In 1997, the White House was sufficiently alarmed by the emergence of what Hillary Clinton would famously call the "vast right wing conspiracy" (VRWC) that it put out a 332-page report that detailed how the conspiracy worked. In its unapologetic paranoia, the Communication Stream of Conspiracy Commerce recalled nothing so much as the final days of the Nixon administration.
"What is striking about the document," observed the Washington Post at the time, "is that it lays down this suspicion-laden theory about how the media works in cold print, under the imprimatur of the White House." According to the document, here is how the conspiracy stream flowed:
First, well-funded right-wing think tanks and individuals underwrite conservative newsletters and newspapers such as the Western Journalism Center, the American Spectator, and the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. Next, the stories are reprinted on the Internet where they are bounced all over the world.
From the Internet, according to the report, the stories went through the right-wing British media, back through the respectable right-wing American press, into Congress, "finally to be covered by the remainder of the American mainstream press as a ‘real' story."
Last week on Meet The Press, NBC's David Gregory raised the specter of the VRWC with former president Clinton. "As you look at this opposition on the right to President Obama, is [the VRWC] still there?" Gregory asked with a straight face. "Oh, you bet," said Clinton. "Sure it is."
A few weeks earlier, Gregory and his guests -- the imperious Tom Friedman of the New York Times and NBC's patronizing anchorman emeritus Tom Brokaw -- were fretting openly about the VRWC's communication stream as it exists in 2009. In addressing the exposure of the former Green Jobs czar Van Jones as a believer in the 9-11 "inside job" theory and other mumbo jumbo, Gregory worried, "You can be a target real fast."
"A lot of people will repeat back to me and take it as face value something that they read on the Internet," cautioned Brokaw. "And my line to them is you have to vet information."
Not to be out-snobbed, Friedman countered, "The Internet is an open sewer of untreated, unfiltered information, left, right, center, up, down, and requires that kind of filtering by anyone."
And my wife wonders why I refuse to watch Sunday morning TV? As a participant in the VRWC's communication stream, I can assure these preposterously well-paid empty suits that they have not the slightest idea of what they are talking about.
To be fair, the mechanics the White House's Communication Stream described in 1997 were not entirely fanciful. What it failed to address, what Gregory and pals failed to address on Meet The Press, was whether these stories were true and, if so, why so circuitous a stream was necessary. The answer to both is fairly obvious. The more accurate the reporting on a story that unnerves the Democrats, the more likely the major media are to block it.
There is no more stunning example of this than the reporting on Christopher Andersen's new best-seller, Barack and Michelle: The Portrait of an American Marriage. Very nearly every major news outlet in the English-speaking world felt compelled to review the book. Yet not a single reviewer, as far as I could tell, dared mention the book's most newsworthy revelation, namely that Bill Ayers substantially aided Barack Obama in the writing of his ballyhooed1995 memoir, Dreams From My Father.
Andersen dedicates six pages to this story. If true, his claim deserves attention for any number of reasons. First, it reveals Obama to have been a shameless liar in his disavowal of Ayers during the campaign. Second, it suggests a dangerously intimate relationship with a man whose hatred of the United States borders on the pathological. And third, it makes a total sham out of the literary world's anointment of Obama as "the best writer to occupy the White House since Lincoln," the understanding on which the Obama genius myth is based.
Television "journalists" have proven scarcely more curious than their print brethren. As far I can discern, only one TV interviewer, CNN's Howard Kurtz, raised the Dreams issue and only then to pummel Andersen and protect the president. Fearing to go deep, he quickly contented himself with Andersen's tactical evasion, "I definitely do not say that [Ayers] wrote Barack Obama's book." Chris Matthews, host of the alleged Hardball, did not raise the issue at all in his interview with Andersen.
No one in any mainstream medium has followed up on Andersen's charges, nor on the reporting I have done on this issue beginning in September 2008. All of these reporters, scores of them, perhaps hundreds of them, reading those six damning pages by a popular and credible writer like Andersen and not even commenting on them suggests not so much a conspiracy as a scary convergence of comparably narrow minds.
The left's willingness to protect its own is nothing new. Since the discovery of the Piltdown Man, the individuals who man the New York-Hollywood axis and the university outposts in between been crafting and enabling fraud on a wide range of critical subjects, among them history, anthropology, political science, science, sexology, health, climatology and criminal justice.
Despite all evidence to the contrary, Alger Hiss will always be innocent in their eyes. Margaret Mead's Samoa will always be a sexual paradise. Rachel Carson's science will always be sound. Alex Haley's Kunta Kinte will always be real. Edward Said will always be a Palestinian refugee. And Obama will always be a literary wunderkind. Those who choose to say otherwise do so at their peril.
On the right, there is nothing like a convergence, let alone a conspiracy. As a result, we have no Mumia Abu-Jamals, no Ward Churchills, no Michael Moores. In the case of Dreams, some media on the right have been willing to entertain the theory of Ayers's involvement from the beginning. These include American Thinker, WorldNetDaily, The Rusty Humpries Show, and Breitbart TV among others. The support of these media, however, triggered no opening of the locks down the conservative stream. Each media outlet, I have found, makes its own decisions for its own reasons. The Van Jones story and the ACORN stings moved so quickly downstream because they were so visual, accessible and undeniable. The Dreams exposé is neither visual nor easily accessible.
Despite the caterwauling on the left, the more established of the conservative media -- Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, National Review, the Weekly Standard -- are prudent to the point of paranoid about embracing theories from up the conservative communication stream. At most, they briefly note the controversy. Not a one of them gave me a tumble before the election, and they remain stingy with their acceptance even after the Andersen revelations. Without their imprimatur, and without even mention by the mainstream media, the national talk radio jocks are understandably hesitant to explore, let alone endorse the increasingly obvious fact that Bill Ayers is the principal author of Dreams From My Father.
Still, the knowledge is out there, at least on the right side of the aisle. From the center to the left of the media spectrum, the "ostrich media" in Michelle Malkin's words, ignorance reigns. This can lead to embarrassment as it did for ABC anchor Charlie Gibson, who professed no awareness of the ACORN stings even after the Senate had voted to defund the organization. And most readers of the New York Times still don't know who Van Jones is.
There is a trap that awaits the willfully blind. It is called Going Rogue: An American Life, Sarah's Palin memoir due out in November. "What an embarrassment!" Chris Matthews jeered when it was announced that Palin would have a collaborator." It's one of these ‘I told you,' books that jocks do." Politico's Ben Smith stumbled into the trap after Andersen had blown Ayers's cover, but how was he to know? In the headline of his article, he dopily slammed Lynn Vincent, Palin's collaborator, as "Evangelical, partisan."
Evangelical? Partisan? Terrorist? Communist? Let the battle of the collaborators begin.