November 2, 1962 |
Washington, D.C., United States
|Education||University of California, Berkeley|
David Brock (born November 2, 1962) is an American journalist and author, the founder of the media group Media Matters for America. He was a journalist during the 1990s who wrote the book The Real Anita Hill and the Troopergate story, which led to Paula Jones filing a lawsuit against Bill Clinton.
In the late 1990s, Brock's views shifted significantly towards the left, although he still considers himself a conservative Democrat. In 2004, he founded Media Matters for America, a non-profit organization that describes itself as a "progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media."
Brock grew up in Wood-Ridge, New Jersey, where he went to Our Lady of the Assumption School, and later attended Paramus Catholic High School in Paramus, New Jersey. He then attended the University of California, Berkeley, where he worked as a reporter and editor for The Daily Californian, the campus newspaper, sometimes expressing conservative views. He was an intern at The Wall Street Journal. He graduated from Berkeley with a B.A. in history in 1985.
In 1986 he joined the staff of the weekly conservative news magazine Insight on the News, a sister publication of The Washington Times. After a stint as a research fellow at The Heritage Foundation, in March 1992 Brock authored a sharply critical story about Clarence Thomas's accuser, Anita Hill, in The American Spectator magazine. A little over a year later, in April 1993, Brock published a book titled The Real Anita Hill, which expanded upon previous assertions that had cast doubt on the veracity of Anita Hill's claims of sexual harassment.
The book became a best-seller. It was later attacked in a book review in The New Yorker by Jane Mayer, a reporter for The New Yorker, and Jill Abramson, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal. The two later expanded their article into the book Strange Justice, which cast Anita Hill in a much more sympathetic light. It, too, was a best-seller. Brock replied to their book with a book review of his own in The American Spectator.
In the January 1994, issue of The American Spectator, Brock, by then on staff at the magazine, published a story about Bill Clinton's time as governor of Arkansas that made accusations that bred Troopergate. Among other things, the story contained the first printed reference to Paula Jones, referring to a woman named "Paula" who state troopers said offered to be Clinton's partner. Jones called Brock's account of her encounter with Clinton "totally wrong," and she later sued Clinton for sexual harassment, a case that became entangled in the independent counsel's investigation of the Whitewater controversy and eventually led to the impeachment of the president. The story received an award later that year from the Western Journalism Center, and was partially responsible for a rise in the 25-year-old magazine's circulation, from around 70,000 to over 300,000 in a very short period.
Shift to the left
Three years later, Brock surprised conservatives by publishing a somewhat sympathetic biography of Hillary Clinton, titled The Seduction of Hillary Rodham. Having received a $1 million advance and a tight one-year deadline from Simon & Schuster's then-conservative-focused Free Press subsidiary, Brock was under tremendous pressure to produce another bestseller. However, the book contained no major scoops. In Blinded by the Right (2002), Brock said that he had reached a turning point: he had thoroughly examined charges against the Clintons, could not find any evidence of wrongdoing and did not want to make any more misleading claims. Brock further said that his former friends in right-wing politics shunned him because Seduction did not adequately attack the Clintons. He also argued that his "friends" had not really been friends at all because of the open secret that Brock was gay.
In July 1997, Brock published a confessional piece in Esquire magazine titled "Confessions of a Right-Wing Hit Man," in which he recanted much of what he said in his two best-known American Spectator articles and criticized his own reporting methods. Discouraged at the reaction his Hillary Clinton biography received, he said, "I . . . want out. David Brock the Road Warrior of the Right is dead." Four months later, The American Spectator declined to renew his employment contract, under which he was being paid over $300,000 per year.
Writing again for Esquire in April 1998, Brock apologized to Clinton for his contributions to Troopergate, calling it simply part of an anti-Clinton crusade. He told a more detailed story of his time inside the right wing in his 2002 memoir, Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative, in which he settled old scores and provided inside details about the Arkansas Project's efforts to bring down Clinton. Later, he also apologized to Anita Hill.
In 2001 Brock accused one of his former sources, Terry Wooten, of leaking FBI files for use in his book about Anita Hill. Brock defended his betrayal of a confidential source by saying, "I've concluded that what I was involved in wasn't journalism, it was a political operation, and I was part of it. . . . So I don't think the normal rules of journalism would apply to what I was doing." Also in 2001, only months before Brock finished production of his book, "Blinded by the Right," he was committed to the psychiatric ward of Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington.
Brock directly addressed the right-wing "machine" in his 2004 book, The Republican Noise Machine, in which he detailed an alleged interconnected, concerted effort to raise the profile of conservative opinions in the press through false accusations of liberal media bias, dishonest and highly partisan columnists, partisan news organizations and academic studies, and other methods. Also in 2004, he featured briefly in the BBC series The Power of Nightmares, where he stated that the Arkansas Project engaged in political terrorism.
About the same time he founded Media Matters for America, an Internet-based progressive media group "dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media."
Brock announced in 2010 that he was forming a super-PAC, American Bridge, to help elect liberal Democrats, starting with the 2012 election cycle. In describing Brock's intentions for the super-PAC, The New York Times referred to Brock as a "prominent Democratic political operative" (mirrored by The Washington Post's characterization of him as a "former journalist-turned-political operative") and New York Magazine referred to Brock's "hyperpartisanship."
In 2010, Brock's assistant, Haydn Price-Morris, carried a concealed Glock handgun while attending events with Brock. He even illegally brought the gun to events in Washington, D.C. Price-Morris said he carried the firearm to protect Brock. In the same year, Media Matters donors had "restricted" $612,500 to be applied to “gun and public safety issues." 
In a 2011 interview with Politico, Brock vowed to wage "guerrilla warfare and sabotage" against Fox News.
- The Real Anita Hill: The Untold Story. Free Press, 1993. ISBN 978-0-02-904656-2
- The Seduction of Hillary Rodham. 1996, Free Press. ISBN 978-0-684-83770-3
- Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative. 2002, Crown Publishing Group. ISBN 978-1-4000-4728-4
- The Republican Noise Machine: Right-Wing Media and How It Corrupts Democracy. 2004, Crown. ISBN 978-1-4000-4875-5
- Free Ride: John McCain and the Media with Paul Waldman. 2008, Anchor. ISBN 0-307-27940-5
- The Fox Effect: How Roger Ailes Turned a Network into a Propaganda Machine with Ari Rabin-Havt. 2012, Anchor. ISBN 978-0-307-94768-0
- Luo, Michael (23 November 2010). "Effort for Liberal Balance to G.O.P. Group Begins". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 June 2011.
- "Reporter Apologizes For Clinton Sex Article". CNN. March 10, 1998. Archived from the original on 2008-06-14. Retrieved 2008-10-17.
- "Who We Are". Media Matters for America. Retrieved 2008-09-23.
- Stated in Brock's Blinded by the Right
- Brock, David. "Blinded by the right: the conscience of an ex-conservative", p. 14. Random House, 2003. ISBN 1-4000-4728-5. Accessed January 30, 2011. "... when I arrived at my all-male high school, Paramus Catholic High School in Paramus, New Jersey, I was singled out and ridiculed for being different."
- Bruni, Frank (2002-03-24). "Sorry About That". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-03-11.
- Alicia C. Shepard , "Spectator's Sport", American Journalism Review, May 1995. Retrieved February 15, 2008.
- David Brock, "Confessions of a Right-Wing Hit Man", Esquire, July 1997.
- Kurtz, Howard (2001-09-01). "Jerry's Kidding, Edited Out". The Washington Post.
- Ruggiero, Mark (14 January 2011). "Bridge to Somewhere: Democrats Launch Fundraising Super-PAC". Campaigns & Elections. Retrieved 25 June 2011.
- Farhi, Paul (3 December 2010). "Outfoxed by Fox News? No way.". The Washington Post. Retrieved 26 June 2011.
- Zengerie, Jason (22 May 2011). "If I Take Down Fox, Is All Forgiven?". New York Magazine. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
- Confessore, Nicholas, "Biggest Liberal 'Super PAC' to Fund Possible Clinton Bid", New York Times, January 23, 2014. Retrieved 2014-01-23.
- Media Matters for America
- David Brock at the Internet Movie Database
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Works by or about David Brock in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Anti-Drudge, Brock Profile in Guernica Magazine
- Right-Wing Journalism dialog with David Brock and Tucker Carlson, Slate (June 25, 1997)
- David Brock, "His Cheatin’ Heart," The American Spectator (January 1994) (The "Troopergate" Story)