David Brock Burns Himself at the Stake

David Brock Burns Himself at the Stake
by L. Brent Bozell III
June 19, 1997

Pity poor David Brock. From the looks of the absurd photo in Esquire magazine - showing him tied to a tree and surrounded by kindling - this guy thinks he's Joan of Arc.

Brock is very angry at the less-than-impressed conservative reviews of his book "The Seduction of Hillary Rodham," which might have been one reason the book was a sales disaster. (A more accurate Esquire picture might have been Brock sitting on a mountain of unsold books.) The most offensive sentence of Brock's self-destructive article: "There is no 'liberal movement' that blackballs journalists in the sense that there is a self-identified, hardwired 'conservative movement' that can function as a kind of neo-Stalinist thought police."

Stop right there. Who, Mr. Brock? Who have ever prevented you from writing a word? At the Heritage Foundation, The Washington Times, The American Spectator, the Free Press? Why not name names? Because you can't. And even if you could, how dare you ascribe those tactics to the conservative movement as a whole!

Brock might have started a constructive debate before reason surrendered to mindless rage. If it were his intention to posit that conservatives must not fall into that partisan trap of caring more about the political satisfaction of unsubstantiated smears than about the mightier weapon of truth - fine. Brock's debunking of the "Clinton Chronicles" videotape in Forbes Media Critic a few years back was a model of tough, but honorable criticism.

But his accusations about conservatives, and their criticism of Hillary (what he calls a "caricature," the "corrupt power-mad shrew of conservative demonology") is itself an ad hominem temper tantrum that ignores his real problem: his book offered no evidence to disprove the reality of an ethically challenged First Lady. He argued there's no proof that Hillary would have represented a sham real estate deal at Castle Grande, and that there's no evidence that Hillary knew James led Brock through a series of smears on conservatives. One of those smears: Brock complained he's been run down by anti-gay bigots over his book.

Again, stop. Name names, Mr. Brock. I can think of one man who used Mr. Brock's homosexuality against him: Frank Rich, the liberal New York Times columnist who basically outed him in 1994. And when that happened, a flurry of conservatives - this writer included - came to his defense against Rich.

Brock is no Joan of Arc. He's more like John Starks, the New York Knicks basketball player who recently stood on the scorer's table in Miami and flipped both middle fingers at the audience. But at least Starks had the taste to offend the opposing team's fans. Brock has become a whiny, ungrateful, attention-seeking embarrassment to the conservative movement - and The American Spectator. His rapt audience of conservative fans will vanish into thin air, and his millionaire author days are over. I hope the tantrum was worth that much.