Sunday, September 11, 2016

The “vast right-wing conspiracy”

When Hillary Clinton, then “first lady,” complained about a “vast right-wing conspiracy” against her husband Bill, who was about to be impeached on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, probably most people laughed or reacted with scorn.

I didn’t, because I knew it to be true. For that reason I don’t take seriously the notion that she, now running for president in her own right, is singularly corrupt.

At the height of the “Vince-Foster-may-have-been-murdered” controversy in 1995, CBS’s ”60 Minutes” did its own investigation and found that Christopher Ruddy, then a reporter for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, had done a politically motivated hatchet job in trying to prove that Foster hadn’t actually committed suicide.

Soon after that, Frank Rich and Howard Kuntz both published pieces in the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal respectively about the involvement of Richard Mellon Scaife, the late billionaire and publisher of the Trib who had bankrolled numerous conservative causes, including media committed to getting out the “truth” about the Clintons.

Later that year I wrote a piece for The Pitt News, for which I was a columnist, in which I used the word “conspiracy.” Because it sure seemed that way to me.

It wasn’t until 2002, when the book “Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative” was published, that I understood fully about the conspiracy. Author David Brock, formerly a reporter for the right-wing American Spectator, wrote that Scaife had given the magazine $2 million to dig up dirt on the Clintons in what became known as the “Arkansas Project” (it turned out that making up stuff about public officials in that state was somewhat of a tradition in that state).

Brock would write a piece about Bill Clinton using state troopers to get women, for which he was praised in conservative circles, James Dobson even saying that Brock was doing “God’s work.” (Which turned out to be ironic, since Brock later came out as gay.) He also wrote a book “The Real Anita Hill,” which slammed the accuser of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who in 1991 was in the midst of hearing amidst accusations of sexual harassment.

Brock wrote a biography, “The Seduction of Hillary Rodham Clinton,” that was published just before Bill’s 1996 reelection campaign and in which he told the truth about her — but since it contained little if any red meat he ended up being kicked out of the conservative movement.

Anyway, with the impeachment pending he decided to come clean as to what he knew, first to Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal, and then later to numerous media as to what really was happening. (And of course, the impeachment failed.) Brock, who founded the left-leaning watchdog Media Matters for America, is now a Hillary supporter.

Something that Brock brought out that I didn’t realize: The strategy on the part of conservative media was to spread unsubstantiated rumors to get the mainstream media to investigate. I suspect this was done for two reasons: 1) The conservative media’s ratings and circulation would, and did, increase: and 2) The mainstream media would be, and still are to this day being, accused of “protecting” the Clintons for not finding anything (which in fact there was essentially nothing to find).

That’s the context to what we’re seeing today with the opposition to Hillary’s campaign.

I’ve always believed that the Clintons were indeed singular political figures in that they had the power to cause major political change — which represented a major threat to the power of the people who hated them for whatever reason. Bill would have done so had he been able to keep his pants on, and Hillary might finish the job because she has coattails that no other candidate does.

So if you’re trying to convince me that she’s so horrible, save it. It just isn’t true.

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