David Brock has written a new book called The Republican Noise Machine: How It Corrupts Our Democracy. In it, he purports to expose the vast right-wing media conspiracy, a menace Brock claims to know first-hand as someone who was once a cog in its malignant machine. First-hand knowledge is an important claim for Brock because, as a famous self-confessed prevaricator, he is aware that he stands on shaky ground as he attempts to extend the successful career he has made out of his confession of malfeasance and the political reversal it announced. A similar dilemma haunts the postpartum lives of other reborn dissemblers like Stephen Glass and Jayson Blair. Brock’s advantage over them in finding a readership willing to believe his stories again is that he is selling a message his new political allies are eager to hear.
As a conservative writer and publisher, I have the dubious privilege of appearing as one of the culprits in Brock’s profile of what he claims is a vast right wing media conspiracy. In a dozen pages of The Republican Noise Machine, Brock offers readers an account of my career as a cabalist of the Right and polluter of the nation’s journalistic airwaves.
I do not intend to examine the thesis of Brock’s book, which I admit I find preposterous – that unscrupulous, partisan conservatives have invaded arenas previously governed by impeccable standards of fairness and objectivity, and thereby corrupted American journalism and politics in the process. Only the ideologically blinded will be persuaded by special pleadings like this. What I propose instead is to use Brock’s account of my attitudes and deeds as an occasion to assess his reliability as a reporter of facts (rather than as an interpreter of their significance). In other words, I will use this opportunity to examine the reliability of Brock in providing the evidentiary basis he offers his readers to make a judgment about my work or anyone else’s.
I am an exceptionally promising subject for such an exercise because I have published a lengthy autobiography and left a clearly defined trail in many books and articles readily available on the web (at www.frontpagemag.com and www.Salon.com). Therefore a comparison of Brock’s version to this published record offers a unique and fairly precise way for readers to gauge his accuracy as a journalist and his reliability as a guide to the evidence, quite apart from any political conclusions he draws from it. In sum, if David Brock wanted to get the bare facts of what I have done and what I have said correct by checking the sources, he could easily have done so. He would not have to undertake the arduous task of tracking them down or conducting interviews with people who knew me, or with myself. Nor would readers have to weigh the veracity of his account of such interviews where only he and his subject were present, which is often the most problematic aspect of assessing the fairness and accuracy of a writer’s work. In order to measure Brock’s regard for the evidence, I will attempt (without unnecessarily boring the reader) to cover every factual statement about me that he makes in this book.
Brock begins his account of my career inauspiciously with a reference exaggerated to the point of distortion. “In the 1960s, Horowitz had been an editor of Ramparts, one of the most violently radical organs of the New Left.” (Brock, p. 100) But while Ramparts was indeed a radical organ, it was hardly “one of the most violently radical organs of the time.” Among these one might include Prairie Fire (the publication of the terrorist Weather Underground), The Black Panther, the Revolutionary Worker, the Berkeley Barb and other vanguard publications of movements actively organizing for terrorist and revolutionary agendas.
By contrast, movement activists generally regarded Ramparts as a “sellout” publication because the magazine was published in a slick four-color format for newsstands, as opposed to the “underground” style of truly “movement” papers. Moreover, its staff members were conspicuously not activists themselves. During the 1968 riots at the Democratic Party convention in Chicago, for example, Ramparts’ staff was roundly criticized for setting up headquarters in the “Pump Room” of the Hilton instead of joining other radicals in the dangerous streets. In 1971, Ramparts published an article condemning the violence of the Weather Underground and in 1974 an editorial appeared in the magazine condemning the violence of the SLA. I wrote both pieces myself, a fact reported in my autobiography, Radical Son, which was a text readily available to Brock, if he cared to characterize my early radicalism correctly.
Brock continues: “Horowitz was the author of a book, The Free World Colossus, an influential New Left text indicting U.S. foreign policy. His thinking was shaped by his friend and mentor Isaac Deutscher, a Marxist historian and a biographer of Leon Trotsky” (Brock, p. 100). Isaac Deutscher was indeed my friend and mentor but, as explained in my autobiography, our personal relationship had no influence on The Free World Colossus. This was because I hadn’t even met him at the time I wrote the book in Sweden in 1962-3. I met Deutscher afterwards when I moved to London, where he resided. Time factors aside, the account of our meeting in Radical Son explicitly refutes Brock’s claim that my thinking in the book was shaped by Deutscher. In Radical Son I describe our first encounter in the living room of a mutual friend where I eagerly presented Deutscher with one of the theses I had advanced (and was most proud of) in The Free World Colossus. This was the notion that Russia’s possession of nuclear weapons was a principal cause of the Sino-Soviet split. Deutscher was so contemptuous of my idea that he rudely turned his back on me and continued to refuse to speak to me for the rest of our meeting. (Radical Son, p. 142)
Brock then devotes three or four sentences to my involvement with the Black Panther Party, adhering reasonably to the facts as he recounts how I raised money for a school for Panther children and recruited a woman to keep its books whom they subsequently murdered. But these facts are only a setup for the sentences that follow, which purport to explain (and denigrate) my own political transformation: “Hugh Pearson, author of a history of Huey P. Newton and the Black Panther movement, believed this emotional trauma caused Horowitz to go ‘berserk with regard to the left-liberal community.’ A few years later, Horowitz re-emerged on the public stage, launching a bitter attack on his former friends and colleagues on the Left and announcing with much fanfare, that he had voted for Ronald Reagan.” (Brock, p. 101)
This is a falsification of what actually transpired on several levels. Hugh Pearson was a left-wing writer for the San Francisco Weekly, whom I had met only once for a two-hour interview for his book on the Panthers. Pearson is entitled to his off-the-cuff opinion about my psychological state. But the claim that I went “berserk” and launched into a “bitter attack” on my “former friends” is far-fetched to say the least. Betty Van Patter was murdered in January 1975. Far from turning in bitterness on my former friends (as Brock himself actually did), I made no political statements at all -- let alone statements that could be regarded as attacks on my former friends and allies -- for fully ten years after Betty’s death (a time at which they had pretty well ceased to be friends and allies). The article in which I revealed that I had voted for Ronald Reagan, and to which Brock refers, didn’t appear in The Washington Post until March 17, 1985. This was the first time I had expressed any conservative thoughts in print since Betty’s murder.
The Post article, “Lefties for Reagan,” was a purely political statement and -- unlike Brock’s manifesto of his own transformation -- did not name a single former friend or colleague in its indictment of radical posturing in behalf of Third World revolutionaries and Communists. It could hardly be said to be an expression of personal bitterness, since it was co-authored with another writer, Peter Collier, who had experienced a similar bout of second thoughts. The Post article is often referred to and easily available in Deconstructing the Left, a book I co-authored with Collier, which is available on Amazon.com. The article is easily accessed in the Post archives. If Brock had consulted it, he would have seen that it is entirely about foreign policy and does not so much as mention the Panthers’ murder of Betty Van Patter.
During the ten-year political silence I observed between Betty’s murder and the article in the Post, I wrote only two political articles, and both were written from a leftist point of view. They appeared in The Nation in 1979 and in Mother Jones in 1981 because as late as that – six years after Betty’s murder – I still wanted to believe that I was part of this “liberal community” I had allegedly turned on out of sheer derangement. So much for bitterness driving my politics. All these facts were available to Brock in my autobiography Radical Son, but he either didn’t bother to check them – or didn’t care.
Brock follows this false account of my political turn with a series of misleading comments that amplify the misimpression:
(1) “He then wrote a book, Destructive Generation: Second Thoughts About the Sixties, which sought to blame contemporary social ills on the 1960s” (p. 101). In fact, the book was not primarily about “social ills,” but about the Sixties movements themselves, and it was not written by me alone but was co-authored with Peter Collier. We devoted a chapter to the Weather Underground, a chapter to the solidarity movements, a chapter to radical activities in Berkeley, and three chapters to memoirs by Peter and myself of our political transformations. The gravamen of our indictment was that our generation of leftists had refused to make an accounting of what they had done and where they had been wrong. They just moved from one cause to the next without ever looking back or bothering to make a balance sheet of their actions.
(2) “In 1987, Horowitz was recruited to do work for the Reagan Administration….” (p. 101). Not exactly. The facts are that Peter and I were asked by the State Department to go on a three-day trip to Nicaragua to share our political views and experiences, as American citizens, with the democratic opposition to the Sandinista dictatorship. This invitation and these experiences are described in Destructive Generation.
(3) “…and he wrote speeches for Bob Dole in the 1988 presidential campaign. So began Horowitz’s incendiary second career as a highly paid shock trooper for the Republican Right that would lead to accusations from Time columnist Jack E. White that he was a ‘real live bigot,’ and that would bring him, by 2000, into the circle of Bush advisor Karl Rove” (Brock, p. 101).
Where to begin with these smears by association? Collier and I did write speeches for Dole, but I don’t remember being paid for them, handsomely or otherwise. It is true that Jack White, a racially hostile columnist for Time, slandered me – a dozen years later – for questioning the political efforts of the NAACP to sue gun manufacturers for the homicides committed against blacks (details Brock omits). But it is also the case that Time’s editor-in-chief, Walter Isaacson, apologized to me personally for White’s unjustified attack and Time subsequently ran a very positive review of my book Hating Whitey, which contained the article that had offended White: “Guns Don’t Kill Blacks, Other Black People Do.”
The Time reviewer, Lance Morrow, praised Hating Whitey as “indignant sanity” and indicated that I would eventually be proved right on the issues and my critics wrong. There is no excuse for Brock’s misrepresentation of this incident (let alone his gratuitous dragging of Karl Rove into the line of his malice-laced fire) since I have described everything that happened in regard to Jack White in detail on the Drudge Report, in Frontpagemag.com and in my book The Art of Political War. Brock simply ignored these sources because they inconveniently contradicted what he wrote.
Brock then describes me as “another mouthpiece for the same band of conservative funders – Scaife and Bradley among others – who supported an array of his political projects, mostly under the umbrella of the Los Angeles-based Center for the Study of Popular Culture….” (Brock, pp. 101-102) I have received no funding from Scaife and Bradley for “political projects.” All the political projects I have undertaken, I have had to fund entirely through individual donations unconnected to the Center or to Bradley and Scaife, which are tax-exempt foundations. I created a 527c “political committee" called PoliticalWar.Com (now defunct) exclusively for this purpose, and for which I received no Bradley or Scaife money.
The Center for the Study of Popular Culture is a non-profit organization which has more than 30,000 donors who provide the overwhelming portion of its funding. These donors disagree among themselves and with me on a host of issues – abortion, gay marriage, free-trade and the war in Iraq to name a few (I even have board members who oppose the war). To say that I am a “mouthpiece” for Scaife and Bradley because they are minority contributors to the Center, or for conservative funders generally, merely because they fund me, is like saying The Nation is a mouthpiece for Paul Newman because he contributes money to the magazine, or that Noam Chomsky is a mouthpiece for the Ford Foundation because he spoke at the World Social Forum, which Ford funded. There is no left-wing writer – no political writer generally – whose career is not somewhere or in some way underwritten by other people’s money. But considerations like these are of no significance to David Brock.
Brock is still not finished with his racial slanders of my efforts: “[Horowitz’s] handling of racial issues is more controversial still. Horowitz’s book Hating Whitey, in which he made controversial claims about the incidence of rape of white women by black men, was rejected by his publisher, the conservative Free Press” (Brock, p. 102). A nice string of incriminating clauses, all false. In the 290 pages of Hating Whitey there is only one sentence about black rapes of white women. It was inserted to refute an absurd comment by the author bell hooks to the effect that while whites committed harmful acts against blacks, there was no parallel evidence of black aggression against whites (Hooks, A Killing Rage). Rape seemed to me an indisputable act of aggression, which is why I referred to the statistic (not to indict black Americans).
The sentence about rape was publicly challenged (on the Internet) by one leftist, and has been indiscriminately used by leftists against me (which is how it came to be in Brock's derivative account). When I checked my original reference, which was to Dinesh D’Souza’s The End of Racism, his text did not actually source the statement. So I did some research and produced a second statistic comparable in every way to the first but sourced from U.S. government statistics. I published this as a rejoinder to the critic. In other words, the claim itself is not controversial as Brock reports, but incontrovertible.
But that is only misrepresentation number one in this Brock sentence. Misrepresentation number two is that Hating Whitey was rejected by a conservative publisher, namely The Free Press. The Free Press is a subsidiary of Simon & Schuster, hardly a conservative institution. It is true that the Free Press once had a reputation for being a conservative imprint, but this was when it was a division of Macmillan and run by the late Erwin Glikes. By the time I got around to proposing Hating Whitey as a project, Macmillan and the Free Press had long since been bought by Viacom, the parent company of Simon & Schuster. At the time Hating Whitey was rejected, the publisher of the Free Press was a woman who had previously run the very liberal University of California Press (Berkeley).
Brock’s misrepresentation is actually worse than these false claims would suggest because – misrepresentation number three – the rejection of Hating Whitey had absolutely nothing to do with the claim about rape, as Brock’s sentence is structured to imply. At the time Hating Whitey was rejected, the statement about rape and, in fact, the entire text of the proposed book, had not even been written. Hating Whitey was rejected when it was still a proposal for a book. It was rejected because of my suggested title, which was “Hating White People Is A Politically Correct Idea.” The title was subsequently changed to Hating Whitey and Other Progressive Causes when the book was finally accepted by a small Dallas publisher named Spence. My proposal was rejected by the Free Press because, as my editor Chad Conway (a friend of Brock’s and no conservative) told me, “The Free Press will never publish a book with that title.” In other words, Brock misrepresented this entire story (and in one sentence!) in order to make it seem as though a conservative publisher rejected my book because even conservatives found my writing racist, although there was absolutely no evidence that this was the case.
Brock’s lack of concern for real world facts extends well beyond racial issues: “In addition to his role as aging campus agitator and inflamer of racial tensions, Horowitz is a sometime Republican Party strategist.…” (Brock, p. 103). If this sentence led you to believe that I had become a political consultant, you would be wrong. In fact, I am not now and have never been a Republican Party strategist. As a self-employed writer, I did publish two pamphlets (reprinted in book form), and a newsletter called The War Room offering advice on political strategy to any Republican who cared to take it. But this is hardly the same thing. The distinction between a private citizen who offers his opinions and a Republican Party operative might be seen in some contexts as a quibble, but not in a book titled The Republican Noise Machine, or on a page where presidential campaign strategist Karl Rove is casually drawn into the matrix of my intimates.
I wrote about political strategy for exactly two political cycles – the presidential campaign of 2000 and the congressional campaign of 2002. I was never an adviser to the Bush campaign, never participated in a Bush strategy session, never spoke to the presidential candidate himself except in reception lines and at one private lunch in the governor’s mansion before his campaign began, never gave him advice other than was printed in my public newsletters, pamphlets and books (which he most likely never read). Yet Brock writes as though with authority: “Along with Myron Magnet of the Manhattan Institute and Newt Gingrich protégé Marvin Olasky, Horowitz became part of a triumvirate of thinkers advising the Bush campaign, and Bush himself, behind the scenes”(Brock, p. 103).
Having presented this fiction as fact, Brock’s enthusiasm for my alleged influence knows no bounds: “Everything from the symbolic presence of blacks at the 2000 convention to Bush’s claim to be a new kind of conservative seemed to come straight from Horowitz’s playbook” (Brock, p. 103). If this speculation illustrates anything, it is just how unscrupulous Brock’s journalistic instinct actually is. It is true that in my writings on political strategy, I urged the Republican Party to be inclusive and to take up the cause of African-Americans who had been left behind, but how does this square with Brock’s attempt a few sentences earlier to tar me with the brush of racism? In fact, David Brock could care less about being logical or consistent or factually accurate; his agenda – his sole agenda – is to make me, and conservative intellectuals like me look bad, whatever the facts.
In explaining my support for “compassionate conservatism,” for example, Brock makes this claim: “Americans, Horowitz wrote, side with the underdog; so in order to win Republicans were going to have to make it look as though they did, too.” Actually, I didn’t write that Republicans had to pretend to care. On the contrary, I pointed out at length in both The Art of Political War and How to Beat the Democrats that Republican policies are, in fact, better for minorities, the poor and powerless than the policies of the Democrats. The problem, I said, was that Republicans don’t know how to frame the issues and expose Democrats, who control every significant inner city in America, as the oppressors of minorities and the poor that they actually are (How To Beat the Democrats, pp. 79-86).
Brock goes on: “To this end, [Horowitz] suggested the term ‘compassionate conservative’ as a new branding slogan for the Republican Right.” In fact, when I first wrote about “compassionate conservatism,” it had already been adopted as the slogan of the Bush camp. Brock: “But Horowitz himself was not so compassionate, agreeing with Vladimir Lenin’s tenet ‘not to refute your opponents argument, but to wipe him from the face of the earth.’” (Brock, p.103) This phrase is taken from The Art of Political War. But here are the words that follow it (and that Brock leaves out): “We do not go as far as Lenin, but destroying an opponent’s effectiveness is a fairly common democratic practice. Personal smears accomplish this, and Democrats are very good at them.” (The Art of Political War, p. 24) Obviously the statement had nothing to do with my compassion or lack thereof, and obviously I was not proposing myself as a reborn Leninist.
Since Brock’s book is about media, he devotes considerable attention to my brief role as a critic of Public Broadcasting. “Long before he played media strategist to the Bush campaign, Horowitz teamed up with Senator Dole as the architect of an attack on the Public Broadcasting System” (Brock, p. 104). What I actually did was to launch a campaign – not an “attack” and not coordinated with any political figure – to pressure PBS to be more inclusive and fair, and in particular to include some conservative programming as required under the terms of the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967.
In particular, I did not call for the defunding of public broadcasting as many conservatives did. I only asked that the system observe the fairness provisions of the Act that created it, and I did this well in advance of any discussions that I had with Senator Dole or his staff about Pubic Broadcasting. It is a misrepresentation to call these discussions teaming up with the Senator. As majority leader, Dole had agendas with the Senate Democrats, which involved putting holds on their bills in retaliation for the holds they put on his. The authorization bill for public broadcasting was one that he chose for such a hold. My staff provided him with information and the arguments that we had developed for our agendas, which he then used to justify his own. These had little to do with public broadcasting as such. When the procedural battle with the Democrats was over, Dole lifted his hold on the public broadcasting authorization bill without regard for our goals or demands, which had not been met. That is the long and short of it.
Yet, by employing carefree innuendo to create a chain of guilts-by-association, Brock is able to make my very public, modest and moderate campaign sound like a racist Republican cabal: “In 1970, Dole had become a Nixon favorite after telling the President that his nominee for the Supreme Court, G. Harold Carswell, who was rejected by the Senate because of his history as a racist, instead had been done in by the ‘liberal media.’ Horowitz, too, received praise from Nixon in the form of a fan letter he displayed on the office wall of the Center for the Study of Popular Culture” (Brock, p. 104). The fan letter from Nixon had nothing to do with public broadcasting but was written after the appearance of the Post article Peter Collier and I wrote in 1985, years before I embarked on my PBS campaign. It was one of many that Nixon wrote to his former critics after his resignation, as part of his campaign to show he had mellowed with the years.
Brock’s conspiracy saga continues: “In 1988, while advising the contras at the behest of Reagan State Department official and future Iran-contra scandal figure, Elliott Abrams, Horowitz founded the Committee on Media Integrity (COMINT) to monitor PBS programming.…” (Brock, p. 104). Brock is here referring to a three-day trip Peter Collier and I made to Nicaragua at the request of the State Department to meet a broad spectrum of Nicaraguan political figures, including a socialist leader who supported the Sandinistas. The one group Collier and I never met with in our three days in Nicaragua or at any other time was the contras. But Brock’s tale requires this fantasy in order to forge a sinister link in its conspiracy chain: “One of the first subjects COMINT tackled was a PBS Frontline episode on the Iran-contra affair that Horowitz found displeasing. After Horowitz made a stink, PBS aired a pro-contra broadcast Nicaragua Was Our Home, funded by a Moonie group called CAUSA, which raised money for the contras after Congress terminated funding” (Brock, p. 104).
The program I responded to on the Iran-contra affair was a Frontline segment by Bill Moyers and was called “High Crimes and Misdemeanors,” basically accusing Reagan of treason. PBS actually ran two Moyers’ specials on Iran-contra and no defenses of Reagan, which was the basis of my complaint. The Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 under which PBS operates requires that all current affairs programming must be “fair, objective and strictly balanced.” My campaign consisted of suggesting that PBS should honor that clause of its authorizing legislation by creating an alternative series to the Frontline shows that might provide, for example, a case for the other side. I had nothing to do with the PBS decision to run the CAUSA program, never pushed it, never talked to its sponsors, was not aware of it in advance of its airing and never saw the program itself.
Nonetheless, Brock’s plot thickens: “In a microcosm of the overall right-wing media strategy, the same group of conservative funders now underwrote a two-track strategy to move PBS to the right: threatening PBS funding and seeking to stigmatize as biased and censor programming it did not approve of…The coordinated campaign against PBS drew together all four right-wing media monitoring groups – [Reed] Irvine, the Lichters, [Brent] Bozell and Horowitz….” (Brock, p. 104).
This coordinated group effort is pure Brock fantasy. I never had any conversations with Bozell, or the Lichters, or Reed Irvine about any strategy involving PBS. Moreover, I never called for the censoring or removal of any PBS program. In fact, the only group I actually joined forces with in my PBS battles was a coalition of left-wing filmmakers seeking to get their documentary series on the air. I presented their case in a meeting I had with Jennifer Lawson, then President of PBS. I even publicly supported their demand for a program hosted by Noam Chomsky.
I did this in an effort to demonstrate my commitment to fairness and intellectual diversity on public television, which is the very opposite of what Brock describes me as doing. My entire effort was to promote inclusion by PBS, not to remove left-wing programming, however offensive to conservative sensibilities. None of this is a secret. In addition to publishing a quarterly magazine about PBS for four years, my Center has published an entire book of writings by myself and my associates on PBS called Public Broadcasting and the Public Trust. The articles in this book make crystal clear that it was never my agenda to “move PBS to the right” by defunding and privatizing it, but merely to make its programming inclusive of other views, as its public mandate required. For two years, I even hosted a show called “Second Thoughts” on public radio station KCRW in Los Angeles and went on air to raise money to support its efforts.
Although a glance at my writings – not to mention my public broadcasting history – should be sufficient to show my support for the public broadcasting medium and its continued government funding, Brock shows no awareness of these facts, even though they are part of the public record. Instead, he relentlessly pursues his efforts to describe me as the architect of a coordinated rightwing strategy to take PBS away from the public and put it under rightwing corporate control. “Instigated by Horowitz, congressional hearings on ‘balance’ at PBS were convened. Big Bird from Sesame Street came under attack; and funding was cut, although the bid to privatize PBS foundered” (Brock, p. 107).
This is pure Brock invention. I instigated no hearings. The hearings, in fact, were held not because of the lack of programming balance at PBS, but because there was a budget crunch and shows like Barney and Sesame Street had become billion-dollar businesses, which were not returning money to the system that had made their investors rich. The “bid to privatize PBS” came from Speaker Newt Gingrich. I was frankly disturbed by it because I knew it would fail and in doing so derail my more moderate and practical agendas. When it did fail, I closed up my shop and terminated the publication of my magazine about public broadcasting for that very reason.
Although Brock’s reckless disregard for the facts usually serves his ideological agendas, it also has led him to understate my role in describing a project that was my effort to provide an alternative to Frontline. “Another series, originally called ‘Reverse Angle’ was a heavily subsidized collaboration between two conservative columnists, Fred Barnes and Mort Kondracke, and Lionel Chetwynd, a conservative Hollywood producer and co-founder of the Wednesday Morning Group. Horowitz was hired as a consultant” (Brock, p. 107).
In fact, the Reverse Angle series was not “heavily subsidized,” but entirely funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. It was also entirely my idea, although the name was Chetwynd’s suggestion. The idea for the Reverse Angle series was a natural outgrowth of my campaign to promote diversity in public television and I approached Chetwynd to help me realize it, introducing him to Barnes and Kondracke, whom I already knew. Since “Reverse Angle” was funded through the Center for the Study of Popular Culture of which I was President it is hard to see how Chetwynd, Barnes and Kondracke could “hire” me. “The Wednesday Morning Group,” to which Brock refers, is actually The Wednesday Morning Club, and while Chetwynd contributed the name, it is a program of my Center, which funds it and runs its programs. Chetwynd has never had a position or played a role in the Center.
Brock describes one of the hosts of the series (which was later called “National Desk”) as “a right-wing African-American radio talk show host who almost lost his show owing to charges of racism until Horowitz raised $500,000 for a campaign to keep him on the air” (Brock, p. 108). The talk show host, Larry Elder, was a libertarian opposed to welfare and to racial preferences. He was the target of a boycott by black extremists.
On a non-political note, which illustrates how reflexive (and unreflecting) Brock’s attacks actually are, he writes, “Leaders of rightwing organizations appear to buy their own books in bulk and give them away. For example, in December 2003, David Horowitz’s Scaife-funded Center for the Study of Popular Culture was offering free copies of his book Left Illusions for those who contributed $50 to his Frontpagemag.com.” (359) Is it necessary to point out that if you get $50 for a book you are not giving it away free; that as the author of the donated book I am making a contribution of my royalty to the Center in the process; and that left-wing magazines do the same thing? It’s called a “sales promotion.”
In the above review of almost everything that Brock has written about me in The Republican Noise Machine (there are scattered lumpings of me with other conservatives that would be too tedious to examine), I have avoided dealing with the tendentious opinions that form the argument of Brock’s text or his ideological disagreements with me. It is perfectly possible to write a reasonably accurate account of someone you disagree with entirely. Scott Sherman did this in a lengthy profile of me that appeared in The Nation (some years ago). However, Brock’s account of the facts of my career is an entirely different proposition.
On the evidence presented above, probably 95 percent of what Brock has written about me is false in one way or another, either cynically misrepresented, or so sloppily reported as to give an entirely erroneous impression, or simply made up. Nor is there anything unique in Brock’s distortion of my career as opposed to the distortions in his accounts of other conservatives and conservative institutions in his book. It is just the Brock method at work, which appears not to have changed in the course of his well-publicized political reversals and betrayals.