For a while now, in an effort to boost sales of David Horowitz and Ben Johnson's book "Party of Defeat," Horowitz's FrontPageMag has been offering $500 "to any critic of the war -- who has written for a reputable publication -- to write a critique of the book and its main thesis." That thesis is summarized in the book's subtitle: "How Democrats and Radicals Undermined America's War on Terror Before and After 9/11."
The problem with this is that it appears to be a sucker's bet. It's not clear whether payment of the $500 is contingent on disproving the book, but it is clear that Horowitz and Johnson -- who appear to be the only judges -- will never concede (publicly, anyway) that it has been disproven, even if it actually was.
Typical is Horowitz and Johnson's exchange with Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff. He writes that Horowitz and Johnson "claim that Scooter Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's convicted chief of staff, never leaked the identity of Joe Wilson's wife, CIA officer Valerie Plame. Actually, he did - to Judith Miller of the New York Times over breakfast at the St. Regis Hotel on July 8, 2003." They respond:
Isikoff takes us to task over the leak of Valerie Plame’s name to Robert Novak. Scooter Libby was not the source of this leak; rather antiwar Realist Richard Armitage was. He then told no one and let the president’s enemies in the Democratic Party and the media call him a liar for several years. Still, Isikoff’s co-author, David Corn, has tortured logic to somehow link Armitage’s inadvertent leak to the White House.
That's rebutted again by Isikoff:
Horowitz and Johnson—having been caught in their mistake about Scooter Libby not having leaked Valerie Plame’s CIA identity—subtly reshift their argument to instruct me that Richard Armitage was actually the “source” of the leak. Thanks for the info, guys. The news that it was Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage who first leaked Joe Wilson’s wife’s identity to Bob Woodward and columnist Robert Novak was revealed to the world in Hubis, the book I co-wrote with David Corn. Horowitz and Johnson criticize what they call Corn’s ‘”tortured” logic (a Freudian slip that?) regarding the White House connection. I don’t know what tortured logic they’re talking about. But as we painstakingly laid out in the book, Armitage’s role does not change the fact that Libby and Karl Rove (completely independently) leaked the same information for their own political reasons—to discredit Wilson for his criticism of the White House’s use of the phony Niger yellowcake story.
Horowitz and Johnson responded with further parsing:
We were not “caught” in a mistake about Libby: our book’s focus was on the leak to Robert Novak – the leak that sparked the appointment of special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald -- in which Libby had no role.
Horowitz and Johnson really aren't interested in a serious debate on the issue -- they just want something they can contort into self-affirming evidence they were right all along. That's how the Horowitz crew rolls; another Horowitz co-author, Richard Poe, tried to do the same thing to Media Matters. (Poe plays the victim over this on his blog, whining that Media Matters "sought to discredit and silence me" four four years, ruefully calling it a "cheerless anniversary." Of course, Poe will never admit that he discredited himself.)