WASHINGTON — My telephone is not ringing off the hook. No intriguing or inquiring emails have arrived on my computer. Yet, on Friday, a document drop from the Clinton Library revealed that years ago, in the 1990s, I was at the very heart of the “vast right-wing conspiracy.” Now here we are almost a week later, and still no journalist, much less a historian, has called to ask me if I really was actively conspiring with the British press, select American newspapers, obscure right-wing political operators and, who knows, possibly foreign powers to create the gossamer of scandal over the Clinton White House. All this was reported in the documents.
It has always struck me as curious how news stories are reported in America or not reported. What standards must be met to land a story on the front page or even to decide that it is a story worth reporting at all.
Consider this story involving me that swayed tantalizingly on the threshold of the public domain. Its subject was that fantastical concoction that the Clinton White House created in the mid-1990s, “the media food chain.” Through this “food chain,” the Clintons claimed, came all the bogus stories of scandal that the Clintons so stoically endured. Thanks to my fellow conspirators these stories eventually proved irresistible to the mainstream press, though there was not a scintilla of plausibility to them. Far from being a serial womanizer, Bill was the virgin president. He never lied, never obstructed justice, never blackened the reputations of the personae mentioned in the news stories, for instance, Gennifer Flowers, Paula Corbin Jones, Monica Lewinsky and, of course, my coconspirators in the vast right-wing conspiracy.
Now one would think that the other day when the Clinton Library made public the Clintons’ evidence of this conspiracy it would have been a pretty big story, especially as Hillary Clinton is prominently mentioned as a presidential contender, actually as the nation’s only presidential contender unless, that is, the Republicans can find a candidate suitably suicidal. Moreover, Hillary actually coined the term “vast right-wing conspiracy” and sent the press out to investigate us. Friday her evidence was revealed in a 29-page document. The original document contained 331 pages before being expurgated. Yet a lot can be revealed in 29 pages. There I was, contacting the British journalist Ambrose Evans-Pritchard. He created with my wizardry something called “blowback” that spread everywhere. And certain shady political “activists” would “feed” my magazine The American Spectator steamy stories that eventually found their way into the mainstream media. Why is my telephone not ceaselessly ringing? Why have I not even had a call from the FBI?
Well, maybe now the press realizes that the Clintons’ talk about a media food chain and a vast right-wing conspiracy are a bit fla-fla. As I reported almost twenty years ago, this conspiracy nonsense revealed what the historian Richard Hofstadter had called the “paranoid style of American politics.” In his day he identified it as occurring on the fringe right. In the 1990s it appeared on the liberal left, and not on the fringes of the liberal left. The Clintons had brought it right into the White House. Neither a conservative Republican nor a liberal Democrat had ever brought the paranoid style into the White House. The Clintons did.
Today, all these years later, I am identified as being at the heart of the conspiracy to scandalize the Clintons. Why does not someone give me a call and ask me why I did it. How I got these other people together. Or maybe I was just one of several conspirators. Why am I not asked who our leader was? Perhaps the answer is that mainstream journalism recognizes that there was no conspiracy to bring down the Clintons. They brought all their problems on themselves. All I had to do with the assistance of a few colleagues in the press corps was to report it.
Today Hillary is thinking of running for her husband’s old job. She overcame eight years of scandal in the White House, many of them spent covering up for Bill’s shameless womanizing. How will that play in a campaign featuring the Democrats’ contemporary theme of “a war on women”? More recently as secretary of state she bungled her “reset” button with Russia (among other things confusing it with the Russian word for “overload”). She was apparently asleep at 3:00 a.m. when terrorists were killing the American ambassador to Libya. Do you remember in the 2008 election when she asked candidate Obama what he would do at 3:00 a.m. in time of crisis?
How long will the American press cover for the Clintons, the shabbiest political dynasty since the Longs of Louisiana?