BROOKE GLADSTONE: You can make the case that without David Brock, President Clinton would never have been impeached. It was David Brock's "Troopergate" article for the American Spectator that mentioned a "Paula." That led to Paula Jones which led to Kenneth Starr which led to Monica Lewinsky which led to "it depends what the definition of 'is' is" which led to the impeachment of the president. But the hostility to President Clinton was so great that if Troopergate didn't exist, someone would have had to invent it. Oh, wait a minute -- that's pretty much what David Brock says [LAUGHS] he did in his new book Blinded by the Right. Welcome to the show David.
DAVID BROCK: Thanks for having me.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: So you made your name doing what you now call hatchet jobs for the right wing press. When you were writing books like The Real Anita Hill, what was the vetting process like? Did any editor say can you back this up?
DAVID BROCK: It wasn't until after I had left the conversation movement in 1997 and I wrote an article for a mainstream magazine, New York Magazine, it happened to be, that my article was actually fact-checked in the way that professional magazines do that, and they asked to see my notes, and I almost fell off my chair, because no one had ever asked me to back up anything that I had published--previously, and I, I think there was a willingness to believe -- believe the worst of their political opponents.
BROOKE GLADSTONE:If you admit to a, a broad history of writing distortions and, and deceptions before and you say but this time you have to believe me, it, it's almost like the old joke -- everything I say is a lie. [LAUGHS]
DAVID BROCK: Mm-hm. Right. Well, I - you know - I'm going to have to leave that up for readers to judge the book on, on their own and, and I try to explain the position I was in and why I did these things. You know, people are just going to have to see if, if the book rings true and, and, and seems sincere or not.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Let me ask you this. When you were a conservative journalist, I'm sure you must have railed against the liberal media bias.
DAVID BROCK: Sure.
BROOKE GLADSTONE:That the press was in love with Clinton; that Republicans couldn't get a fair shake. Looking back, was that at all a legitimate complaint or merely a useful tactic?
DAVID BROCK: I think it was a useful tactic. One of the things I did consciously was to position myself against the liberal media and to try to say that I was providing a conservative journalistic alternative to the liberal media, but what I was functioning more as a political operative than a journalist. The kind of things that I did are done all the time. The best seller list even now is filled with fake conservative books of the genre that I wrote in the Anita Hill case. What I think I'm trying to get at with this book is to show the public how that machinery worked by making an example of myself.
BROOKE GLADSTONE:In Blinded by the Right the, the mea culpas about your work mainly focus on Anita Hill and Troopergate, but we looked up some past articles. You also impugned the integrity and reputations of Lloyd Bentson [sp?], Lloyd Cutler, Jimmy Carter, and there was a weird item about Harold Ickes being involved in a Watergate-style burglary. Do you retract all of that?
DAVID BROCK: Well I haven't looked at each and every article that I've ever written to write this book, but while I was at the Spectator I wouldn't place a lot of stock in anything that I wrote, so yeah, I would say that those were probably-- if they weren't wrong, they were probably unfair.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: And so it wasn't in your interest really to dig too hard. I mean [...?...] said. [BOTH SPEAK AT ONCE]
DAVID BROCK:No, that's right - it certainly wasn't in my interest to try to provide-- both sides of a story because that's not what - you know -that's not what the American Spectator was all about, [LAUGHTER] and it's not what the Washington Times is all about which is where I got my start in journalism, and so I knew what they wanted to publish, and so I found a way of giving that to them.
BROOKE GLADSTONE:You said that at the beginning of your life you were more or less a, a Robert Kennedy kind of Democratic thinker, but when you arrived in Washington, you came with a method that made you relatively wealthy and relatively famous using what you describe as smear tactics, lies, character assassination, the whole thing. You were the darling of the movement. Now comes the 180 degree retraction -- but you're still doing pretty good. This book didn't get the 7 figure advance that the Seduction of Hillary Rodham got but it did get a 6 figure advance, right?
DAVID BROCK: That's right, yeah. And it is true that the conservative movement has a lucrative reward system for people such as I was and-- so there was some money made but-- you know - if you're asking me if it was worth it, the answer is no.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: David Brock, thank you very much.
DAVID BROCK: Thanks.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: David Brock is the author of Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of An Ex-Conservative. [MUSIC]