by Scoobie Davis
What Democrats Face from the Scaife Internet Network
I agree with Al Franken in his book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right (click here to buy the book and support this site) that right-wing billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife set the tone of political discourse for the last decade. Scaife has funded numerous “journalists” who planted stories in the mainstream media that supported Scaife’s paranoid conspiratorial worldview. Most prominent was Scaife’s role in the discredited story that Bill Clinton was responsible for the death of Vince Foster. Scaife is also a devoted believer of the Free Republic staple and urban legend, the Clinton Body Count, the belief that Bill Clinton is responsible for the murder of dozens of people. Scaife is also responsible for the phony Troopergate scandal—in which Scaife-paid Arkansas troopers were paid by Scaife to spin lurid stories to Scaife-paid journalists/operatives. This incestuous relationship between parties paid by Scaife (who act as if they are working independently), is a common Scaife tactic. Scaife’s paranoid memes has metastasized largely because of the vast amounts of money that Scaife has used to pay people to promote his conspiracy theories.
Scaife’s Current Internet Network
Several of the Scaife-subsidized veterans of the Clinton wars are involved in the contemporary internet community. The three most prominent are Joseph Farah, Christopher Ruddy, and David Horowitz. These three represent Scaife’s influence on the web. Let me discuss each separately.
Christopher Ruddy was a reporter for the New York Post in the early 1990’s. Ruddy was fired by the Post in 1994 for slipshod reporting—an indignity that Michael Tomasky called “a pretty good working definition of embarrassing.” Shortly thereafter, Ruddy got a job at Scaife’s Tribune-Review where he continued his shoddy reporting that suggested that the Clintons were involved in the death of Vince Foster. Ruddy and others dared the news program 60 Minutes to report on his reporting; 60 Minutes took Ruddy up on his offer and tore major holes in his reporting, detailing how Ruddy was wrong on elementary and key parts of his theory such as when Ruddy incorrectly identified Foster’s handedness. Ruddy’s shoddy Scaife-subsidized reporting was presented as fact to tens of millions of Americans by figures such as Rush Limbaugh, Roger Ailes, and current Solicitor General Ted Olson. Now, even the hard right is embarrassed of Ruddy’s reporting on the matter; author Ann Coulter in Slander referred to Ruddy’s book on Foster’s death a “conservative hoax book” (click here for an amusing consequence of this admission). Ruddy now runs the right-wing web site and print magazine Newsmax.
During the 1990’s, Farah was the head of a Scaife front group, The Western Journalism Center, which Farah attempted to present as an impartial think tank devoted to the advancement of journalism. The main duty of WJC during the 1990’s was to promote Ruddy’s coverage of Foster’s death. Farah supported Ruddy’s incompetent journalism even after 60 Minutes exposed it. By paying both Farah and Ruddy (Ruddy to do the “reporting” and Farah to act as the head of an impartial journalistic group concerned about the supposed suppression of Ruddy’s “findings”), Scaife had created an incestuous news chain. To people who didn’t know about the relationship between Scaife, Ruddy, and Farah, it appeared as if these were two independent sources exposing a cover-up when, in fact, Farah and Ruddy are paid by the same man to spin the same tale. Farah now runs the web site WorldNetDaily where he has also supported Scaife delusions such as the Clinton Body Count (When I confronted Farah about his support for the notorious “Clinton body count” conspiracy theory, Farah lied and claimed that he had nothing to do with it).
In addition, Farah was an expert witness for Clinton Chronicles hoaxer Pat Matrisciana in his libel suit Farah also has ties to another depraved billionaire, Sun Myung Moon.
Unlike Ruddy and Farah who prostituted their journalistic integrity when they accepted money from Scaife to put forth his paranoid and delusional theories about the Clintons, to the best of my knowledge, Horowitz had nothing to do with the spread of the Vince Foster story. Horowitz receives generous funding from Scaife whom Horowitz calls “a decent, patriotic American.” Horowitz’s internet presence is FrontPage Magazine (for a good site that critiques Horowitz and FPM, click here).
The Scaife Internet Network and Wesley Clark
The venom against Wesley Clark by the Scaife Internet network has been swift and unrelenting. On Wednesday, I discussed a scabrous article from Horowitz’s FrontPage Magazine on Clark. On Newsmax, Dan Frisa wrote a particularly venomous column on Clark (Terry Krepel noted that Frisa used terms such "traitorous," "opportunistic," "grandstanding," "more like a leader of a Pinko Parade," "self-promoting egotist," "unsettling beady eyes" and "a four-star jackass." In his most recent column, Farah claimed “Clark may be the most dangerous person in the presidential race” and that he “has a strong military record that would fool most people into thinking he's a genuine hero and patriot.” Expect more of this. Let me remind Democrats out there about the naiveté of thinking that because Wesley Clark is a decorated (and wounded) veteran and has a long and distinguished military career, that the right will not stoop to outrageous attacks. Just remember what happened to John McCain in South Carolina in 2000.