Huffington and Brock: Book-Length Liars

Arianna Huffington has written a new book, "Fanatics and Fools: The Game Plan for Winning America Back." It's pointless to debate Ms. Huffington's newfound ideology since there is no guarantee that between the time these words are typed and published she won't have embraced yet a different cause. It is, however, instructive to note that when she left the conservative movement behind, she forgot to pack the truth into her suitcase.

Huffington recounts a nightmare event for her - the "Conservative Summit" hosted by the National Review magazine back in early 1993. She tells how the event began "in bombastic style" when moderator Charlton Heston "smugly" announced he was "one of the most politically incorrect people" because he was "heterosexual, Anglo-Saxon, married to the same woman for forty-nine years, and not the recipient of any entitlement of any kind." Horrors!

Huffington adds that she "listened with mounting horror to the speaker who preceded me, Brent Bozell...As Bozell's hard-right homilies were paraded in front adoring crowd, I asked myself...'Where is the nearest exit?'" Huffington took her turn "with trepidation" wondering how the audience that embraced my "harsh brand of conservatism" would greet her message of "true conservatism ... the biblical admonition that we shall be judged by what we do for the least among us," which I suspect means not driving SUVs.

In any event, Huffington is mystified. "The same conservative audience that gave a standing ovation to Bozell gave a standing ovation to me. We just appealed to different parts of their brains and their psyches."

Well, to paraphrase the commercial, there's truth and there's Not Exactly. The panel we were on that day had nothing to do with politics. The topic was Hollywood and pop culture. There was nothing substantially different in our speeches - we both called on Tinseltown to clean up its act - which is why we both generated the same reception, and, if memory serves me right, that didn't include a standing ovation for either of us.

Oh, and one more thing. One year after the "horror" of following me to the podium, Arianna Huffington made a $25,000 donation to my organization.

Then a friend called the other day, laughing. Had I read David Brock's new book, "The Republican Noise Machine"? No I hadn't, and didn't intend to. Why read a man who admittedly lied to conservatives and now is trying to earn a living lying about them? My friend answered: because this book is hilarious in its untruths, and besides, there is a whole section on you. So I picked it up, and read that section.

Oh, my. For starters it's just plain sloppy. Among other things: I am not, and never have been, an "adviser" to the National Right to Life Committee. The Media Research Center doesn't publish "MediaWatch"; that was discontinued in 1999. My salary is not what he states. And my father married my mother Patricia, not my Aunt Priscilla, a clarification that will surely comfort them both.

But there's more than sloppiness here. Brock wants the world to believe my organization, the Media Research Center, is a prime mover in the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy and cites at great length a speech I gave to the Heritage Foundation in 1992 to prove it. Brock claims that in this speech "Bozell loudly announced his conservative partisanship," and "explained that the organization was not seeking to pressure the media to be objective, a standard based on facts and truth by which the conservatives could come up short. Its goal was 'balance,' a standard that required the reportage of different views in equal measure with no regard for their veracity."

If it were true that I have no regard for veracity I'd be embracing Brock's book. Here we go with the Not Exactly again.

In that speech I offered a series of recommendations. I urged conservatives to acknowledge their own biases: "Conservatives who denounce the liberal press in the name of objectivity are as misleading as the pundits they condemn." From that Brock extracts the bombshell that he'd caught me announcing my partisanship.

Did my speech suggest objectivity is not a goal because "conservatives could come up short," and that balance, "with no regard to veracity," is? My exact words: "Human nature being what it is, there is no such thing as pure objectivity. To be sure, objectivity is what the media ought to strive for, but the best way to achieve it is through balanced journalism."

That's only a sampling of the manifold distortions of my words, and my organization's work, in just a handful of pages of this silly book. I suspect there are hundreds more. So what do you do about these Not Exactly types? My friend was right. You laugh. Liberals, if you want Huffington and Brock, you may have them.