President and CEO of leftwing watchdog group Media Matters
Complains about the “undue influence” of the “right-wing media”
Born in 1962, David Brock is an openly gay author, a former conservative turned leftist, and the founder of Media Matters for America, which monitors the media for evidence of “conservative misinformation.”
Brock first achieved public prominence with his 1993 book The Real Anita Hill, in which he exposed the leftwing smear campaign against the future Supreme Court Justice. Throughout the 1990s, Brock was a muckraking investigative reporter for the conservative magazine The American Spectator. On a contract that paid him $350,000, he produced just six articles; these focused on President Bill Clinton’s sexual farragoes and brought Brock much additional fame.
Soon thereafter, Brock accepted a million-dollar advance from a conservative publisher (Free Press) to write an investigative biography of Hillary Clinton thatwould expose her in the sensational and salacious way he had discredited Anita Hill. An initial press run of 200,000 copies was announced for this projected best-seller. But Brock failed to produce the book he had promised. When The Seduction of Hillary Rodham was released in October 1996, it was a pedestrian account of a well-intentioned liberal, misunderstood by the “mainstream media,” and “seduced by the talented boy from the Arkansas backwoods.” As word of the book’s tepid contents spread, its sales plummeted.
In the June 1997 issue of Esquire magazine, Brock wrote “Confessions of a Right-Wing Hit Man,” in which he claimed that conservatives were now punishing him for his independence of thought in refusing to vilify Hillary Clinton. Brock followed up his Esquire article with a March 1998 public letter of apology to Bill Clinton, in which he repudiated his own past reporting on the former President’s private life. Brock also condemned the Arkansas state troopers who had been the sources for his 1994 “Troopergate” story on Clinton, now claiming that they had “greedy and had slimy motives.” He similarly denounced Clinton’s Arkansas critics as “segregationists” who “hated Clinton for his progressive record on race.”
In 2002, Brock published the book Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative, a series of ad hominem attacks on his former conservative colleagues. Brock interrogated the ethics of his onetime friends and co-workers, heaping contempt on everything from their views to their wardrobe. “It’s only since coming out of the right wing that I’ve been able to see beyond partisan politics and careerism to what’s really important in life,” Brock said in a 2002 interview with the Washington Post.
Brock was now working as a research assistant for Democratic political operative Sidney Blumenthal, a former top advisor and confidante to President Clinton. In his sympathetic 2004 book about the scandals that had embroiled the Clinton administration, The Clinton Wars, Blumenthal revealed that Brock had helped him construct a partisan narrative that painted Clinton’s critics as agents of a well-organized ideological onslaught laying siege to the office of the presidency.
“The right wing in this country has dominated the debate over liberal bias, Brock said. “By dominating that debate, my belief is they’ve moved the media itself to the right and therefore they’ve moved American politics to the right.” Brock made the point more simply in his 2004 book, The Republican Noise Machine: Right-Wing Media and How it Corrupts Democracy, an invective-fueled broadside against “biased right-wing media,” “biased right-wing commentators,” and a “mainstream media susceptible to right-wing scripting.” “My view,” said Brock, “is that unchecked right-wing media power means that in the United States today, no issue can be honestly debated and no election can be fairly decided.”
Brock is one of the leading exponents of the conspiracy theory ascribing Al Gore’s defeat in the 2000 presidential election to the corrupting influence of the conservative media. As he toldMother Jones magazine in 2004, “The Republicans knew they couldn’t win on the issues in 2000, so they developed an explicit strategy to attack Gore’s character—and that ultimately seemed to have worked.”
In February 2005, in the course of giving a talk to interns at the Center for American Progressrun by John Podesta, Brock stated: “We have seen the mainstream media increasingly accommodating conservatism and this is not an accident. This is the result of coordinated and financed effort by the right wing to pressure, push and bully the media to do that.”
Brock has become one of the leadings proponents of the jettisoned Fairness Doctrine. Enacted in 1949 by the Federal Communications Commission, the unconstitutional legislation required radio and television programs to obtain licenses before broadcasting controversial views, and mandated that those views be presented in a "fair and balanced" manner—thereby setting bounds on free speech and limiting the diversity of viewpoints that could be freely aired. The repeal of the major provisions of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987 ushered in a boom of new media formats, including political talk radio.
In 2005, Brock joined forces with Thomas Athans, Executive Director of the radio program Democracy Now, and Andrew Schwartzman of the leftwing advocacy group Media Access Project, to author a petition calling for the reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine. The petition claimed that “news consumers…are overwhelmingly exposed to a single [conservative] point of view” which is “presented in a manner not conducive to the listeners’ receiving the facts and range of opinions necessary to make informed decisions.”
Notably, in the aforementioned 2004 interviewwith Mother Jones magazine, Brock, dismissing conservative complaints about liberal bias in the news media, derided “this phony notion of balance—that we need to hear all sides of a story, and that everyone’s entitled to express their opinion.”
In April 2008, Politico.com reported that Brock was collaborating with billionaire donor George Soros and longtime Democrat operative Paul Begala to launch a four-month, $40 million media campaign whose mission would be to publicly discredit Republican presidential candidate John McCain. Brock was slated to lead the media campaign through an organization called Progressive Media USA, whose chairmanship he had assumed in March 2008. Brock complained that because “the press is in love with John McCain,” the Republican senator “is allowed to say [things] without being challenged by facts that will show him to have said something different in the past.” “Progressive Media USA will be a permanent part of progressive media infrastructure,” added Brock.
In 2010 Brock founded American Bridge 21st Century, a self-described “progressive research and communications organization” that conducts opposition research designed to help Democratic political candidates.
In January 2013 the Daily Caller (DC) reported that Brock’s one-time aide, Media Matters staffer Haydn Price-Morris, had "committed numerous felonies in the District of Columbia and around the country by carrying a firearm to defend" Brock. According to DC: "multiple firearms used to protect the Media Matters founder were purchased with Brock’s blessing — and apparently with the group’s money." DCadded:
Brock, whose struggles with mental health have seen him hospitalized in the past, became increasingly concerned by late 2010 that he was being targeted by right-wing assassins.... [B]y that time, Brock had armed his assistant — who had no permit to carry a concealed firearm — with a Glock handgun. According to an internal email exchange obtained by TheDC, the gun was purchased with cash in Maryland, likely to diminish the chances such a purchase would appear on the tax-exempt group’s books. Between Price-Morris’ early 2009 arrival and late 2010 departure from Media Matters, he also acquired a shotgun for Brock’s protection. Price-Morris was regularly armed when accompanying Brock on trips around the country, according to a source, and his firearm possession in Washington, D.C. constituted multiple felonies."
According to Stephen Halbrook, a D.C.-area lawyer with more than 35 years of experience practicing gun law, Price-Morris, for the offense of carrying a fully-loaded Glock in Washington without a permit, “could be looking at some substantial prison time because if we use the low-end felony sentence of five years, you could get five years for the non-registration, five for the carrying, and then [more for] the second offenses of the magazine being over 10 rounds and then the cartridges.” Halbrook also said that Brock could be charged as "a conspirator, or maybe an aider or abettor of a crime."
Much of this profile is adapted from the article "David Brock: Media Liar," written by Jacob Laksin and published by FrontPageMagazine.com on September 21, 2005.
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