Stop Beating a Dead Fox

The conservative news channel’s only real power is in riling up liberals, who by this point should know better.

New York Magazine   1/6/2014   By Frank Rich

“There ain’t no sanity clause,” Chico Marx told Groucho. There is also no Santa Claus. And there was no sanity in the Santa fracas that became an embarrassing liberal-media fixation just before Christmas. For those who missed it, what happened was this: A Fox News anchor, Megyn Kelly, came upon a tongue-in-cheek blog post at Slate in which a black writer, Aisha Harris, proposed that Santa be recast as a penguin for the sake of racial inclusiveness. After tossing this scrap of red meat to her all-white panel of prime-time guests, Kelly reassured any “kids watching” (this was nearing 10 p.m.) that “Santa just is white.” (For good measure, she added, “Jesus was a white man, too.”) Soon and sure enough, Kelly’s sound bites were being masticated in op-ed pieces, online, and especially on cable, where a passing wisecrack best left to the satirical stylings of Stewart and Colbert became a call to arms. At CNN, one anchor brought on Santas of four races to debunk Kelly. BuzzFeed reported that MSNBC ­programs hopped on the story fourteen times in a single week.

Of course what Kelly said was dumb. But the reaction was even dumber. Every year, Fox News whips up some phantom “war on Christmas” plotted by what the network’s blowhard-in-chief Bill O’Reilly calls “secular progressives.” This seasonal stunt has long been old news, yet many in the liberal media still can’t resist the bait. You had to feel for the NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker, who was drafted into filing a Kelly-Santa story on the Today show for no ­discernible reason other than that she is not white.

When this supposed “national firestorm” (as Al Sharpton inflated it on his MSNBC show) finally died down, only two things had been accomplished beyond the waste of everyone’s time. Liberals had played right into Fox’s stereotype of them—as killjoy p.c. police. And Fox News could once again brag about its power to set an agenda for its adversaries even as it also played the woebegone ­victim. “Because they can’t defeat us on the media battlefield, the far left seeks to demonize Fox News as a right-wing propaganda machine and a racist enterprise,” said O’Reilly when sermonizing about the episode on his show. “That’s why Miss Megyn got headlines about a Santa Claus remark that was totally harmless.” Fox News is a right-wing propaganda machine and at times (if not this one) a racist enterprise (witness, among other examples, its fruitless effort to drum up a “New Black Panther Party” scandal over some 95 segments in the summer of 2010). But O’Reilly was half-right. Kelly’s inane remark was harmless and unworthy of headlines. Without the left’s overreaction, there wouldn’t have been any pseudo “national firestorm.”

Still, O’Reilly’s summation was predicated on an erroneous underlying assumption that few bother to question: In truth, Fox News has been defeated on the media battlefield—and on the political battlefield as well. Even the 73-year-old wizard of Fox, Roger Ailes, now in full Lear-raging-on-the-heath mode as ­portrayed in my colleague Gabriel ­Sherman’s definitive new biography, The Loudest Voice in the Room, seems to sense the waning of his power. The only people who seem not to know or accept Fox’s decline, besides its own audience, are ­liberals, including Barack Obama, whose White House mounted a short-lived, pointless freeze-out of Fox News in 2009, and who convinced himself that the network has shaved five points off his approval rating.

Ailes would like the president and everyone else to keep believing he has that clout. But these days Fox News is the loudest voice in the room only in the sense that a bawling baby is the loudest voice in the room. In being so easily bullied by Fox’s childish provocations, the left gives the network the attention on which it thrives and hands it power that it otherwise has lost. As the post-Obama era approaches, the energy spent combating Ailes might be better devoted to real political battles against more powerful adversaries—not to mention questioning the ideological slant of legitimate news operations like, say, 60 Minutes, which has recently given airtime to a fraudulent account of the murders at Benghazi and to a credulous puff piece on the NSA’s domestic surveillance.

The most interesting news about Fox News is that for some years now it has been damaging the right far more than the left. As a pair of political analysts wrote at Reuters last year, “When the mainstream media reigned supreme, between 1952 and 1988, Republicans won seven out of the ten presidential elections,” but since 1992, when “conservative media began to flourish” (first with Rush Limbaugh’s ascendancy, then with Fox), Democrats have won the popular vote five out of six times. You’d think they’d be well advised to leave Fox News to its own devices so that it can continue to shoot its own party in the foot.

The notion that Fox News has been defeated would seem absurd if you judge solely by the numbers. The year just ended was the network’s twelfth in a row as the most-watched cable-news network. Its number of total viewers surpasses CNN and MSNBC combined. As the longtime Rupert Murdoch–Fox News watcher Michael Wolff wrote of the cumulative 2013 ratings, “Nobody has come close to competing” with Ailes. “He gets larger, everybody else gets lesser.” But as Wolff also observed, “The cable audience, for all the attention heaped on it for its theoretical political sway, is not that large.” To put it mildly. As the overwhelming leader in its field, Fox draws just over a million viewers in prime time—a ­pittance and a niche next to even the ever-declining network newscasts, of which the lowest rated (CBS Evening News) still can attract a nightly audience as large as 8 million.

Fox News’s political sway in the real world, as opposed to its power to drive MSNBC viewers and their fellow travelers nuts and to generate ridicule from late-night comics, is also on the wane. Speaking to the Television Critics Association in Los Angeles in January, Jeff Zucker, the former NBC chief executive now trying to revive CNN (averaging a mere 568,000 prime-time viewers in 2013), complained like countless before him that Fox is an arm of the GOP “masquerading as a cable-news channel.” It doesn’t take rocket science to figure that out: No fewer than five Republican presidential hopefuls, not to mention Karl Rove and Glenn Beck, were on-camera as paid Fox personalities at the start of the 2012 election season; Murdoch is a GOP donor; and Ailes is a former Republican political operative whose partisan record extends back to his big break as Richard Nixon’s media guru in 1968. But there’s nothing in Fox’s viewership numbers, either in magnitude or in demographic hue, to suggest that there’s a significant number of voting-age Americans who at this point do not already know that Fox News is a GOP auxiliary and view it, hate-watch it, or avoid it accordingly. The masquerade that Zucker seems to find a revelation was unmasked years ago.

Back at its creation, in 1996, Fox News was a true stealth threat to the body politic. The network was assumed by many viewers to be as advertised: a good-faith competitor to CNN, which then was in its sixteenth year of dominating the still-developing genre of 24/7 television news. (MSNBC also would arrive in 1996.) Fox’s guise of impartiality would start to erode with its prurient overkill on the Lewinsky scandal, but still, its Clinton coverage wasn’t all that more sensational than the competition’s. It wasn’t until Fox threatened to dethrone CNN in the ratings after the Bush-Gore debacle of 2000 that the left started to take serious notice and decry what Fox was peddling under its Orwellian rubrics of “We Report. You Decide” and “Fair & Balanced.” By 2004, when Fox lent its growing might to the Swift Boat smears of John Kerry, a concerted opposition started to crystallize. It took the form of a revelatory documentary (Outfoxed) by the television producer Robert Greenwald, the advent of the ill-fated liberal radio network Air America, the creation of an explicit O’Reilly Factor parody in The Colbert Report, and the formation of Media Matters, an aggressive and well-financed watchdog operation conceived by the right-wing journalistic hit man turned Clinton acolyte David Brock. Media Matters also policed MSNBC, which had yet to adopt an ideological identity and was still fielding prime-time shows like Scarborough Country, in which the former Gingrich revolutionary Joe Scarborough compared lesbians to “barnyard animals” and cheered on a Dixie Chicks boycott after Natalie Maines opposed the Iraq War. MSNBC’s marketing strategy would start to evolve (as would Scarborough’s) once Keith Olbermann’s “Worst Person in the World” and “Special Comment” monologues attacking the Bush White House and its Fox shills struck pay dirt in 2006. But it was too late to overtake Fox News in the Nielsens. The tidal wave of mass liberal rage aimed at Bush-Cheney would start to recede with the 2008 election, and once Obama entered the White House, MSNBC no longer could draw on the fierce anger that might have pushed its viewership numbers into Fox territory.

On the eve of Obama’s reelection campaign, in early 2012, Brock co-authored a book cataloguing Media Matters’ long-running brief against Fox News’s transgressions, The Fox Effect: How Roger Ailes Turned a Network Into a Propaganda Machine. But by that point, it was more a valedictory than an exposé. The world knew Fox was a propaganda machine. At the end of 2013, a Media Matters executive, Angelo Carusone, acknowledged as much, declaring that “the war on Fox is over.” His organization devised a three-year strategic plan to devote more resources to monitoring the fast-growing sectors of online, social, and Hispanic media.

It was the right call. For all its ratings prowess and fat profits, Fox, like the GOP itself, is under existential threat in a fast-changing 21st-century America. Indeed, Megyn Kelly, the latest blonde star in an Ailes stable that seems to emulate Hitchcock’s leading-lady predilections in looks and inchoate malevolence, was promoted to her prime-time perch last year precisely to bring in a younger, less monochromatic audience. It’s a mission that neither she nor any other on-camera talent can accomplish. All three cable-news networks are hemorrhaging young viewers (as are their network-news counterparts) in an era when television is hardly the news medium of choice for Americans raised online and on smartphones. But Fox News is losing younger viewers at an even faster rate than its competitors. With a median viewer age now at 68 according to Nielsen data through mid-January (compared with 60 for MSNBC and CNN, and 62 to 64 for the broadcast networks), Fox is in essence a retirement community.

The million or so viewers who remain fiercely loyal to the network are not, for the most part, and as some liberals still imagine, naïve swing voters who stumble onto Fox News under the delusion it’s a bona fide news channel and then are brainwashed by Ailes’s talking points into becoming climate-change deniers. They arrive at the channel as proud, self-selected citizens of Fox Nation and are unlikely to defect from the channel or its politics until death do them part. (As Sherman writes, “Ailes’s audience seldom watches anything” on television but Fox News.) Hard as it may be to fathom, Fox Nation is even more monochromatically white than the GOP is, let alone the American nation. Two percent of Mitt Romney’s voters were black. According to new Nielsen data, only 1.1 percent of Fox News’s prime-time viewership is (as opposed to 25 percent for MSNBC, 14 percent for CNN, and an average of roughly 12 percent for the three broadcast networks’ evening news programs).

The Fox News membership is more than happy to be cocooned in an echo chamber where its own hopes and fears will be reinforced by other old white “people like us.” This Stockholm syndrome applies even to its more upscale members. On Election Day 2012, to take a representative example, Kelly interviewed Peggy Noonan, the Wall Street Journal pundit, about the likely results that night. Noonan, citing “all the data that I get,” concluded that “something is going on there” and that “the dynamism” is on “the Romney side.” The “data” that persuaded her of victory was Fox News data: The only pollster she cited was a network favorite, Scott Rasmussen. Nate Silver could have told her that Rasmussen’s polls were untrustworthy, having shown a four-point pro-GOP bias in 2010 (as would also prove roughly the case in 2012), but why would she or any other Fox talking head or viewer listen to the likes of that rank outsider? Clearly few if any of them did. When the reality-based data of actual votes came in on Election Night, it only followed that Fox Nation would be shocked, as most dramatically revealed by Karl Rove’s famous on-camera meltdown. Anyone who had spent the entire year in the Fox News cocoon—repeatedly hearing happy-news polls from Rasmussen and the even more egregious Dick Morris, repeatedly being assured that Benghazi was the silver bullet certain to take out Obama—knew the election was in the bag. Even Romney was blindsided by defeat, as befit a candidate whose campaign did its best to shield him from any non-Fox press. “We’d much rather go on a Fox program where we know the question is going to come up and Mitt can give his answer and it’s not going to a frenzy of questioning,” was how a Romney senior adviser, Eric Fehrn­strom, explained this self-immolating all-Fox strategy.

Rather than waste time bemoaning Fox’s bogus journalism, liberals should encourage it. The more that Fox News viewers are duped into believing that the misinformation they are fed by Ailes is fair and balanced, the more easily they can be ambushed by reality as they were on Election Night 2012. We are all fond of quoting the Daniel Patrick Moynihan dictum that “everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” But we should start considering the possibility that it now works to the Democrats’ advantage that Fox News does manufacture its own facts. Much as it lulled its audience in 2012 into believing that Romney’s “47 percent” tape was just a passing storm, so it is now peddling similar assurances about Chris Christie’s travails.

Fox News’s theoretical political power is further compromised by the internal crisis it shares with the GOP: its inability to navigate the conflict between the party Establishment and the radical base that is dividing the conservative ranks. The network has veered all over the place to try to placate both camps, only to end up wounded in the crossfire. In the early stages, the tea party was a heavily promoted Fox News cause, with Glenn Beck, then in residence, leading the charge. “It’s tea-party time, from sea to shining sea!” was how Kelly kicked off wall-to-wall coverage of the various Tax Day rallies held around the country on April 15, 2009. The network gave ample promotion to every flaky tea-party novelty act, from Michele Bachmann to the Delaware senatorial candidate Christine (“I’m not a witch”) O’Donnell, and promoted any and all tea-party fantasy presidents, from Sarah Palin to Herman Cain. When, finally, there was no choice for Fox but to fall in behind Romney—a last-ditch option for Ailes after his own preferred standard-bearers, Christie and David Petraeus, rebuffed his recruitment efforts—the anyone-but-Mitt GOP base disdained Fox much as it did the nominee himself. Popular talk-radio hosts like Mark Levin and Michael Savage belittled Mitt, Rove, and his Fox cheerleaders during the campaign, as at times did Rush Limbaugh. That schism has only widened since Romney’s defeat. When Fox regulars like Rove, O’Reilly, Brit Hume, Dana Perino, and Greg Gutfeld agreed with John Boehner that shutting down the government to defund Obama­care had proved a self-destructive strategy for the GOP, the base was having none of it. “Karl Rove, your record sucks!” ranted Levin in September. “Why would we listen to you?” On the other side of the right’s spectrum, the few surviving moderate conservative commentators favored by liberal outlets, from David Frum to Michael Gerson, disdain Ailes’s operation as well: “More people own ferrets than watch Fox News,” said David Brooks.

As long as Ailes is around, Fox News is likely to grow ever more isolated from the country beyond its “Nation.” If it is actuarially possible, its median viewer age will keep creeping upward. (It rose by two years over the course of 2013.) The network’s chauvinistic Christianity, whatever Santa’s race, is hardly an inducement to a younger America that is eschewing religious affiliation in numbers larger than any in the history of Pew polling. Fox News’s unreconstructed knee-jerk homophobia, most recently dramatized by its almost unanimous defense of the Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson’s likening of gay sex to bestiality, drives away viewers of all ages but especially the young. O’Reilly’s latest moralistic crusade (“Is America Going to Pot?”)—best encapsulated by a scare piece about a 2-year-old in Colorado eating “a marijuana-laced cookie”—seems almost calculated to alienate conservatives who subscribe to Rand Paul’s ever-more-popular style of libertarianism.

Many have mined Sherman’s Loudest Voice in the Room for its portrait of Ailes’s grim childhood and its account of the adult Ailes’s paranoia, his bitchy remarks about his own stars, and his alleged anti-Semitic verbal assault on a once-prized executive. Ailes was driven so berserk by the mere fact of a thorough book on his life and career that he gave exclusive interviews to another, hagiographic biography intended to preempt it and countenanced a reported $8 million settlement to a recently discharged Fox News flack who might have gone public with his own inner-office tales. But the more damning aspects of Sherman’s portrait are not what Ailes apparently most feared: the scandalous personal anecdotes, the incidents of bigotry and sexism, or even the full accounting of his darkest partisan activities. It’s through far more mundane details that the portrait of Ailes’s decline and Fox News’s obsolescence emerges.

More than in any political credo, Ailes believes most of all in the power of television, the medium he grew up in and mastered as a political tool well before many of his competitors. But as his viewers were gobsmacked by the reelection of Obama, so he has been blindsided by the fading of television as the dominant news medium. About new media Ailes knows very little and has never wanted to learn much. When MSNBC emerged in 1996, he mocked it not because of its political identity (it hadn’t chosen one yet) but because of its connection to Microsoft; he wisecracked that Fox News was not in business to “tell people to turn off their television set and go to their computer to get more information.” He failed to invest in new technology in the years that followed, and by his own account he doesn’t “do a lot of web at Fox News.” As the McCain and Romney campaigns were successively confounded by the Obama forces’ technological prowess, so Ailes has been repeatedly ambushed and frustrated by new media, from Gawker, which tortured him with gossipy revelations from a “Fox Mole,” to Google, which earned his ire by refusing to accede to his demand that it rejigger its search algorithms to smite an anti-Ailes blog. Even the success of a one-man website challenging the local newspaper Ailes owns near his home in Putnam County has taken him by surprise and brought him to apoplectic fury. He doesn’t have a clue that his great cable-news innovation at Fox, The Crawl, is aging as fast in the day of Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr as ticker tape did with the advent of computer terminals. He is so tech-phobic that when Glenn Beck left Fox to start his own empire online, he pronounced him “crazy” because “no one walks away from television.”

But even as Ailes is aging out of the media business, he is making no plans for succession. Ever more isolated from other Murdoch executives and the younger generation of Murdochs—if still protected by Rupert—he may not care that much if the ship goes down with him. His irreplaceability will only add to his legend. “Roger is Fox News,” the editor-in-chief of the right-wing website Newsmax, Christopher Ruddy, told Sherman. “Without him you don’t have it.”

Without Ailes and his Fox News to kick around anymore, the left may feel a bit disoriented—much as the right most certainly will once its unifying bête noire (literal and figurative), Obama, is gone from the White House. But while the right remains obsessed with fighting its unending war against a nearly lame-duck president, it behooves liberals to move on and start transitioning out of their Fox fixation. Paradoxically enough, the most powerful right-wing movement in the country, the insurgency in the Republican grassroots, loathes the Boehner-Christie-Rove-centric Fox News nearly as much as the left does. The more liberals keep fighting the last war against the more and more irrelevant Ailes, the less prepared they’ll be for the political war to come.

Blinded by the Right reviews (from Amazon) Review

David Brock made his name (and big money) by trashing Anita Hill as “a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty.” But it was Brock’s reporting that was nutty and slutty, he confesses in the riveting memoir Blinded by the Right. He absolves Hill; claims he helped Clarence Thomas threaten another witness into backing down; portrays a ghastly right-wing Clinton-bashing conspiracy of hypocrites, zillionaires, and maniacs; and accuses himself of being “a witting cog in the Republican sleaze machine.” Now Brock is sliming his former fellows–everyone from the lawyer who argued the Bush v. Gore case to gonzo pundits Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham (“the only person I knew who didn’t appear to own a book or regularly read a newspaper”) to Matt Drudge and Tom Wolfe. Brock excoriates the gay hypocrites of the right wing, including himself, and tells how he cleverly spun his own outing. (He calls himself “the only openly gay conservative in the country,” evidently forgetting about the far more open and famous Andrew Sullivan.)

If Brock says he was a liar for much of his life, how do we know he’s not lying now? Blinded by the Right is less addicted to anonymous and third-hand sources than the madcap character assassinations that made him famous, and it is infinitely more plausible. But that doesn’t make it necessarily true. (Anita Hill’s lawyer has acidly observed that Brock confessed his Hill-related lies after seven years, when the statute of limitations prevents suing for slander.) Dumped by the right after he wrote a non-hatchet-job book on Hillary Clinton, Brock profits by running to the arms of the center and left. But that doesn’t make this book untrue. All I can tell you is you’ll have to read it and decide for yourself. And I’ll bet you’ll admit this mea-culpa memoir has the revolting, irresistible fascination of a bad car wreck. –Tim Appelo –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review: Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-conservative

Book Reporter    1/21/2011   by Roz Shea

Can David Brock be believed when he names names and kicks some serious booty in BLINDED BY THE RIGHT? Today Show host Matt Lauer posed the question in an interview when the book was first released in hardcover. Brock writes in a new preface to the
paperback version of the New York Times bestseller that “as a leading conservative writer in the 1990s, I was confessing to having been complicit in a propagandistic campaign of lies against liberal targets — Anita Hill and the Clintons, among others. The question, of course, is one that all whistle blowers, publicly exposing nefarious activities in which they themselves were largely
compromised, inevitably must confront.”

He says that the “once a liar, always a liar” question is nearly impossible to answer. He finally decided to throw himself on the mercy of the court: “People could choose to believe me and my account of ‘the vast right wing conspiracy,’ or they could choose not to.”

When Brock learned that galleys of the book were being faxed around Washington prior to its initial release, he waited anxiously for the right shoe to drop. It never did. While the book was favorably reviewed in the mainstream press, conservative news organs such as the New Republic, National Review, Washington Times and New York Post, as well as the Wall Street Journal, all surprisingly took a pass. Surprising, because specific reporters and editorialists from each of these papers are pretty thoroughly kicked in the shins throughout the book. Even more surprising was that no efforts surfaced to discredit anything he wrote of a personal nature about players in the media and in the political arena. And personal they are —blushingly so. He avers that he has not been sued or even, except in a “gotcha” on the date of a wedding, caught in an inaccuracy. In one case, a columnist at
the New York Daily News called to say that Matt Drudge, author of a well-known online newsletter, had denied Brock’s allegation that he had hit on him in Los Angeles, following up with a sexually suggestive email. When Brock faxed a copy of the offending email to the Daily News columnist, he heard nothing more.

Is BLINDED BY THE RIGHT the gospel on how the right wing operated in Washington during the turbulent 1990s. Is it a how-to of yellow journalism? Is it an apology, a catharsis, or a get-even gesture by a man who was once the darling of the Washington right but then scourged when he strayed from the path? It is, perhaps, some of each. Brock alternates between braggadocio and self-flagellation for his role in the bringing down of a president. He declares that the right sought retaliation for the Democrats’ successful attacks on Judge Robert Bork during his Supreme Court nomination hearings,
and for the grilling Clarence Thomas took in his successful bid for the high court.

It was payback time, and Brock was handpicked to deliver the bill.

He begins with his days at Berkeley, where he was a liberal student activist. A hater of communism, he saw how radical the left had become in the early 1970s, and switched to the right as much to play devil’s advocate as to placate his conservative father. He wrote for a Berkeley student newspaper, the Berkeley Journal, a conservative counterpoint to the prestigious Berkeley Review. Openly gay, he says that he ignored the signs of anti-gay sentiment among his conservative colleagues, a pattern that would play a role in his future career in Washington.

During the first Bush administration he worked as a reporter at the Washington Times, owned by Rev. Sun Myung Moon. He left to serve a one-year fellowship at The Heritage Foundation. It was there that he met movers and shakers of the neo-conservative elite. He learned to his surprise what little regard this group held President Bush, who was often ridiculed for being “squishy” and “weak.” He recalls one celebrated incident when the wife of Ben Hart, a Heritage executive, gives a dinner party where a replica of President Bush’s head was presented on a silver platter.

He chronicles, with abounding hubris, his rapid upward climb to hobnob with the highest and mightiest on the GOP far right. As a new reporter at the American Spectator he succeeded in gaining interviews with the Arkansas State Troopers, which became known as Troopergate. This event first broke the barrier on a hands-off attitude by the press on a public figure’s private life. Years later he seems apologetic for his role in that fiasco, since the troopers’ allegations were later proved false, and in fact were regarded as tall tales of using their privilege as Governor Clinton’s drivers and bodyguards to set up dates for themselves, not Clinton. In his eagerness to publish the scuttlebutt, he skipped basic fact checking — as did his editors — though he shoulders sole responsibility for his carelessness. He claims to have bluffed the Los Angeles Times into publishing a Troopergate story, which would give his version more credence when it appeared in the now defunct American Spectator.

After Troopergate he is approached to write an expose on Anita Hill, the lawyer who testified against Clarence Thomas during his Supreme Court appointment hearings. THE REAL ANITA HILL became a bestseller and elevated Brock to a favorite on talk shows, the banquet circuit, and invitations into the super-elite circle of the Washington right. The Newt Gingrich crowd embraces him, and he covers and uncovers many escapades of his peers. He details how the Wall Street Journal‘s editorial pages climbed aboard the right wing express and writes that, despite rampant rumors that the Clintons were directly responsible for White House lawyer Vince Foster’s death, perhaps even committing murder, Foster’s suicide note implicates the Journal‘s hit pieces as a factor in the depression that led to his shooting himself in a Washington park.

Brock spares no one, not even himself, from excoriation.

Many years, hundreds of thousands of words, and millions of dollars later, he discovers that not only was Anita Hill probably accurate in her descriptions of Thomas’s sexual proclivities, but that Thomas’s strongest supporters, who were financing and encouraging Brock to write THE REAL ANITA HILL, apparently knew all along of Thomas’s questionable activities. This is, Brock says, when the blinders came off. His neo-conservative friends had held him to their collective bosom. He had entertained them in his DC townhouse, rubbed elbows with the mighty at state dinners, and had been wined and dined in lavish weekends in resort getaways. He was elevated to a pedestal, showered with awards, keynote speaking engagements, and television interviews.

It was while he was researching another surefire muckraking book on Hillary Clinton to follow up on the Anita Hill blockbuster that he discovered there was no scandal to disclose. He spent months agonizing over how to structure the book as, for the fist time, he interviewed people on both sides of the ideological spectrum. As he showed his backers pieces of the draft, it became evident to them that he was softening his strident invective and may actually be standing up for Ms. Clinton. Social invitations began to dry up. Rumors about his until then accepted or ignored gay lifestyle began to be whispered about. When THE SEDUCTION OF HILLARY RODHAM was finally published, he became a pariah, flung aside as a poisonous asp.

How credible is Brock’s account of the part he plays in the downfall of the Clinton White House? BLINDED BY THE RIGHT is touted by the New York Times as “a key document for historians seeking to understand the ethos of the incoherent 90s.” The Washington Post called it “A chilling portrait…of a partisan attack machine.” Meanwhile, Brock points out that the who’s who of the far right now sits in some of the highest positions of power in Washington. Names that we see daily in the media crop up generously throughout the book as major players in the bringing down of a presidency.

Is David Brock the poster boy for success in irresponsible reporting? How well a new book by Stephen Glass fares may be a test. Fired for his “creative journalism” at the New Republic, his newly released fiction novel is based on his own experience. We shall also see whether disgraced New York Times reporter Jason Blair can cash in on his transgressions. Undoubtedly, there is an audience out there for the saga of a lazy reporter with a propensity for peeking at his neighbor’s test paper.

Journal; The Real Paula Jones?

The New York Times   5/8/1994  By FRANK RICH

Is it possible that the same right-wing journalist who tried to destroy the credibility of Anita Hill has destroyed the credibility of Paula Jones, the woman whom Clinton-haters now embrace as their own “Anita Hill”?

The journalist is David Brock, who first in the conservative magazine The American Spectator and then in his book “The Real Anita Hill” blended misogynist invective (“a bit nutty and a bit slutty”) with tabloid reportage to smear the woman who accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment.

Mr. Brock’s role in the Paula Jones affair is curious indeed, so much so that some might take him for a Clinton mole in the conservative camp — the Aldrich Ames of The American Spectator.

Mrs. Jones is the former Arkansas state clerical worker who filed suit on Friday accusing Bill Clinton, then Governor, of “sexually harassing and assaulting” her in a Little Rock hotel room in 1991. Her case is a pet cause of the anti-Clinton extremists of The American Spectator, The Wall Street Journal and Accuracy in Media, who have chastised the liberal press for hypocritically failing to pursue Mrs. Jones’s charges as strenuously as it did Ms. Hill’s.

Sexual harassment is an ugly crime, and Mrs. Jones, unlike Ms. Hill, will have her day in court, rather than in a mock tribunal presided over by some of the most conspicuous male dunderheads in the Senate.

But at least one ferocious Clinton-basher who purports to know everything about the President’s Little Rock sexual past has undermined Mrs. Jones’s account, and in The American Spectator: Mr. Brock.

The occasion was his original American Spectator story, published last Christmas, that bequeathed the revolting word “Troopergate” to the American language. Paula Jones made her first appearance in this 11,000-word treatise, in which Arkansas troopers gave their Peeping Tom accounts of alleged gubernatorial misadventures and Mr. Brock decried Hillary Clinton’s alleged use of troopers “to fetch feminine napkins.”

Known only as “Paula” in Mr. Brock’s article, she is alleged to have met Mr. Clinton in a Little Rock hotel room. Afterwards, Mr. Brock wrote, “the trooper said Paula told him she was available to be Clinton’s regular girlfriend if he so desired.”

This account of the encounter contradicts the accusations Mrs. Jones makes in her public statements and court papers. There is no hint of sexual harassment — in fact Mrs. Jones comes across as a consenting adult — and there isn’t even any direct statement that a sexual advance, encouraged or angrily rejected, occurred behind closed doors.

It was not until February, seven weeks after the Brock “Troopergate” story was published, that Mrs. Jones held a Washington press conference detailing her case of sexual harassment. She said that she was the “Paula” in Mr. Brock’s story, but that the story was inaccurate. She added that she decided to make her charges public precisely because The American Spectator’s account was wrong, defaming her.

But the trooper in Mr. Brock’s account, Danny Ferguson, has not denied the original “Paula” anecdote as published by The American Spectator. Nor has he corroborated Mrs. Jones’ current version of events, being a conspicuous no-show among the sources The Washington Post cited in its lengthy front-page report on the case last week. Now Mrs. Jones is trying to trump the silent Mr. Ferguson by naming him a co-defendant in her suit against Mr. Clinton.

Was Mr. Brock inaccurate in his original story? If so, here’s yet another example of his sloppy and uncorroborated reporting, and another reason to discredit the larger Troopergate tale as well as his hatchet job on Anita Hill.

But what if Mr. Brock did have the story right the first time? If so, what happened between the December publication of The American Spectator story and Mrs. Jones’s contradiction of it in February? Is it possible that the Clinton bashers, belatedly realizing that Americans are sick of bimbo stories, decided to repackage one of those stories as a sexual-harassment case with the hope that a new angle would be more damaging to the President with both the public and the mainstream media?

Somewhere in this sleazy case, no doubt, there’s a smoking gun. Don’t be surprised if it shoots the Clinton haters right in the foot.

His Cheatin’ Heart

Living With the Clintons: Bill’s Arkansas bodyguards tell the story the press missed.

American Spectator   Januarary 1994 issue   By David Brock

In a remarkable but little-noticed article buried inside the Sunday Washington Post four months before the 1992 presidential election, top Clinton campaign aide Betsey Wright said she had been spending the better part of her time since the Democratic National Convention trying to quell potential “bimbo eruptions.”

Through the Little Rock gossip mills, the campaign was tracking nineteen potential allegations that had surfaced in the first week following the convention, in addition to seven others that had appeared earlier in the year, Wright said. The extensive effort to short-circuit such stories, Wright said, included the campaign’s hiring of a private investigator to obtain information damaging to the credibility of the women involved, which was then used, presumably, to persuade them to stay quiet.

Perhaps unintentionally, the phrase “bimbo eruptions” cut two ways. Wright’s choice of the epithet “bimbo” — and a later reference to “gold-digger growth” — was obviously meant to discredit in advance any reports of sexual liaisons between Arkansas governor Bill Clinton and women other than his wife, Hillary. Yet at the same time, Wright also seemed to be conceding, if not promising, that there was more to come — i.e., the imminent appearance of an unspecified number of such women, and a subsequent round of stories raising questions about Clinton’s private life.

Wright was not the first to talk about the campaign’s aggressive efforts to discredit sources and lobby reporters and editors to spike emerging news stories. Writing in the New York Times in March, Gwen Ifill reported:

There have been constant, though undocumented, reports of articles that were never published because the Clinton damage controllers were on full alert before final publication decisions were made. This works “more often than you think,” said George Stephanopoulos.

Even the recently released documentary about the 1992 campaign, The War Room, showed Stephanopoulos on the telephone on the eve of the election, warning a caller not to go public with damaging information about Clinton’s private life.

The campaign had gone on “full alert” when Gennifer Flowers, the former cabaret singer, alleged in an interview with the Star supermarket tabloid that she had carried on a 12-year affair with Clinton (“Mistress Tells All, The Secret Love Tapes That Prove It”). With Hillary at his side, Clinton appeared on “60 Minutes” to deny that he had ever had an affair with Flowers, calling her only “a friendly acquaintance,” but acknowledging unspecified “wrongdoing” and “causing pain in my marriage.”

Flowers’s story was tainted at the outset, when she was reportedly paid $150,000 to cooperate with a publication of no journalistic repute. It was then discovered by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that she had misrepresented parts of her educational background and work history. Writing in the New Republic, Sidney Blumenthal described Flowers as “the woman in red, trimmed in black to match the roots of her frosted hair.”

On the other hand, there was direct evidence weighing in favor of Flowers. Though they had some unexplained pauses and ambiguous references, Flowers had tapes of conversations with Clinton, including his instruction that she deny that they had talked about her obtaining a state job (“If they ever ask you if you’ve talked to me about it, you can say no”). She also had corroboration for her story from her mother Mary, as well as from her roommate at the time, Lauren Kirk, who declared in an interview with the New York Post‘s Cindy Adams, “There can be no doubt that she and Bill Clinton had sex with one another.” [FOOTNOTE 1: After speaking to the press, Kirk was fired from her job as a realtor in Dallas.] And finally, Clinton never denied the authenticity of the tapes; in fact, he apologized to Mario Cuomo for a taped remark imputing Mafia ties to the New York governor.

Yet with very few exceptions — Phil Donahue and the Washington Monthly‘s Charles Peters among them — the press was untroubled by these wrinkles in Clinton’s denial of the Flowers affair and accepted his suggestion that any marital indiscretions were history. Pressed by Donahue, Clinton seemed to assert that any peccadilloes were a thing of the past: “I’ve told you the only facts I think you’re entitled to know. Have I had any problems with my marriage? Yes. Are we in good shape now? Yes.” The contention that any marital infidelity was no longer occurring was crucial to Clinton’s ability to put out the fire. As the New York Times paraphrased Clinton pollster Stan Greenberg at the time, “As long as voters believed the candidate had not lied and that his marriage was ‘real,’ they will not turn on him.”

For the most part, the press coverage quickly devolved into a tortured colloquium on whether or not infidelity was a Legitimate Issue. To the extent that members of the press corps had come to believe that it no longer was, that they had gone too far in destroying Democratic front-runner Gary Hart’s political career by exposing his ties to model Donna Rice in 1987, Clinton may have been treated with kid gloves on the womanizing issue. Though opinion polls showed that 14 percent of the electorate would not vote for an adulterer, the indifferent public response to the Flowers story may have convinced many in the media that the public desire for “change” outweighed any concerns about Clinton’s character. In addition, it was clear that many reporters viewed Clinton as “one of us,” a product of the 1960s not only politically, but on sexual matters as well — a “liberal semi-hip contemporary who seems to share their [reporters’] values,” as the Boston Globe described the candidate. Clinton booster Eleanor Clift of Newsweek candidly stated after the Flowers revelations, “Truth is, the press is willing to cut Clinton some slack because they like him and what he has to say.”

Nonetheless, a competing if minority view among some journalists held that the press must not repeat the slavish self-censorship of the Kennedy days. Surely a number of news organizations continued to scrutinize Clinton’s private life after the Flowers story faded, and even more so following his presidential nomination. Despite Clinton’s tacit admission of infidelity, however, after Flowers no other “bimbos” erupted. [FOOTNOTE 2: Other names surfaced in the tabloids but, unlike Flowers, were never mentioned in the mainstream press. Appearing on the Sally Jesse Raphael show in July 1992, Sally Perdue, a former Miss Arkansas, claimed that she had had an affair with Clinton, but the media generally did not report this. After the appearance, Perdue was fired from her job in the admissions office of a Midwestern university. A second woman had actually surfaced prior to Flowers, in Penthouse. Connie Hamzy of Little Rock said she had been sunbathing by a pool at a hotel in North Little Rock in August 1984 when an aide to Clinton approached her and arranged a sexual encounter with Clinton.]

Having recently spent a good deal of time in Arkansas with people who were close to the Clintons in their Little Rock years, I’m fairly certain that it was less a lack of professional interest in the subject, and more the lack of on-the-record sourcing due to the strong-arm tactics acknowledged by Wright and Stephanopoulos, that kept what could have been one of the biggest political stories of the campaign from seeing the light of day.

Much has been written of Clinton’s fascination with JFK, dating back to the time he was introduced to the president while visiting Washington as a teenager in 1963. When Clinton returned from Washington, he announced to his mother that he was going to enter politics. This past September, President Clinton summoned journalist Richard Reeves, the author of the recent biography President Kennedy, to the White House to discuss his book. Reeves writes of how Kennedy and his handlers worked hard to keep stories of the president’s womanizing out of the papers, much as the Clinton campaign would do some thirty years later:

[Kennedy] understood an important fact about the press and scandal: respectable journals generally avoided being the first to report on rumors or evidence concerning sex. But he knew that once something had been printed, no matter where, newspapers and magazines quickly quoted each other, using the first publication as a peg for their own reports…. The idea was to stop the first mention.

Clinton followed his idol’s strategy, and thus far he’s been amazingly successful. On the Flowers tapes, Clinton is heard saying, “They can’t run a story like this unless somebody said, ‘Yeah, I did it with him.'” Given the way Flowers was made an example of by Wright, Blumenthal, and others, women who have been linked to Clinton were less likely to come forward. But aside from the women, there was another group of sources sought after by reporters in the fall of 1992 because they were uniquely positioned to have first-hand knowledge of the subject: the dozen or so Arkansas state police officers assigned to the governor’s security detail both before and during the presidential run.

Under state law, these troopers are charged with safeguarding the first family of Arkansas, as well as the grounds of the gubernatorial mansion in downtown Little Rock. In practice, at least during the six terms that Clinton held office, the troopers functioned as chauffeurs, butlers, bodyguards, errand boys, and baggage handlers. They did everything for the Clintons, from receiving and placing telephone calls to changing bicycle tires and cleaning up after Socks the cat (who apparently retches with alarming frequency).

In late August and in September and October, I spent more than thirty hours interviewing four state troopers who had worked for the Clintons at various times over the years; in total, their experience covered most of the period from early 1979, when Clinton first took office, to January 16, 1993, when Clinton left Little Rock and flew east for his presidential inauguration. The meetings took place after I received an unsolicited tip that a group of Arkansas troopers was considering coming forward to tell all they knew about the Clintons, including extensive first-hand information about Bill’s philandering.

The troopers’ proximity to the Clintons had prompted reporters from many national news organizations to seek them out for interviews in 1992, calling them at home all hours of the day and night for weeks. Up until last fall, when I interviewed them, they had not talked. I spoke with the troopers separately and in various combinations and then re-interviewed them several times on tape to test and re-test their account for inconsistencies and embellishment.

Ultimately, two of the troopers, Larry Patterson and Roger Perry, decided to go on the record with the material and allow their names to be used in this piece. At that point, they retained two lawyers: Cliff Jackson, a former Oxford classmate of Clinton’s, who had accused Clinton of lying about his draft history in a series of media interviews in 1992; and Lynn Davis, a former director of the Arkansas state police and a former prosecutor. [FOOTNOTE 3: The process of getting the material from Patterson and Perry on the record was a long one. In October we signed a written agreement authorizing me to publish this piece in this magazine while protecting their right to sell a book later. So great was their fear of retaliation from what they called “the Clinton machine,” that the troopers then had Jackson make inquiries about establishing a defense fund to cover potential legal costs and lost income that could result from coming forward. In early December, however, the troopers decided to go on the record with no such protection, in order to guard against the potential criticism that they had been induced to talk for money. To allay my own concerns on this issue, I requested and received written assurance from Jackson prior to publication that no money had been paid or promised to his clients by anyone for disclosing any information.]

The troopers also spoke on the record and swore to affidavits furnished to the Los Angeles Times, which may make use of some of the material for a broader piece being developed on how the Clinton campaign kept these and similar stories from surfacing in 1992. The other two troopers have decided against going public at this time; their recollections are included here only if what they related to me in our off-the-record interviews corresponds with specific experiences they confided contemporaneously to one or both of the on-the-record troopers.

The troopers seem to have mixed motives. They say they are moved by public-spiritedness. They have come forward now because they believe the reckless personal behavior and poor judgment they witnessed by then-governor Clinton, if continued by the president, a subject on which they cannot speak authoritatively, could constitute a risk to the national security of the U.S. by making the president easy prey for blackmailers.

But as with all sources, there is also an element of self-interest and score-settling in their decision to speak to the media. As the troopers see it, Clinton behaved ungratefully and even rudely toward them after election day. “We lied for him and helped him cheat on his wife, and he treated us like dogs,” Patterson said. When one of the troopers asked Clinton to sign some photographs for his family after the election, he said the president-elect snapped: “I don’t have time for that s —.” Clinton assured Patterson that he would secure for him a lateral transfer within the state police organization before leaving office, but he never found five minutes to make the telephone call. (The current governor, Jim Guy Tucker, later did.)

There is also a prospective financial interest. Patterson, 47, the articulate senior member of the group, with twenty-seven years of service in the state police, and Perry, 43, with sixteen years of service, hope to collaborate on a book about life at the governor’s mansion. Perry, who worked for Clinton in his first term, returned to duty at the governor’s mansion in 1989 and remains on Tucker’s detail. Patterson had worked for Clinton on several special assignments before assuming full-time duties in 1987. They both served Clinton until his last day as governor in 1993.

The experiences of Patterson and Perry, only a selection of which will be described here, show that, in addition to lying to the American public when he denied his relationship with Gennifer Flowers and claimed that any infidelity had occurred only earlier in his marriage, Clinton had an elaborate damage-control operation that was reminiscent of John Kennedy’s — and for a very good reason: For at least a decade, Clinton has been prone to extramarital affairs, often more than one at a time, and to numerous one-night stands. According to the troopers, the clandestine sexual encounters occurred even after the presidential election and continued through Clinton’s final days in Little Rock.

Clinton is a man of gargantuan appetites and enormous drive, and not only in relation to women. “When he would eat an apple,” said Roger Perry, a stout 6’2″ chain-smoker who does not seem easily offended, “he would eat the whole thing, core, stem, and seeds. He would pick up a baked potato with his hands and eat it in two bites. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

The troopers said their “official” duties included facilitating Clinton’s cheating on his wife. This meant that, on the state payroll and using state time, vehicles, and resources, they were instructed by Clinton on a regular basis to approach women and to solicit their telephone numbers for the governor; to drive him in state vehicles to rendezvous points and guard him during sexual encounters; to secure hotel rooms and other meeting places for sex; to lend Clinton their state cars so he could slip away and visit women unnoticed; to deliver gifts from Clinton to various women (some of whom, like Flowers, also had state jobs); and to help Clinton cover up his activities by keeping tabs on Hillary’s whereabouts and lying to Hillary about her husband’s whereabouts.

How important such revelations are in any assessment of Bill Clinton as a man, and as a political leader, can be left for the reader’s judgment. The Newsweek reviewer of the Reeves book identified the dilemma for journalists and historians:

Kennedy scholars have by now proved that his private life was less than admirable. He was a compulsive womanizer and, like most such men and many presidents, an accomplished liar. A biographer has to decide how far to interpret Kennedy’s public performance as president through the medium of his private foibles.

Surely, it is nothing new that many politicians use their positions to solicit sexual favors and come to believe that the laws and mores that govern others don’t apply to them. So far as the troopers knew, Clinton’s activities did not include abuse of drugs or alcohol, and all of the women appear to have been willing participants in the affairs and liaisons. Some may well conclude, therefore, that Bill and Hillary Clinton’s loose sexual morals and their habitual foul language are irrelevant to their public roles and, in any event, are not uncharacteristic of their generation as a whole.

Still, the Clintons hold positions that, it is possible to argue, ought to be subject to a higher standard, particularly for people so inclined to argue for their public policies in a moral context. While rumors of extramarital dalliances have surrounded many presidents in this century, the scale of Clinton’s past indiscretions, if it has been sustained in the White House, as has been widely rumored, would appear to far exceed that of any of his predecessors, with the possible exception of John Kennedy. If, as the troopers describe it, he is a sexual predator and exploiter of women, his behavior may be more egregious than that which destroyed the political careers and reputations of Gary Hart, John Tower, and most recently Bob Packwood.

But there is a larger point in the case of Clinton that goes well beyond any moral or ethical judgment about — or prurient interest in — his private life. When sources come forward of their own volition to describe how Clinton’s private activities have caused lies to be told, threats to be made, and cover-ups to be undertaken, an issue of public integrity is raised, and the public’s right to know outweighs a public figure’s claim to privacy or journalistic discretion. Thus, even if one is inclined to give the issues of character, judgment, and self-control raised by the troopers’ account of Clinton’s behavior little weight — much of the material should strike readers as more farcical than scandalous, a view shared by the troopers, who chuckled through some of the telling — it became evident in the reporting of this story that Clinton and his surrogates continue to regard his private behavior as a political time bomb. Their effort to try to thwart publication of the story is itself newsworthy — and quite illustrative of how this information was kept from voters during the 1992 campaign.

Shortly after my first session with the troopers, three of the four (Perry and the two who wished to remain off the record) received telephone calls from their former supervisor on the governor’s security detail, Captain Raymond L. “Buddy” Young, who last July was named by Clinton to head a regional Federal Emergency Management Agency office in Texas. Perry said Young told him that he was aware that they had hired lawyers and were thinking of going public with a book or a story. Perry said that Young told him, “I represent the president of the United States. Why do you want to destroy him over this? You don’t know anything anyway.… This is not a threat, but I wanted you to know that your own actions could bring about dire consequences.” Patterson said Young sent him a handwritten note expressing concern for Patterson’s health.

In an interview, Young confirmed that he had been in contact with the three troopers to discuss this matter. “I called Roger as a friend, and I told him I thought this was wrong, it was unethical, and it was a disgrace to security people. But I never said I spoke for the president, because I don’t.” Young denied having been in contact with the president or anyone in the White House on this subject. Young also confirmed that he sent a note to Patterson about his health, but denied any implication that the note was a veiled threat. “Larry has heart problems, and I was concerned about his cholesterol,” Young said.

He went on to say that the thrust of Patterson and Perry’s account was not true and that I should look closely at their motives. “These boys made this up to sell a book and because they were mad that Clinton didn’t give them promotions,” he said. [FOOTNOTE 4: Young is currently being sued in Arkansas for allegedly lying in federal court to discredit a witness who claimed to have information about illegal drug money being funneled through the Arkansas bond market during Clinton’s tenure.]

Young also confirmed that one of the two troopers who decided not to go on the record — but whom Young voluntarily named, Danny Ferguson — subsequently obtained part-time employment at a Little Rock company, National Safety Consultants, in which Young owns an interest. “I started this consulting service for safety training for truck drivers a few years back as a part-time deal. I own an interest, but I don’t have anything to do with the operation. They subcontracted with Danny. But it had absolutely nothing to do with what we’re talking about. It was totally unrelated.” Young also confirmed that the second trooper interviewed by me who decided not to come forward — whom he also voluntarily named, Ronnie Anderson — had a part-time job at this same company that pre-dated our first meeting. The job provides several thousand dollars a year in supplemental income to Anderson, Young said.

Ferguson also confirmed the arrangement but denied that it was related to his having decided not to go on the record with his stories about the Clintons. “I talked to Buddy more than a year ago about this job. But when I started, it was Ronnie Anderson who arranged it. Buddy didn’t even know about it until after I started. I started a month ago, and I only made $190 last month [November]. If I was going to do something not to talk, it wouldn’t be for that kind of money,” Ferguson said.

Another attempt to suppress the story was allegedly made by Paul “Rocky” Wilmoth, a Clinton fundraiser and Arkansas bulk-oil dealer and distributor. According to Perry, Wilmoth recently stopped by the governor’s residence and told two troopers who have not been involved with this story, Frank Tappin and Derrick Flowers, to convey to Perry and Patterson that they would be “destroyed” if they talked to the press. Wilmoth denied the story, as did Flowers. Tappin declined to comment.

Perry said that Ferguson told him that Clinton called him personally while he was on duty at the Arkansas governor’s mansion on at least two occasions after our first interview. During the initial call, according to Perry, Clinton let it be known that he was willing to offer favors in return for the troopers’ refusal to cooperate further. Clinton told Ferguson to tell Roger Perry that “Roger can have whatever he wants [not to talk].” In another call to Ferguson, Clinton asked what precisely Perry and Patterson were saying, Perry said. “If you tell me what stories Roger and Larry are telling, I can go in the back door and handle it and clean it up,” Clinton allegedly said. Perry said that Ferguson told him that in the course of the conversations Clinton offered Ferguson a federal job — either as the U.S. marshal in Little Rock or as a regional FEMA director — explicitly in exchange for his help in thwarting publication of any stories. This could be a violation by Clinton of a criminal statute barring the solicitation of money or anything of value (in this case, information) in consideration for the promise of federal employment. Ferguson said, “I’m not going to confirm anything Roger is saying I said.” Asked if he was denying receiving calls from Clinton, he said, “I’ve talked to a lawyer and I’m not denying it. No comment.” (The White House did not return calls for this story.)

These rumblings from the Clinton machine notwithstanding, Perry and Patterson have hung tough and decided to be the first to pierce the shield of secrecy surrounding Clinton’s indiscretions that has been so effectively maintained up to now. Readers should be forewarned about two aspects of their story. First, the many subjective observations and judgments made about the Clintons are the troopers’ own and should be considered in the light of the troopers’ inherent biases and limitations. That said, the unvarnished observations of these men warrant disclosure because they provide the kind of texture that would likely not be revealed until presidential biographies were published, years or decades after the Clintons left office. Second, the reader should be warned that when the troopers are describing events they witnessed and quoting verbatim statements made in their presence, much of what they have to say is vulgar tabloid fare. This, however, reflects not on them, but on the behavior of the first couple.

As the troopers saw it, the Clintons’ relationship is an effective political partnership, more a business relationship than a marriage. They described Bill as the public face, the communicator, the conciliator, a man who likes to be liked and even talked with them about his “star” qualities. “One time we got to talking while I was driving him back from a political event and he said, ‘You know, I’m going to have to stay in politics now, because I’m too old to be a movie star,'” Patterson recalled.

The troopers charted a distinct change between the headstrong radical of Clinton’s first term — “kind of a hippie,” as Perry put it — and the chastened compromiser of later years. Rejection by the voters in 1980 left Clinton with a propensity to try to please all sides, therefore often pleasing none, and an aversion to taking potentially unpopular decisions, according to Patterson and Perry.

Clinton is a very quick study — Perry remembered a time when Clinton was filming a commercial and took a typed page he had never seen before, glanced at it for less than a minute, and then recited it verbatim into the camera — and a highly energetic, tenacious worker, consumed by ambition. “He would call legislators late into the evening, lobbying for votes,” said Patterson, “and we had to place the calls, waking up important state legislators well after midnight.” One thing he wasn’t was lazy. Clinton thrived on four hours of sleep a night, they said.

For all his intelligence and diligence, though, the troopers viewed Clinton as something of a klutz in matters of ordinary life. Patterson said he will never forget that he had to show Clinton how to operate a Mr. Coffee machine one Saturday morning — and then had to show him again on Sunday.

To be sure, Clinton rarely had to do anything for himself. During his twelve years as governor, Clinton had a full household staff, including several cooks and a babysitter on the premises paid for by the state, not to mention several inmates from Arkansas penitentiaries who worked gratis as gardeners and handymen on the grounds. (They were also made to provide free labor on the Little Rock home of the Rodhams, Hillary’s parents.) The Clintons owned no property, and the state rented Bill the Lincoln town car in which he was driven.

In private moments with his bodyguards, often on long highway drives through the state, Clinton — with little experience of work outside the public sector — would sometimes reveal his insecurities. “He told me that if he was forced out of politics, he’d have no idea how to make a living,” Perry said.

Clinton was perhaps more out of touch with the average voter than President Bush. One day during the presidential campaign, the troopers witnessed a group of aides briefing the governor on the prices of various common groceries following media reports (later shown to be erroneous) that President Bush did not recognize a price-scanner at a supermarket in Florida. When Clinton was later asked by a viewer on “CBS This Morning” if he knew the price of bread and milk, and he answered correctly, campaign strategist James Carville cited this performance in a New York Times op-ed as an example of Clinton’s ability “to empathize with average people.”

Spending virtually every waking hour with him, the troopers were well positioned to judge both the private and the public man. They marveled at Clinton’s ability to pass himself off as something he was not, viewing it as the key to his political success. Perry thought Clinton’s facility with language allowed him to bridge the gap with the Arkansas voter. “He would always try to come across as old Joe the rag man, working beside you in Pine Bluff building shelves. He could give a great speech to the common people,” said Perry. This false populism manifested itself in other ways, too, they said. Throughout his tenure, Clinton was careful to fly coach-class into and out of Little Rock; but during the rest of his itinerary, he insisted on flying first-class.

At other times, Clinton would enthusiastically talk shop, explaining to the troopers how he — a career politician who chuckled privately that he “never met a tax he didn’t like,” as Perry recalled it — managed to get elected and re-elected in Arkansas. Clinton told Perry that his strategy amounted to little more than old-fashioned interest-group politics: If he could hold the black vote, generally about 18 percent in a state election, his victory would be sealed. “He used to say that that meant his opponent had to get his 51 percent out of 82 percent,” Perry said. “It was pretty smart politics.”

His outsized ego notwithstanding, the troopers found Clinton to be personable and easy to be around. When his adolescent arrogance shone through, he was always quick to apologize to the troopers for his outbursts, which have included throwing an apple at the windshield of his car from the back seat, busting a cellular phone on cement pavement, and clearing the contents of an entire desk onto the floor. “They were the kind of tantrums that you would not tolerate in a child,” said Perry.

One of the worst explosions of temper that Larry Patterson remembered followed Clinton’s ill-fated speech to the 1988 Democratic National Convention. Clinton spoke so long that delegates were shouting at him “Get off, get off” by the end. The speech had been written to last no more than seven minutes, but the Dukakis staff demanded the insertion of various lengthy passages. When Clinton arrived, the lights in the hall were supposed to be dramatically dimmed, as they had been for Ann Richards and Jesse Jackson. Instead, the lights glared, and monitors on either side of the podium mistakenly beamed “Jesse! Jesse!” causing the crowd to chant incongruously.

As Clinton left the podium, Patterson was standing on the platform along with various Democratic dignitaries. He saw Clinton stomp about, denouncing “that little Greek motherf — -er” and promising to “get his ass, because he tried to kill me politically.” A few weeks later, Dukakis called Clinton in Arkansas. Clinton put the telephone down for a moment and summoned Patterson in to hear what he was about to say. “He called him every kind of son of a bitch you can think of. Then he refused to endorse him until a few weeks before the election,” Patterson recounted. Dukakis did not return a call seeking comment.

Dukakis was not the only Democratic competitor who met with Clinton’s scorn. He seemed to delight in sharing his views on various politicians. The troopers said they remember Clinton commenting privately on Cuomo’s alleged “Mafia connections” and joking about how Ted Kennedy “couldn’t get a whore across a bridge.” Perry said that after meeting with Jesse Jackson in October 1991 in Little Rock to get the reverend’s blessing before announcing his presidential candidacy, Clinton told him that Jackson — who is reportedly contemplating a 1996 primary challenge to Clinton — was “a smart man, but I can’t stand that motherf — -er.”

The troopers also saw first-hand that their fiercely competitive boss was not above a dirty trick or two. In the 1990 governor’s race, Clinton asked Larry Patterson to locate a woman who was rumored to have had an illegitimate child by one of Clinton’s primary opponents. “He was always having us research his opponents. If he had a source, he’d ask us to drop a dime on them and report back, even though he knew it was a violation of state law for us to take part in political campaigns,” Patterson said. “On this one occasion, Clinton told me to go to the Holiday Inn at the [Little Rock] airport, find the woman, and offer her money or a job to sign a statement [about the illegitimate child].” Patterson followed Clinton’s instructions to offer the illegal bribe, but the woman declined the offer and never came forward.

The troopers were closer to Bill than to Hillary Clinton, who in their telling comes off as unflatteringly one-dimensional. The troopers chauffeured Clinton on a daily basis and were privy to his every move. Hillary, on the other hand, kept her distance. When she left the residence, she never informed them of her schedule. In fact, when she could, Hillary avoided even speaking to them, preferring to speak through Bill or some other third party, possibly because she disdained their role in facilitating his philandering.

Although Hillary’s circle of friends and advisers included more activist liberals, the troopers saw Hillary — like Bill — as a shrewd and practical operator concerned primarily with personal political advancement. While the troopers saw Clinton playing the candidate, they saw Hillary playing the bad cop, gutsy and decisive, all backbone. They remembered well the now-famous time that Hillary showed up at a news conference of Tom McRae, Clinton’s opponent in the 1990 governor’s race, and interrupted the candidate’s statement with a sustained defense of her husband.

From their direct observations, Patterson and Perry said they believe that Hillary is more obsessed than Bill with his political fortunes. She expressed this concern, as she did most everything, in language that makes the Watergate tapes sound like a Sunday school lesson. “I remember one time when Bill had been quoted in the morning paper saying something she didn’t like,” Patterson said. “I came into the mansion and he was standing at the top of the stairs and she was standing at the bottom screaming. She has a garbage mouth on her, and she was calling him motherf — -er, c — -sucker, and everything else. I went into the kitchen, and the cook, Miss Emma, turned to me and said, ‘The devil’s in that woman.'”

Hillary, as described by the troopers, pursued power with a single-minded intensity, had few friends outside politics, and was not especially close to her family — just like her husband. “Everything was politics. They wouldn’t go out to dinner with friends the way you or I would or the way I’ve seen this governor [Tucker] do,” said Perry. “If they were invited to a private party, and there were only going to be eight or ten people there, she would say, ‘We’re not going to waste time at that thing. There aren’t enough people there.’ I never saw Hillary just relax and have a good time.”

While Bill genuinely enjoyed shaking every hand in a room, Hillary seemed to view retail politics as a distasteful if necessary evil. “She hated Arkansas. She would always say how ‘backward’ the state was,” Perry said. One trooper told Perry that Hillary forbade him to speak when he accompanied her on a trip to Washington because, as she put it, he “sounded like a hick from Arkansas.”

One of Hillary’s pet projects in Arkansas was HIPPY, the Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youngsters, which provided the mothers of underprivileged pre-school youth with in-home instruction by state-sponsored tutors. During the presidential campaign, a commercial was filmed at the governor’s mansion featuring dozens of the impoverished HIPPY children, who stood for several hours in the baking heat while the scene was set. For security purposes, the governor’s residence is fitted out with several video cameras and one audio monitor — at the rear door — that connected it to the guard house. “They would usually forget that thing was on, and we would pick up a lot of what they said. On this particular day, I heard Hillary come out on the rear porch and say, ‘I want to get this s — – over with and get these damn people out of here,'” Perry remembered.

The troopers were also objects of Hillary’s wrath. Patterson recalled the early morning of Labor Day in 1991, when Hillary came out of the mansion, got in her car, and drove off. Within a minute or so of leaving the gate, her aging blue Cutlass swung violently around and came charging back onto the grounds, tires squealing in the dust. “I thought something was terribly wrong, so I rushed out to her. And she screamed, ‘Where is the goddamn f — -ing flag?’ It was early and we hadn’t raised the flag yet. And she said, ‘I want the goddamn f — -ing flag up every f — -ing morning at f — -ing sunrise.'”

Such displays made Hillary by far the most unpopular member of the first family. Troopers volunteered to work several days of consecutive 16-hour shifts just to avoid traveling with her. Though it may have been a reflection of chauvinism on their part, the troopers thought Hillary “liked to intimidate men,” Perry said. She would remark that troopers’ guns are “phallic symbols.” Or she would phone the mansion from her law office and order troopers to fetch feminine napkins from her bathroom and deliver them to her at the firm.

Though they believe she advised her husband on all important matters of state, it seemed to the troopers that the Clintons led very separate lives otherwise. Hillary drove herself in the Cutlass each morning to the Rose Law Firm, about a mile from the mansion. Clinton worked either from his office in the capitol or in the residence. More often than not, one of the troopers drove the Clintons’ daughter, Chelsea, to school. In the evenings, the family members generally dined separately.

When Bill and Hillary did spend time together, they were barely civil to one another, in the troopers’ assessment. Many times the couple would be driven to an event an hour or more outside Little Rock — with Bill sitting in the front seat of the Lincoln with the driver and Hillary in the back seat — and say nothing at all to each other, which struck the troopers as quite tragic. “If he was dead politically, I would expect a divorce in 30 days,” Roger Perry said.

Over the years, the troopers have seen Bill Clinton in compromising situations with dozens of women. They said their facilitation of the activities ranged from wiping make-up off his shirt collar, to standing “Hillary watch” while Clinton cavorted, to arranging sex sessions in hotel rooms and parking lots, to sneaking women into the governor’s mansion while Hillary and Chelsea slept.

The troopers said Clinton devised and they executed an elaborate plan to accommodate his sexual appetites. Not all of the dozen or so troopers were assigned to these special duties. Perry and Patterson were two of a select handful, chosen by Clinton because he evidently trusted them to protect him and appreciated their street-smarts. It was kind of a down-home replay of the Kennedy days, as described by Richard Reeves:

The logistics of Kennedy’s liaisons with Judith Campbell and dozens of other women in the White House and in hotels, houses, and apartments around the country and around the world required secrecy and devotion rare even in the annals of the energetic service demanded by successful politicians. The arrangements were frequent.…The routine of clandestine comings and goings had to be taught to the willing among the women Kennedy regularly propositioned, often within a couple of minutes of introduction. Some of the action was somewhat graceful — or at least roses were sent with a card that said: “Friends of Evelyn Lincoln” [Lincoln was JFK’s private secretary]. Some of it was in the back seats of cars.… The delivery duty was shared by old friends and by almost everyone in the White House from the military attachés and typists — some of whom had made the backstairs trip a few times themselves — to members of the Cabinet.… The women, secretaries, stars, the wives of friends, were symbols and rewards of aggressive privilege. Sneaking around, cleaning up the mess, covering up was all part of the game.… It was all good fun to those who knew — part of the thrill of being inside one of the president’s closer circles. Keeping the secrets was part of the price of admission, and those who knew didn’t tell those who didn’t.

According to Clinton biographers Charles F. Allen and Jonathan Portis in The Comeback Kid, stories of Clinton’s womanizing date back to the period when he was rejected by the voters in 1980 in his bid for a second term. “Clinton, seeing his political future vanish overnight, became careless about his actions,” they wrote.

He had achieved so much so fast. Now it was gone. Rumors began filtering into the newsrooms and throughout the state offices that Clinton was having an affair with another woman. Such rumors about politicians are commonplace, but this one had a persistence about it. Because Clinton was no longer in the public light, the reporters and editors decided to ignore the talk.

As the troopers described the situation, the scale of Clinton’s extramarital activities only increased after he won election to a second term in 1982. When Perry returned to security duty at the mansion in the late 1980s, other troopers regaled him with tales of Clinton’s affairs in the 1982-to-1987 period. During the last five years of Clinton’s governorship, while Patterson worked at the residence, he said he gained first-hand knowledge that Clinton was involved with a group of Little Rock women — regular mistresses or girlfriends — numbering about a half-dozen. The names of the mistresses with whom Patterson was familiar, some of whom are married and have children, are known to me, but will not be revealed here, so as not to exploit them more than Clinton already has, or to punish innocent family members. Each of the names given me by Patterson was corroborated by Perry — who has knowledge of them dating back to 1989 — and the other two troopers with whom I met. I located each of the women by telephone, but each either denied involvement or would offer no comment.

According to Patterson, the long-term mistresses since 1987, in addition to Gennifer Flowers, included a staffer in Clinton’s office; an Arkansas lawyer Clinton appointed to a judgeship; the wife of a prominent judge; a local reporter; an employee at Arkansas Power and Light, a state-regulated public utility; and a cosmetics sales clerk at a Little Rock department store. They ranged in age from their early 30s to their early 40s. According to both Patterson and Perry, throughout the period of their employment at the governor’s residence, Clinton visited one of these women, either in the early morning or the late evening, or one of them came to the residence to see him, at least two or three times a week.

Clinton also had a series of brief affairs and one-time encounters from 1987 through early 1993 of which the troopers had direct knowledge. He often met women at social functions in Little Rock or on the road. Sometimes he would even use troopers as intermediaries, sending them off with messages and outright propositions to women to retire to back rooms, hotel rooms, or offices with him.

One of the troopers told the story of how Clinton had eyed a woman at a reception at the Excelsior Hotel in downtown Little Rock. According to the trooper, who told the story to both Patterson and Perry as well, Clinton asked him to approach the woman, whom the trooper remembered only as Paula, tell her how attractive the governor thought she was, and take her to a room in the hotel where Clinton would be waiting. As the troopers explained it, the standard procedure in a case like this was for one of them to inform the hotel that the governor needed a room for a short time because he was expecting an important call from the White House. (Not a terribly plausible story during the Reagan and Bush years, but it seemed to work like a charm with hotel clerks in Arkansas.) On this particular evening, after her encounter with Clinton, which lasted no more than an hour as the trooper stood by in the hall, the trooper said Paula told him she was available to be Clinton’s regular girlfriend if he so desired.

Patterson — tall and trim, with the upright demeanor and closely cropped hair of a military officer — recalled another example he witnessed late in the evening on the night after Clinton’s disastrous speech to the 1988 Democratic convention. “Norman Lear gave us a suite of offices in a building next to the CNN building where the governor and his staff were working. Sandy Berger [a longtime Clinton adviser and now deputy national security adviser] had flown in to write the speech. The day after, Clinton spent the day ‘spinning’ the press. Well, that night, when we finished, we went back to the offices around midnight and a young lady of about 30 or 32, [name withheld], who the governor had just met at the convention, was there to meet us. He took her back in a private office, closed the door, and stayed in there for an hour or so while I waited to take him back to the Marriott where he and Hillary were staying.”

According to the troopers, Clinton often visited his regular Little Rock girlfriends in the early morning, during what were ostensibly long jogs. “He would jog out of the mansion grounds very early most mornings and then we would go pick up him at a McDonald’s at 7th Street and Broadway,” Patterson said. “When we picked him up, half the time he would be covered in sweat and the other half of the time there wouldn’t be a drop of sweat on him, even in the middle of July in Little Rock. Sometimes I’d ask him, ‘How far did you run today governor?’ And he would say, ‘Five miles.’ I’d tell him there must be something wrong with his sweat glands because he didn’t have a drop of sweat on him. He’d say, ‘I can’t fool you guys, can I?'”

As the troopers recounted events, several times a month in the late evening, Clinton would leave the residence in a state car borrowed from one of the troopers, because the governor’s Lincoln was easily recognizable on the streets of Little Rock. “We were told to keep our cars clean for this purpose,” said Perry, who often lent Clinton his green Corsica. A few minutes after the lights clicked off in the first couple’s bedroom, Clinton would get out of bed and “go out for a drive,” leaving instructions at the guard house that if Hillary woke up, he was to be alerted on his cellular phone. On more than a dozen occasions since 1987, Patterson said he saw one of the troopers’ cars parked outside one particular girlfriend’s condominium as he drove home after being relieved from his shift at the mansion at midnight. The woman lived just a few doors from Patterson on Shadow Oaks in Sherwood, on the outskirts of Little Rock.

The troopers also drove Clinton from the capitol late in the evening to various women’s homes and waited for hours for him to emerge. They became expert at parking unobtrusively, by backing into driveways and the like. Patterson recalled that the first time he parked in this manner outside the home of the Clinton staffer in 1987, where he sat from midnight until about 4:30 a.m. waiting on the governor, Clinton congratulated him on his stealthiness. “He told me it was our responsibility to cover his ass so he wouldn’t get in trouble,” Patterson said.

By all accounts, whenever Clinton returned to the residence after one of these encounters, he went to the bathroom in the troopers’ guard house, where he washed up before entering the main house.

During the day, when Hillary was in town but not at home and Clinton wanted privacy in the residence with a woman, the troopers said, they were instructed to buzz him on the intercom as soon as Hillary’s car approached the front gate of the compound. When Hillary was out of town, the troopers remembered innumerable occasions when Bill wouldn’t hesitate to seize the opportunity to entertain women at all hours of the day and night, clearing them through the gates for what the troopers said he called a “personal tour of the mansion.”

After the presidential election, Bill instructed the troopers to clear women through the outer Secret Service blockade on the street by falsely identifying them as staff, or as cousins of the troopers. Shortly before the Clintons left Little Rock for Washington, Roger Perry said, one of the troopers (whom I also interviewed) told him that he had arranged for the AP&L employee to arrive at the governor’s mansion at 5:15 a.m., dressed in a trench coat and a baseball cap at Clinton’s instruction. The trooper told Perry he had told the Secret Service that she was “staff coming in very early.” Clinton had arranged for the trooper to bring the woman through a basement door, which opened into a game room, where Clinton was waiting. The trooper said he was instructed to stand at the top of the stairs leading from the basement to the main floor of the residence and to alert Clinton if Hillary woke up, according to Perry.

Over time, as both Patterson and Perry described it, each mistress was assigned a particular trooper whose job it was to call her and find out when she could see Bill at her home, drive her to various events where Bill was appearing, and deliver gifts to her. “Three times after the [presidential] election I called [the judge’s wife] to see if she was at home for the governor,” Patterson said. They also said Clinton regularly slipped them cash to pay for gifts for the women they were told to pick up from Victoria’s Secret in the Little Rock mall and other women’s shops around town. “He told us to make sure they were kept in the trunk of the cars and never bring them into the house where Hillary might see them,” Perry said. At Christmas 1992, the trooper whose request for autographed photos for his family Clinton had waved away was able to get his autographs only by insisting on a signature each time Clinton asked him to pick up and deliver a gift to a woman.

In everyone’s estimation, Clinton built relationships with each of the long-time girlfriends and treated them well, though perhaps manipulating them to his own ends. He once told Roger Perry he was in love with one of them, though there is debate among the troopers as to which of the women he meant.

When speaking to the troopers about these liaisons, Clinton was usually quite circumspect, but on some occasions he inexplicably permitted himself to be caught in flagrante delicto. More than once, Larry Patterson said, he stood guard and witnessed the department store clerk performing oral sex on Bill in a parked car, including in the parking lot of Chelsea’s elementary school, and on the grounds of the governor’s mansion.

In one instance, in the fall of 1988 or 1989, as Patterson remembered it, he was driving Clinton to an annual reception for the Harrison County Chamber of Commerce in a hospitality suite at the Camelot Hotel in Little Rock. On the way, Clinton suggested a detour to Chelsea’s school, Booker Elementary. When they arrived, Clinton told Patterson the sales clerk was sitting in her car, which was parked in the otherwise deserted front parking lot. “I parked across the entrance and stood outside the car looking around, about 120 feet from where they were parked in a lot that was pretty well lit. I could see Clinton get into the front seat and then the lady’s head go into his lap. They stayed in the car for 30 or 40 minutes,” Patterson said.

In a second instance, Patterson was on duty at the residence, again late in the evening, when the same woman drove up in a yellow and black Datsun or Nissan pick-up truck and asked to see Clinton. “The governor came out of the residence and climbed into the front seat of the truck, which she parked in an area off the rear drive,” Patterson recalled. This time, Patterson said, with a gleam in his eye, he got an even clearer view of the sex act by aiming a remote-controlled camera with a swivel base mounted on a 30-foot pole in the back yard of the house right into the truck. The image was projected onto a 27-inch video screen in the guard house. “He was sitting on the passenger side and she was behind the wheel. I pointed the thing directly into the windshield, and watched on the screen as the governor [received oral sex],” Patterson said.

As this act was occurring, Chelsea’s babysitter at the time, Melissa Jolley, drove into the compound. Realizing that she would usually drive right by the area where the pick-up was parked on her way to the guest house where she lived, Patterson quickly intercepted her, told her there was a security problem on the grounds, and then instructed her to drive by a different route, go in her house, and stay there. “When they were done Clinton came running over to me and asked, ‘Did she see us? Did she see us?’ I told him what I’d done and he said ‘Atta boy,'” Patterson said.

On yet another occasion that Patterson described, the governor and his security detail arrived at the Little Rock airport and Clinton told his bodyguards that he was going to be driven back to the residence by the Arkansas lawyer, who had met the plane, so that she could show him her new Jaguar. “On the ride back he drove and she was nowhere to be seen in the car,” Patterson said. “Later he told me that he had researched the subject in the Bible and oral sex isn’t considered adultery.”

Like many men, Clinton and the troopers shared locker room comments about women and sex. “When he was in a down mood, all you had to do was start talking about sex and he would come alive,” said Perry. “I remember one time when I asked him to sign an autograph for a female friend, and he asked me, ‘Does she have big titties?'”

“He told me there are two kinds of f — -ing redheads,” Patterson said. “Beautiful f — -ing redheads and ugly f — -ing redheads.” About a local reporter (not the one with whom he was involved), Clinton told Patterson, “I bet she could give [good oral sex].” Complaining about the same woman, Clinton later said, “If you were a buddy you would f — – her and get her off my ass.”

Hillary apparently was aware of Bill’s hanky-panky, at least in general terms. Patterson recalled one Sunday afternoon in the late 1980s when he heard Hillary complain to Bill in highly colorful language about their inadequate sex life. Listening to the audio monitor at the rear porch of the main house, Patterson said he sat in the guard house and heard Hillary tell Bill, during an argument in the kitchen, “I need to be f — -ed more than twice a year.” When Clinton spent an inordinate amount of time speaking with an attractive woman at a public event — apparently a common occurrence — several troopers said they have heard Hillary complain bitterly. “She would say, ‘Come on Bill, put your dick up. You can’t f — – her here,'” as Patterson remembered the unforgettable phrasing.

“Even though she knew what was going on, he would hide it because he didn’t want the confrontation,” Perry said. Bill did get caught every once in a while. Generally a heavy sleeper, Hillary once woke up in the middle of the night, flicked on the bedroom light, and called down to the guard house looking for Bill. “The sorry damn son of a bitch!” she exclaimed when told the governor had gone out for a drive. Perry grabbed the cellular phone, turning Clinton up at one of the women’s homes, and told him to get back to the residence fast. “He started saying ‘Oh god, god, god. What did you tell her?'” Perry recalled. When Clinton arrived soon after, Hillary was waiting in the kitchen, where, not unexpectedly, a wild screaming match ensued. When Perry entered the kitchen after the dust had settled, the room was a wreck, with a cabinet door kicked off its hinges.

Another fight ensued on the Clintons’ final day in Little Rock, according to Patterson. Clinton asked him to bring one of his women friends to the send-off ceremony at the Little Rock airport before he departed for Washington. “When I got there with [the judge’s wife], Hillary turned to me and said, ‘What the f — – do you think you’re doing? I know who that whore is. I know what she’s doing here. Get her out of here.’ Clinton was standing right there. I looked at him and he just shrugged his shoulders, so I took her out of there and dropped her at the Holiday Inn Center City.”

The troopers speculated that Hillary tolerated this behavior much as eighteenth-century aristocrats maintained marriages of convenience to suit the social and material needs of both parties. Hillary herself was intimately involved with the late Vincent Foster, a partner at the Rose Law Firm and later deputy White House counsel. Foster killed himself in July under circumstances that remain murky. “It was common knowledge around the mansion that Hillary and Vince were having an affair,” said Larry Patterson, though he conceded that the evidence for this is more circumstantial than his first-hand knowledge of Clinton’s behavior.

According to all of the troopers, whenever Clinton left town, no sooner would he be out of the mansion gates than Foster would appear, often staying in the residence with Hillary into the wee hours of the morning. One of the off-the-record troopers drove Hillary and Foster to a mountain cabin in Heber Springs, maintained by the Rose firm as an out-of-town retreat for its lawyers, where the two spent significant amounts of time alone. Patterson and Perry were both aware of this at the time. On several chance occasions — at the Heber Springs retreat, and once stopped at a traffic light in Little Rock — troopers said they observed Foster and Hillary embracing and open-mouth kissing.

Patterson once saw the two in a compromising position at a birthday party for Hillary held at the Little Rock French restaurant Alouette’s. Bill also attended. While seated at the restaurant’s bar, outside the dining room, Patterson said he observed Hillary and another woman from the Rose firm, Carolyn Huber, come out to the bar for a private chat. Soon thereafter, Foster emerged from the dining room on his way to the men’s room. “He came up behind Hillary, and squeezed her rear end with both of his hands. Then he winked and gave me the ‘OK’ sign,” Patterson said. “On the way back, Huber was turned away, and Vince put his hand over one of Hillary’s breasts and made the same ‘OK’ sign to me. And she just stood there cooing, ‘Oh Vince. Oh Vince.'” Huber, now an assistant to the president, said she never attended such a party.

The only person Bill Clinton has specifically denied having an affair with is Gennifer Flowers, yet all of the troopers agreed that Clinton and Flowers were romantically involved for several years. [FOOTNOTE 5: It could be argued that Clinton did not categorically deny any romantic involvement with Flowers. For example, in the Kroft interview, Clinton was asked about Flowers’s allegations of a “12-year affair” and Clinton answered, “That allegation is false.” This could leave open the possibility that the affair lasted less than 12 years.] They said Flowers called the mansion regularly, asking to speak with “Bill.” As the troopers described the routine, when Hillary was not at home, Clinton generally took the calls. When she was, Clinton always instructed a trooper to tell Flowers that he would call her back. Soon thereafter, Clinton would trundle down to the troopers’ guard house and retreat to a private back room, where he would then get on the telephone — a line that Hillary could not pick up from inside the mansion. This is how he regularly handled personal calls from women.

Patterson said he often drove Clinton to the Quapaw Towers in Little Rock, where Flowers lived, late in the evening, waiting in the parking lot for as long as two hours for Clinton’s return. “Every place we ever went, even a private party, we would go in with him, except a woman’s house,” Patterson said. Perhaps because his relationship with Flowers began long before he began to acknowledge his behavior to the troopers, Clinton had a story to cover his tracks. Clinton told Patterson that he was visiting Maurice Smith, director of the state highway department, who lived in the same building, but Patterson believes that if this were true he would have gone into the building with Clinton, as was usual with business meetings. [FOOTNOTE 6: According to Flowers in a Penthouse interview in December 1992, Clinton often jogged over to her apartment from the nearby governor’s mansion, “arriving sweaty but eager.” On other occasions, Flowers said, Clinton’s driver sat in the car in the complex driveway and waited for two hours or so. In an interview with me, Flowers said she knew Larry Patterson and also knew that Clinton’s drivers waited for him in the parking lot. During the initial visits, Clinton entered the building through the lobby and was seen getting off the elevator at the second floor, where Flowers lived. Rumors soon circulated through the building. Thereafter, Flowers said, she waited on her balcony until she saw the governor’s Lincoln pull in and then went to the first floor to prop open a fire exit door with a newspaper so Clinton could enter the building undetected.]

Yet despite this cover story, Clinton evidently couldn’t resist bragging about his sexual exploits. On one occasion, Perry recalled, Clinton said that Gennifer Flowers “could suck a tennis ball through a garden hose.”

According to Patterson and Perry, in the late spring of 1991, as Clinton was seriously considering making a presidential run, Flowers began calling him incessantly, sometimes four or five times a week. Shortly after this spate of calls, Flowers got a job as an administrative assistant for the Arkansas Board of Review’s appeal tribunal, which hears unemployment cases. According to published news accounts, Flowers first asked Clinton about obtaining a state job in September 1990, and Clinton turned the request over to his special assistant Judy Gaddy. After applying for one position and being turned down, Flowers complained in a letter to Clinton the following January and mentioned allegations linking the two romantically. Shortly thereafter, Judy Gaddy inquired about a job opening at the Board of Review for Flowers. Flowers applied. Bill Gaddy, Judy’s husband and another Clinton appointee, is the director of the state’s Employment Security Division, which oversees the review board. According to a state committee which later investigated the matter, with Gaddy’s approval, Don K. Barnes, the chairman of the review board who hired Flowers, improperly waived certain hiring procedures, and Flowers got the job. Barnes later said that Gaddy had recommended Flowers for the job, but Gaddy has denied this. Flowers told the Star that Clinton “pulled strings” to secure the job for her, which Clinton has denied. Patterson, however, corroborated Flowers’s allegation. “I remember I was driving the car when Clinton got on the phone and discussed that particular job with Bill Gaddy. There is no doubt in my mind that he was asking Gaddy to give it to Gennifer,” Patterson said. Gaddy denied ever having a telephone conversation with Clinton about Flowers. (Flowers lost the job for failing to show up for work three days in a row, shortly after coming forward with her story in the Star. She is currently circulating a book proposal in New York.)

Even before the Flowers story broke, Clinton was aware that the issue of his womanizing would plague him in a presidential campaign. “He was walking along one day in 1991 with Bruce Lindsey [now a senior White House aide] and he said, ‘If I make the race, I’m going to keep Larry around to deal with all the women,'” Patterson said. (“That never happened,” Lindsey said.) According to Perry, Clinton told him in 1990 that he was considering not running for re-election in Arkansas because he feared his history of womanizing would be exposed. As it happened, during that year’s campaign, a disgruntled former state employee named Larry Nichols filed a lawsuit linking Clinton to five named women and making the unsubstantiated charge that he had been fired as part of an attempted cover-up involving a secret fund used to facilitate Clinton’s trysts. The suit was reported in Arkansas, but neither the precise nature of the allegations nor the women’s names were mentioned.

In 1992, the task of “dealing with the women” was ultimately assigned to Buddy Young, the supervisory trooper in governor’s security, the troopers said. “Buddy Young specifically told me that he was trying to keep a lid on the other women,” Patterson said. “If one more came out, they knew Gennifer would be credible. He said they could weather the storm on one, but not two. He told me he went to Texas to talk to Elizabeth Ward [a former Miss America named in the Nichols suit]. He said that she had told him that she didn’t need any money, but he said, ‘If the money’s right, I know she’ll keep her mouth shut.'”[FOOTNOTE 7: When Ward appeared in the May 1992 issue of Playboy, which did not mention the alleged affair, the Clinton campaign quickly circulated a written statement from Ward in which she denied any romantic involvement with Clinton.] Young denied this. “I’ve never spoken to Elizabeth Ward,” he said. Ward could not be reached for comment.

According to Perry, about six weeks before the Star interview was published, Flowers again began calling the residence day and night asking to speak with Bill. Word around the guard house was that Flowers might be trying to blackmail Clinton by threatening to expose their affair. “She was constantly calling, sometimes several times a day. And we were aware that she was up to something. We were told that she might be trying to tape the calls with Clinton, so I called her Gennifer Fowler so it would look like I didn’t know who she was.” Here is an excerpt from a transcript of the Flowers tapes:

PERRY: Governor’s mansion, Roger Perry.

FLOWERS: Is Bill Clinton in please?

PERRY: Ma’am, he’s with some people right now. May I ask who’s calling?

FLOWERS: This is Gennifer Flowers, I’m returning his call.

PERRY: Gennifer Fowler?

FLOWERS: Flowers.

PERRY: OK. Hang on just a second.…

After the story broke, the damage-controllers went into high gear. Pursuing the story further, reporters began filing requests for various state records, including personnel files and phone records. Up to the time the Star story appeared, the troopers said they kept two logs at the guard house. One was a gate log, produced on a typewriter, noting all vehicles coming into or out of the mansion gates. A second record was a standard telephone message log, with one copy of any telephone message going to Bill or Hillary and one copy retained in the log book.

Patterson said he was told by Buddy Young that Hillary Clinton ordered that the gate log no longer be maintained. And a new procedure was instituted for handling the phone log. Previously, old log books were stored in a maintenance house on the property after they were filled. Post-Flowers, the troopers said, they were told to bring the message log book directly to Buddy Young, who disposed of it. It was Patterson’s understanding that the old logs from the maintenance house — records kept by state employees — were destroyed on Hillary’s orders.

In another instance in the spring of 1992, aides to Clinton pored over telephone records for evidence of personal calls to women, Patterson said. “I was told by Buddy Young that there were several calls made by the governor on his cellular phone to a number in Sherwood, Arkansas, that belonged to [the Clinton girlfriend who lived near Patterson]. At the time, the media was covering the Flowers story. I was told that if the records were made public Betsey Wright had told Buddy that I was going to have to take responsibility for making the calls to protect the governor and he asked me to write a check to pay for them.” In what Patterson believes was seen as an act of disloyalty by the Clinton clique, he refused to do so.

Young flatly denied this story. Wright, now a Washington lobbyist, said Patterson’s account was “absurd.” When she was the governor’s chief of staff, Wright did regularly review all telephone records and ask people to pay for their personal calls, she said. “But I would never have asked someone to pay for calls that were not their own. Poor Larry has all of that screwed up.” When I asked Wright if she knew this particular Sherwood woman, she said, “It is not an unfamiliar name, but one of the wonderful things about a place like Little Rock is that you get to know everyone.”

Throughout the tense period, Young constantly warned the troopers, “If you’re smart, you won’t talk to the press,” the same warning they said he delivered a year later as they prepared to go public with this story.

Clinton, meanwhile, was by turns angry and very worried. From the back of his Lincoln he would say, “What does that whore think she’s doing to me?” He also referred to Flowers as a “f — -ing slut,” according to Patterson. On the Flowers tapes, after telling Flowers “if they ever hit you with it just say ‘no’ and go on,” Clinton had said he would be free and clear on the womanizing issue so long as “they don’t have pictures.” In a conversation in the kitchen of the governor’s mansion after Flowers went public, Clinton asked one of the troopers for advice on how to handle the situation. Clinton said that without photos, nothing could be proved. “I told him, ‘Then lie your ass off,'” the trooper said, and Clinton apparently did.

Blinded by the Right – from Wikipedia

Author David Brock
Genre Non-fiction
Publisher Crown
Publication date
ISBN ISBN 1-4000-4728-5

Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative is a 2002 book written by former conservative journalist David Brock detailing his departure from the conservative movement. It is also the story of his coming out as a gay man. In the book, he states that he visited gay bars with Matt Drudge and other conservatives. The title alludes to the Bruce Springsteen song Blinded By The Light, while the subtitle alludes to Barry Goldwater‘s The Conscience of a Conservative, which helped define the modern conservative movement in the United States.


Brock recalls his days at the University of California, Berkeley and how he was turned off by hecklers at a speech by then United States ambassador to the United Nations, Jeane Kirkpatrick. Brock’s main attraction to conservatism was his disdain for communism.

After college, Brock moved with his then-partner (called “Andrew” to conceal his identity) to Washington, D.C. In D.C., Brock worked for The Washington Times and The American Spectator. Brock claims while he was working for those publications he thought he was doing honest journalism, but later stated that he had never corroborated his facts.

While working for The American Spectator, he wrote an article on Anita Hill, which he later expanded into The Real Anita Hill, a book that made him popular in the conservative movement. Brock would later say that many of the details he used were false.

After Bill Clinton was elected, Brock was assigned to write a story, later dubbed Troopergate, about four Arkansas state troopers who held a grudge against Bill Clinton. He claims that the troopers made up stories about affairs that could never be corroborated. Brock was given assurances that the troopers would not get paid for telling their stories. He later discovered he was deceived and that the troopers had been paid by Richard Mellon Scaife, who bankrolled The American Spectator and the Arkansas Project, a secret project to discredit Clinton.

Brock made sure to conceal the identities of the women identified by the troopers, with the exception of one woman named “Paula”. Brock thought that by not revealing her last name, it would be enough to conceal her identity. Brock did not take into account that Little Rock is a small city. Eventually her identity would be revealed as Paula Jones, which led to her civil lawsuit against Bill Clinton.

Following the Troopergate story, Brock wrote a book about Hillary Clinton, The Seduction of Hillary Rodham. Unlike the Anita Hill book, Brock decided not to put anything in the book that he could not corroborate. The book was not as critical of Hillary Clinton as it was promised to be. Brock claims that conservatives planned on the book being so damning as to influence the outcome of the 1996 presidential election.

The Seduction of Hillary Rodham was the beginning of Brock’s falling out with the conservative movement. The issue that forced him to leave the conservative movement was the movement’s intolerance towards homosexuality. Brock had reluctantly come out of the closet prior to writing the Hillary Clinton book, and believes this contributed to his being shunned by many in the movement.

Brock voted for Al Gore in 2000, the first time he voted since he voted for Ronald Reagan in 1984. During the period in which he did not vote, he had two rationalizations for his non-voting: – He believed that his vote didn’t count in liberal Washington D.C. – He believed that not voting allowed him to stay neutral Brock proclaimed that the latter rationalization was bogus, as he was not neutral during that time period.


James Kehl wrote on

Not since Michael Lind’s “Up From Conservatism” has there been a book that candidly expose the Republican Right for what they are. This is not only a story of one person’s journey from a wrong path to a correct path. It is also a story which details the moral bankruptcy of a movement that, unfortunately, is a major influence in American life….

Since September 11, 2001, Americans have been looking for leadership, moral strength and reassurance. David Brock’s book is a story of one man who looked for those things ” in all of the wrong places.” Americans may be making the same mistake. David Brock eventually discovered his mistake.[1]

Christopher Hitchens wrote on

The whole book is an exercise in self-love, disguised as an exercise in self-abnegation. How could he, asks the author of himself, have possibly gone on so long in telling lies, smearing reputations and inventing facts? The obvious answer–that he adored the easy money and the cheap fame that this brought him–was more than enough to still his doubts for several years. However, his publisher seems to have required a more high-toned explanation before furnishing him with a fresh tranche of money and renown. And Brock’s new story–that he was taken in by a vast right-wing conspiracy–is just as much of a lie as his earlier ones.[2]




External links

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David Brock Interview Transcript

NPR All Things Considered   7/2/2001

July 2, 2001 — Journalist David Brock spoke with NPR’s Nina Totenberg. Here is the transcript of their conversation:

Totenberg: Mr. Brock, you’ve written this book called Blinded by the Right and it was excerpted in Talk magazine. In this excerpt you’re talking about your role in the Clarence Thomas / Anita Hill affair. You write that you consciously told a lie in your reporting….and you wrote, I quote, “To protect myself and my tribe from the truth and the consequences from our own smears, cover-ups and falsehoods, I consciously and actively chose an un-ethical path. I continued to malign Anita Hill and her liberal supporters. I trashed two reporters for reporting something I knew was correct. I coerced an unsteady source.” That’s a pretty brutal admission, but your detractors will say if you lied then why should we believe you now?

Brock: Yes, and I think that’s a valid point. Let me just discuss the lying issue for a moment. As you said there I consciously lied once. When I wrote the Anita Hill book I believed everything I wrote was accurate. I know now that that book was filled with falsehoods and smears. Those were fed to me by the Thomas camp. They lied to me. I accept responsibility for that because I put them in my book. The issue there was I didn’t know what a journalist does. There was no fact checking, it was basically propaganda which is why I’m disavowing it now. There were wrong things in there about you, Anita Hill and others.

I was told those things by Thomas supporters. I’m sorry I put those in my book. The issue of my training as a journalist is key. When I got out of college I went to the Washington Times and American Spectator and those are propaganda organs of the right, so the issue raised about my credibility in the past few days is legitimate. The Talk piece is an excerpt from a book, not an investigative piece. The book is a memoir, not an investigative piece. Now the second question is about the lying, forget the journalism… I’m coming forward to tell the truth now and that truth is I lied, and it was a terrible lie. So it’s perfectly understandable that many people may not know whether to believe me now. But there are ways of finding out whether I’m telling the truth or not. Good, credible journalists can look into what I’m saying, examine it and get to the bottom of this and they can find the truth. It’s very important to understand that the Talk piece was not an excerpt, it was an adaptation, which means I compressed different parts of the book and made a new piece. There is more in the book not yet publicly disclosed on the issues we’re discussing here today.

Totenberg: I have checked as much as I can some of the things you say in the Talk piece. Mark Paoletta, who you say passed on info about a witness named, Kaye Savage who substantiated the allegation that Clarence Thomas was very interested in pornography. She had told Jill Abramson and Jane Mayer that she had seen lots of pornography around his apartment. You describe in this article what happened when you discovered this information in the book Strange Justice and what you and other supporters did. What did you do? You tried to intimidate Kaye Savage?

Brock: I was doing a review for the American Spectator in which I trying to destroy the book Strange Justice because it was seen as extremely damaging. Kaye Savage, to my knowledge, was a new witness. So I called Mark Paoletta and I brought up Kaye Savage.

Totenberg: Now Mark Paoletta worked at the White House.

Brock: Sure.

Totenberg: And you knew him.

Brock: Sure. Mark Paoletta is a Washington lawyer who worked on the Thomas nomination in the Bush White House. He’s got close connections to the Federal Society, which is a powerful society of right wing lawyers, he was one of Justice Thomas’ trusted friends, and a close associate of mine. So I called Mark on this day and brought up Kaye Savage. How can I discredit Kaye Savage? I got a call back from Mark who told me that Justice Thomas told him a smear story about Kaye Savage. Shortly after that I located and I called Kaye. It was an intimidating call on my part and I pressed her to meet me, which she did at a Washington hotel. We met, midday, and my goal there was to get her to retract everything she said. I made clear that I had this damaging information about her. And we talked about what she could say to partly retract her story. We worked that out and she gave me what I needed. I reported back to Mark Paoletta about what happened.

Totenberg: Now, Mr. Paoletta has told a number of reporters, not me because he hasn’t returned my calls, but he’s quoted in the NY Times and in the Post as saying that Justice Thomas never told him to pass on any information. You’ve never talked to Justice Thomas have you?

Brock: No

Totenberg: So, even if he had said that to you, you have no way of knowing if that’s true.

Brock: Right.

Totenberg: Paoletta also says that he had no information that Justice Thomas was a frequenter of pornographic videos.

Brock: Instead of debating Mark Paoletta’s quotations with you here, let me just say this. I’m willing to be put under oath or have a discussion in some forum with you and Mark Paoletta about this.

Totenberg: He’s not the only person you mention in your article who disputes what you say. You say for example that you helped a woman by the name of Barbara Ledeen draft a script for the Rush Limbaugh show to discredit Strange Justice…she denies it. You paint a picture of getting a phone call from one of Justice Thomas’ most staunch supporters Ricki Silberman after the book came out and she said what?

Brock: The excerpts appeared from Strange Justice appeared one morning in the Wall Street Journal. I had read the paper early that day and I wanted to see what the authors had. Fairly early in the morning I got a call from Ricki Silberman — I got a call from Ricki and she says emphatically to me over the phone he did it, didn’t he!

Totenberg: She says that’s a bold face lie, Mark Paoletta’s denials may be incomplete, but they are denials. Barbara Ledeen says she never wrote a script for the Rush Limbaugh show with you. Everyone I contact that you mention by name, either I have or other reporters have gotten denials, so we’re back to the question of how can we believe you? Did you keep any notes, credit card slips? We’re back to a he said, he said situation.

Brock: That is in the nature of what we’re going to see, because everyone who is denying these things is part of an orchestrated smear campaign to get Clarence Thomas confirmed. That smear campaign conducted by well connected conservatives in Washington around the first Bush campaign continued throughout the Clinton administration. In other words the same campaign of falsehoods and lies were spread by the right wing against the Clintons and essentially they essentially functioned as a government in exile during those 8 years and many of those people are in this current administration.

Totenberg: Well, some of them can’t have been lies, the president was forced to admit a relationship with Monica Lewinsky, he was forced to appear before a grand jury, you wrote the first Troopergate story, so we’re not talking about a government in exile as you say, basing what it has to say on nothing.

Brock: Sure, let me answer that this way…My book is proof, proof of the existence of a right wing conspiracy. And I can’t do the question about the Clinton’s that you just asked any justice today in this short forum.

Totenberg: Let me go back and get something personal about you straight. You say you started at the Spectator as an investigative reporter or, as you say, a cog in the right wing conspiracy, but either way you started there and you had a falling out with them. You started in what year with the Spectator?

Brock: I was freelancing with them in the late 80s, I was freelancing when I wrote the Anita Hill article in the spring of 1992, I then published The Real Anita Hill and went on their staff in 1993.

Totenberg: And you were fired from the Spectator when?

Brock: In November 1997.

Totenberg: And what was the reason you were fired?

Brock: I was told that Richard Mellon Scaife, who is the right wing billionaire in Pittsburgh who funded the American Spectator, I was told that after my Hillary Clinton book came out, which was seen as a sympathetic portrayal, that I didn’t do to Hillary Clinton what I did to Anita Hill — that he wanted me fired.

Totenberg: I confess that I haven’t read the Hillary Clinton book, do you think it was sympathetic?

Brock: You know, again, Nina, there’s an entire chapter in the book where I describe in detail the Hillary Clinton book, I can’t do that justice either.

Totenberg: At some point you came out of the closet as being gay. Now when did that happen?

Brock: That happened in early 1994. I had published the Troopergate article in December 1993. And shortly thereafter, because I had, as a closeted gay man, exposed the personal life of Bill Clinton, there was an issue raised about my sexuality. I was aware of calls coming in from the gay press, so as a way to disclose that on my own I gave an interview to Howard Kurtz around that time and said I was gay. The point I make about that now is that it upset me at the time, but I now think it was a valid point to raise by the gay press.

Totenberg: So, do you think your politics have changed?

Brock: Again Nina, I can’t discuss that today at all. There is a strong theme in the book about that.

Totenberg: Let me return to the lying question. You have boxes of material and reporters notebooks and things. Do you have contemporaneous notes at all of any conversations with Mr. Paoletta, Ms. Ledeen, with Ricki Silberman, with Boyden Gray, who’s White House counsel, which might substantiate your account?

Brock: I can’t comment on that today Nina, I’ve retained legal counsel.

Totenberg: That’s an odd answer even if you’ve retained counsel, I mean, either you’ve got them or not.

Brock: I can’t comment on that.

Totenberg: Let me ask you another question in that case. It has been suggested by Anita Hill’s lawyer, Charles Ogletree, that you waited a conveniently long time to make this revelation, that you’ve waited long enough that the statute of limitations has run out for any slander or libel action Ms. Hill might take. What’s you’re response to those? Why so long?

Brock: Let me give you two answers to that. The question of black mail, conspiracy, slander, I think you can understand now my previous answer and that’s all I can say about that. But let me address the broader issue that Professor Ogletree raises, and it’s very legitimate. Why wait seven years, and why put it in a book I’m selling. The answer is long, but let me try to summarize it. I was a bad journalist. But I’m a writer and the only way I know to redeem myself and to others that I hurt is to write it down. And that process has taken a long time.

Totenberg: You know, even as you talk with me here today, this is obviously a little emotional for you. This is not an easy thing you’ve done, and to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you are telling the truth for a moment, why not just go on with your life? You wrote to Anita Hill and apologized, you’ve gotten a decent advance for this book. You’ve had to anticipated this feeling of why should we believe you now?

Brock: Let me just answer the question about the advance and the mercenary aspect of this for a second. What you just said is correct and it’s been my intention for the last two years to give the money made on this book away… Why not just move on with my life? The alternative to writing this and moving on, was to write it down or have it eat away at me for the rest of my life.

Totenberg: I have to tell you, how did you live like that for this long?

Brock: The book starts with my childhood and provides insight.

Totenberg: I want to return to the question of contemporaneous notes for a minute. Whether you have a lawyer or not, the question I’m asking is is there something in those boxes that will help you substantiate that you had these conversations?

Brock: I just can’t answer that. I can tell you that there was a libel review and back up for the book.

Totenberg: Who is the publisher?

Brock: An imprint of Random House called Crown.

Totenberg: And did they go over this with you?

Brock: Sure.

Totenberg: Did Anita Hill ever respond?

Brock: That’s an interesting question. Yes, she did. I wrote to her sometime in early 1998 and my intention was to reach a private reconciliation. And that was a first step towards easing my conscience. Shortly thereafter, I wrote a letter to President Clinton apologizing for Troopergate. And that was published as a letter to the President in Esquire in the spring. I had no idea that would receive the kind of attention it did. It got major coverage and as the coverage was hitting, Anita Hill called me at home. She got my voicemail. And to tell you the truth, I didn’t have the guts to call her back at that time, because I felt I couldn’t handle telling the truth totally because I would be admitting that the two things I was most known for were wrong, and I just couldn’t handle that.

Totenberg: Was there a moment where you came face to face with something you thought you’d done terribly wrong?

Brock: I’m not sure I understand.

Totenberg: As you describe your voyage in the Talk piece you are quite successful at conning yourself for a long time, so I’m asking was there a moment when you couldn’t con yourself any longer?

Brock: Yes, that happened during the Hillary Clinton book. In the process there was quite a struggle, I knew it was expected that I would do to Hillary Clinton what I did to Anita Hill. I ended up doing what I believe what is the right thing which is writing the book I wrote. I’m still proud of that today.

Innocence Betrayed

The New York Times   10/13/1996   By James B. Stewart

The Seduction of Hillary Rodham

By David Brock

Illustrated. 452 pp. New York:

The Free Press. $26.

If conflict lies at the heart of great drama, then surely Hillary Rodham Clinton is one of the great characters of our age. She is the embodiment of conflicts that all but define our time: marriage versus career; motherhood versus profession; truth versus expedience; power versus accountability; image versus reality. In her fateful decision to tether her fortunes to William Jefferson Clinton can be seen the origins of a plot that, as it accelerates into and beyond Nov. 5, has all the hallmarks of triumph and tragedy.

Recognizing this, David Brock places Hillary Clinton at the center of his investigative biography, ”The Seduction of Hillary Rodham.” Mr. Brock is best known for ”The Real Anita Hill,” his best-selling expose of Clarence Thomas’s accuser, and his lurid account of Bill Clinton’s sexual escapades in The American Spectator. He has been lionized by many conservatives as an antidote to the allegedly liberal national media, and his new book has been eagerly awaited by anti-Clinton zealots still looking for the elusive silver bullet that might halt the White House re-election juggernaut.

They are in for a shock. They will not only be disappointed; they will be infuriated. While almost perfunctorily placing his story within the lines of conservative politics, Mr. Brock seems to have found in ”St. Hillary” a means to attempt his own redemption as a journalist. In substance and style, he distances himself from the polemicist of ”The Real Anita Hill.” He has tried to do his subject justice in the broadest sense.

At times he goes too far. On the most controversial questions that swirl around the First Lady, Mr. Brock’s conclusions echo her apologists. Whitewater? Hillary Rodham Clinton was a mere passive investor, ”no different from many talented and ambitious people who have little interest in or aptitude for finance.” Castle Grande, the fraud-laced real estate deal linked to her by the billing records that surfaced mysteriously in the White House? Hillary’s was a mere ”cameo role,” and ”nothing in Hillary’s past indicates that she would knowingly participate in a sham deal.” And what about those billing records? Despite the presence of the First Lady’s fingerprints, Mr. Brock says the possibility that Carolyn Huber, the White House aide who discovered them, actually left them in the family’s private quarters ”cannot be ruled out” — a claim that lacks any supporting evidence and unfairly impugns Ms. Huber, who testified to the contrary.

Perhaps most startling of all, Mr. Brock dismisses or rationalizes the sometimes powerful evidence that Hillary Rodham Clinton has lied — about everything from her successful commodities trading to her role in the travel office firings — by invoking a relativism rooted in Republican precedents. ”Why should she be judged so much more harshly than anyone else in similar circumstances?” he asks. ”What about President Bush’s suspicious Iran-Contra notes? . . . Or the stock deal that earned Senator Alfonse D’Amato $37,000 in one day?” Complaining that ”serious wrongdoing is confused with trivial oversight,” he goes so far as to call for the abolition of the independent counsel to ”scale back the rampant and overgrown ethics machinery.” Almost reluctantly, it seems, Mr. Brock reminds us that ”even moral or historical imperatives cannot place one above the law.” All of this would be far more persuasive if he revealed any significant new information. But in virtually every case he relies on the published record, which, while voluminous, leaves numerous questions unanswered. (This problem pervades the book, given the evident and not surprising unwillingness of people close to his subject to speak to someone with Mr. Brock’s reputation.) This isn’t to say that Hillary Clinton is guilty of any crime, simply that with Kenneth Starr’s investigation still under way, it seems prudent to keep an open mind. At this juncture, it takes a large leap of faith to exonerate her.

The merit in Mr. Brock’s book is to be found elsewhere. His own faith in the First Lady seems rooted both in the many exemplary qualities he perceives in her and in the degree to which he empathizes with her as a victim of her husband. Clearly the President is the seducer of the title — Mr. Brock quotes a former White House aide, David Watkins, calling Bill Clinton ”the greatest seducer who ever lived” — and to the degree Hillary Clinton has been forced to compromise the high moral and ethical standards she brought both to their political partnership and their marriage, Mr. Brock blames Bill Clinton. Indeed, his characterization of the President is consistently scathing, at times approaching an ad hominem attack. He quotes John Robert Starr, the conservative columnist and managing editor of The Arkansas Democrat: ”The difference between Bill and Hillary is that deep down Hillary is a good person.”

This sentiment finds its fullest expression in Mr. Brock’s detailed account of Bill Clinton’s marital infidelities, which, if true, suggests that he is promiscuous to a degree unrivaled even by the libidinous J.F.K. In a passage sure to excite tabloid interest, Mr. Brock passes on that in 1981 Mrs. Clinton went so far as to hire a private investigator to report to her on her husband’s extramarital affairs. The investigator, Ivan Duda, found about eight possibilities, including one with a woman who worked with Mrs. Clinton at the Rose law firm. ”That one really hurt and made her furious,” Mr. Duda tells Mr. Brock.

Like many such anecdotes about Bill Clinton (and there are plenty in this book), it’s hard to know if it’s true. Mr. Brock discloses that Mr. Duda’s license was revoked by a board appointed by Mr. Clinton, potentially giving him a bias. Many such sources, from the state troopers who protected the Governor to various women themselves, like Paula Jones, have questionable credibility, a fact that, as Mr. Brock notes, has often been invoked by Clinton supporters. Why Mr. Brock believes some sources but not others (such as Jim and Susan McDougal) is never clear. But the sheer accumulation of such incidents reported by Mr. Brock, at least some supported by multiple witnesses, suggests that Hillary Clinton at some point had to accommodate herself to a humiliating fact of life that would have sent many, if not most, women to divorce court — a step that she herself contemplated on more than one occasion, Mr. Brock reports.

In this accommodation, according to Mr. Brock’s thesis, can be seen the essential ”seduction” of Hillary Rodham: not only did she compromise the integrity of her marriage, and by implication show a willingness to compromise all else that she once held inviolate; she was drawn into her husband’s extramarital affairs as a virtual co-conspirator. She not only defended and protected him in the wake of Gennifer Flowers’s tabloid allegations of a 12-year affair, but helped mount a campaign to threaten other women who might come forward. Mr. Brock reports that the Clinton campaign paid the noted San Francisco private investigator Jack Palladino about $100,000 to investigate and intimidate women linked to the Governor, including a former Miss Arkansas.

Mr. Brock concludes that ”the aggressively defensive strategy Hillary used to contain the womanizing allegations would necessarily pervade campaign responses to every other scandal that was to follow, including Whitewater. . . . It is easy to see why Hillary could not accept the advice of aides who urged a policy of openness and full disclosure. . . . Hillary did not know where such a policy of openness would lead. Her years of consciously avoiding the facts would now paralyze her.”

In absorbing detail, Mr. Brock recounts Hillary Rodham’s transformation from campus radical to Watergate investigator, legal services activist, Rose law firm partner, Governor’s wife and, ultimately, co-Presidential candidate and First Lady. In her early years Mr. Brock uncovers numerous ties to left-wing, even Communist causes, that will no doubt prove grist for the conservative mill. But he rightly seems more interested in how such youthful leanings and idealism were ground down by what he calls the ”mob culture” of one-party Arkansas. In any event, he shows scant evidence that any truly radical ideas have accompanied her into the White House, despite the faith in big government inherent in her grandiose health care plan and her largely successful effort to staff the Federal Government not with her husband’s ”new Democrats,” but her own like-minded appointees. What does seem to have survived in the First Lady, Mr. Brock argues, is the social activism of liberal Methodism, an activism safely rooted within the Establishment, and the ends-justify-the-means rationalizations of Saul Alinsky, a radical political organizer and author of ”Reveille for Radicals,” whom she met in Chicago during the tumultuous summer of 1968, before her senior year at Wellesley. It is the latter, he suggests, that underlies her otherwise puzzling handling of matters like Whitewater and the travel office.

One can only imagine how she feels today, having attained the White House, the goal that always lay at the heart of the Faustian bargain she seems to have forged when she committed herself, on more than one occasion, to Bill Clinton. For as Mr. Brock tells her story, it has always been Hillary, not Bill, who was motivated by a ”pristine vision of a good society anchored in profound moral conviction.” For Bill, lacking any such compass or vision, it was enough simply to be elected President. But being First Lady cannot have been enough for Hillary, who, as reported in The New Yorker by Connie Bruck, may have contemplated succeeding her husband as President. As she ponders the emotional toll of her marriage, surveys the wreckage of her health care plan, contemplates the effect of the welfare bill on the children she so clearly cares for, compares the abruptly halted ascendancy of the philandering, amoral Dick Morris to her own banishment to distant women’s conferences, and watches her former Whitewater partner Susan McDougal led to prison in shackles, one can only marvel at her fortitude. When all is said and done, can it possibly have been worth it?

Stripped of its conservative political baggage, premature attempts to exonerate her in matters that remain under investigation, and unsupported slurs against the President, much of what Mr. Brock says in ”The Seduction of Hillary Rodham” rings true. Given his own constituency, it has no doubt taken courage for him to reach the conclusions he does. While it might seem ironic coming from the writer who once called Anita Hill ”a bit nutty, and a bit slutty,” Mr. Brock is right that Hillary Clinton has been demonized at times by misogynists and right-wing fanatics. No doubt the liberal press has at times held her to impossibly high ideals. She has often been a lightning rod for criticism that, Mr. Brock makes clear, would more appropriately be leveled at her husband. Conversely, Bill’s achievements are in many cases Hillary’s. Seeing her at the Democratic Convention in Chicago, eloquently defending her husband and gazing lovingly at their daughter Chelsea, it isn’t hard to see why Mr. Brock’s heart went out to her. In contrast to her flaws — he cites intellectual rigidity, elitism, moral vanity and poor judgment — it is her noble ambitions, her manifest virtues and her suffering that make her story so achingly poignant.


The Washington Post   11/4/1996  

For several years now, conservatives have hailed David Brock as a hero for his scathing portraits of a lying Anita Hill and a sexually voracious Bill Clinton.

But in the wake of his relatively favorable book on Hillary Rodham Clinton, Brock is being savaged by his former fans on the right. He is no longer welcomed by conservative radio hosts such as G. Gordon Liddy and Oliver North. The American Spectator is under pressure from some conservative donors to dump him. He has been pilloried for trying to ingratiate himself with the liberal press.

“As long as you’re reaching the conclusions they agree with, you’re a great journalist,” Brock says of his conservative detractors. “When you don’t come up with the caricature they want, you’re no good anymore, or you’ve got bad motives.”

He adds: “The natural tendency is to think I’m selling out and couldn’t take the heat anymore. . . . At this point I’m sort of a pariah.”

To be sure, Brock may simply be displaying an unerring instinct for publicity. Having failed to uncover any startling new revelations about the first lady to justify his big advance, he may have concluded that simply trashing her would be too predictable. A conservative attack dog who finds admirable qualities in Hillary Clinton — now that’s news.

Brock insists his reporting for “The Seduction of Hillary Rodham” simply led him to a more sympathetic view of the first lady. But many conservatives feel betrayed.

Carol Innerst of the Washington Times called the book “hard to swallow” and “practically a love feast,” saying: “It would appear that Mr. Brock, rather than Mrs. Clinton, is the one who has been seduced. . . . The bewitched Mr. Brock has written an apologia.”

A front-page piece in the Washington Times (where Brock once wrote editorials) said the book “enrages conservatives” who accuse Brock “of seeking to rehabilitate himself with the dominant media that has so far scorned him.”

Another conservative, the New York Post’s Hilton Kramer, also invoked the seduction metaphor, accusing Brock of “wanting to be liked.” And the Weekly Standard’s headline: “Brock Hillary.”

“This is sort of what the left did to me on The Real Anita Hill,’ ” Brock says, recalling his book that depicted Hill as “a bit nutty and a bit slutty.” “People who haven’t read the book are trashing the book and trashing the author’s motives. It’s definitely disturbing.”

Some (but certainly not all) liberals have accorded Brock grudging respect. “Mr. Brock seems to have found in St. Hillary’ a means to attempt his own redemption as a journalist,” wrote James Stewart in the New York Times Book Review. ” . . . It has no doubt taken courage for him to reach the conclusions he does.”

The practice of ideologues embracing an apparent defector from the other side works in both directions. When Richard Cohen, the liberal Washington Post columnist, wrote recently that Hillary Clinton’s explanations on Whitewater were “simply not convincing,” he was praised by Rush Limbaugh and the Spectator, among others. Suddenly Cohen was a font of wisdom.

Brock dismisses suggestions that he is trying to “reposition” himself in the mainstream media. “That would be a fool’s errand,” he says. “There are too many people in liberal circles who will never get over Anita Hill or Troopergate,” the story he broke about Arkansas state troopers allegedly arranging liaisons for then-Gov. Clinton.

Despite calls for his head, Spectator Managing Editor Wladyslaw Pleszczynski said Brock’s job is “absolutely, totally, completely” secure.

Brock is not entirely shocked by the conservative hostility. “There was a certain point I realized I couldn’t have a book party because most of the people I’d normally invite might not come,” he says. Footnote: Gary Aldrich, the former FBI agent who wrote a book about the Clinton White House, was none too pleased when Brock announced that he had passed along the book’s discredited rumor about Clinton having late-night trysts at the Marriott. Aldrich recently dashed off a score-settling letter to Brock:

“Sorry for all the bad press on your book, David. I guess some of it — nah, probably a lot of it is coming from the stink that’s left over from what you did to me. But actually, it’s really a crummy book. . . . David, you can only dream of what it might be like to be an FBI agent, working at the White House. . . . I’ll make it my personal business to see to it that you are never accepted there. . . .

“You are a liar, David . . . You were used by the mainstream press, the same press that now says your book is D.O.A.” Grudge Match?

When The Washington Post took a look at “Jacqueline Bouvier: An Intimate Memoir,” reviewer Stephen Birmingham was less than flattering.

The author, John H. Davis, “has made something of a profession out of being Jackie’s cousin. . . . {The book} recycles and retreads bits and pieces of his previous work,” Birmingham wrote in late September.

Book World Editor Nina King says she didn’t know until the author complained that Birmingham had been sued for plagiarism by Davis in 1978. She says The Post will run a correction “apologizing to Davis and our readers.”

Had she known of the conflict, first reported by the New York Post, “we would not have assigned him the book,” King said. “Book reviews are not supposed to be the vehicle for paying back or getting even.” She said Birmingham, like all reviewers, signed a form saying he had no previous dealings with the author.

In settling the suit, Birmingham paid Davis $75,000 and acknowledged using portions of his book in Birmingham’s own Jackie O book. “I was appalled at the unethical bad taste of Mr. Birmingham accepting to do a review of my book . . . in view of the terrible and vitriolic dispute we had,” Davis said.

Birmingham says that since the review included two other books and “since it was all so long ago, I didn’t think that altercation of nearly 20 years ago would affect my judgment of his latest work, and I don’t think it did. I don’t have any grudge against John Davis, and certainly wouldn’t settle scores in the pages of Book World.”

The Real David Brock: A Right-Wing Hatchet Man

3/1/1995   By Steve Rendall

In 1992, the American Spectator‘s circulation stood at 38,000; today, the right-wing magazine boasts 335,000 subscriptions. Two factors account for most of this growth: One is the continuous boosting by talkshow host Rush Limbaugh (the magazine is a sponsor of his show); the other is the sensationalistic reporting of David Brock.

Brock is responsible for the reporting on Clinton’s alleged extramarital affairs that became known as “Troopergate” (American Spectator, 1/94), he’s also the one who called Anita Hill “a bit nutty and a bit slutty” (American Spectator, 3/92), and later wrote a book called The Real Anita Hill. Brock’s mix of right-wing politics and sexual scandal-mongering have won considerable attention for his magazine–and influenced the debate in Washington.

But can Brock be trusted? The credibility of The Real Anita Hill was compellingly questioned in a New Yorker review (5/24/93) by two Wall Street Journal writers, Jane Mayer and Jill Abramson. And Paula Jones, who has accused Clinton of sexual harassment, has said that Brock’s account of her encounter with Clinton was totally wrong.

In order to test Brock’s reliability, we looked at his review of Mayer and Abramson’s own book, Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas, which he calls “one of the most outrageous journalistic hoaxes in recent memory” (American Spectator, 1/95).

Brock’s extraordinary 20,000-word review has already gained some notoriety, since he’s been accused of using methods more suitable to a blackmailer than a book critic. Jamin Raskin, a law professor at Washington, D.C.’s American University, told the New York Times‘ Frank Rich that he received a call from Kaye Savage, one of the sources for Strange Justice, who’s had an encounter with Brock. “She was distraught and said Brock was threatening to reveal damaging information about her from a divorce situation unless she agreed to retract everything she had said to the authors of Strange Justice,” Raskin told Rich (New York Times, 12/29/94). Interviewed by Extra!, Savage confirmed this account of Brock’s threat, and also reaffirmed the accuracy of her appearance in Strange Justice.

Extra! called another Strange Justice source, Bary Maddox, whom Brock quotes as saying, “I was misquoted in the book.” But when Rendall asked Maddox (a video store proprietor who says Thomas rented X-rated videos) if he had any problems with the way he was quoted in Strange Justice, he replied, “Absolutely not.” His account of Brock’s interview with him sheds light on the Brock method of journalism:

Mr. Brock, first of all, would not identify himself. He told me his name but he wouldn’t tell me who he was working for. When I pressed him, he told me he was a “freelancer.” Then he would ask me questions about areas that I would not comment on. When I said “no comment,” he would then say “I’ll take that as a ‘yes’” or “I’ll take that as a ‘no.’”I think he claimed that I was misquoted because when he asked me a question based on his interpretation of the book, I answered, “If the book says that, I was misquoted.” However, when I rechecked the book, I found his interpretation of the book was faulty; I was not misquoted. He had not been reading from the book. It bothers me, because it made it on to Rush Limbaugh and everyone’s claiming that I was misquoted when I wasn’t.

In an interview with Extra!, Brock denied that he had blackmailed or misquoted sources, or had misrepresented himself. Essentially, it’s his word against the sources. That’s why, below, we’ve reprinted a passage from his review where he describes what the book Strange Justice says–and contrasted it with what Strange Justice really says. Want proof that many of Brock’s facts are made up? You can look it up.

The following is an excerpt from “Strange Lies” by David Brock (American Spectator, 1/95). Words and phrases in bold are explained below.

Some of the details Mayer and Abramson add to this previous reporting actually weigh in Thomas’ favor. What, for example, did Thomas’ purported habit of engaging in “crude sexual banter” during his college days specifically consist of? Mayer and Abramson paraphrase a male friend of Thomas’ from Holy Cross College as saying, “He and [Gil] Hardy used to call each other ‘bitch’ routinely in a kind of rough, affectionate banter that would generateinto gross excess as they tried to one-up each other in their insults.””Bitch” is the most offensive word the authors are able to report Thomas as having uttered. Significantly, they present no evidence that Thomas ever used such language in the presence of women. The only woman quoted in this section of the book–an anonymous former graduate student–says that the young Thomas would “talk and laugh” about sex with his male friends, “then the men [not Thomas] would come and tell us about it.”Here is an early example of the way Mayer and Abramson put the worst interpretation possible on every aspect of Thomas’ behavior. The fact that he excluded women from this sexual talk is “a sign that he couldn’t relate to women,” they write. They fail to note that at this very time at Holy Cross Thomas was steadily dating his college sweetheart, Kathy Ambush, whom he would marry on the day after graduation in 1971.

As for X-rated movies, the reports referenced above have established that Thomas, like many of his fellow students, attended such films as Deep Throat, shown on the Yale campus by the law school film society in the early 1970s. Yet the authors allege an “avid interest in pornographic materials” that went well beyond the law school films. The only evidence that Thomas ventured off-campus to a harder-core X-rated movie house in downtown New Haven comes from a single source–one Henry Terry, a Yale law school classmate of Thomas’–who also peddled this story in Capitol Games more than two years ago.

According to Terry, Thomas regularly attended pornographic movies–not with him, but with another student named Frank Washington. When Washington was contacted by Mayer and Abramson, he wouldn’t talk to them, according to the notes. Nonetheless, the authors chose to publish Terry’s second-hand allegation as if it were substantiated; Strange Justice is riddled with this sort of journalistic sleight-of-hand. When I contacted Washington and read him Terry’s account, he denied it.

a male friend of Thomas’s: Strange Justice quotes three of Thomas’ classmates by name on the subject of Thomas’ foul language, including Henry Terry (p. 58): “When you get him with friends, he’s crude — I mean really crude — profane, scatological and graphic.” Return to the article.

generate: The word is “degenerate,” not “generate.” The passage continues: “While some might see such joking as typical of college students, in Thomas’ case, according to [Edward] Jones, it reached unusual proportions. ‘It got so vicious, it would have reduced other people to tears,’ he said.” (p. 57) Brock later refers to this as “the harmless ‘bitch’ banter.” Return to the article.

the most offensive word: Another classmate (Gordon Davis) is quoted by Mayer and Abramson (p. 57): “He’d say stuff I can’t possibly repeat, stuff that would turn your ears red, things having to do with a person’s anatomy. He’d say things like ‘Suck out of my ass with a straw’ all the time, but this was different–it was a lot worse, and I don’t feel comfortable talking about it.” Return to the article.

“talk and laugh”: What the grad student actually said was (p. 56): “He would carry this pornographic tabloid-type publication, some magazine with sexually explicit color photographs, around in the back pocket of the overalls he always wore, talking and laughing about the pictures. Then the men would come and tell us about it.” Return to the article.

“a sign that he couldn’t relate to women”: This quote is garbled and taken completely out of context. The passage in Strange Justice reads (p. 56): “Perhaps, Jones speculated, Thomas’ extreme language reflected the sexual preoccupations and awkwardness of ‘a man who was used to all-male institutions and didn’t really know how to relate to women, and maybe didn’t know how to show affection.’” Return to the article.

They fail to note: Strange Justice discusses Thomas’ relationship with Ambush on the two pages preceding this quote (p. 54-55), and mentions it again on the page following (p. 57). Return to the article.

“avid interest in pornographic materials”: This is a paraphrase, not a quote (p. 55). Return to the article.

single source: Brock ignores another source–the female grad student–who says (p. 56-57): “All of us knew that Clarence was into these real kinky movies, not just regular pornography…. Everybody who knew Clarence knew he was into pornography.” Return to the article.

he wouldn’t talk to them: What the notes actually say is (p. 366): “In an interview, Washington explained his refusal to comment by noting that Thomas’ friendship continued to be important to him, but he also was not going to lie about it.” Return to the article.

Terry’s second-hand allegation: According to Strange Justice (p. 57), Terry says he knew of the pornographic movie-going because “Thomas would come in the next day ‘roaring with laughter and having animated discussions’ about what he’d seen.” Return to the article.