Take a look at this picture:
Yes, that’s David Brock, the current head of Media Matters, circa 1997.
Now, that picture isn’t obscure. It was a big photo in Esquire magazine, accompanying Brock’s “coming out” tell-all as a liberal.
But try Googling it. It’s nowhere to be found.
Now, Google is an amazing beast. There are pages and pages of image results for public figures, delving deep into the embarrassing recesses of the past (including this photo of David Brock hanging out with Barney Frank).
But somehow the self-proclaimed political assassin’s most embarrassing and telling photo spread, from his most important article, conspicuously went missing. You might call it a Vast Left Wing Conspiracy.
Here’s the full story.
Back in 1997, David Brock had a revelation. He’d been what he termed a right-wing “assassin” assigned to take down left-wing political figures. And after he signed a seven-figure book deal to expose Hillary Clinton, then failed to deliver the goods, he fell out of circulation somewhat. He seems to have realized that the money on the right-wing side of the aisle simply wasn’t as good as the money on the left-wing side of the aisle.
So he teamed up with Sidney “Grassy Knoll” Blumenthal. Blumenthal was a former true believer Beltway scribe; he’d left the comforts of liberal journalism (The New Republic, The New Yorker) to work for the Clintons during their second term. Blumenthal and Hillary Clinton were especially close. Blumenthal’s Rolodex and famously conspiratorial mind was intricately involved in White House narrative-crafting, and disseminating the worst of the private eye discoveries aimed at the Clintons’ enemies. Blumenthal famously crafted the “Monica Lewinsky-as-stalker” false narrative that was blown out of the water by Christopher Hitchens–an act of treachery that severed the writers’ longtime friendship.
Brock was looking for a guru, and he found one in Blumenthal. Blumenthal hooked up with Brock, the heretofore right-wing assassin, and helped him craft an apologia for journalistic high crimes against the Clintons – a.k.a. “the politics of personal destruction.” The fact that it was Blumenthal, a master of personal destruction, proclaiming the evils of that tactic was ironic, to say the least, even to Blumenthal’s liberal media allies. For Brock, though, this was simply a graduation to the next level – one with better funding, lavish parties, and magazines with better newsstand placement. Brock was only happy to play along with Blumenthal’s emerging meme: The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.
In exchange, Blumenthal provided Brock the kind of media play only good liberals get. In the respected hipster pages of Esquire, back when print media still mattered, not only did Blumethal’s liberal writer and editor friends provide Brock a platform to provide a stream of convenient lies about the VRWC, he granted the then early 30-something a venue for a “coming out party” in a way R. Emmett Tyrell of the American Spectatorwould never have imagined or allowed.
And Brock took advantage with gusto. Even though everyone in DC knew Brock was gay, the Esquire piece was as much a political outing as it was a lavish “coming out” extravaganza. Brock was not a household name and certainly didn’t warrant the photo placement and sizing that he was granted. But when an otherwise boring political subject is happy to take off his clothes and tie himself to a tree in the name of fighting the VRWC–well, all bets are off.
As I recall, with the piece hitting newsstands, the talk of Washington was not the tell-all, but the photo. What narcissism! What delusions of grandeur! What showmanship. Sidney Blumenthal had helped birth a star. And the Esquire photo helped to define Brock as both martyr and hero.
Fifteen years later, Blumenthal’s crafty strategy, fueled by Brock’s apparent paranoia, would become the basis and mindset for Brock’s livelihood. Now the anti-VRWC is a thriving multimillion dollar business, conveniently wrapped as a non-political 501(c)3, complete with the benefits of a tax write-off.
Worried about Think “Progress” being hindered by AM talk radio, a few blogs, and Fox News? Send over a five-figure check to Media Matters for America today!
Media Matters is a well-funded machine whose raison d’être is to dismantle Hillary and Sidney’s fevered conservative “conspiracy.” The money and the fame were what initially what Brock wanted. And since the high profile switch leftward – and even more so since the opening of Media Matters — the money has been flowing in vast gushing rivers.
But the story ends sadly for Brock. The political paranoia suggested by the VRWC meme had apparently overwhelmed him. It was obvious at the time that this was a person with issues – who else takes a homoerotic picture Fabio-style and tied to a tree? – but those issues apparently became worse, fueled by the Blumenthal-created narrative. The martyr narrative is now the foundation of Brock’s world. In his fears of snipers from neighboring buildings, he casts himself as more important than he actually is–and that narcissism fuels his media crusade.
Only in a world without opposition can Brock be safe–so he must destroy it. “But for the existence of Fox News, the population would be properly informed!” thinks Brock. “We must get rid of the snipers. We must smite Roger Ailes.”
What happened to the picture that tells this story? It disappeared. But thankfully, some of us media veterans have access to the hard copy of the Esquire “Confessions of a Right-Wing Hit Man” feature, and can now put that photo back into play–with all its narcissism and desire for fame, adulation and martyrdom.
And those traits are on display now, too. Brock is still treated with a respect he has never earned, for doing the same assassin’s work he supposedly moved away from when he made his convenient political conversions. He has created an Assassins Bureau on Massachusetts Avenue. He still apparently parties to the wee hours, lives the high life like he did back when he was on the allegedly uptight right, and is protected by the power elite. Just like Arianna Huffington is. Because they are on the correct team now. They are assassins against their former friends and allies.
And with friendship comes privilege. And that means the left has been covering up for Brock’s erratic past and present. And the missing photo that is rediscovered is just a small piece of the David Brock puzzle.