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Tuesday, January 07, 2003


Michael Savage on Front Groups

Front n. a person or organization serving as a cover for subversive or illegal activities.

In Michael Savage’s book The Savage Nation, he makes some odd charges against various groups. For instance, Savage uses the term “radical front group” to describe The League of Women Voters and The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (p. 187). When such a serious accusation is made against an organization, the burden rests with the accuser to let us know who or what is behind the alleged front. Savage leaves this out altogether—apparently Savage knows that his audience is comprised of people who aren’t concerned with such matters.

For the benefit of those not familiar with the concept of front groups and how they operate, let me give a textbook example of a front group that is close to Savage: The Western Journalism Center (WJC). WJC is headed by Joseph Farah who also runs WorldNetDaily (which published Savage Nation). In its heyday in the 1990’s, WJC was a Scaife-subsidized front group disguised as a journalistic organization. It engaged in a series of dirty tricks; the best known of WJC’s dirty tricks was its full-page newspaper ads that supported “reporter” Christopher Ruddy’s error-laden conspiracy theories regarding the “mysterious death” of Vince Foster, a favorite paranoid delusion that has obsessed Scaife (60 Minutes investigated Ruddy’s “reporting” on Foster’s death and exposed Ruddy as a fraud; even Ann Coulter referred to Ruddy’s book on the matter as a “conservative hoax book”). Trudy Lieberman wrote a great article about the incestuous echo chamber that Scaife and Farah created in order to give legs to Ruddy’s smears. Lieberman quotes Farah: “We can reach key legislators, key journalists, key radio talk show hosts...It's an easy, inexpensive way to make sure Chris Ruddy's work just doesn't appear in Pittsburgh and just die."

WJC also used similar tactics in an attempt to give credence to the discredited stories of the Arkansas troopers who had been Bill Clinton’s bodyguards. Here was what happened: The troopers were paid by Scaife to tell lies to a “reporter” (David Brock) from a Scaife-funded journal (The American Spectator); in order to give credibility to this dirty tricks operation, a Scaife-funded front group (the Western Journalism Center) disguised as a journalistic organization give a “journalism award” to Brock for his “reporting.” In addition, Scaife-beneficiary Ruddy sold tapes of one of the trooper’s allegations. Ironically, after Brock came clean and repudiated the Troopergate dirty tricks operation (years after the troopers admitted they were lying for pay), Farah’s reaction was to treat the discredited allegations by the troopers as established fact and accused Brock of mendacity. It is not only Farah who is citing the troopers years after their stories were shown to be false. Recently, in an attempt to provide cover for Trent Lott, Sean Hannity repeated charges by one of the discredited troopers that Bill Clinton used the “N” word. This answers Savage’s question about why left-wing audiences don’t support talk radio. Answer: we don’t like being lied to.

Note: I’m having problems posting to the sites devoted to assessing Savage Nation so I will post on SDO right now.


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