by Scoobie Davis
In Ann Coulter's Slander, absurdity abounds. Writing about fraud in the publishing industry, Coulter writes:
In the rush to provide the public with yet more liberal bilge, editors apparently dispense with fact-checking...Books that become publishing scandals by virtue of phony research, invented facts, or apocryphal stories invariably grind political axes for the left. There may be publishing frauds that are apolitical, but it’s hard to think of a single hoax book written by a conservative.
Also, Coulter writes: “In a classic liberal sneer, the New York Times sniffed that some of Regnery’s anti-Clinton books would not ‘be likely to pass muster at an assembly of scholars.’ No examples were cited nor evidence adduced for this assertion. Such jeers say more—and are intended to say no more—than that the Times disapproves of conservative books. I’ve just listed a half-dozen mendacious liberal books. What do they have?
Here’s what I have and it is, by no means, an exhaustive list of manifestly dishonest right-wing books:
1. Slick Willie by Floyd Brown and David Bossie. Brown and Bossie are two dirty tricks operators who concocted every single conspiracy theory about the Clintons. Most notable in this screed that includes a “special thanks” to virulent racist Judge Jim Johnson, are the details of a particularly ugly smear that the authors present as real. During the 1992 campaign, Brown and Bossie hounded the relatives of a woman who had committed suicide to support a smear that the woman, one of Bill Clinton’s former law students Susan Coleman, killed herself after being impregnated by Clinton. Bossie even barged into the hospital room of the deceased woman’s mother who was visiting her husband. When CBS’s Erik Engberg reported on Brown and Bossie’s activates, the Bush White House repudiated them (a Bush spokesperson called their tactics “despicable” and branded the two “the lowest forms of life”). Brown and Bossie stuck by their story in Slick Willie. (For a more detailed account of this shameful episode, read pages 74-77 of Conason and Lyons' The Hunting of the President).
2. At Any Cost: How Al Gore Tried To Steal the Election by Bill Sammon. This book has much disinformation. For instance, when it came to demonstrations in Florida after the election, Sammon described demonstrations by Jesse Jackson as “staged.” This despite the fact the Jackson rallies included people who were wrongly denied the right to vote because of the notorious purge of voter names. On the other hand, Sammon called GOP rallies “spontaneous.” This despite the fact that the GOP flew down operatives who were instrumental in the riot at the Miami-Dade vote-counting center. Sammon falsely claimed that no violence occurred—contradicted by journalist Jake Tapper in Down & Dirty.
However, probably the most egregious hoax in the book was how Sammon mischaracterizes a Washington post story to make it appear as if Al Gore was putting himself above the country (read about it and get angry).
3. The Clinton Chronicles book and videotape by Patrick Matrisciana. This is part of attempt to link Bill Clinton to racketeering, drug dealing, and even murder. These are wild conspiracy theories that were repeated on the Wall Street Journal editorial page. Matrisciana was not content to just peddle this to the gullible public but to the church-going Christians (the same people Coulter claims that liberals despise) Murray Waas wrote an article exposing the fraudulent infomercial that Matrisciana and Jerry Falwell concocted to fleece Falwell’s flock of little old ladies out of their Social Security checks).
4. Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth by Jeffrey Satinover. Satinover uses the discredited “research” of notorious conman and anti-gay crusader Paul Cameron.
5. The Final Days by Barbara Olson. In Olson’s cut-and-paste hatchet job, she gives readers the following urban legend: “Some even noticed that when Clinton was President, Marine guards failed to execute a right face to stand facing his back as he walked away. The Marines somehow relearned this maneuver on January 20, 2001, when the new Commander-in-Chief, President George W. Bush, took office.” Several urban legends web sites such as Snopes have debunked this petty smear of President Clinton.
6. Various Vince Foster conspiracy books. Authors include Christopher Ruddy, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, John Hagee (see my 7/22 post) and numerous others. What I find as funny is that in the footnotes, Coulter called Chris Ruddy’s conspiracy-laden The Strange Death of Vince Foster “a conservative hoax book.” I find it astounding that Coulter brought this up. As Terry Krepel points out, WorldNetDaily tweaked Ruddy’s Newsmax for being “in the unenviable position of promoting Coulter's book at the top of his page” What is really odd is that WorldNetDaily (which carries Coulter’s column) is run by Joseph Farah who was a key player in the Foster conspiracy cottage industry of the 1990’s. So WorldNetDaily is itself in the unenviable position of promoting a book that takes a key part of the web site founder’s worldview and denounces it as a hoax.
7. Slander by Ann Coulter. In addition to my discovery of Coulter’s dishonest use of citations to defame two New York Times op-ed writers (which the nonpartisan Spinsanity agreed were “wild distortions”), it seems that the Daily Howler has done some recent analyses of Coulter’s claims. The Howler found additional supporting evidence that Coulter was fudging in a big way in many other parts of the book (check the Howler's July archives for the articles). Previously, writers on the right have been able to lie and get away with it. Those days are over. The right now knows that they can’t lie with impunity anymore. That is great for political discourse.