On April 20, when my book Big Agenda: President Trump’s Plan to Save America, was entering its 10th consecutive week on the New York Times best-seller list, I received an email from Robert O’Harrow, an investigative reporter for The Washington Post. He was asking for an interview, and even offered to fly to California to facilitate it. O’Harrow’s interest wasn’t in my book of course. For many years now, the Post and other leftwing media like The New York Times have only imposed a blackout on my books and what they regard as my dangerous conservative views. O’Harrow’s interest, as he explained, was in the David Horowitz Freedom Center, the organization I founded a quarter century ago, and “its work over the years and the impact of its groups and their political allies on the recent election…. We’re very interested in the state of play for (c)3s and their political activity.”
This was not a prescription for an objective piece of journalism. A quick Google check showed that O’Harrow’s last eight “investigative” articles were exclusively devoted to attacks on Steve Bannon and Donald Trump. But I didn’t even need that information to see he was gunning for me. The David Horowitz Freedom Center is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization, which is forbidden under IRS rules from engaging in political activities. So his “interest” in our “political allies” and even worse, our alleged “impact … on the recent election,” along with his request for “a copy of your original 1023 form seeking tax exempt status,” set off alarm bells I could hardly ignore.
There was also a half-hearted blandishment: “We’d like to discuss Shadow Party [a book I wrote in 2011 describing George Soros’ takeover of the Democratic party] and your assertion that many Democratic nonprofits are essentially political organizations…” Of course, O’Harrow had no intention of examining the political activities of Democrat tax-exempt 501(c)3’s such as Black Lives Matter; the ACLU (instigator of the Sanctuary Cities movement); the Southern Poverty Law Center, slander-central of the far left; or Soros’ own Open Society Institute (currently under investigation for taking US AID funds and using them in an attempt to overthrow the duly elected government of Macedonia). O’Harrow had one target in his crosshairs: the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
I sent him this reply: “Exactly which left-wing, liberal and progressive (c)3s are you investigating for your story? Please be specific.” I also said that while the Freedom Center is part of a shadow political universe dominated by left-wing (c)3’s, it does not engage in political activities in the narrow sense used in the I.R.S. code.”
Instead of answering my question, O’Harrow responded with a reprise of his clumsy attempt at seduction:
Right now [as if there was going to be some other occasion] we are focusing on you and some of your colleagues and affiliated and/or allied groups. We can travel to you. We are happy to discuss at length what we are looking at. Thanks, Robert.
Why should I talk to you? If you are conducting a vendetta against one conservative organization under the guise of doing a fair-minded investigation of the IRS code? [Jesse Jackson’s] Rainbow Push, [Al Sharpton’s] National Action Network, Southern Poverty Law Center, Planned Parenthood would be four examples of c3 organizations much bigger than ours that would merit your attention if you were being honest about your agendas. The fact that you don’t mention even one leftwing organization that is a concern to you is a pretty good indicator that you are not honest and not approaching me in good faith. So why should I want to ‘chat’ with you? Would you chat with someone conducting his business as unethically as you apparently do?
The ball immediately reappeared in my court:
Dear Mr. Horowitz. We will reflect your views about the abuses of the charity rules in general and for our part will point out — as we have done in the past — the abuses that occur across the political spectrum. You have already noted for us, as pointedly as anyone involved in charities, how widespread such abuses are. That said, we are focusing on the Freedom Center and related charities, operations and people because that happens to be the direction of this story.
We would like to chat to tell you, in as much detail as you desire, the direction of our story and to solicit more of your thoughts about the Freedom Center, Jihad Watch, Restoration Weekend (and similar events) and your personal and financial ties to people who share your political views, including Stephen Miller, Stephen Bannon and a host of foundations that donate to the Freedom Center. [Author’s note: Actually the Center has 200,000 individual donors and only a handful, not a host, of foundations that donate to it.]
We also want to hear more about your thoughts about the need to reform the charitable system to prevent abuses on both the left and right of the political spectrum….If it helps reassure you, we are pursuing this as any other story, vigorously and in a balanced, fact-driven way.
C’mon Robert. If you focus on us exclusively then your readers will regard us as the problem,… If you had any integrity – or respect for my intelligence – you would not be trying to pull the wool over my eyes and get me to cooperate in a hatchet job directed at me. Instead, you’d be singing my praises for raising the shadow political universe in the first place and you would focus on actual criminals like Jackson and Sharpton and Soros. Like your paper, you are a disgrace to what’s left of the journalistic profession in this country. And you’re not very bright to let me know that your real targets are Bannon and Miller, and the president, though I had already guessed that.
I thought this pretty much ended the conversation. But there was another tone deaf and somewhat robotic overture: “Hi, Mr. Horowitz. We are moving ahead with our reporting. We would like to continue our discussion with you, including the charities, its affiliates and allies and your views on political activism and ‘political warfare,’ as you have described it. We also want to focus in on the pay you have received over the years as head of the Freedom Center and its predecessor organization…. Please get back to us about setting up an interview. In the meantime, can you send us a copy of your group’s IRS form 1023, a public document that describes the tax-exempt purpose of a charity? Thank you, Robert.
I didn’t reply to this email or his next one, reiterating the same disingenuous claim to be pursuing a story rather than arranging for my public burning.
This is the scummy bottom where the “liberal” media now feed, a savage parody of investigative journalism that must have Ben Bradlee and Katherine Graham averting their eyes in shame.
In my book Big Agenda, I describe the Democrats – and progressives generally – as a “party of hate.” Rather than being interested in the other side, if only as a debating partner, they openly regard conservatives as “racists, sexists, homophobes, Islamophobes and xenophobes,” –irredeemable and deplorable, in Hillary’s revealing phrase. Such individuals are not worthy of fair treatment; they are beyond the pale and therefore legitimate targets of illegitimate attacks. If they are in any way effective, whether as members of a conservative presidential administration or as the author of a favorable book on that administration, they are prime targets for destruction.