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 they 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 co-conspirators 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 twenty-nine-page document. The original document contained 331 pages before being expurgated. Yet a lot can be revealed in twenty-nine 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 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. 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 “overcharge”). She was apparently asleep at 3 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 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?
Up From Racism
There is something decidedly odd about the use of racially loaded terms in America today.
Black personalities use these terms on occasion, and no controversy whatsoever is attached to the event, even when the terms are enunciated in public for all to see and to hear. When whites—often old and over the hill—use these terms and ideas—often behind closed doors—all hell breaks loose.
The latest occasion of this occurred when Donald Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, a basketball team, was taped uttering racially divisive words and ignorant ideas to his obviously disgruntled lover. She handed over a tape of the conversation, apparently surreptitiously made, to the online scandal sheet TMZ, and kaboom. Suddenly Sterling became one of the most notorious men in America and of course a modern American bigot. Of a sudden, the columnists and talking heads commenced a new round of chatter about how racism is still with us. After all, an eighty-year-old billionaire is spouting racist swill in the comfort of his own home.
Truth be known, racism is not still with us. By every index I know of racial prejudice is way down, especially among white people. The vast majority of Americans want to put our racially charged history behind us.
Yet Sterling was apparently taped by an angry lover in a private setting saying, among other invidious things, “It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people.” He also used profanity and sexually explicit terms. The tape was despicable and troglodytic. Yet now Sterling is being lumped in with another curiosity, Cliven Bundy, the western rancher who is grazing his cattle on government land. Bundy’s rant was in public and more an example of innocent old-fashioned bigotry than of anything more serious, but still it was wrong and when combined with Sterling’s tirade it lent credence to claims of white racism.
Yet what about blacks? Do they ever speak crudely about race? As a matter of fact, some do, and they go on and are given cable television shows in the mainstream media—for instance, the Rev. Al Sharpton who has won a perch on MSNBC. He also has recently had the president of the United States and his attorney general appear at his meeting of the National Action Network. Al should never have gotten beyond his racial encounters with Tawana Brawley and Jewish shopkeepers in New York City twenty-five years ago, but he has. Now he is admired, at least, by the American left, our president, and Attorney General Eric Holder.
He has been caught on tape using racially charged words over and again, most recently by columnist Jeffrey Lord. Just the other day Lord revived his 2012 column wherein Sharpton, speaking of the black politician David Dinkins, said, “David Dinkins….You wanna be the only ni–er on television, the only ni–er in the newspaper, the only ni–er to talk….Don’t cover them, don’t talk to them, cause you got the only ni–er problem….” Lord is The American Spectator’s Keeper of the Quotes. He cites numerous instances of prominent blacks using racially charged language that is barely distinguishable from the language used in private by Sterling and in public by Bundy. For instance he quotes President Obama’s friend and major donor Jay Z as singing: “Yeah, I done told you ni–gaz, 9 or 10 times stop f–in’ with me, I done told you n–gaz….” Then too there is Jesse Jackson using the N-word back in 2013.
But enough, you get the picture. Sharpton and Jay Z and all these other black orators use pretty vile language and they are honored. Sterling uses vile language and is excoriated.
I have a better idea. Why not banish all racially bigoted language from public life?