Clinton, Conspiracism, and the Continuing Culture War: What is Past is Prologue

About Chip Berlet

The roar was visceral. A torrent of sound fed by a vast subconscious reservoir of anger and resentment. Repeatedly, as speaker after speaker strode to the podium and denounced President Clinton, the thousands in the cavernous auditorium surged to their feet with shouts and applause. The scene was the Christian Coalition’s annual Road to Victory conference held in September 1998 three months before the House of Representatives voted to send articles of impeachment to the Senate.

Former Reagan appointee Alan Keyes observed that the country’s moral decline had spanned two decades and couldn’t be blamed exclusively on Clinton, but when he denounced Clinton for supporting the “radical homosexual agenda,” the crowd cheered and gave Keyes one of his several standing ovations. Republican Senator Bob Smith of New Hampshire attacked Clinton’s foreign policies, stating that the “globalists of the New World Order” must not be allowed to sell out American sovereignty.

Most attacks on Clinton highlighted his sexual misconduct and subsequent cover-up as proof that he was unfit to remain President, but the list of complaints was long. When the American Conservative Union distributed a National Impeachment Survey with the type of loaded question typical of the direct-mail genre, it asked:

Which Clinton Administration scandal listed below do you consider to be “very serious”? The scandals listed were: Chinagate, Monicagate, Travelgate, Whitewater, FBI “Filegate,” Cattlegate, Troopergate, Casinogate, [and] Health Caregate…

In addition to attention to scandals, those attending the annual conference clearly opposed Clinton’s agenda on abortion, gay rights, foreign policy, and other issues.

Several months later, much of the country’s attention was focused on the House of Representatives “Managers” and their pursuit of a “removal” of Clinton in the Senate. Few people understood the vast right-wing political machinery that was mobilized to pressure the managers to fight on and never give up. Those gathered at the Road to Victory Conference are naturally inclined to oppose Clinton, but they were “educated” by a large number of relatively unknown rightwing groups and individuals to see Clinton as the embodiment of evil, not just a liberal, but corrupt, immoral, and even a murderer. They are the foot soldiers in the “culture war,” the backlash launched by the political right against the post-WWII social liberation movements. It has replaced communism as the right’s major unifying focus.

Today’s culture war is, in part, a continuation of the right’s long-standing campaign against the ideas of modernity and even the Enlightenment. Some openly support the culture war as part of the age-old battle against forces aligned with Satan.

Demonization is central to the process. Essayist Ralph Melcher notes that the “venomous hatred” directed toward the entire culture exemplified by the President and his wife succeeded in making them into “political monsters,” but also represented the deeper continuity of the right’s historic distaste for liberalism. As historian Robert Dallek of Boston University puts it, “The Republicans are incensed because they essentially see Clinton…as the embodiment of the counterculture’s thumbing of its nose at accepted wisdoms and institutions of the country.”

Liberals are demonized for tolerating godless moral relativism and sinful immorality— especially in the form of abortion and gay rights. Liberals also are demonized for supporting a strong federal government, aggressive regulatory oversight, and global interdependence—seen as subversive collectivism that undermines sovereignty and the spirit of free enterprise.

The Christian Coalition audience’s palpable hostility to Clinton and all he represents illustrates the zeal of the foot soldiers mobilized in the crusade for God and country. We should not discount the political impact of these activists, who are motivated by deep ideological, theological, and emotional commitments. While the Senate voted not to sustain the charges sent over by the House of Representatives, there is no truce in the culture war. Bill and Hillary Clinton continue to serve as high profile targets.

Much of the original constituency for the impeachment battle came from the Christian Right, but the Christian Right does not act alone or in isolation. Rightwing attacks on President Clinton flow from a large and diverse network of individuals and organizations. This is not so much a secret conspiracy against President Clinton as a loosely-knit pre-existing coalition among several sectors of the political right that share an anti-Clinton agenda, despite wide differences in political outlook and style. As analyst Russ Bellant explains, “different sectors on the right didn’t have to agree on the person they would choose to replace Clinton; all they had to do was agree that they wanted Clinton to go.” It is this convergence of anti-Clinton sentiment across sectors of the right that accounts for the fervor and drive of the anti- Clinton campaign.

Most of us are tired of the impeachment scandal and interminable pundit ruminations about it. This article, however, will review the attacks on President Clinton with an eye to discerning clues to how the Christian Right and its allies will regroup and launch the next battle in the culture war. I will pay special attention to the process by which dubious conspiracy theories became acceptable within the Republican Party, and then became major headlines. I also will examine why the right’s leaders and followers pushed so hard for the impeachment of Clinton, and why the failure of the campaign has left such bitterness and disillusionment within the right’s ranks.

The Conspiracist Worldview

Critics of Clinton in the conspiracist subculture range across the political spectrum and incorporate both secular and religious themes. That a wide variety of conservative and hard right groups work together in coalition to challenge liberalism is hardly surprising. However, right-wing coalitions in the 1990s increasingly tolerated, or even embraced, the most outlandish and nasty assertions of conspiracist subcultures. Even conservative groups with a more cautious and rational track record appear more and more open to the paranoid sounding vernacular and conspiracist narratives of hard right populist movements. Many of these themes became the subtexts of the anti-Clinton campaign.1 The impeachment struggle demonstrated the extent to which the Republican Party is willing to enlist (or at least accommodate for political gain) three sectors of the right that use apocalyptic conspiracism— the Christian Right, right wing populist and patriot groups, and the far right.

Critics of Clinton in the conspiracist subculture range across the political spectrum and incorporate both secular and religious themes.

The conspiracist wing of the Republican right had been pushed back following the disgrace of Senator Joseph McCarthy and his reign of error and false accusation in the 1950s, and again after the 1964 presidential campaign of Barry Goldwater, where its alarmist charges about Lyndon Johnson and liberalism helped doom Goldwater’s candidacy.2 This wing, rooted in nativism, took the movements built to support Goldwater (and later, right-wing populist George Wallace) and used them to build the “New Right.” A conspiracist worldview undergirded this movement. According to Robert G. Kaiser and Ira Chinoy:

Former congressman Vin Weber, an early and active member of the “movement conservative” Republican faction on Capitol Hill, recalled that “people on the right were absolutely convinced that there was a vast, leftwing conspiracy” that had to be mimicked and countered with new conservative organizations that were “philosophically sound, technologically proficient and movement-oriented.” This became a mantra for the new conservative activists.3

Academic studies have shown that some conspiracist groups on the right, such as the John Birch Society, are not “marginal” to the electoral process, but have members with above-average income, status, and education, who often are long-term activists within the Republican Party.4 As the political scene has shifted to the right over the past twenty years and the culture of conspiracism spread into television’s prime time news and commentary outlets, the apocalyptic prophets of the right-wing paranoid style have reintegrated themselves into the Republican Party.5

Within the hard right and the far right, a considerable amount of the information being circulated is undocumented rumor and apocalyptic conspiracist theory. Rightwing conspiracist movements in the US grow from a belief that common citizens are held down by a small network of secret elites who manipulate a vast legion of corrupt politicians, mendacious journalists, propagandizing schoolteachers, and nefarious bankers. This conspiracist subculture has a long historical pedigree and periodically appears on the US political scene, usually accompanying a right-wing populist upsurge such as we are currently experiencing.6 Conspiracism is not merely a marginal “extremist” phenomenon, but is deeply embedded in our culture.

An alarming number of our fellow citizens saw symptoms of secret conspiracies afoot during the 1990s. These symptoms include restrictions on gun ownership, government abuse of power, federal health and safety regulations, abortion, homo-sexuality, the feminist movement, sex education, new age spirituality, modern educational curricula, environmentalism, and rock or rap music, to name just a few. The conspirators are many: politicians and law enforcement officials above county level, game wardens, internal revenue agents, judges, lawyers, bankers, journalists, unionists, leftists, the Rockefellers, the UN, the Trilateral Commission, the Bilderberger banking discussion group, the Council on Foreign Relations, Federal Reserve bank officials, Jews, Blacks, Latinos, Arabs, and Asians.

The charges against Clinton were influenced by these historic right-wing conspiracist theories—that link liberalism, sexual immorality, statist intrusion, collectivism, and treason. Those who are immersed in hard right conspiracist discourse frequently believe that liberals are engaged in criminal conspiracies to subvert the country. This apocalyptic paradigm is deeply rooted in the American psyche. Joel Kovel, in Red Hunting in the Promised Land, reviews the influence of this paradigm on American anti-communism, and traces it to the same “diabolism” and apocalyptic demonization that shaped the Catholic Inquisition and the witch hunts of Protestant Puritanism.7

During the Cold War, special prosecutor Kenneth Starr’s political patron, Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC), was in the forefront of purveying conspiracist allegations of a global “red menace,” including charges that domestic subversives were undermining the US. Throughout the twentieth century there has been an elaborate network of conspiracist anti-communists who spread the gospel against liberal collectivist treachery through books, magazine articles, electronic media, and workshops. The right’s anti-Clinton campaign replicated the style and themes of those anti-communist witch hunts, adding new media such as fax machines, AM talk radio, shortwave radio, and the Internet.

People who see the world through conspiracist lenses frequently distrust the government no matter what party is in power. According to a Roper Center study of over 20 polls over a 30-year period, “belief in a Kennedy assassination conspiracy has been related to a political world view which sees the government as failing to provide its citizens with the help they need to cope with the problems of modern life.” For many, this neglect is seen as the intentional policy of a small group of powerful people who control the government and ignore the needs of average citizens. In 1992 and 1998, around 75 percent of those polled thought there was a larger plot to assassinate Kennedy.8

Those who are immersed in hard right conspiracist discourse frequently believe that liberals are engaged in criminal conspiracies to subvert the country.

The Role of the Media

The amount of conspiracist material attacking Clinton before and during the impeachment hearings was staggering. There are few reasons to think the attacks will cease now that the impeachment crisis is over.

The small but vocal minority that originally supported the Starr investigation was nurtured by the conspiracist stories circulating about Clinton. Much of the media coverage of Clinton from 1997 until 1999 focused on scandal and impeachment rather than ideological political issues or electoral politics. This was true not only in alternative right-wing media, but also in mainstream corporate media. Reporter Gene Lyons is especially critical of The New York Times (and to a lesser degree the Washington Post) for devoting so much coverage to the alleged “Whitewater Scandal” over a collapsed land deal, for which no evidence implicating the Clintons in criminal acts has ever been substantiated.9 Lyons argues that much of the scandal coverage in the mainstream media “rests on ‘facts’ that are somewhere between highly dubious and demonstrably false,” and he calls it “journalistic malpractice” resulting from a coordinated right-wing “dirty tricks” campaign.10

In addition to corporate newspaper and magazine coverage attacking Clinton, there were books, newsletters, fax reports, videotapes, audiotapes, direct mail pieces, Internet sites, and more that spewed out from tiny—sometimes one-person—operations to international media conglomerates.

The most alarmist attacks on Clinton originated in right-wing alternative media, then spread throughout right-wing information networks, finally appearing in mainstream outlets. This troubling dynamic was described in a 1995 White House memo “Communication Stream of Conspiracy Commerce.”11 The memo was widely derided in the corporate media, but it is essentially accurate. Eric Alterman in The Nation described how reporters dismissed the criticisms of their role in feeding conspiracist rumor to the public:

Listen to Cokie Roberts and Sam Donaldson giggle like school-kids on ABC’s This Week. Cokie: “The White House seems to have a theory of how this happens…and it appears to be a right-wing conspiracy. Who knew…we were such dupes?” Sam: “Not since Rube Goldberg came up with contraptions.” McLaughlin compared the report to beliefs that “Elvis is alive, J.F.K. is alive and both are living on an alien mother ship.’ Fred Barnes chimed in, “It can now be told—there are full-mooners at the White House.”12

Actually, similar contentions about unsubstantiated conspiracy theories fueling anti-Clinton news stories had already appeared in mainstream newspapers and magazines, including the Columbia Journalism Review.According to Michael Kazin, this process is typical of how populist movements move their ideas into the mainstream.13 A 1998 scholarly book edited by Linda Kintz and Julia Lesage, Culture, Media, and the Religious Right, contains several chapters that show how discussions in right-wing alternative media help frame issues that are refined for later coverage in the mainstream media.14

In early 1995, Mary Ann Mauney of the Center for Democratic Renewal, was quoted in a Scripps Howard syndicated news feature discussing how conservative and militia conspiracy theories seemed to be blending together.15 An example is Michael Reagan, the top-rated nighttime talk radio host, who has an ultraconservative worldview but a reputation for being fair and open-minded. Nonetheless, Reagan used his nationally-syndicated program to promote conspiracy theories emerging from the patriot movement—the post Cold war populist backlash against liberalism and globalism—about a global one-world government and attempts to rewrite the US Constitution. He also pushed various theories claiming Clinton aide Vincent Foster did not die due to a self-inflicted gunshot, but was assassinated. These conspiracist allegations are also in Reagan’s book, Making Waves, endorsed in back cover blurbs by former US Attorney General Edwin Meese, III, Republican National Committee chair Haley Barbour, and several current and former congressmen.16

There has been a rapid growth of new “horizontal” electronic communications networks that bypass traditional media filters and editing standards.17 Editors and producers have responded by lowering traditional standards on checking sources and facts. In the case of accusations against Clinton, the mainstream corporate news media was willing to peddle rumors for ratings. As corporate owners sought to squeeze more profits out of news media, there was less investment in research and investigative reporting. Increasingly, reporters began to rely on pre-packaged information from think tanks and publicists, which came overwhelmingly from conservative and libertarian sources. Fact-checking was de-emphasized. There was also a blurring of the lines between news, entertainment and advertising.

This transition in the news media was happening at a time that popular acceptance of conspiracy theories was growing on the right, left, and center. In a lengthy article on snowballing conspiracism in The New Yorker, Michael Kelly called this “fusion paranoia.”18 With the rise of “info-tainment” news programs and talk shows, hard right conspiracism, especially about alleged government misconduct, jumps into the corporate media with increasing regularity.19 As Kelly observes, “It is not remarkable that accusations of abuse of power should be leveled against Presidents—particularly in light of Vietnam, Watergate, and Iran-Contra. But now, in the age of fusion paranoia, there is no longer any distinction made between credible charges and utterly unfounded slanders.”

The most alarmist attacks on Clinton originated in right-wing alternative media, then spread throughout right-wing information networks, finally appearing in mainstream outlets.

A tremendous range of right-wing information exchange takes place in traditional and alternative media throughout the US. Mainstream analysts habitually fail to consider this massive information network when calculating the political clout of the right, and also overlook the important relationship between right-wing alternative media and corporate media.20

Secular conservatives have long molded public opinion through major traditional corporate media—especially in large-circulation publications such as Reader’s Digest, through conservative commentary on radio and TV, as well as through TV drama programs such as “I Led Three Lives,” and “The FBI.” But during the 1980s and 1990s, the right refined its use of the media. Many of the right’s ideas and proposals are first developed at think tanks funded by right-wing foundations and corporations. After these ideas are sharpened through feedback at conferences and other meetings, they are field-tested within right-wing alternative media, such as small-circulation newsletters, journals, and direct mail appeals. As popular themes that resonate with conservative audiences emerge, they are moved into more mainstream corporate media through columns by conservative luminaries, press releases picked up as articles in the print media, conversations on radio talk shows, and discussions on TV news roundtables.

As the increasingly refined arguments reach a broader audience, they help mobilize mass constituencies for rightist ideas. This in turn adds to the impression that all fresh ideas are coming from the right, as there is no comparable left infrastructure for the refinement and distribution of ideas.21 For example, between 1990 and 1993, four influential conservative magazines (National Interest, Public Interest, The New Criterion, and American Spectator) received a total of $2.7 million in grants, while the four major progressive magazines (The Nation, The Progressive, In These Times, and Mother Jones) received less than 10 percent of that amount, under $270,000.22 Christian Right media is extensive and reflects a large subculture in our society. For example, televangelist Jerry Falwell periodically sends material to “162,000 conservative pastors and churches through Pastors’ Policy Briefings.” In late 1998, he solicited funds to expand in order to “[A]lert, educate and rally America’s 200,000 conservative pastors who collectively speak to 50-60 million persons each week.” Moreover, Falwell is just one of many national Christian Right leaders seeking to mobilize evangelicals and fundamentalists to engage in conservative political action.23 In January 1999 Pat Robertson’s “700 Club” TV program featured a special week-long series of reports on “America’s Moral Crisis.” Evidence of “America’s moral decline” included abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality, and “America’s obsession with sex.” Viewers with concerns about the moral crises were urged to call the National Counseling Center, part of the Christian Broadcasting Network Ministry. According to the “700 Club,”the Center logged 5,000 calls per day.

As popular themes that resonate with conservative audiences emerge, they are moved into more mainstream corporate media through columns by conservative luminaries, press releases picked up as articles in the print media, conversations on radio talk shows, and discussions on TV news roundtables.

Studies show members of some Christian Right activist groups, such as Focus on the Family and Concerned Women for America, share three related attributes; they are much more likely than the general population to:

  • Depend on religious television, radio, magazines, and direct mail as important sources of information.
  • Vote in primary and general elections.
  • Believe that most political issues have “one correct Christian view” that shouldn’t be compromised.24

This subculture was the core of the constituency pushing for Clinton’s impeachment and removal. It is important not to dismiss the Christian Right as “religious political extremists” or a “lunatic fringe” because it trivializes their significant role in electoral politics and masks their drive to deny basic human rights for people they label as sinful.

Diversity in Coverage and Framing

The content, tone, and amount of anti-Clinton coverage varied considerably across both the secular and Christian right. Within the hard right, coverage was far more consistently conspiracist and apocalyptic in tone. But not everyone jumped on the impeachment bandwagon. For instance, Phyllis Schlafly, the grande dame of ultra-conservative conspiracism, wrote only the occasional column blasting Clinton’s morality as symptomatic of decadent liberalism.25 Although D. James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Ministries is embedded in the conspiracist subculture, only one out of 30 of his direct mail letters reviewed was directly about Clinton—a call for resignation penned by Kennedy in November of 1998.26

The glossy conservative evangelical magazine World featured consistent coverage of Clinton’s travails, but while highly critical of Clinton and liberal politics, its coverage was generally thoughtful, and based on solid reporting and interviews. World often displayed more professionalism than The Wall Street Journal, and contained less salacious pandering and self-referential conceit than Newsweek. However, World awarded Kenneth Starr a “Daniel of the Year” cover story on December 8, 1998. The reference is to the Biblical story of devout Daniel in the lion’s den.

Ringleaders in the Anti-Clinton Campaign

There was a robust and diverse cast of characters who joined the attack on Clinton:

  • Opportunists and publicity seekers such as Linda Tripp and her agent Lucianne Goldberg.
  • Conservative political operatives in think tanks, foundations, legal advocacy groups and law firms, exemplified by John W. Whitehead at the Rutherford Institute.
  • Scandal and gossip mongers such as Matt Drudge and The Star supermarket tabloid.
  • Christian Right ideologues such as Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and Randall Terry.
  • Arkansas-based political enemies of Bill and Hillary Clinton, such as Larry Nichols.
  • Ultra-conservative Senators and Representatives and the staff they hire to work as aides or committee researchers.
  • Conservative media seeking to undermine a Democratic President, including the Washington TimesNew York Post, American Spectator, and the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal.
  • Hard right ideologues such as Reed Irvine of Accuracy in Media, Larry Klayman of Judicial Watch, and Floyd G. Brown of Citizens United.
  • Conspiracist-oriented right-leaning media and reporters such as Christopher Ruddy of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of the Sunday Telegraph of London, William Rees- Mogg of The Times in London, and Joseph Farah of the Western Journalism Center and its online WorldNetDaily.
  • The conspiracy subculture, spanning talk radio hosts such as Michael Reagan, online sites such as Washington Weekly, and veteran sources such as Sherman K. Skolnick of Chicago.
  • The patriot and militia movements, including individuals such as Mark Koernke, known as Mark of Michigan, and the website Free Republic.

More detailed descriptions of some of the essential players in the right’s anti-Clinton campaign illustrate the diversity of individuals and ideologies that converged in the right’s hatred of Bill Clinton. Clearly many anti-Clinton activists (including some who favored impeachment and removal) avoided undemocratic techniques. These critics had substantial complaints against Clinton, and articulated their grievances in a sincere and logical manner. This article focuses not on legitimate criticism of Clinton, but on anti-Clinton activism that employed demonization, scapegoating, apocalypticism, millennialism, or conspiracism.
Contrary to popular punditry, polls show that during 1998 those endorsing the impeachment process and either removal, forced resignation, or formal censure grew from a small minority to “a huge majority of the public and even a majority of those who say they approve Clinton’s handling of the job as president,” according to Everett Ladd, head of the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research.

Richard Mellon Scaife

A number of alarming allegations against Clinton came from people funded or encouraged by ultraconservative activist and millionaire Richard Mellon Scaife. While his network was not the command center of a “vast right-wing conspiracy,” his funding was important in sustaining anti-Clinton conspiracism, especially around the Foster case. Scaife is an heir to the Mellon family fortune made through the Mellon Bank, and major investments in Gulf Oil, and Alcoa. Part of his success as an important political player within the right is that he surrounds himself with sophisticated advisors. Both critics and supporters describe Scaife’s chief aide, Richard M. Larry, as having great influence and autonomy.

Scaife controls three foundations from his base in Pittsburgh, PA: the Sarah Scaife Foundation, with assets of $302 million; the Allegheny Foundation, with assets of $39 million; and the Carthage Foundation, with assets of $24 million; and his children control a fourth, The Scaife Family Foundation, with assets of $170 million. These foundations fund numerous conservative policy think tanks, legal groups, and publications, including many that pursued Clinton, his aides, or his administration. (See sidebar)

Sidebar

Scaife Funding List

This is just a partial list of the conservative, libertarian,
and hard right groups Scaife foundations have
funded:*

Accuracy in Media
American Enterprise Institute for Public
Policy Research
American Spectator Educational Foundation
Cato Institute
Center for Individual Rights
Center for Media and Public Affairs
Center for Strategic and International Studies
Center for the Study of Popular Culture
Collegiate Networks
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Ethics and Public Policy Center
Federalist Society for Law and Public
Policy Studies
Federation for American Immigration Reform
Foreign Policy Research Institute
Free Congress Research and Education Foundation
Freedom House
Fully Informed Jury Association
Heritage Foundation
High Frontier
Hudson Institute
Independent Women’s Forum
Institute for Contemporary Studies
Institute for Justice
Institute on Religion and Democracy
Institute on Religion and Public Life
Intercollegiate Studies Institute
Judicial Watch
Landmark Legal Foundation
Maldon Institute
National Association of Scholars
National Taxpayers Union Foundation
Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy
Political Economy Research Center
Reason Foundation
Washington Legal Foundation
Western Journalism Center
Women’s Freedom Network

*Funding documents from Scaife foundations, online at cnn.com,
and other sources.

Scaife funded GOPAC, the political action committee that Newt Gingrich used to help himself become Speaker of the House. According to reporter Nurith Aizenman:

A crucial element of Gingrich’s effort was to use his political organization, GOPAC, to identify likeminded candidates and provide them with the ideological and logistical support they needed to win office. Scaife was naturally a big backer— donating $60,000 to GOPAC between 1989 and 1995. And by funding National Empowerment Television, which broadcasted Gingrich’s “Renewing American Civilization” course and the Gingrich-hosted “Progress Report,” Scaife made it possible for Gingrich to reach 11 million American homes.

Other Scaife-funded organizations include the Western Journalism Center, American Spectator, Accuracy in Media, Landmark Legal Foundation, and Judicial Watch—all were especially active in the anti- Clinton network. According to People for the American Way (PFAW), two other organizations supported by Scaife, Brent Bozell’s Media Research Center and Paul Weyrich’s National Empowerment Television, also served as significant “anti-Clinton media outlets.” Scaife is not an investor in Regnery Publishing, but this house published Gary Aldrich’s similar totally discredited book about the Clinton White House, Unlimited Access. Regnery has published a number of other books critical of Clinton or raising conspiracy theories about his administration.

Scaife, publisher of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, hired reporter Christopher Ruddy to pursue the idea that the death of Vincent Foster was not a suicide. Ruddy’s work and several other Scaife-funded anti-Clinton projects will be discussed later.

Scaife gave grants to the Fund for a Living American Government (FLAG), run by attorney William Lehrfeld. Lehrfeld, through FLAG, gave “a secret $50,000 contribution in 1995 to the legal fund of Paula Corbin Jones [while he] simultaneously served as the primary legal counsel to a covert, multimillion-dollar effort by conservative billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife to investigate President Clinton” according to reporters Murray Waas and Jonathan Broder. An anti Clinton “Arkansas Project” was run by a foundation tied to the neoconservative American Spectator magazine, another Scaife grantee.

One Scaife grantee that has received little attention is the Maldon Institute, a right-wing think tank that studies national security and terrorism from a countersubversive and often conspiracist perspective. One Maldon consultant and author, John Rees, infiltrated the political left in the 1970s, and passed the information to groups ranging from the John Birch Society to the FBI.

For two years Scaife funded the Fully Informed Jury Association, a group that encourages jury members to disregard judges’ instruction if they feel strongly about a verdict, but which also has some leaders and followers who use the group to recruit for the patriot movement, and to spread conspiracy theories, some of which are rooted in anti-Semitism.

At the very least, Scaife’s funding produced an echo effect that amplified the voices of critics and conspiracists targeting Clinton, creating the illusion that these ideas had widespread support at a time when they did not. Credulous media coverage of scandal mongering then helped create a broader base of support than the original relatively small base in the Christian Right and populist right. There was much inbreeding. For instance, Scaife funded Gingrich projects, and Gingrich raised questions about the death of Vincent Foster, a pet project of Scaife’s. There were circles within circles. Anti-Clinton authors and publications funded by Scaife gave coverage and favorable reviews to other anti-Clinton authors and publications funded by Scaife. Nontheless, there were a substantial number of Clinton critics and conspiracy peddlers who did not receive funds from Scaife.

Western Journalism Center

The Western Journalism Center (WJC) is a project of Joseph Farah, former publisher of the ultra-conservative Sacramento Union—once owned by Scaife. The Carthage Foundation, controlled by Scaife, is one of the largest funders of the WJC. Founded in 1991, for several years the major product of WJC was a small newsletter, Dispatches, once billed as “from the front lines of the culture war.” According to reporter Trudy Lieberman, Farah has assembled for the Western Journalism Center:

a high-profile board of advisers to help with fund-raising, including such conservative luminaries as Sally Pipes, president of the Pacific Research Institute, Marvin Olasky, a professor of journalism at the University of Texas, and Arianna Huffington. Both Olasky and Huffington are senior fellows at Newt Gingrich’s Progress & Freedom Foundation. Scaife also funds the Pacific Research Institute and GOPAC.

The Center placed some 50 ads reprinting reporter Christopher Ruddy’s anti- Clinton stories—first published in Scaife’s Pittsburgh Tribune-Review—in the Washington Times. WJC then repackaged the articles as a packet titled “The Ruddy Investigation,” which sold for $12. Farah also bought full page ads publicizing Ruddy’s allegations that appeared in papers including The New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and Los Angeles Times. The ad campaign brought in over $500,000, half from individual donors— many of whom bought Foster conspiracy materials—and half from foundations, including $100,000 from Carthage.

WJC circulated a video featuring Ruddy’s claims, “Unanswered—The Death of Vincent Foster,” that was produced by ultra-conservative James Davidson, chairman of the National Taxpayers Union (NTU) and co-editor of the Strategic Investment newsletter. NTU’s research arm receives funds from Scaife. Davidson is a large financial contributor to Farah’s Western Journalism Center, which gave its first “Courage in Journalism Awards” to Ruddy, reporter David Brock of the Scaife-funded American Spectator, and ABC correspondent John Stossel, whose reports often repackage themes from conservative and libertarian think tanks.

In 1997 Farah started a daily Internet newspaper WorldNetDaily.com, which featured anti-Clinton stories. In a three-page interview in the John Birch Society’s magazine The New American, Farah claimed that by March 1998 the website was receiving 20,000 to 30,000 hits per day. In the April 17, 1998 issue of Dispatches, Farah claimed 150,000 hits per day. That issue carried a lead story rife with anti-communist redbaiting aimed at Barbara Lee, an African- American elected to Congress from California. She is described as filling the seat of retiring “Ron ‘Red’ Dellums.” Christopher Ruddy is listed as a Contributing Editor.

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

The work of British journalist Ambrose Evans-Pritchard is a mix of industrious investigative reporting and irresponsible rumor-mongering. His book, The Secret Life of Bill Clinton: The Unreported Stories, is an example of material that should remain unreported by the general media until it is corroborated with further documentation. A significant number of footnotes track back to rightist anti-Clinton sources, especially to the American Spectator, a neo conservative magazine that ran articles on Clinton with allegations that often lacked adequate corroboration.

The Secret Life of Bill Clinton

One chapter in The Secret Life of Bill Clinton alleges official misconduct and a cover-up in the death of Vincent Foster, tracing the conspiracy all the way to special prosecutor Kenneth Starr. Other assertions in Evans-Pritchard’s book include the claimed assassination of two teenagers who, Evans-Pritchard says, stumbled across a major drug delivery tied to Clinton. Other deaths attributed to Clinton or his operatives are discussed: “Already, people associated with the case were beginning to die in what amounted to a reign of terror among young people in…Arkansas.” Evans-Pritchard tells the story of one parent who “joined up with a California film producer named Pat Matrisciana to make a documentary on the deaths.” Matrisciana runs Jeremiah Films, which produces hard right Christian apocalyptic videos riddled with conspiracy theories, and made a widely circulated anti-Clinton video,The Clinton Chronicles.

Evans-Pritchard uses James Davidson of the rightist newsletter Strategic Investment to introduce the idea that Clinton’s actions mirror those of Nazi totalitarians. In his role as a far right prophet of financial doom, Davidson has written a book, The Story of a One-Term President, which forecasts a vast economic collapse and “bloodbath in US stocks and bonds” under Clinton. Davidson’s in-house “muckraker” for Strategic Investment is Jack Wheeler, described in his bio as a “veteran of six anticommunist guerilla wars [and] anti-Soviet insurgencies, including those in Nicaragua, Angola, Mozambique, Cambodia, and Laos.”

Evans-Pritchard cites Davidson’s Strategic Investment several more times, noting that Davidson financed examinations by several handwriting experts of the Foster suicide note. Claims that the suicide note was a forgery were later debunked, and one “expert” was later revealed as having misrepresented his credentials. Hard-right ideologue Joe Farah from the Western Journalism Center is introduced as a dispassionate media ethics expert.

According to the 1995 White House memo, Evans-Pritchard was a crucial link in taking hard right conspiracism and publishing it in the Sunday Telegraph of London where it was picked up and reported on by mainstream US media. Another British journalist who played a similar role was William Rees- Mogg of The Times of London.

Christopher Ruddy

Christopher Ruddy, the most energetic of the journalists claiming vast Clinton conspiracies, left the New York Post after his early 1994 stories on the death of Vincent Foster were heavily criticized in other media outlets. Hired by The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Ruddy was assigned by publisher Scaife to pursue stories about Clinton. Scaife learned of Ruddy through the Western Journalism Center, a Scaife grantee, which had placed ads consisting of republished Ruddy articles on Foster.

Some of the most interesting information on Ruddy comes from his ally, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard. While praising Ruddy in his book, Evans-Pritchard details how Ruddy was an activist in a nationwide right-wing network:

He waged war on the airwaves, broadcasting night after night across the country on the radio talk circuit where he soon became a folk hero. He gave speeches, endlessly. He lobbied on Capitol Hill. He lobbied at the Christian Roundtable meetings in Tennessee. He lobbied wherever people would listen. He built alliances: with Reed Irvine’s Accuracy in Media in Washington; with Jim Davidson’s Strategic Investment; with the Western Journalism Center in California; with Jeremiah Films (which made the Clinton Chronicles). He signed up with Richard Scaife, writing about the Foster case for The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. It was a modest little brigade. But it was enough for insurgent warfare.

Evans-Pritchard also discusses the crucial role played by the Internet: “What was bothering the White House most about the Internet was the enormous amplification it gives to newsletters like Strategic Investment,” or articles by Evans-Pritchard or Ruddy. According to Evans-Pritchard:

In the 1980s our stories would not have gained any traction. Now they are “posted” within hours of publication, and are then perused by the producers of radio talk shows, who surf the Net in search of avant-garde material. A good scoop may be picked up….[and] read on the air by G. Gordon Liddy, Paul Harvey, or Chuck Harder. It might be featured by Blanquita Column, or by Rush Limbaugh, with his 20 million “ditto heads.”

Ruddy has become a commodity. The Strange Death of Vincent Foster: An Investigation by Christopher Ruddy, was published by the mainstream Free Press in 1996. Ruddy even started a monthly newsletter, Vortex, and solicited subscriptions in a letter headed, “Investigative reporter Chris Ruddy, the man who blew the whistle on the Clinton cover up of Vincent Foster’s death has an urgent message for you.” The message was simple:

Our country is in crisis…Monica Lewinsky and her mother…could be murdered if details of her relationship with Clinton ever got out….This man and his wife have abused the power and trust of their office…. Slick Willie earned his nickname because his lack of integrity governed his actions as a family man, lawyer, and politician.

In his style of demonizing rhetoric, Ruddy goes on: “Clinton is the quintessential slippery lawyer. Just as a weasel sucks the blood from its prey, so Clinton sucks the ordinary meaning out of words to deceive others…Clinton is a filthy-minded, self-centered man who fits the criteria of a sociopath….” Ruddy reveals that “In recently released grand jury testimony, Linda Tripp, who worked as Foster’s secretary, said she knew of one Clinton ‘body count’ list of some 40 people who have died suspiciously.” Vortex, claims Ruddy, will bring you the truth, “Stories too hot for the Clinton-compliant, Establishment media to handle.”

Subscribers to Vortex get “FREE BONUSES” including a new video, “The Death of Ron Brown,” with vivid death-scene photos suggesting a bullet hole in the brain. With the warning, “THIS FREE TAPE IS GRAPHIC,” the video suggests Brown may have been murdered, a theory covered in Ruddy’s own “special report on the Ron Brown case…a $15 value.” Ruddy also sells a report on the TWA Flight 800 explosion “cover-up” by a former naval officer, and an audiotape interview by Ruddy of Larry Nichols, a former aide to Governor Clinton.

In addition to Vortex, Ruddy started an Internet news site at www.NewsMax.com. Its breathless, near hysterical tone is common to the genre. And don’t think the failure of the impeachment drive has stopped Vortex. A March 5, 1999 ad in Human Events announces that Vortex, “America’s most controversial Journal,” now features “special reports by Chris Ruddy, Carl Limbacher, Jr., Jeffrey Nyquist and many others.”

Matt Drudge

Matt Drudge parlayed an Internet gossip page into international celebrity when he surfaced the Monica Lewinsky story in January of 1998. Drudge claims to have scooped Newsweek magazine when he reported rumors that Newsweek editors were not running a Lewinsky scandal story that reporter Michael Isikoff had been working on for months. This is less a scoop than an act of scavenging. Actually, Newsweek editors were exercising appropriate caution with a story that needed more confirmation. After Drudge “broke” the story, Newsweek ran an Isikoff article on the scandal…the first of many. The previous summer, Drudge had surfaced Isikoff ’s Kathleen Willey story in the same manner. Conservative sources, including Lucianne Goldberg and Linda Tripp, had fed Isikoff the basics of the story. Isikoff now admits in his book on the subject that he was being used by conservative activists, but he is accurate in noting the extensive research he devoted to nailing down the details of the Lewinsky and Willey stories.

Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz described Matt Drudge as an “Internet gossip-monger,” who refused to “play by the rules.” According to Kurtz, “Untutored in such basic survival techniques as getting both sides of the story…Drudge seemed to overreach as he moved from titillating fare to serious scandal.” According to Kurtz:

Drudge understood how to tap into his self-absorbed audience. By making himself an object of fascination
for media types, who love reading about themselves and their political pals, he turned the hype machine to his own advantage. He billed himself as an “old fashioned troublemaker” putting out a “gotcha sheet,” with no annoying editors, free to disseminate the latest rumors at the touch of a button.”

“He gets to write some of the things we all hear but can’t put into print because we can’t corroborate it,” says conservative author David Brock, who recently threw a Washington dinner party for Drudge. “Some part of all of us wishes we could do that.”

Steven Johnson, co-editor of the online magazine Feed, calls Drudge “a showman who plays at a serious calling.” The “moral panic” over the supposed dangers of the Net, he says, overlooks the amplifying role played by traditional news organizations when they trumpet its stranger stories.

“All these conspiracy theories— Kurt Cobain lives—wouldn’t really attract any attention if the big media didn’t pick them up and start broadcasting them,” he says. “If they treated the fringes of the Web with a grain of salt, it wouldn’t be that big a deal.”

Drudge…intentionally sets his personal bar fairly low. Declaring that he’s not a journalist, he seems to feel he can dispense with double checking the facts. By boasting that his information is 80 percent accurate, he figures to defuse criticism when a scoop blows up in his face. Alternately charming and infuriating the media elite, he reaps a publicity bonanza from the very folks whose stories he sometimes steals.

In early 1999, Drudge again claimed a story had been suppressed, this time by NBC news. The story concerned allegations that 20 years ago, while he was Arkansas Attorney General, Clinton forced an unnamed woman to have sex with him. Tim Cuprisin of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel dismissed Drudge’s story, calling Drudge a “cybergossip:”

The source of this latest wave of interest in the case is Drudge. Before this, he told us all about how a supermarket tabloid was testing an Arkansas teenager to prove the boy was the president’s “love child.”

That story turned out to be bogus, but not before it became grist for Jay Leno’s monologues and front-page fodder for tabloids like the New York Post.

And anyone claiming that the TV networks are holding up a story to avoid embarrassing the president must have been asleep for the past 12 months.

Actually, even Drudge had quoted an NBC source saying the story was delayed while further corroboration was sought. Furthermore, the entire censorship controversy was a staged event to crowbar more media attention for Drudge. Cuprisin noted that NBC News had already reported the story in March 1998, and had named the woman. David Horowitz, who with his partner Peter Collier founded the rightist Center for the Study of Popular Culture (CSPC), wrote that he was proud that he and Collier “organized a fund to defend Matt Drudge, the Internet gadfly,” and complained:

Why then the seeming tolerance for the current White House witchhunt, whose purpose is to smear and destroy its political critics? As anyone can see, there was no conspiracy in the events leading up to the First Lady’s accusation. There is no Communist Party of the right with secret codes and top-down discipline that possesses the ability to give marching orders to anyone. If Monica Lewinsky was planted in the White House, she was planted by Democrats. It was Newsweek—no conservative institution— that developed the story that Drudge only made public.

CSPC’s online FrontPage magazine website features a “Matt Drudge Information Center and Defense Fund.” CSPC is funded by Scaife.

For his part, Drudge has demanded an apology from his mainstream media critics, and compared his own pioneering spirit to that of “Ben Franklin, or a Thomas Edison, or a Henry Ford, or an Einstein…They all leapt so far ahead of the system, shaked it up, changed the balance.”

Accuracy in Media

Accuracy in Media (AIM) is the brainchild of Reed Irvine, a hard right activist who also created Accuracy in Academia. Irvine fixated on the Vincent Foster case, publishing a 218-page book, Vincent Foster, The Ruddy Investigation. In 1996 he created a five-part series of print ads excoriating The New York Times for refusing to print the facts about the death of Foster. The ads ran in several newspapers, including the Times. As recently as January 1999, the Accuracy in Media AIM Report featured a cover story on Foster, “Find the X-Rays or Exhume the Body,” complete with a forensic drawing detailing a cross-section of a human head. After DNA testing showed that a young Black man had not been fathered by Clinton, Irvine argued that “I see no reason why [Ruddy’s] NewsMax.com, the Drudge Report, WorldNetDaily, the New York Post or AIM should feel embarrassed for having reported that the Williams family believed Clinton” was the father.

Judicial Watch

As of January 1999, Larry Klayman of Judicial Watch had filed 18 lawsuits against the Clinton administration. He claims most of the money to support his filings comes from direct mail solicitations, but admits some funding comes from Scaife, including $550,000 in 1997. According to Time magazine, “Klayman calmly and routinely proposes the most outlandish conspiracies,” including speculation that Commerce Secretary Ron Brown’s death in a plane crash was not accidental. Klayman is an industrious media hound who “regularly faxes his findings to hundreds of media outlets around the country and travels the television circuit.” According to a bio from Judicial Watch:

In addition to his role as General Counsel representing Judicial Watch in court, Mr. Klayman has made frequent television appearances on such programs as CNN’s Crossfire, ABC’s Prime Time Live, and FOX television speaking on ethics and the need for honest government. Mr. Klayman is currently providing legal commentary on the campaign finance hearings for NET….

According to Francine Kiefer in The Christian Science Monitor, “Klayman spends much of his 70- to 80-hour work week waging a ‘guerrilla war’ against the Clinton administration, because, as Klayman says, you might as well start at the top.”

In March 1999, Judicial Watch’s main web page included a teaser for an article on the “Clinton body count.” This macabre charge is a staple in the conspiracist cupboard:

List of deceased persons reportedly associated with the Clinton Administration left on Linda Tripp’s chair by Monica Lewinsky, according to Ms. Tripp’s Filegate testimony. (The origin of the handwriting is unknown. Ms. Tripp perceived this as a threat to her.)

At the top of the same opening page is a banner that encourages a visit to the web site of Free Republic, an anti-Clinton organization that uses conspiracist patriot movement rhetoric. In an exercise in mutual back-scratching, a Christopher Ruddy advertisement quoted Klayman, saying about Ruddy: “An Intrepid Journalist—read his stuff!”

In 1997 US District Judge Denny Chin of New York City imposed sanctions on Klayman and an associate after they questioned his impartiality in a commercial case unrelated to Klayman’s anti-Clinton lawsuits. After an unfavorable ruling, Klayman and his associate had sent a letter with a conspiratorial and racist subtext to Judge Chin, an Asian-American. The letter noted that Judicial Watch had filed a lawsuit claiming the Clinton administration, a Clinton appointee named John Huang, and “other persons in the Asian and Asian-American communities,” were involved in illegal fundraising activities. According to the AP report:

The letter to Chin mentioned that the judge, too, was a Clinton appointee, and asked him to tell the lawyers whether he knew and had dealings with Huang and others involved in the Judicial Watch litigation over the Democratic campaign.

Klayman has not been slowed by the Senate’s failure to remove Clinton. In a late- January 1999 direct mail fundraising letter, Klayman continues to target both Clinton and Al Gore over the “Chinagate” scandal he claims involves “crimes that include election fraud, espionage and possibly treason.”

Citizens United

The web banner for Citizens United explains that the group is dedicated to “Reasserting Traditional American Values: limited government, freedom of enterprise, strong families, national sovereignty and security.” The group claims 150,000 members, but that is most likely a count of anyone who has sent money for projects touted in frequent direct mail appeals. The group has a member newsletter, Citizens Agenda, and a specialty periodical, ClintonWatch, sent to selected reporters and political activists.

Slick Willie

Citizens United is the project of Floyd G. Brown who published “Slick Willie:” Why America Cannot Trust Bill Clinton, a slim paperback book distributed as part of a direct mail fundraising effort. The book is a right-wing tirade designed to document Clinton’s lack of character. What it also showed was that Brown unabashedly mixes sexism and homophobia in his conservative analysis. Along with standard attacks on Clinton as a draft dodger and friend to labor unions, Brown claims: “Bill Clinton’s America sees no difference between families of ‘homosexual lovers’ and the traditional, monogamous, faithful family…In addition, Mr. Clinton has surrendered completely to the pro-abortion feminists who dominate the Democratic Party.” It’s no surprise to find cites to the ultra-conservative Human Events and neo-conservative American Spectator in “Slick Willie.”

Brown’s bio establishes his ultra-conservative credentials and his success at attracting media attention:

In 1988 and 1992, Mr. Brown’s independent expenditure campaigns supporting President Bush produced effective and memorable ads including the now-famous “Willie Horton ad.” In 1991 Citizens United produced the highly controversial ad “Who Will Judge the Judge” in its successful campaign supporting Judge Clarence Thomas’ nomination to the Supreme Court…A frequently sought after commentator and lecturer, Mr. Brown has appeared on radio and television talk shows including CNN’s Crossfire and Inside Politics, NBC News, ABC’s Prime Time Live, CBS News, FOX Morning News, Comedy Central’s Politically Incorrect, Donahue, and many more.

Brown remains proud of the 1992 Willie Horton ad which was widely denounced as racist pandering. Also in 1992, he attempted to place ads for a $4.99 paid phone call that would play tapes of Gennifer Flowers in a telephone conversation with then-governor Clinton. The hook was a promise that the conversation probed sexual matters. The incident was so tasteless that the Bush/Quayle campaign was again forced to condemn Brown and his tactics. Brown also arranged a screening for a reporter of Militia leader Linda Thompson’s video, “Waco: The Big Lie,” a potage of conspiracy theories linking Clinton to premeditated murder.

In a 1994 Chicago Tribune opinion piece, reporter Carol Jouzaitis wrote that the main researcher for Citizens United, David Bossie, “harvests tales of alleged wrongdoings from a network of Clinton enemies, then peddles them to Capitol Hill and media contacts in hopes of prompting scandalous stories. Bossie was the main researcher for Brown’s “Slick Willie” book, and wrote for ClintonWatch. Jouzaitis found that some members of the mainstream media regularly checked in with Brown “for the latest Whitewater grist.” For instance, Jouzaitis reported that “Members of The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board… [met] with Brown and examined his pile of information.” Following that meeting, “the Journal devoted nearly half of its editorial page one day to reprinting” materials obtained from Brown:

Brown and Bossie claim that “dozens” of networks, newspapers and magazines—including Time and Money magazines, NBC and the London Times—have used them for information or interviews.

When journalist Trudy Lieberman researched the influence of Citizens United for the Columbia Journalism Review, she reviewed some 200 news stories in late 1993 and early 1994 and found four stories where there was “an eerie similarity between the Citizens United agenda and what has been appearing in the press, not only in terms of specific details but in terms of omissions, spin, and implication.” Lieberman tracked one incident where Citizens United repackaged previously reported charges about a letter from Vincent Foster in a more dramatic form, and sent the charge out to media contacts. According to Lieberman, “From January 1 to the end of March, twenty-three news organizations referred to the Foster letter— more than triple the number that picked up the story after the November 3 Washington Post piece.” According to Lieberman, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Dallas Morning News, The Arizona Republic, The Boston Globe, and Newsday regularly featured what ClintonWatch had highlighted.

The worldview of Citizen’s United is easy to trace to anti-Clinton Republicans in the House. According to an article from The New York Times News Service posted on the Free Republic Website:

The dominant staff member of the House committee [investigating campaign finances] is its chief investigator, David N. Bossie. He reports directly to [Rep. Dan] Burton and not through the general counsel….He was an investigator in last year’s Whitewater inquiry conducted by Sen. Alfonse D’Amato, R-N.Y.

As reporter Francis X. Clines reports, Burton, an ultra-conservative Republican from Indiana, seemed to have adopted the Citizens United line:

“Who moved the body?” Burton boomed from the House floor in rejecting the official finding of suicide and feeding conspiracy theories with an account of re enacting the event in his own backyard by shooting bullets into a “head-like object.”

Citizens United is an example of how the players and themes in conspiracist anti communism shifted seamlessly to conspiracist antiliberalism and joined the campaign against a demonized Clinton, pulling their conspiracy theories into the mainstream media and Congress

.

Brown’s ClintonWatch newsletter, which referred to Clinton’s “radical socialist agenda,” reflects the apocalyptic conspiracism commonly found in the hard right. Despite this, Brown’s work reached deep into mainstream politics. In 1994, according to Jouzaitis:

Rep. John Doolittle (R-Calif.) quietly invited Brown to give 10 junior House Republicans his highly partisan take on Whitewater probes. Brown’s materials also have wound up in the hands of Rep. Jim Leach (RIowa) whose staff also has been doing its own investigation as the congressman presses for hearings into Whitewater. Leach’s spokesman, Joe Pinder, declined to say how they got there.

Two of Brown’s senior staff are veterans of the ultra-conservative subculture with its conspiracist worldview of communism as a vast left wing conspiracy—a worldview that originated in the Old Right. Cliff Kincaid is director of Citizens United Foundation’s American Sovereignty Action Project. He is the author of two conspiracist books on the United Nations, Global Bondage: The U.N. Plan to Rule the World and Global Taxes for World Government, both published by Huntington House. Kincaid’s claims about the UN are promoted within the patriot movement. Kincaid also works for Accuracy in Media, and writes columns for Human Events and the American Legion Magazine, with a circulation of 3 million. Human Events is now published by Eagle/Phillips Publishing, which also owns Regnery Publishing, which published the Gary Aldrich book.

Michael Boos, a longstanding hard right ideologue, is the Legal Director of the National Citizens Legal Network, a project of Citizens United Foundation. In the Winter 1982-83 edition of the Young Americans for Freedom magazine, New Guard, he wrote an article headlined “The Nuclear Freeze Fairy Tale: Communist Front Groups Behind the Peace Movement.”/ Boos warned that the peace movement is, in fact, not spontaneous but, “Rather, it is a well conceived and thus far successfully implemented sinister scheme being directed by the Soviet Union through its front groups in the U.S. and abroad.” In 1984 Boos spied on the anti-intervention group Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), then wrote a report titled: “Group in Nation’s Capitol to Aid Left Wing Terrorists.” Boos also filed a story with the right-wing newsletter from Phillips Publishing, American Sentinel, and sent an unsolicited copy to the FBI, which promptly distributed it to 32 of its field offices. The FBI launched an official probe of CISPES based in part on the Boos report.

Citizens United is an example of how the players and themes in conspiracist anti-communism shifted seamlessly to conspiracist antiliberalism and joined the campaign against a demonized Clinton, pulling their conspiracy theories into the mainstream media and Congress.

Citizens for Honest Government

“The Clinton Chronicles” is probably the best known video attacking Clinton with spurious conspiracy theories,although there are several others. “The Clinton Chronicles” is presented as a secular investigative narrative, but is produced by Jeremiah Films, which specializes in apocalyptic Christian fundamentalist videos. Jeremiah is one of several projects of Pat Matrisciana, who also runs the parent group, Creative Ministries, and Citizens for Honest Government, publisher of the newsletter Citizen’s Intelligence Digest.

Widely distributed by Jerry Falwell and other anti-Clinton activists, the video was circulated in June 1994 to Republican members of the House of Representatives with a cover letter from ultra-conservative Illinois Republican Philip M. Crane. Falwell alone claims to have sold more than 60,000 copies of the video. A companion item is The Clinton Chronicles Book, also from Jeremiah. The Clinton Chronicles Book includes footnotes, which frequently cite to standard ultraconservative sources such as the Washington Times, Insight, and Human Events. One chapter, “compiled by Citizens for Honest Government,” includes condensations of articles by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard. Another chapter, by ultra-conservative Scott Wheeler, claims liberal media conspire to circulate “engineered information” in an “onslaught of manipulated facts” in order to protect Clinton.

A chapter by Lt. Col. Tom McKenney (retired), titled “Bill Clinton—The Unthinkable Commander in Chief” picks up the theme of treason in high places. McKenney asks: “How could we have a Commander in Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces who holds the military in contempt, who is anti-patriotic, who long ago embraced the dream of world socialism, and who, if he were not President, could not receive a security clearance.”

The Clinton Chronicles has an appendix of cites allegedly tying Clinton to “The Mena Airport Drug Smuggling Operation.” The appendix includes articles based in part on claims by Richard Brenneke, a “source” used by journalists who described details of a vast drug-running conspiracy but who was later shown to have misrepresented his knowledge. One article about Brenneke’s charges listed in the appendix was by Frank Snepp, a respected journalist at the Village Voice. But Snepp had written a later article exposing Brenneke’s unreliability and retracted his earlier articles based on Brenneke’s dubious assertions. Another article cited is from Executive Intelligence Review, a journal controlled by conspiracist demagogue Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr.

Matrisciana spoke at a October 4, 1997 “Take America Back” rally near the US Capitol, a few blocks away from the massive Promise Keepers rally, “Stand in the Gap.” “Take America Back” turned into a pro-impeachment rally. Other speakers included Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry, and Alan Keyes, a 1996 Republican presidential candidate, radio host, and founder of Black America’s PAC. The rally program blurb for Matrisciana claims that “Edwin Meese III, former U.S. Attorney General said ‘Citizens for Honest Government is doing important work on behalf of the American people.’”

The Clinton Chronicles

 

Matrisciana’s Citizens for Honest Government also distributed a 12-page booklet titled “The Citizens Presidential Impeachment Indictment.” The 25 counts listed in the booklet included numerous conspiracist allegations claiming misconduct by Clinton. The Paula Jones case was listed, as well as charges that Clinton engaged in massive and repeated conspiracies such as laundering drug money, bribery, and accessory to murder in the Vincent Foster case. Many of the allegations are standard fare in the US conspiracist subculture.

The January/February 1998 issue of Citizens Intelligence Digest featured a posed photograph of John Wheeler Jr., director of publications for Citizens for Honest Government, handing “The Citizens Presidential Impeachment Indictment” to Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA), at a “Strategy Briefing Breakfast” held in Washington, DC on Nov. 7, 1998. Flanking the two was Howard Phillips, president of the Conservative Caucus, and a leading player in the hard core theocratic wing of the fundamentalist Christian Right. That same issue of Citizens Intelligence Digest also featured an article by Christopher Ruddy suggesting that Commerce Secretary Ron Brown was assassinated. Along with Ruddy, other “Contributing Writers” to the newsletter included former Rep. William Dannemeyer (R-CA), Joseph Farah, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Timothy LaHaye, apocalyptic fundamentalist author Chuck Missler, antigay author Dr. Stanley Monteith, and Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America, which is to the right of the National Rifle Association.

Citizens for Honest Government is an example of the practical linkages among the Republican Party, the conservative Christian Right, Christian Right theocrats, and hard right conspiracism.

Rev. Jerry Falwell

A major distributor of “The Clinton Chronicles” was Jerry Falwell Ministries and his “Old Time Gospel Hour.” During 1998 Falwell relentlessly harangued against Clinton in TV appearances, radio programs, direct mail, his monthly National Liberty Journal newspaper, and The Falwell Fax, a chatty memo sent weekly to subscribers.

A review of 1997 and 1998 issues of the National Liberty Journal shows that the majority of attacks on Clinton centered on scandals involving Monica Lewinsky, Webster Hubbell, Whitewater, Vincent Foster, Paula Jones, “communist Chinese influence,” and impeachment. Sometimes a single issue would contain a front page anti-Clinton scandal article and as many as five additional scandal-oriented articles on inside pages. Many issues contained advertisements for anti-Clinton items such as a book on “The Murder of Vince Foster.” Typical headlines included “Many Blacks Wonder Why The Black Caucus Defends Clinton to the Bitter End,” and “Clinton Tabs Lesbian Nun for White House Post.”

In a December 1998 fundraising letter for his lobbying organization, the Liberty Alliance, Falwell decried Clinton’s “immoral and illegal activities…and illegal foreign political fundraising by the President and Vice President.” Yet Falwell, like others in the Christian Right, sees Clinton as just part of the “powerful liberal forces” that are destroying America. Falwell also sought to raise funds for a broader list of issues he wanted to organize around in 1999:

  • Initiate “grassroots” lobbying on critical issues like hideous partial-birth abortion.
  • Stand up and fight for our precious religious freedoms.
  • Lobby against ENDA, the extremist proposal to require hiring of homosexuals, even by churches, schools and day-care centers.
  • Oppose homosexual marriages and adoption of children.
  • Battle the homosexual invasion of our schools.
  • Oppose unelected liberal, activist judges who dangerously throw out decisions by Congress and voters.
  • Lobby for much-needed family tax relief.
  • Promote a strong national defense, including a desperately needed anti-missile defense system.

Falwell’s lush rhetoric aside, this is a fairly representative list of the grievances of the Christian Right. As is standard, Falwell warned that if money didn’t flow in, “the Clintons, the radical homosexuals, anti-family feminists, Godless atheists, and the liberal media will have won.” This, too, is a fairly representative list of enemies demonized by the Christian Right in the culture war. Falwell opened 1999 by declaring the Antichrist was alive and a Jewish man.

The Rutherford Institute

John W. Whitehead, head of the Rutherford Institute, has gone to great lengths to conceal the ideological leanings of his Christian Right legal center in statements to the mass media. He told The New York Times that “Oh, gosh, no,” he had no political agenda in representing Paula Jones, and that he had founded the Rutherford Institute by himself. The New York Times reporter described The Rutherford Institute as “a kind of evangelical Christian civil liberties union.”27

John W. Whitehead, head of the Rutherford Institute, has gone to great lengths to conceal the ideological leanings of his Christian Right legal center in statements to the mass media.

Whitehead’s claims misrepresent the group. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, is blunt: “Our files on the Institute go back 10 years. After examining the material, we can safely say Whitehead is not being honest in his description of his organization.”28

From its founding, the Rutherford Institute has pursued a highly-politicized, ultra-conservative agenda. A review of Rutherford Institute newsletters, reports, and direct mail appeals going back seven years shows a long pattern of attacks on liberals in government and President Clinton in particular. Whitehead consistently puts forward an apocalyptic conspiracist vision of devout Christian activists under concerted attack by corrupt and repressive government officials in the service of godless and immoral secular humanism.

In the late 1990s, Whitehead claimed he had changed his earlier views, giving a detailed interview on the subject to Christianity Today in December of 1998.29 Yet Whitehead’s shift is more tactical than a shift in basic ideology, and reflects the trend in the Christian Right toward re-applying the principle of “hating the sin, but loving the sinner,” even when the goal is still theocratic and monocultural.30

From time to time Rutherford’s periodical carries broad-based articles to buttress the organization’s claim that it is just like an American Civil Liberties Union for people of faith. In the September 1996 issue, which carries a cover story on “Politics & Religion: A Recipe for Disaster,” there are interviews with centrist political commentators such as E. J. Dionne, Jr. and Larry Sabato—as well as a column by Barry W. Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Paul Weyrich, president of the Free Congress Foundation, rounds out the issue of Rutherford magazine with a litany of all the reasons he hates government under Clinton and his liberal allies. Claiming that “liberals have dominated politics in this country for more than sixty years,” Weyrich paints a paranoid picture of life in the US where “God-fearing,law-abiding, taxpaying citizens” live under a statist globalist tyranny. He then concludes that a nation with a government that is in opposition to his hard right view of Constitutional and godly laws “will deserve the hatred of God and its people.”31

In Facing the Wrath: Confronting the Right in Dangerous Times, sociologist Sara Diamond describes the political activism of the Rutherford Institute:

Active since 1982, the Rutherford Institute represents a variety of Christian “civil liberties” litigants, antiabortion demonstrators, students asked not to read Bibles at public schools, parents whose home school facilities fail to meet government regulations. No doubt, Christians deserve as much legal protection as anyone else. But with much of the ACLJ and Rutherford case load, there’s a fine line between defending the interests of clients and stepping on the rights of other people.

In a…commentary sent to Christian radio stations, Rutherford Institute president John Whitehead argues that workplace seminars on gay rights are a form of “religious discrimination” against employees who are “told to rid themselves of stereotypes about gays and to accept homosexuality as a valid lifestyle choice.”

In an odd assertion of victim status, Whitehead claims Christian military personnel may jeopardize their careers if they “speak out against homosexuality….The immediate remedy is for the military to exempt religious people from compelled personal acceptance of homosexuality.”32

The politics of the Rutherford Institute, at least until recently, represented a form of theocratic Christianity that characterizes the hard right of the evangelical world. There is little reason to believe that a change in tone means a change in Whitehead’s underlying philosophy.

American Spectator

There had been stories about Bill Clinton’s affairs in various tabloid media but an article in The American Spectator, a neoconservative magazine, raised the stakes.

The cover of the January 1994 issue of The American Spectator featured a caricature of Bill Clinton sneaking down a moonlit alley with the headline: “His Cheatin’ Heart: David Brock in Little Rock.” Reporter David Brock had already gained a reputation for cutthroat journalism for his March 1992 attack piece, “The Real Anita Hill,” and he returned to that mode in his 1994 article “Living with the Clintons: Bill’s Arkansas bodyguards tell the story the press missed.”

The Brock article is long on gossip and hearsay and short on facts corroborated outside the circle of troopers. Several years later, Brock wrote an “open letter” published in Esquire magazine where he apologized for the Troopergate article and said the troopers’ greed and anger had motivated their stories. One trooper later changed his story.

Buried on page 26 of the original Brock article was a paragraph mentioning a “Paula” who allegedly was taken to Clinton’s hotel room. Neither a date nor a conference name was mentioned. Nonetheless, Paula Jones stepped forward and claimed her reputation had been sullied. The rest is history.

His Cheatin' Heart

During this period the editor of The American Spectator was R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr., author of Boy Clinton: The Political Biography, published by Regnery. Scaife’s foundations gave $2.4 million to The American Spectator Education Foundation while it was running anti-Clinton articles. The foundation launched the “Arkansas Project,” financing information-gathering operations involving reporters, private investigators, former law enforcement officers, and political operatives. Public tax records of the foundation were obtained by Joe Conason at the New York Observer, who discovered that $1.7 million of the Scaife funds between 1993 and 1996 had been reported as legal fees but apparently used for the “Arkansas Project.”

Some $35,000 of these funds ended up with Parker Dozhier, who owns a fishing camp in Arkansas. One witness for Starr, David Hale, “was staying at Dozhier’s fishing cabin complex in Hot Springs, Ark., between 1994 and 1996.” Two former friends of Dozhier claim he made small cash payments to Hale, but Dozhier denies that claim. Dozhier, however, provided free accommodations to Hale. Dozhier served as a conduit for information on Whitewater from Hale and others to investigators, reporters, and representatives from The American Spectator. Theodore Olson, a director at the Spectator Foundation, was Hale’s lawyer in 1995 and 1996. Olson is Ken Starr’s former law partner. A grand jury is considering if illegalities were committed.

Other potential witnesses against Clinton were clearly in the cash pipeline. According to Boston Globe reporter John Aloysius Farrell:

…Peter W. Smith, a wealthy Chicago businessman and supporter of House Speaker Newt Gingrich, paid thousands of dollars to the Arkansas state troopers whose tales of Clinton’s sex life, published in the Spectator, sparked the Paula Jonescase.

Since the Spectator article in December 1993, it was known that unnamed conservative benefactors
gave the troopers financial assistance. The Chicago Sun-Times pierced the veil of anonymity…identifying Smith—a big contributor to GOPAC, the political action committee once led by Gingrich— as the man who gave $6,700 each to two troopers and introduced them to David Brock, the writer of the article. Smith has given $150,000 to GOPAC in the last 12 years.

He told the Sun-Times he spent $80,000 in the 18 months after Clinton’s election to get stories about the president’s personal life into the media.

The Washington Times

The Washington Times’ coverage of the scandal was voluminous. In fact, the paper even delayed its September 14-20, 1998 “National Weekly Edition” for a day in order to run a special pullout section with the text of the Starr Report. In that special issue, ultra-conservative columnists Cal Thomas, Mona Charen, Thomas Sowell, Joseph Sobran, Don Feder, Oliver North, Suzanne Fields, and Tod Lindberg each excoriated Clinton. Columnist Richard Grenier started his column by bashing Clinton, but then devoted the rest of the column to bemoaning the “feminization” of our society. Clinton is frequently represented as both weak and effeminate, and controlled by the bossy feminist Hillary.

Two of six editorials in the special issue were anti-Clinton, including one titled, “Don’t forget those other Clinton Scandals.” Here The Washington Times takes its readers into the world of right-wing conspiracism. There was also a half-page ad for the “Conservative Voices Tape of the Month Club,” featuring two audiotapes claiming a cover-up in the “case” of Vincent Foster’s death and a full-page ad for the anti-Clinton group, Judicial Watch. A full-page ad for two Jerry Falwell publications, the National Liberty Journal and “The Falwell Fax,” had anti-Clinton hooks. Another ad promoted a conspiracist report on intelligence agency abuses. The “Inside the Beltway” column by John McCaslin contained several anti-Clinton snippets, and a note that “James C. Dobson, president of Focus on the Family, sent a letter this week to more than 2.4 million U.S. households, commenting on the ‘humiliation’ President Clinton has brought ‘on himself, his family and our nation.’”

Without an apparent sense of irony, the paper ran an article deprecating the farther fringes of Clinton conspiracy mongers. Meanwhile the paper also carried some fifty ads from the Western Journalism Center reprinting Ruddy’s Tribune-Review stories.

Human Events

The popular ultra-conservative weekly newspaper Human Events gave regular coverage of real and alleged scandals. From its perspective, House Republicans including Judiciary Chair Henry Hyde (R.-IL)— didn’t go far enough. “Hyde Punts Impeachment Inquiry: Starr, Not Clinton, to Be Put on Trial,” blared the front-page headline for Human Events on November 13, 1998. Before the Senate vote in mid-January 1999, Human Events ran a banner headline “It’s All About an Oath,” over a full front page article, continuing inside with five pages of Senate impeachment-related material, several more anti-Clinton articles and briefs, and a 3/5 page ad for Judicial Watch. That issue also contains a half-page ad for the video “Bill Clinton’s Rise to Power,” which promises information on the “Other Clinton Scandals,” including Chinagate, organized crime, Whitewater, and the “mysterious deaths of dozens of witnesses who had insider knowledge of Clinton’s scandals.”

Patriot Conspiracism

Further to the right, numerous groups reflecting the conspiracism of the patriot movement issued attacks on Clinton. Representative examples include The Free Republic, the American Sentinel, and the John Birch Society.

The Free Republic is a loosely knit organization that exists primarily as a web page with articles and discussion groups. Periodically the group stages a demonstration. Here is an example of where the patriot movement and the theocratic Chistian Right can intersect with more mainstream sectors of the anti Clinton campaign.

Jim Robinson of Free Republic echoes the basic position of the patriot movement:

The federal government has overstepped its Constitutional limits and the complicit media is acting in concert to continue the illegal government expansion and to strengthen its own stranglehold on truth and to continue its agenda of projecting the socialist government propaganda slant on the news.

…the government and the corporate media have over the years created, through regulation and policy, a liberal propaganda machine whose goal is to continue the expansion of a collective state and to control every aspect of our lives and fortunes.

We, the People, are exercising our Constitutional right to free speech to alert our elected representatives to fulfill their Constitutional duty.

The patriot movement was awash with this type of right-wing populist conspiracism, which is rooted in anti-collectivist ideology. Consider the statement of Dr. L. K. Landis, circulated by Wilderness Voice Publications and posted in the WhiteWater topic discussion group:

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON:
Mother of the Village People
According to an article in the December 8, 1995 issue of Human Events, First Lady (?) Hillary Rodham (even she was so embarrassed by it that she refused to take her husband’s last name until after he was elected president) Clinton has written a book titled “It Takes a Village.” The thesis of the upcoming book on child rearing supposedly comes from an African proverb that maintains children should be raised by a whole village.

To quote the article written by Floyd G. Brown, “…it appears that Mrs. Clinton’s manual on child rearing will showcase her radical ideas on parenting and the family. In [this model,] parents rights are secondary and the village (i.e. the state) knows better than the parents how to raise a child.”

Four years ago when the Clintons were running for president, I warned that they had a hidden agenda which was not thoroughly revealed in the news media. Mr. Clinton’s adulterous lifestyle and Hillary’s open, flagrant attack on the institution of motherhood were brought to the surface during their campaign, but their radical philosophies on “children’s rights” and child rearing were not exposed until after they were fully intrenched in Washington.

God’s people must loudly proclaim outrage against this socialist propaganda of a society better fit to raise children than the parents to whom God gave them. Remember, “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” Children are NOT the property of the state, but rather a gift from God.

 

The Impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton

This excerpt from a short post is worth dissecting. The author cites to an article in the ultra-conservative Human Events written by Floyd G. Brown who runs the anti-Clinton Citizens United. Liberalism, radicalism, feminist principles, statist collectivism, and socialism are seen as a package. Biblical scripture is quoted.

On October 31, 1998, Free Republic staged a “March for Justice” in Washington, DC. Invited speakers included Larry Klayman, Gary Aldrich, Matt Drudge, Alan Keyes, Rep. Bob Barr, Lucianne Goldberg, Ann Coulter, Reed Irvine, and former Arkansas State Trooper L. D. Brown.

When Clinton cited his old professor, Carrol Quigley, during the campaign and in his convention speech, he inadvertently mentioned a Birch Society hero. The Birchers and others in the patriot movement have long claimed that Quigley revealed the truth about the Anglophile network of “Insiders” who secretly run the world through organizations such as the Rhodes scholarships, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Trilateral Commission.

Early in the Clinton administration the publisher of the hard right American Sentinel put out a booklet titled The Clinton Clique, by long-time John Birch Society stalwarts Larry Abraham and William P. Hoar, detailing the JBS theory that Clinton is part of the Anglo- American conspiracy which supposedly rules the world. The John Birch Society itself has been promoting bulk distribution of one issue of its magazine, The New American, with a cover story and special report on the “Conspiracy for Global Control,” linking Clinton to the purported Council on Foreign Relations conspiracy.

Starr, the Federalist Society and Collegial Networks

Kenneth Starr was appointed Special Prosecutor to investigate alleged Clinton wrongdoing despite his being enmeshed in a network of conservative, libertarian, and hard right attorneys and political activists for years. According to People for the American Way:

Judge David Sentelle, who was one of the three judges appointed to oversee the selection of the independent prosecutor, was instrumental in the decision to fire the previous prosecutor and appoint Starr. Shortly before Starr’s appointment, Sentelle lunched with Senators Jesse Helms and Lauch Faircloth, who had been demanding a new prosecutor. Faircloth later hired David Bossie as a personal aide on the Senate Whitewater Committee. Bossie previously worked with Floyd Brown at Citizens United where he helped compile the book, “Slick Willie,” and has been a long-time anti-Clinton investigator.

Eric Schlosser in Rolling Stone pointed to further connections:

Linda Tripp has known Kenneth Starr since at least 1994, when she met him during the Vincent Foster investigation. Tripp happens to be a friend of Unlimited Access author Gary Aldrich, the FBI agent who claimed to have seen the cock rings on the Clinton Christmas tree. Aldrich’s publisher, Alfred Regnery, has been friends with Kenneth Starr since their days together at the Reagan Justice Department. Tripp’s attorney, James Moody, attended meetings of the Federalist Society and did work for the Landmark Legal Foundation, as did Kenneth Starr. Tripp’s literary agent, Lucianne Goldberg, has known Alfred Regnery for years. None of these facts proves the existence of any hidden conspiracy. Nevertheless, when it comes to the far right, it’s an awfully small world.

War Against Impeachment

In early 1997 Starr announced he would leave the position of Special Prosecutor to take a position at Pepperdine University. The position had been funded by Richard Mellon Scaife. Although news stories discussed the possibility that Scaife had specifically arranged for Kenneth Starr to accept the job, all the parties denied a quid pro quo arrangement, and records show Scaife funded the university well before Starr was offered the post. Starr first accepted, then declined the post at Pepperdine, although the school said the offer was still open. Scaife’s prior funding of the position certainly made Starr’s original acceptance improper given Scaife’s ongoing campaign against Clinton who was being investigated by Starr.

Other substantial conflicts of interest issues were raised in the media about Starr’s appointment and conduct, including questions about his continued representation of the tobacco industry. According to columnist Frank Greve, there was an informal network of libertarian attorneys that aided investigations of Clinton, “including Richard Porter, a partner in Starr’s Chicago law firm, Kirkland & Ellis; Theodore Olson, a former Starr partner and lawyer for the Clinton-bashing monthly magazine The American Spectator; and Jerome Marcus, a Philadelphia sexual harassment law specialist.” Says Greve:

Even Starr, it turns out, served as an unpaid counsel to Jones’ lawyers in 1994 before he was appointed independent counsel. Because of Starr’s discussions with Jones lawyer Gilbert Davis, Starr “never should have been appointed” special counsel, [according to] Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., a member of the Judiciary Committee.

Starr’s law firm contacted the Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) to see if they would sign on a proposed legal brief opposing President Clinton’s claim of immunity in Paula Jones’ sexual harassment lawsuit. Those discussions should have been disclosed. The Scaife-funded IWF grew out of the informal “Women for Clarence Thomas” in 1991. IWF was founded by by Barbara Olson, wife of Theodore Olson, the former Starr law partner and a funder of the Federalist Society. An informational tip to Starr’s office regarding the Paula Jones case should have been reported as well. That incident involved two attorneys, Jerome Marcus and Paul Rosenzweig, who had been in law school together.

At the center of this network is The Federalist Society, libertarian attorneys, and attorneys with Kirkland & Ellis. Starr is a founding funder of the Federalist Society’s James Madison Club, consisting of those who donate $1,000 or more. Others on the roster include Alfred Regnery, ultra-conservative activists Richard and Betsy DeVos and Donald and Barbara Hodel, C. Boyden Gray, William Bradford Reynolds, and Theodore Olson. According to The New York Times:

Marcus recruited others to assist his efforts, including several friends from the University of Chicago Law School. One of those who was approached, Paul Rosenzweig, briefly considered doing work for Jones in 1994, according to billing records and interviews, but decided not to. In November 1997, Rosenzweig joined Starr’s office, where he and Marcus had several telephone conversations about the Jones case.

It was Rosenzweig who fielded a “heads-up” phone call from Marcus on Jan. 8, 1998, that first tipped off Starr’s office about Monica Lewinsky and Linda Tripp. The tip was not mentioned in the 445-page Starr report, even though the information revived a moribund Whitewater investigation that would not have produced, it now seems, an impeachment referral to Congress.

Another example of how collegial networks such as the Federalist Society advance ideas and actions, as well as careers, is the case of author and legal commentator Ann Coulter. Coulter attended Cornell University, where she launched the conservative Cornell Review, part of the conservative Collegiate Network funded by Scaife. She trained at the National Journalism Center, run by conservative columnist M. Stanton Evans, whose lectures are sometimes sponsored by the Young America’s Foundation. The Center claims no partisan bias but its lecturers and postings are skewed to the right. The center receives funding from the conservative Olin Foundation. While at the University of Michigan law school, Coulter founded the local chapter of the Federalist Society. After Republicans captured the majority of Congressional seats in the 1994 elections, Coulter joined the staff of Sen. Spencer Abraham, (R-MI), a Federalist Society activist. She then became a legal commentator for MSNBC.

Coulter’s book, High Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Case Against Bill Clinton, was published by Regnery, in which Scaife is a major investor. The Regnery parent company is Phillips/Eagle, which also publishes Human Events. Coulter went to work for the Scaife-funded Center for Individual Rights, then became a legal affairs writer for Human Events, which had previously run a favorable review of her book. Coulter also played matchmaker, helping Paula Jones find lawyers and suggesting that attorney Jim Moody help Linda Tripp with her legal problems.

Another conservative network, the Council for National Policy, also played a role in developing Republican impeachment strategy.

Apocalyptic Frames, Millennial Glasses

The Jeremiah Project is not connected to Jeremiah films, although both organizations oppose Clinton. Various Jeremiah, Joseph, and Joshua projects now populate the Internet. The Jeremiah Project website includes a section on Clinton’s “High Crimes and Misdemeanors,” which lists many links to discussions of alleged criminal behavior by President Clinton.” One sublink had a variant on the Clinton body count, the “Clinton Casualties:”

A “Casualty” is defined as anyone threatened with harm or actually harmed because of their knowledge of and/or involvement in one or more of the Clinton Scandals.

Aquitted

The following is a partial list of a large number of persons who are presumed to be “Casualties” of the various Clinton scandals. President Clinton has told political supporters in Arkansas he will devote a lot of time going after detractors who pursued
him on Whitewater and other ethical questions. (USA Today, November 8, 1996). It is a partial list because new additions are added regularly and the full extent of being associated with Bill Clinton is not completely known.

The accounting of these mysterious deaths began in 1994 when in a letter to congressional leaders, former Rep. William Dannemeyer listed 24 people with some connection to Clinton who had died “under other than natural circumstances” and called for hearings on the matter. Dannemeyer’s list of “suspicious deaths” was largely taken from one compiled by Linda Thompson, an Indianapolis lawyer, containing the names of 34 people she believed died suspiciously and who had ties to the Clinton family. [Ed. Note: Thompson was an early Militia leader.]

Some of the “Casualties” were openly murdered, but many were killed in such a way so that their deaths could be ruled accidents or suicides. This was especially true if they died in Arkansas where the medical examiners routinely rule apparent murders as either accidents or suicides when it suits political purposes. In fact, this is so common that it is often referred to as “Arkancide” or “Arkansas Suicide.”

The worldview expressed by the Jeremiah Project is common in this sector of the far Christian Right that overlaps with the patriot movement. There is also a focus on apocalyptic themes of moral decay and sin:

For the first time in our history the leadership of this great country willfully and philosophically turned away from the covenantal vision and biblical principles of our Founders. On January 20, 1993, our new President, joined by many in the land, formally “broke” the covenant of our Fathers when he and the affirming electorate demonstrated allegiance to his “new covenant” and began promoting as “constitutional” those things which God condemns.

For the first time in American history we have a president that has openly endorsed the killing of babies, openly encourages homosexuality as a lifestyle, and encourages the pagan worship of Mother Earth….

This nation has forsaken God and as a result we can see in our families, our schools, the inner-cities, our government, indeed in all areas of our lives, the removal of God’s blessing.

The crime in our streets, the poverty in the inner-cities, the war zones in our homes and the violence of our children will not end until we understand the days we are living. Contrary to liberal propaganda, we don’t have an economic problem, we have a problem of our spirit. We have willfully and systematically rejected God and as a result, we are now beginning to experience the fruit of that sin.

A similar right-wing Christian conspiracist website called Exegesis runs the following lists:

Reliable US News Sources:

The Washington Times, WorldNetDaily, NewsMax, C-SPAN, Christian Science Monitor, National Review, The Drudge Report, World Magazine, Conservative News Service.

Liberal/Socialist US Media

The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Time, The Boston Globe, US News and World Report, MSNBC, CNN.

On his website, apocalyptic televangelist Texe Marrs adds the bitter herb of anti-Semitism in “The Esther Option,” an April 1998 article with the subtitle: “The Untold Story Of The Secret War For Global Supremacy Between Two Rival Jewish Factions.” A longer audiotape provides the full story “For Your Gift of $10.” The teasers read:

Discover why the future of America and the world may now rest on the shoulders of a giggly, immoral, 24 year old, Jewish woman named Monica Lewinsky—a woman acclaimed by many religious Jews as their new “Queen Esther.” [Originally in all caps.]

Has Vice President Al Gore been chosen by…the right-wing Jewish faction to replace Clinton as President of the United States? If and when Gore does take office, will the new President prove more loyal to their cause? Will a prophetic chain of events then lead to the appearance of the antichrist in a rebuilt, great Jewish temple in Jerusalem?

Buy the tape. Stay tuned. The millennium is near.

Aftermath and Future Shock

The acquittal of Clinton in the Senate was met with stunned disbelief within the hard right. “The failure to remove Clinton was a devastating blow, especially for the Christian Right,” says PRA director Jean Hardisty. “People need to understand the depth of disappointment.” The ultra-conservative magazine The Weekly Standard devoted an entire issue to a symposium on the acquittal, with 22 articles from rightist luminaries such as Elliott Abrams, Jeffrey Bell, Peter Collier, James Dobson, Charles Krauthammer, Charles Murray, Norman Podhoretz, Tod Lindberg, and Dennis Prager.

Human Events, which in November 1998 had decried Henry Hyde for undermining the hearings, now lionized him with a full front page mostly filled with a flattering drawing of his face, and the banner headline with giant type: “Henry Hyde, Hero.” “Culture War Personified” read the subhead in a section on Clinton as part of a band of “perverse rebels” from the 1960s crop of “self-indulgent…baby boom liberals.”

For Christian Right strategist Paul Weyrich, the failure of the impeachment drive prompted an exasperated admission of defeat. In late 1997 Weyrich had been squeezed out of the NET television network he had founded, apparently for his divisive behavior in attacking GOP pragmatists. Weyrich, dubbed by the New Republic the “Robespierre of the Right,” is known for his doctrinaire views. Now, in a widely-circulated and debated letter, Weyrich promoted a separatist post-impeachment strategy:

I believe that we probably have lost the culture war. That doesn’t mean the war is not going to continue, and that it isn’t going to be fought on other fronts. But in terms of society in general, we have lost. This is why, even when we win in politics, our victories fail to translate into the kind of policies we believe are important.

Therefore, what seems to me a legitimate strategy for us to follow is to look at ways to separate ourselves from the institutions that have been captured by the ideology of Political Correctness, or by other enemies of our traditional culture.

What I mean by separation is, for example, what the homeschoolers have done. Faced with public school systems that no longer educate but instead “condition” students with the attitudes demanded by Political Correctness, they have seceded. They have separated themselves from public schools and have created new institutions, new schools, in their homes.

I think that we have to look at a whole series of possibilities for bypassing the institutions that are controlled by the enemy. If we expend our energies on fighting on the “turf ” they already control, we will probably not accomplish what we hope, and we may spend ourselves to the point of exhaustion.

For Christian Right strategist Paul Weyrich, the failure of the impeachment drive prompted an exasperated admission of defeat.

This view is not, in fact, new. In 1996, militant Protestants and Catholics unhappy with the pragmatism of the Christian Coalition began to question the legitimacy of electoral politics, the judiciary, and the government itself. These groups began to push openly theocratic arguments. A predominantly Catholic movement emerged from this sector to suggest civil disobedience against abortion is mandated by the primacy of natural law over the constitutional separation of powers which allowed the judiciary to protect abortion rights. An example of this theocratic movement is the periodical Culture Wars with its motto: “No social progress outside the moral order.”

Christian Right ideologues such as James Dobson, president of Focus on the Family, and Carmen Pate, president of Concerned Women for America, rejected Weyrich’s call. A debate quickly emerged among Christian Right leaders with comments and roundtable essays appearing in the evangelical media. Weyrich clarified his meaning in several printed responses where he said he never meant to suggest giving up. In the influential evangelical magazine World he wrote:

…when critics say in supposed response to me that “before striking our colors in the culture wars, Christians should at least put up a fight,” I am puzzled. Of course they should. That is exactly what I am urging them to do. The question is not whether we should fight, but how.

…in essence, I said that we need to change our strategy. Instead of relying on politics to retake the culturally and morally decadent institutions of contemporary America, I said that we should separate from those institutions and build our own.

Weyrich is proposing a separatist strategy as a way to build enclaves with parallel institutions such as “schools, media, entertainment, universities” from which to continue the culture wars—essentially “creating a new society within the ruins of the old.”

The evangelical right is discussing several strategies. At the 1998 Christian Coalition “Road to Victory” conference, the workshop on education included two panelists Marty Angell and Marshall Fritz who argued in favor of expanding separate, parallel Christian school systems. Fritz blasted the idea of state funded public schools. Cal Thomas and Ed Dobson wrote a book, Blinded by Might: Can the Religious Right Save America?, suggesting that evangelicals had compromised their piety by pushing too far into electoral politics.

Weyrich is proposing a separatist strategy as a way to build enclaves with parallel institutions such as “schools, media, entertainment, universities” from which to continue the culture wars—essentially “creating a new society within the ruins of the old.”

Separatists, purists, and pragmatic political players in the Christian Right have in the past and will in the future agree on what needs to be done and be able to form coalitions and work jointly in what Sara Diamond calls “projects,” which are less formal than coalitions. The justification for pursuing the emerging agendas will most likely be phrased cleverly in secular language to mask the underlying theocratic agenda. Among possible campaigns:

  • Attach “rider” amendments that restrict abortion and gay rights to pending legislation.
  • Reduce federal funding for public education while encouraging private and home schooling. Push for vouchers and charter schools.
  • Reduce federal spending on education research and model curricula, especially programs promoting multiculturalism and gay tolerance.
  • Abolish the National Endowment for the Arts because it promotes blasphemy and pornography.
  • Continue to undermine multiculturalism and affirmative action, masking the underlying racism through re-framing of rhetoric.

Some conservative critics of this “domestic moralism,” such as Andrew Sullivan, warn that failure to move away from puritanical campaigns against abortion and homosexuality and back to bedrock economic issues will destroy the conservative revival. He blames Religious Right ideologues William Kristol, Richard John Neuhaus, and Robert Bork for leading the “neoreligious revival” toward abandoning “the secular underpinnings of the American constitutional experiment,” and replacing it with “a radically theocratic reinterpretation of the Constitution itself.”

It is entirely possible that the right wing of the Republican Party has overreached and hurt its credibility through zeal and divisiveness. But how can the Republican Party successfully retain political power by casting adrift the Christian Right, its single biggest voting bloc? Moderate Republicans respond by noting that while hard-line conservative Republicans took over the House in 1994, Republicans then lost seats in 1996 and 1998. They say it’s time for a return to moderation.

The rhetoric of some hard right Republican Presidential hopefuls, however, combines Christian Right moral absolutes with patriot movement xenophobia and suspicion of collectivism. New Hampshire Senator Bob Smith, speaking at the Christian Coalition’s Road to Victory conference, sounded like he was addressing a meeting of the armed militia movement. Even Dan Quayle hits patriot and Christian Right hot buttons. In an exploratory “Campaign for America” direct mail solicitation containing a “National Referendum on Security and Sovereignty,” Quayle sketched out his game plan:

  • NO to the surrender of our sovereignty to the U.N.;
  • YES to the vital Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI);
  • NO to further military disarmament;
  • YES to keeping America’s Armed Forces the world’s strongest;
  • NO to women in combat and avowed homosexuals in uniform;
  • YES to more intelligence agents in enemy lands;
  • NO to further “U.N. peacekeeping” operations
  • … and YES to a full-scale investigation into Red China’s possible infiltration of our government at the highest levels…
  • … and YES to determining how much damage the Clinton/Gore cozy relationship with the Red Chinese may have caused our nation’s security.

In this context, Pat Buchanan sounds restrained. If moderate Republicans take control, then a third-party candidate could emerge in the 2000 presidential election, but historically such candidacies have little hope for success. The bungling of the impeachment by the House managers has given breathing room to moderate Republicans, who now will emerge looking like liberals simply because they aren’t the purist wing of the Christian Right. Contrary to Weyrich’s assertions, the right has won so much that the Christian Right purists only look extreme because they are pushing for the last, most zealous pieces, of their theocratic agenda.

Winding up for Chinagate

Without sex scandals, the right will use old and new scapegoats and hot button issues that are demonizing and divisive. Abortion is key for some on the Christian Right, as is homosexual rights, but an emerging issue with broader appeal is Chinagate.

Chinagate is the name given to allegations that communist Chinese agents funded the Clinton campaign, and in return, Clinton and Gore are selling out US interests to China through special treatment in foreign and domestic policy matters, and even in allowing spies to obtain classified technology. This is a hyperbolic conspiracist interpretation of what appear to be actual fundraising abuses and mishandling of classified material. These allegations have been circulating for years, well before the Cox report on Chinese spying was issued in May 1999.

The themes of the Chinagate charges track back to the Old Right “China Lobby” that influenced foreign policy following WWII. Interest in this topic has heightened with reports that Chinese government agents may have obtained nuclear secrets from a government laboratory. Chinagate is likely to tar Al Gore in the upcoming Presidential election race, no matter which Republican faction’s nominee runs. Four questions concerning Chinagate from an American Conservative Union survey letter, distributed at the 1998 Christian Coalition conference, provide a summary of the allegations and illustrate how direct mail fundraising surveys both educate and build a constituency:

Before you received this letter, did you know that, at about the same time China was funneling millions of dollars into the 1996 Clinton-Gore reelection effort, Clinton permitted Communist China to acquire sophisticated American missile guidance system and nuclear technology which has allowed China to modernize its nuclear arsenal?

In general, what’s your reaction to the news that Chinese nuclear missiles are now targeted at American cities, towns and homes—missiles which have been made more accurate by highly-sophisticated American guidance system and satellite technology provided to China by Bill Clinton?

Before you received this letter, did you know that, at about the same time China was funneling millions of dollars into the 1996 Clinton-Gore reelection effort, Clinton agreed to lease a shipyard in Long Beach, California to the Communist Chinese military and gave China an “anchor port” to the strategically crucial Panama Canal?

In your opinion, how serious is the “Chinagate” scandal—in which Clinton may have gravely jeopardized American national Security in exchange for illegal campaign contributions?

The bungling of the impeachment by the House managers has given breathing room to moderate Republicans, who now will emerge looking like liberals simply because they aren’t the purist wing of the Christian Right.

Christian Right columnist Cal Thomas anticipated this theme in his syndicated Human Events column in November 1998. Most of the column was a positive review of a new book, The Year of the Rat: How Bill Clinton Compromised U.S. Security for Chinese Cash. Authors Edward Timperlake and William C. Triplett II both have served as staff on Republican congressional committees, showing how deep into the mainstream political system these ideas have penetrated. In mid-March 1999, there were over 50 customer reviews of the book on the Amazon.com website. The vast majority were laudatory. The conspiracist rumor mill on the right is already using the same paradigm it used in the impeachment drive to seed stories into the mainstream media.

Conclusion

Although the sectors reviewed above are quite diverse in both ideology and methods, they all agreed that Clinton had to go and they reinforced each other in attacking him. Together they made a formidable machine that was able to keep the attack in the limelight. It is a case study of how a small minority can exert influence far beyond its number if it’s organized and its factions collaborate.

Activists in the Christian Right represent only a small percentage of the population, but they are a much larger segment of those citizens who actually vote, and are a highly significant portion of Republican Party voters. It is true that most citizens still supported Clinton’s job performance as president. Public opinion polls, however, do not always reflect electoral power.

The Christian Right scored several successes. Starting with a relatively tiny core group of national strategists and local activists, it mobilized an anti Clinton coalition that included Republican Party pragmatists, theocratic purists, and hard right conspiracy theorists. Jointly, they tied up the political process for over a year while continuing to push their legislative agenda at the national and state level. Contrary to conventional wisdom, this coalition convinced a majority of Americans that Clinton should resign, be removed, or be censured. While the failure to remove Clinton from office was a setback, the Christian Right continues to exert tremendous influence on the political and social system.

Paul Weyrich is correct when he says that the culture war will continue. But because he senses that in the long run the right cannot win, it is no wonder he is bitter. It will take at least a decade, perhaps even more, to restore the rights and liberties lost during the twenty-year culture war and its drive for patriarchal monoculturalism and economic Darwinism. But there is an opening created by the failed impeachment drive, and we must take advantage of it.

Chip Berlet is Senior Analyst at Political Research Associates.

Author’s Note:
This article is based on original file research using primary documents from conservative and hard right groups, found in the libraries of Political Research Associates, People for the American Way, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State. This was supplemented with extensive online research and reading of secondary sources. Although it confirms much of the analysis (and the list of those influential in the anti-Clinton network) contained in the 1995 White House memo “Communication Stream of Conspiracy Commerce,” there was a conscious decision not to rely on that memo for documentation or conclusions. Portions of this article are adapted from the book Right-Wing Populism in America, by Chip Berlet and Matthew N. Lyons. Some sections appeared previously as “Who’s Mediating the Storm? Right–Wing Alternative Information Networks,” in Linda Kintz and Julia Lesage, eds., Culture, Media, and the Religious Right (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1998).

CORRECTION:
An error in a Washington Post article (corrected in a subsequent
issue) resulted in several inaccurate statements
in The Public Eye article “Clinton, Conspiracism, and the
Ongoing Culture War,” (Vol. XIII, No. 1). Richard Mellon
Scaife is not an investor in Regnery Publishing and does
not have a financial relationship with Phillips Publishing,
co-owner of Regnery.

 

Endnotes

1 The importance of studying common vernacular and rhetoric in popular culture, especially in terms of purveying scapegoating and conspiracism, has been discussed in papers and discussions by Richard Landes, Andrew Gow, David Redles, and Lee Quinby at symposia at the Center for Millennial Studies at Boston University. See for example, Richard Landes, (1996) “On Owls, Roosters, and Apocalyptic Time: A Historical Method for Reading a Refractory Documentation,” Union Seminary Quarterly Review 49:1-2, 165-185.Andrew Gow, (1999) Medieval Racism? The Red Jews and Dehumanization in Popular Medieval Apocalypticism; David Redles, (1999) Final War, Final Solution: WWII and the Holocaust as Eschatological Conceptions; _______, (1998) The Day Is Not Far Off’: the Millennial Reich and the Induced Apocalypse; Lee Quinby, (1994) Anti-Apocalypse: Exercise in Genealogical Criticism. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. See also: Jackson Spielvogel and David Redles, (1997) Hitler’s Racial Ideology: Content and Occult Sources, http://motlc.wiesenthal.com/resources/books/annual3/chap09.html

2 See generally Himmelstein, To The Right; Diamond, Roads; Diamond, Spiritual Warfare: The Politics of the Christian Right (Boston: South End Press, 1989); Frederick Clarkson, Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy, (Monroe, ME: Common Courage, 1997); Berlet and Quigley, “Theocracy & White Supremacy,” in Eyes Right!

3 Robert G. Kaiser and Ira Chinoy, “How Scaife’s Money Powered a Movement,” Washington Post, 5/2/99, p. A10, online.

4 Fred W. Grupp, Jr., “The Political Perspectives of Birch Society Members;” and James McEvoy, III, “Conservatism or Extremism: Goldwater Supporters in the 1964 Presidential Election;” both in Robert A. Schoenberger, ed., The American Right Wing: Readings in Political Behavior, (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1969). Charles Jeffrey Kraft, A Preliminary Socio-Economic & State Demographic Profile of the John Birch Society, (Cambridge, MA: Political Research Associates (PRA), 1992).

5 Michael Lind, “On Pat Robertson: His Defenders”, The New York Review of Books, April 20, 1995, pp. 67-68; Jacob Heilbrunn, “On Pat Robertson: His Anti-Semitic Sources”, pp. 68-71; Frank Rich, “The New World Order,” New York Times, Op-Ed, Journal, 4/27/97.

6 Kevin Phillips, “The Politics of Frustration” The New York Times Magazine, April 12, 1992, pp. 38-42.

7 Kovel, Red Hunting in the Promised Land: Anticommunism and the Making of America, (New York: Basic Books, 1994), pp. 76-79, 123-132, 215-218.

8 Sheldon Appleton, “The Mystery of the Kennedy Assassination: What the American Public Believes,” The Public Perspective, The Roper Center, Oct./Nov. 1998, pp. 12-17.

9 See generally, Lyons, Fools for Scandal.

10 Ibid., pp. 4-5.

11 Memo prepared in 1995 by the White House counsel’s office, with attachments, “Communication Stream of Conspiracy Commerce,” obtained from the White House Press Office. First revealed by editorial writer Micah Morrison in Wall Street Journal, 1/6/97. See criticism of the memo in “Who’s Shooting the Messenger Now?” Media Watch, March 1997.

12 Eric Alterman, “A Stupidity Conspiracy,” The Nation, 2/10/97, p. 5; online.

13 Michael Kazin, The Populist Persuasion: An American History. (New York: Basic Books, 1995), pp. 172-190. See also Ellen Messer-Davidow “Manufacturing the Attack on Liberalized Higher Education,” Social Text, Fall 1993, pp. 40-80, especially p. 41.

14 Linda Kintz & Julia Lesage, eds., Culture, Media, and the Religious Right (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1998); including a chapter by the author of this article, “Who’s Mediating the Storm? Right-wing Alternative Information Networks,” from which some material in this section is taken.

15 Lisa Hoffman, “Whitewater and Oklahoma City Get Linked as Conspiracy,” Scripps Howard News Service, 4/28/95.

16 Michael Reagan, Making Waves, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1996); on one-world government, pp. 135-147; on Constitutional Convention, pp. 121-133; on Vince Foster, pp. 81-118.

17 Some of my research into right wing conspiracism online was to prepare for an interview by Grant Kester that appeared as “Net Profits: Chip Berlet Tracks Computer Networks of the Religious Right,” in Afterimage, Feb./March 1995, pp. 8-

18 Michael Kelly, “The Road to Paranoia,” The New Yorker, June 19, 1995, pp. 60-70.

19 Kelly, in his New Yorker article, writes of this seepage phenomenon from alternative to mainstream in terms of conspiracist anti-government allegations.

20 This section is drawn from Berlet, “Who’s Mediating the Storm? in Kintz & Lesage. Detailed articles on the general theme of rightwing media can be found in Afterimage (Visual Studies Workshop, Rochester, NY), special issue on “Fundamentalist Media,” Vol. 22, Nos. 7/8, Feb./March 1995; and Extra! (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting), special issue on “The Right-Wing Media Machine,” March/April 1995. Jim Danky and John Cherney, “Beyond Limbaugh: The Hard Right’s Publishing Spectrum,” Reference Services Review, Spring 1996, pp. 43-56.

21 David Callahan, “Liberal Policy’s Weak Foundations: Fighting the `Bull Curve,'” The Nation, November 13, 1995, pp. 568-572.

22 Beth Schulman, “Foundations for a Movement: How the Right Wing Subsidizes its Press,” Extra! (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting), special issue on “The Right-Wing Media Machine,” March/April 1995, p. 11. Attempts to call The New Republic a left magazine will be met with laughter.

23 12/98 Falwell fundraising letter, on file at PRA.

24 Smidt, et. “The Characteristics of Christian Political Activists,” pp. 148-152.

25 Review of archives of Schalfly’s columns online at http://www.eagleforum.org/column/. Schlafly spent more space on her perennial issues such as fighting a big federal government, dismantling the Department of Education, opposing the UN, stopping globalism, and calling the nuclear device dropped on two Japanese cities near the end of WWII the “Lifesaver Bomb.” For bomb reference, see column of 8/10/95.

26Kennedy direct mail on file at People for the American Way. The most frequent topics in the months prior to that were prayer in school, the ACLU (leading the “anti-virtue” battle), and gays and lesbians; followed by fewer mentions of abortion and activist judges.

27 Neil A. Lewis, “Group Behind Paula Jones Gains Critics as Well as Fame,” New York Times, 1/18/98, p. 18.

28 Americans United for Separation of Church and State, “Rutherford Institute, Other Religious Right Groups Have Long Track Record Of Vicious Attacks On Bill And Hillary Clinton, Says Church-State Watchdog Group,” News Media Backgrounder, January 1988.

29 Ted Olsen, “The Dragon Slayer,” Christianity Today, Dec. 7, 1998, pp. 36-42.

30 John Whitehead, “Point of View” column, Action, Rutherford Institute newsletter, August 1996.

31 Paul Weyrich, “Fear & Oppression: American Birthright?” perspective, Rutherford magazine, August 1995, p. 16.

32 Sara Diamond, Facing the Wrath: Confronting the Right in Dangerous Times, (Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press, 1996), pp. 110-111.

Chip Berlet is a former senior analyst at Political Research Associates. He authored Eyes Right! and Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort (with Matthew N. Lyons) and is a frequent contributor to Talk2Action and Huffington Post.