Did Sid ‘Vicious’ Blumenthal Commission Rahm Emanuel Hit Pieces After State Dept Snub?

Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
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In the weeks after an Aug. 15, 2009 New York Times report revealed that President Obama’s then-chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, had put the kibosh on a job for Sidney Blumenthal at Hillary Clinton’s State Department, two articles appeared on the website The Daily Beast slamming Emanuel’s “historic stupidity” and accusing him of “reviving the GOP.”

The articles’ authorship bears no indication that a personal vendetta may have driven the negative coverage of Obama’s top aide. Written by center-right talk radio host John Batchelor, the critique reads as one Republican’s strong rebuke of Emanuel, whose take-no-prisoners approach to politics had won him few friends on the other side of the aisle.

But behind Batchelor’s work at the Beast was someone who did have an axe to grind with Rahmbo. For Sid ‘Vicious’ Blumenthal edited Batchelor’s work in 2009 and 2010, the radio talker confirmed to The Daily Caller.

The Daily Beast was one of Blumenthal’s many side projects during Clinton’s State Department tenure. Buzzfeed reported last June that Blumenthal served as a recruiter in the early days of the website, which was founded by Tina Brown, his former boss at The New Yorker. And though Blumenthal worked under-the-radar — his name never appeared on the Daily Beast’s masthead — he also helped shape political content for the site, editing and commissioning articles.

Many of the articles Blumenthal commissioned happened to serve his own political and personal purposes. As Buzzfeed reported, Blumenthal edited two articles written by Harry Siegel, now a columnist at The New York Daily News, that were critical of Caroline Kennedy, who in late 2008 was being considered to replace Clinton as Senator from New York. Siegel referred to Kennedy as a “puppet” and called her potential run for the U.S. Senate an “insult.”

Batchelor, too, wrote a piece slamming Kennedy. In “Is Caroline Entitled To The Senate?” Batchelor argued that Kennedy’s “celebrity and history are not entitlements to high office.” The hit pieces were favorable to Clinton — and Blumenthal, by extension — because, the thinking went, another Senator Kennedy would pose a long-term threat to Clinton’s presidential hopes.

Had Blumenthal’s byline graced the attacks, they would have been much easier to dismiss as pure partisan hackery. But if penned by someone with no direct connection to Clinton, they carried the appearance of disinterested, objective political analysis.

At the same time he was directing favorable Clinton coverage, Blumenthal, who served as an aide in the Bill Clinton White House, also worked for the Clinton Foundation, where he was paid a reported $10,000 salary each month. He earned a similar amount advising American Bridge and Media Matters, two groups operated by Clinton ally David Brock.

The mysterious Blumenthal also frequently sent political gossip, memos, and intelligence reports to Hillary Clinton on her personal email account. Much of the information — including that which he passed along about Libya — was gleaned from Blumenthal’s vast network of sources in the intelligence community.

The Libya work was another Blumenthal side gig. He and former CIA operative Tyler Drumheller advised Osprey Global Solutions, a private defense contractor that sought business in post-Gaddafi Libya.

A State Department post would have also graced Blumenthal’s resume were it not for Emanuel, who currently serves as mayor of Chicago. Clinton had hoped to bring her friend and former presidential campaign operative to the State Department as an adviser. But as The Times reported in its 2009 article, Emanuel vetoed the idea because of Blumenthal’s underhanded anti-Obama campaign tactics during the 2008 Democratic primaries.

The article described Blumenthal — who circulated false rumors about Obama to his journalism friends — as a polarizing figure who threatened to sow “dissension and drama in the ranks.”

“Feel bad for Sid,” is how Clinton responded to her chief of staff Cheryl Mills after reading The Times piece.

A week after the article was published, The Daily Beast published an item by Batchelor entitled “How Rahm Is Reviving The GOP.” In it, Batchelor, whose eponymous radio show airs seven nights a week across the U.S., criticized Emanuel’s “talents for bullying, whimsical favoritism, cheerful power-grabbing, and self-congratulatory earthiness.”

The next month, “Rahm’s Historic Stupidity” appeared with Batchelor’s name printed at the top. That article took Emanuel to task for being ignorant to the nature of Republican opposition to President Obama.

So were the anti-Rahm articles planted by a vengeful Sid Vicious? Batchelor says he doesn’t remember.

“Ancient history,” he told TheDC. “I have no memory of what or how, other than the Beast record in print.”

“[Blumenthal] is a gentlemen and scholar and friend,” the radio host added.

But one of Batchelor’s articles contains a seemingly random digression that also took a stab at one of Blumenthal’s numerous mortal enemies.

“Rahm’s Historic Stupidity” launched into an attack on Richard Mellon Scaife, the now-dead heir to the Mellon family banking fortune who commissioned numerous articles at The American Spectator in the 1990s investigating Bill and Hillary Clinton’s shady dealings.

Batchelor described Scaife — who became personal friends with Bill Clinton after he left office — as a “silver-spoon-born playboy” who was “tossed out of Yale for drinking.”

“There is no record of Scaife having stable partisan beliefs other [sic] his funding of a hatchery of Clinton-bashers that produced the vile theory that Bill and Hillary Clinton were responsible for suicide Vincent Foster’s death,” Batchelor wrote.

TheDC learned of the Blumenthal-Batchelor connection from a Sept. 3, 2010 email contained in the State Department’s most recent release of Clinton emails. That memo shows Blumenthal referring Clinton to a Batchelor article entitled “The GOP’s Oompa-Loompa.”

The piece poked fun at John Boehner, who was set to take over as Speaker of the House, for his orange-colored skin. Batchelor also suggested that Boehner was an “idiot” and a “hack on the make.” Blumenthal told Clinton in the email that Batchelor wrote the article based “on a subject I suggested to him.” It is one of many articles Blumenthal cited in his emails with Clinton as having planted or commissioned.

Batchelor confirmed to TheDC on Twitter that Blumenthal had suggested the article. He went further by stating that Blumenthal had been his editor at the Daily Beast in 2009 and 2010. In a follow-up email he said that he could not recall the exact dates that he worked under Blumenthal.

Though Batchelor is unable to say what other items Blumenthal may have pitched him, the radio host’s body of work carries a strong anti-Emanuel, anti-Republican, and pro-Clinton tone.

“The GOP Self-Destructs,” “GOP Still Has No Chance,” and “The Tea Party’s Whiny Takeover” are as critical of conservatives as their titles suggest.

And then there’s Aug. 7, 2009’s “The GOP Freak Show,” which took aim at the “sad-eyed Townhall Turfers,” “saucer-eyed Birthers,” and “cranky Tea-Baggers” that were then rallying against Obamacare.

There’s also “The Right Hearts Hillary,” in which Batchelor assessed that the schemers behind the so-called “vast right wing conspiracy” were secretly relieved that President Obama chose Hillary Clinton as his secretary of state.

“The secret truth of it is that everyone is guiltily, honestly, deeply relieved that foreign policy is now with a veteran team of Washington hands led by Hillary Clinton at State and General Jim Jones as national security adviser, supported by old Bush family consigliere Robert Gates at Defense and Clintonista champs Eric Holder at Justice and Janet Napolitano at Homeland,” Batchelor insisted.

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