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Still Borking Brock

The ConWeb (the part that's not pretending he doesn't exist, anyway) is long on personal attacks, short on evidence his book is incorrect.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 4/3/2002
Updated 4/8/2002

What to do with a problem like David Brock?

That's the dilemma conservatives face regarding the "hit man" writer comrade turned teller of secrets of the anti-Clinton right wing with his new book "Blinded By the Right." So far, they have split into two camps: waging personal attacks on him or ignoring him completely.

That's how the ConWeb has broken down as well. NewsMax is taking the la-la-la-I'm-not-listening route on Brock for quite some time, dating all the way back to last year's accusation by Brock that Ted Olson didn't tell the truth about his involvement in the American Specatator's infamous "Arkansas Project" during his congressional hearing for solicitor general. Which seems a little strange, especially since Brock and NewsMax CEO Christopher Ruddy likely traveled in many of the same circles as conservative hatchet men.

The Wall Street Journal editorial page, which was eager to discredit Brock last year over the Olson accusation, kept silent about Brock's book until April 8, when editor Robert Bartley called Brock "the John Walker Lindh of contemporary conservatism" -- ironically, in a column fretting that Bill Clinton is still upset by the things folks like Bartley did to him during his presidency. But Bartley doesn't attempt to disprove anything Brock has to say.

WorldNetDaily has been a little more vocal. Last year, editor Joseph Farah demanded Brock return a cash award from a group Farah founded. This time, the designated Brock-basher is columnist Gary Aldrich, and he doesn't disappoint in his March 21 column. "The sneaky, smarmy attacks that this real-life Gollum launches against friend and foe alike are mean, nasty, unwarranted and unfair," Aldrich writes. "Brock does his best work at night, perhaps in damp caves where he can blind-side people."

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"Blinded By the Right," Aldrich says, "is a joke – it's a fantasy for liberals – a comic book," and this "misuse of perfectly innocent trees will .. end up on remainder tables at a lot of bookstores." Brock's previous book on Hillary Clinton, which helped get him kicked out of the conservative fraternity, was "boring, filled with recycled press clippings and other useless trivia." He sees "Clinton lovers" as buyers of the book, "perhaps as something handy for swatting cockroaches as they scurry across the floors of those who voted for Bill Clinton."

Nowhere does Aldrich refute anything specific Brock has to say -- not even in the part where "I, personally, am the subject of an entire chapter in Brock's book" -- but that doesn't stop him from declaring the entire book a lie: "The biggest lie he tells is that he started all of Clinton's legal troubles. ... He was a bit player who wrote one salacious magazine article."

Accuracy in Media's Reed Irvine attacks New York Times columnist Paul Krugman's review of Brock's book in an April 4 piece, but he doesn't attack the book itself. He does, however, pass along some third-hand gossip -- "A reliable source sent me this report about what he had personally heard ... (from) several gay guys at an adjacent table at a restaurant" -- that the reason Brock's book on Hillary Clinton was favorable was because he was involved in a relationship with her press secretary. Ah, where would the ConWeb be without anonymous third-hand reports of overheard restaurant gossip?

The biggest whiner -- er, critic of Brock thus far has been the Media Reserach Center. On March 14, Brent Baker and Rich Noyes complained that Brock appeared on NBC's "Today" show to plug the book when it was "far from a best-seller." Baker and Noyes spoke too soon; as of this writing, "Blinded By the Right" was No. 4 on the New York Times' nonfiction list. (They also complain about Bernard Goldberg's "Bias" not getting any play on the networks despite the fact that the two books aren't about the same subject and that no news organization, the ConWeb included, willingly gives attention to its critics.) On March 19, Baker reprinted a lengthy Fox News Channel exchange between Brock and Fox's David Asman, who hammered on a picayune error in the book over how Gary Aldrich was credited in a Wall Street Journal article. Baker extrapolated this exchange into a declaration that "Asman actually challenged Brock’s broad accusations and took on some of the specific allegations in the book, demonstrating they are inaccurate."

Then, Brent Bozell weighs in with a bitter little March 22 column called "Brock's Bitter Little Book," which starts: "David Brock is a pathetic little man." He complains that "This new screed against conservatives has no footnotes, no index, no real historical substance." (The fact that Brock is relating his personal experiences usually precludes footnotes.) He offers that Brock's book on Hillary Clinton "began with the author lying prostrate at the First Lady's feet like Margaret Carlson, cribbing Margaret's sycophantic notes." He frets that "Brock thinks he was vicious and sleazy before, but his new book mercilessly attacks the personal habits of his former comrades, including several pages denouncing the late Barbara Olson. Classy." (Bozell knows a thing or two about "classy" merciless attacks, y'know.) And he's absolutely miffed that the guy's getting attention for "this sloppy, bitter, vengeful little book."

Again, like Aldrich, Bozell is too busy trying to create a Brock-trashing diversion to offer any actual evidence of factual errors in his book.

Actually, the only person thus far who has tried to hunt down errors in the book (or, at least, "dubious assertions") is Slate's Timothy Noah, who is not considered a conservative. And Brock quickly rebutted him.

Given that that David Brock has been met with either hysterics or silence by the conservative community he was once a part of, it's probably a safe bet that he's on the mark with what he's written. Thing is, even if Timothy Noah is right, that's still fewer and less serious errors than have been documented in Gary Aldrich's book.

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