Hanna Rosin at the Atlantic:
Among the Hillary Haters
Can a new, professionalized generation of scandalmongers uncover more dirt on the Clintons—without triggering a backlash?
“I don’t hate the Clintons,” says R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr., the founder and longtime editor of The American Spectator and the father of … let’s call it “Clinton disdain.” “I have always seen them as comic figures.” Tyrrell’s particular brand of fun began when, in 1993, he sent a reporter to dig through the Clintons’ tax returns and discovered that they had listed donations of Bill’s old underwear as a tax write-off, valued at $1 each. But as the couple settled into the White House, the allegations grew darker. Later that year, Tyrrell and some cronies hatched the “Arkansas Project,” a $2.4 million effort, financed by the right-wing philanthropist Richard Mellon Scaife, to delve deeper into the Clintons’ past. Whitewater, Troopergate, and the death of Vince Foster were merely the highlights. Over the years, Tyrrell wrote dozens of columns and four books filled with murky Clintoniana. He accused the couple of abusing staff and benefiting from a cocaine-smuggling operation run out of an Arkansas airport. He claimed that Bill had bought women string bikinis in Rio and perfume in Sydney. Tyrrell’s sources were often described merely as “sources” or “sources familiar with the questioning.” But even Tyrrell had his limits. He grew indignant when he thought that Terry McAuliffe, a close friend of the Clintons and now the governor of Virginia, had accused him of calling the president a murderer. A complete falsehood! In fact, Tyrrell had merely quoted The Economist, which had noted a “peculiar pattern of suicides and violence” surrounding “people connected to the Clintons.”
When the 2016 presidential campaign was just a glimmer in the distance, at least a dozen conservative organizations had already dedicated themselves to Hillary Clinton’s defeat. They are a combination of opposition-research shops, media outlets, and grass-roots activist groups. A couple have stationed staff in Little Rock to rifle through files in search of something new—or even something old that can be framed in a newly relevant way.
In the 1990s, Hillary Clinton famously complained about the “vast right-wing conspiracy” that was out to get her and Bill. But at the time it was really more a small, ragtag band of conspiracy-minded compatriots, albeit very noisy ones. Tyrrell’s Spectator relied largely on a young investigative journalist named David Brock, who in 1997 would recant much of his reporting in an Esquire piece, “Confessions of a Right-Wing Hit Man,” and a subsequent book, Blinded by the Right. (In one of the many odd twists since that era, Brock now runs a pro-Clinton super PAC.) Scaife, the Arkansas Project’s backer, paid a handful of reporters, notable among them Christopher Ruddy, to write articles and books about the Clintons that the mainstream press mostly regarded with skepticism. Other scandalmongers depended largely on the Drudge Report to promote stories, hoping that the site would help them get picked up by legitimate news outlets. Fox News was then still a fledgling network, and the many conservative Web sites that are now familiar didn’t exist. The movement was small, outside the Republican mainstream, and animated by a sense of “us against the world,” recalls Brock, “which made the crusade seem more personal.”
If she runs for president in 2016—as all evidence suggests she will—Hillary Clinton will face something more like a vast right-wing conglomerate. This time around, the groups will be well funded, solidly professional, and thoroughly integrated into the party establishment. America Rising, which employs more than 50 people, is a new opposition-research group that’s preparing a Clinton strategy for the Republicans far in advance of the campaign. It sends “trackers” with portable video cameras to all her events, in hopes of catching a gaffe, and uses polling and focus-group research to determine ways to define her before she has a chance, once again, to define herself. The Free Beacon has its own research division and a “war room” for what it calls “combat journalism”—most of it, recently, directed at Clinton. The small but busy Stop Hillary PAC is putting together a “grass-roots coalition” that aims (as its name suggests) to ensure “Hillary Clinton never becomes president.” Citizens United, the group that won the Supreme Court case allowing a flood of new campaign spending, is producing a movie about Clinton’s performance as secretary of state, focusing on whether she did enough to protect the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, where militants killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans in 2012. Americans for Prosperity, a group funded by the Koch brothers, turned its conference last August into a forum for a wide range of Hillary bashing.
I’m not gonna dispute any of the factual assertions you see above, but considering what the Democrats did to Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney (and are trying to do to Scott Walker) they are in no position to complain about slinging mud.
My gripe about this article is that is ignores the most virulent and nasty Hillary Haters – the Vile Progs who supported Barack Obama and moved heaven and earth to give him the nomination in 2008. This includes the media, the Democrat establishment and most of the lefty blogosphere.
The original support for Obama had it’s roots in Hillary Hate. Both Barack Obama and John Edwards vied for the ABC (Anybody But Clinton) vote in the primary, and when Edwards faltered most of his supporters went over to Obama.
Now they are trying to push Elizabeth Warren into challenging Hillary. They would like nothing better than to deny her the nomination again.
One difference this time – Hillary won’t have as many supporters as she did in 2008.