As a gift to American society on Thursday, John Podhoretz altruistically delved into the vast recesses of his memory and revisited a dark period in American history. It was a time when spurious McCarthyism inexplicably managed to exculpate the Clintons whenever they found themselves in trouble. “The ‘vast right-wing conspiracy’ is back,” Podhoretz wrote. He wasn’t kidding.
On Thursday, The New York Times gave Hillary Clinton a serious headache when they published a report alleging the appearance of favoritism given to Russian uranium interests following a well-timed donation to The Clinton Foundation. Even before bombshell allegations resulting from investigations conducted by Clinton Cash author Peter Schweizer began to appear in news outlets viewed by the left as unimpeachable, the Clintons were trying to preempt them by impugning the character and motives of the author.
Podhoretz noted that a memo composed by Clinton campaign press secretary Brian Fallon and obtained by Politico details how the Team Hillary plans to blunt the dangerous allegations exposed by Schweizer’s research.
“The book was backed by a Koch Brothers-linked organization and a billionaire family that is bankrolling Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign,” the memo read. It calls the book a “smear project,” and noted that the author has – gasp – “longstanding conservative ties, from working for George W. Bush to writing for Breitbart.com.”
“As the truth comes to light, it’s bad news for both the author and the Republicans taking part in his coordinated attack on Hillary Clinton,” Fallon wrote. “Simply put: his accusations are proving to be completely devoid of evidence even by the author’s own admission.”
Democrats are apparently eager to test the efficacy of these arguments in a real-world media environment like the set of MSNBC’s Morning Joe. Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean was the first to try to sell Fallon’s contentions with the two relatively reasonable hosts of a liberal cable news network’s morning program. He might have been surprised by the fact that no one was even remotely receptive to this manner of Clintonian arguendo and character assassination.
“The author is getting money from donors, big donors, billionaires in Texas who support Ted Cruz,” Dean insisted. “That is a problem.”
“You’re going back to the author?” an incredulous Joe Scarborough shot back. “You’re actually going to have to condemn The New York Times’ Jo Becker and Mike McIntire, because they’re the ones who wrote this story.”
Dean went on to insist that he teaches journalism students that any political story devolves from a recitation of facts to a series of value judgments by the fifth paragraph. He physically held a copy of The Times aloft to make this case in the most theatrical manner possible. Had he followed through with his threat, the former governor would have read the following sentence: “Beyond mines in Kazakhstan that are among the most lucrative in the world, the sale gave the Russians control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States.”
If only Scarborough had allowed Dean to follow through with his thesis, the audience would have been privy to an exquisite self-rebuttal.
That’s not to say that Scarborough rescued Dean from the hole he dug for himself. New York Times reporter Peter Baker scolded Dean for his “unfair” characterization of Times journalists as “sloppy.” This lead to Dean’s determination to smear a variety of unnamed reporters who have reported on the Clinton Foundation’s alleged improprieties. Dean was forced to concede that he never had any reason to doubt the credibility of the reporters who wrote this bombshell report.
Even Mika Brzezinski appeared unconvinced by Dean’s line of argumentation when he refused to say that the optics of this scandal should have led Bill Clinton to cancel a speech in Moscow for which he was compensated to the tune of half a million dollars.
The old slur centering on the notion that a vast conspiracy was afoot to discredit the Clintons no longer has legs. Perhaps that is because the Clintons have done so much in the intervening decades to demonstrate that they don’t need help from a shadowy cabal in order to disgrace themselves. Whatever the reason, the press seems disinclined to help Hillary Clinton cast herself as a victim as more and more allegations involving her improper conduct as secretary of state dominate the headlines.