November 2, 1962 |
Washington, D.C., United States
|Education||University of California, Berkeley|
|Known for||Author of The Real Anita Hill, founder of Media Matters for America and American Bridge 21st Century Super PAC|
David Brock (born November 2, 1962) is an American journalist, author, and political operative who founded the progressive media watchdog 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 away from the right. In 2004, he founded Media Matters for America, a progressive non-profit organization. Through his work at Media Matters and with the Super PACs American Bridge 21st Century and Priorities USA Action, Brock has supported Hillary Clinton's political career.
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Journalism career
- 3 Shift away from the right
- 4 Political operative career
- 5 Personal life
- 6 Books
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Early life and education
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. During his sophomore year of high school, Brock's family moved to the Dallas, Texas area where Brock attended Newman Smith High School. Brock became editor of his high school newspaper, which he says he "fashioned into a crusading liberal weekly in the middle of the Reaganite Sunbelt."
Brock attended the University of California, Berkeley, where he worked as a reporter and editor for The Daily Californian, the campus newspaper. Brock arrived at college as a liberal Democrat, but at Berkeley he was "repelled by the culture of doctrinaire leftism" and turned to the political right. 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, who was at that time 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. The story received an award later that year from Joseph Farah's Western Journalism Center, and was partially responsible for a rise in the magazine's circulation.
Shift away from the right
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."
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.
Political operative career
Media Matters for America
In 2004, Brock founded the progressive media watchdog group Media Matters for America. Brock said that he founded the organization to combat the conservative journalism sector that he had once been a part of. He founded the group with help from the Center for American Progress. Initial donors included Leo Hindery, Susie Tompkins Buell, and James Hormel. Media Matters is known for its aggressive criticism of conservative journalists and media outlets, including its "War on Fox News." In 2011, Brock vowed to wage "guerrilla warfare and sabotage" against Fox News.
American Bridge 21st century
Brock announced in 2010 that he was forming a Super PAC, American Bridge 21st Century, 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."
Priorities USA Action
In early 2014, Brock was named to the board of Priorities USA Action as the super PAC also announced its support for a possible Hillary Clinton presidential run in 2016. In February 2015, Brock abruptly resigned his position with the super PAC. Brock's resignation followed a dispute between related pro-Clinton organizations over how to share the proceeds of joint fundraising revenue.
American Independent Institute
In 2014, Brock relaunched the American Independent News Network, formerly a network of progressive state-based reporting outlets, into the American Independent Institute, a group which provides grants for liberal investigative journalism projects. Brock serves as the group's president.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington
In 2014, Brock became the chairman of the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington board of directors, in what was characterized as a more explicitly partisan stance for the organization. Brock was elected as CREW's board president after laying out a broad plan to turn the organization into a more muscular and partisan organization. While CREW operates as a 501(c)3 nonprofit prohibited from engaging in partisan activity, Brock made clear he intends to create a more politically oriented arm registered under section 501(c)4, and also form a new overtly partisan watchdog group called The American Democracy Legal Fund registered under section 527, allowing it to engage in direct political activity. Along with Brock's election, consultant David Mercer and investor Wayne Jordan joined CREW's board of directors. When asked if CREW would still continue pursuing complaints against Democrats, Brock responded, "No party has a monopoly on corruption and at this early juncture, we are not making categorical statements about anything that we will and won't do. Having said that, our experience has been that the vast amount of violations of the public trust can be found on the conservative side of the aisle."
Brock is gay. Brock paid former domestic partner William Grey $850,000 after Grey threatened to release damaging information regarding Media Matters donors and the Internal Revenue Service. Brock, who sold a $1,587,500 home in Rehoboth, Delaware, in order to pay Grey, characterized the $850,000 as a blackmail payment. Grey threatened to go public about Brock and Media Matters' finances after he accused Brock in a civil lawsuit of taking $170,000 in possessions. Brock and Grey settled the matter in late 2011.
Brock's current partner is Washington, D.C.-area restaurateur James Alefantis.
- 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
- Killing the Messenger: The Right-Wing Plot to Derail Hillary and Hijack Your Government. 2015, Twelve. ISBN 1455533769
- Luo, Michael (November 23, 2010). "Effort for Liberal Balance to G.O.P. Group Begins". The New York Times. Retrieved June 25, 2011.
- "Reporter Apologizes For Clinton Sex Article". CNN. March 10, 1998. Archived from the original on June 14, 2008. Retrieved October 17, 2008.
- Grove, Lloyd (September 18, 2015). "Can Anyone Ever Truly Trust David Brock?". The Daily Beast. Retrieved December 8, 2015.
- Thrush, Glenn; Gold, Hadas (September 10, 2015). "David Brock: The New York Times has 'a special place in hell': The pro-Clinton crusader accuses former D.C. bureau chief Carolyn Ryan of helping to turn the paper into a 'megaphone for conservative propaganda.'". Politico. Retrieved December 8, 2015.
- Goldberg, Michelle (December 15, 2014). "How David Brock Built an Empire to Put Hillary in the White House". The Nation. Retrieved December 8, 2015.
- 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. Retrieved 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."
- Rendall, Steve (March 1, 1995). "The Real David Brock: A Right-Wing Hatchet Man". Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting. Retrieved December 8, 2015.
- "Sale Of Blue Nation Review Gives Hillary Clinton Camp Its Very Own Media Outlet".
- Bruni, Frank (March 24, 2002). "Sorry About That". The New York Times. Retrieved March 11, 2009.
- 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.
- "Talk Today: David Brock". USA Today. March 22, 2002.
- Zepps, Josh (September 16, 2015). "David Brock On Anita Hill Smear Campaign: 'I Regret It'". HuffPost Live.
- Kurtz, Howard (September 1, 2001). "Jerry's Kidding, Edited Out". The Washington Post.
- Rutenberg, Jim (May 3, 2004). "New Internet Site Turns Critical Eyes and Ears to the Right". The New York Times. Retrieved October 19, 2015.
- Gay Stolberg, Sheryl (December 19, 2010). "One Battle Won, Gay Rights Activists Shift Sights". The New York Times. Retrieved September 10, 2015.
- Smith, Ben (March 26, 2011). "Media Matters' war against Fox". Politico. Retrieved December 8, 2015.
- Ruggiero, Mark (January 14, 2011). "Bridge to Somewhere: Democrats Launch Fundraising Super-PAC". Campaigns & Elections. Retrieved June 25, 2011.
- Farhi, Paul (December 3, 2010). "Outfoxed by Fox News? No way.". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 26, 2011.
- Zengerle, Jason (May 22, 2011). "If I Take Down Fox, Is All Forgiven?". New York. Retrieved December 8, 2015.
- Confessore, Nicholas, "Biggest Liberal 'Super PAC' to Fund Possible Clinton Bid", New York Times, January 23, 2014. Retrieved January 23, 2014.
- Vogel, Kenneth (February 9, 2015). "David Brock resigns from Hillary Clinton PAC". Politico. Retrieved February 10, 2015.
- Confessore, Nicholas (February 5, 2015). "The Secret World of a Well-Paid ‘Donor Adviser’ in Politics". The New York Times. Retrieved December 8, 2015.
- English, H. Scott (February 27, 2012). "Media Matters boss paid $850,000 in blackmail". The Inquisitr. Retrieved December 8, 2015.
- Byers, Dylan (June 19, 2014). "David Brock to launch journalism institute". Politico. Retrieved December 10, 2015.
- "Ethics watchdog drops its non-partisan veneer". USA Today. August 14, 2014.
- Vogel, Kenneth (August 13, 2014). "David Brock expands empire". Politico. Retrieved November 11, 2015.
- Winter, Jana (February 27, 2012). "Media Matters boss paid former partner $850G 'blackmail' settlement". Fox News Channel. Retrieved December 8, 2015.
- 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)
- Behind the Clinton campaign: Dark money allies at Sunlight Foundation