matter between Grey and himself. But Brock is working closely with the Clinton campaign and using his organizations like Media Matters to go after her opponents. If Grey has evidence of wrongdoing on the part of Media Matters and Brock, that has a bearing on larger issues and becomes newsworthy. Why hasn’t the press been interested in this? Brock should follow his own standards of transparency by releasing his records.
Also of interest would be Brock’s role in the purchase and illegal use of guns in the District of Columbia and elsewhere. As previously reported in the Daily Caller, Brock had a bodyguard, Haydn Price-Morris, carry a loaded gun in the District of Columbia. The Daily Caller reported that “multiple firearms used to protect the Media Matters founder were purchased with Brock’s blessing — and apparently with the group’s money.” This is astonishing under any circumstances, but particularly because Brock is so closely aligned with Hillary Clinton, who is strongly in favor of strict gun control laws. Apparently those stricter rules on guns don’t apply to her loyal partisans. Brock should come clean on his role in this story, release all his gun purchase records and reveal whether Media Matters funds were used to purchase firearms. They could start by getting the real story from the bodyguard involved.
I worked closely with Brock when he wrote his book The Seduction of Hillary Rodham, published in 1996. Brock himself has written in his 2002 memoirs that he believes this was an honest book, and still does today. Seduction contains damning evidence against both Hillary and Bill, but you would never know that from the recent coverage of the book by the New York Times (which called it “flattering”) and others. Many of Brock’s conclusions about Hillary are anything but “flattering” – in fact, they are downright disturbing, as these easily-verifiable highlights demonstrate.
- Hillary believes that the ends justify the means and that “legal and ethical strictures and standards of accountability” do not apply to her (p. 415);
- Bill’s serial womanizing had instilled in Hillary “a contempt for the democratic process itself” (p. 276-77);
- Hillary’s bad faith “Trojan horse efforts” on health care reform “would reveal not just surprisingly poor judgment on her part but character flaws of a particularly dangerous and self-destructive sort” (p. 330), and she “employed means that were questionable in a democracy” (p. 346);
- She lied about whether she represented a client before the state when her husband was Governor (p. 265);
- She was willing to use the Department of Justice to achieve political ends (p. 312);
- Her hand-picked White House attorneys stonewalled investigations, acted like “mob lawyers, ” and their conduct was a “serious infringement of the public trust” (p. 397);
- The Clinton campaign’s use of a thug private eye to intimidate potential witnesses showed that Hillary “was willing to countenance intimidation of women to cover up Bill’s peccadilloes.” (p. 274)
Brock also provided extensive evidence showing that when he was governor of Arkansas, Hillary’s husband ran a vast corrupt administration where he showered favors on and “greased the wheels of government” for supporters such as Jim McDougal and Dan Lasater (pp. 195-213). Brock finds Bill – who would remain an important figure in his wife’s White House – to be a person without any integrity or strength of character (p. 234), and calls him “perhaps the weakest chief executive since Warren Harding.” (p. 289) Brock asserts that “[W]hen a fundamentally weak person like Bill relies on a ‘moral compass’ that itself becomes askew, the results can be tragic…Bill relied on someone who believed she was simply too good to do wrong.” (p. 417)
Brock applied his journalistic expertise to uncover these findings in the 1990s – so why are journalists now allowing him to pretend they don’t exist?Finally, it’s remarkable that while the Left is busy attacking Trump and his allies for being misogynistic, they embrace a man about whom the liberal columnist Frank Rich once wrote: “The slightest sighting of female sexuality whips him into a frenzy of misogynist zeal. […] Mr. Brock’s misogyny injects a poison more lethal than political partisanship into the national discourse.”
In my own interactions with Brock, he displayed a troubling attitude toward women. Even though I agree with the work he did to demolish Anita Hill’s allegations against Clarence Thomas, Brock’s statement in his March 1992 American Spectator article titled The Real Anita Hill that Hill was “a bit nutty, and a bit slutty” was crude and mean-spirited—he loved it, though, and cackled about it constantly. More recently, his physical descriptions of Hillary in his Seduction book are downright cruel.
Slate columnist Michelle Goldberg recently asked why nobody is outraged that Roger Ailes is advising Trump, in light of the recent allegations of sexual harassment against Ailes. But in a 2014 profile of Brock, Goldberg never mentions her subject’s attitude toward women—nor his lies, nor his continuing character attacks. She also preposterously claimed that Brock had stopped making personal attacks against his political enemies. Tell that to Bernie Sanders, who was repeatedly subjected to Brock’s McCarthyite tactics during the Democratic primaries.
The name of Brock’s organization is absolutely right: the media matters. That’s why it’s so shameful that the media has let Brock hide the troubling details of his career in the dark shadows of the past.
Mark Paoletta practices law in Washington, D.C. He served in the Bush 41 White House Counsel’s office and was a Chief Investigative Counsel for a Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives for a decade.