David Brock on the Democrats’ Chopping Block

Liberals eye purge of longtime Clinton allies with a record of losing to conservatives

by Jim Stinson | Updated 26 Jan 2017 at 1:14 PM

It’s been murmured for weeks, but it seems Democrats are a bit more ready to publicly dump David Brock.

If it’s even possible to dump the longtime Clinton ally.

“[Brock’s] ability to produce wins for Democrats is nonexistent. He does not have the kind of understanding of what kind of coalition you have to bring together to win national races.”

Brock, the founder of Media Matters for America, has deeply tied himself to the Democratic machine for roughly 14 years, after having defected from the Right.

Now Brock seems a bit like a person at a party you cannot possibly bounce. You just have to ignore him while he makes noise in the corner.

And Brock wants to make noise again, much like Sylvester Stallone eyeing a new “Rocky” sequel. After an attempt to take down President Trump in the 2016 election — which included “cash for dirt” offers — Brock is ready to go another round.

The Daily Beast reports that Brock, founder of  liberal super PACs American Bridge and Correct the Record, wants to “kick Donald Trump’s [rear].” Brock gathered Democratic donors and big shots in South Florida, while Trump was sworn in, to map out his vision.

But who wants to hear it? Brock has his critics deep in Democratic circles.

During the 2016 campaign, WikiLeaks revealed that Center for American Progress CEO Neera Tanden told Hillary Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta that “Hillary truly understands now how [expletive] crazy David Brock is.”

It could go back to his involvement with the Right, including a serious stint at The American Spectator magazine in the 1990s. Today, the Left, Democratic Establishment figures, and even Bernie Sanders supporters are distrustful of him.

But it’s a small reason. The big reason is many Democrats no longer believe he is effective. That’s often the killer reason in politics.

"His ability to produce wins for Democrats is nonexistent," Jeff Weaver, former campaign manager for Bernie Sanders' 2016 presidential run, told The Daily Beast for a story on Thursday. "He does not have the kind of understanding of what kind of coalition you have to bring together to win national races — that's his fundamental problem."

Weaver may be onto something.

Brock seems to have accrued the wrong kind of political skills over the years. Many of them seem reactive to the Right, rather than proactive in the construction of coalitions and reaching out to populations in key states.

Because Brock started off in media — he worked at journalism at the University of California at Berkeley — it is likely he thinks too much in terms of media.

In the 1990s, Brock learned explosive stories could damage the other side and fuel excitement. After writing a fairly solid piece on Anita Hill, the woman who accused Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment, Brock moved to a bigger and oft-forgotten piece for The American Spectator.

The roots of many scandals relating to then-President Bill Clinton sprung from a thorough investigative piece that Brock did in 1993, titled "His Cheatin' Heart."

The story had all sorts of juicy details about Clinton's extramarital affairs while he was governor of Arkansas, seeking to become president in 1992. Brock was able to talk to former state police officers who were eager to talk and share their low opinion of Clinton.

The story also mentioned a woman named "Paula," which prompted former Arkansas state worker Paula Jones to come forward and sue Clinton for sexual harassment.

Brock, therefore, kicked off a series of events that led to President Bill Clinton lying in federal court about the Paula Jones case. It all generally led to his impeachment and Clinton's eventual suspension from practicing law for five years.

It's likely still a sore spot with the Left, although the donors love Brock — that much is certain. Through the years, Brock has raised millions and millions of dollars for his organizations.

It started in 2004, when Brock founded Media Matters for America, and made his defection to the Left official. The organization was designed to counter the growing right-wing media, which Democrats and liberals began to realize was slowly growing to challenge the "legacy" media, a group largely dominated by liberals.

But Laura Kipnis of Slate, writing on May 18, 2004, said Brock's line of attack seemed familiar as she looked over his proposal for Media Matters.

"One wishes Brock could finally move on, rather than mucking around in this endless circle of accusation and 'gotcha' games," said Kipnis. "Having renounced the right, somehow Brock just can't let go: The term 'love-hate relationship' cannot fail to come to mind. He throws them away, yet still keeps them near — so often the depressing pattern of familial dramas."

Democrats such as Weaver want to get back to issues and knocking on doors. Brock's fancy media campaigns and champagne events for donors seem ineffective against a Republican Party now controlled by someone Brock's organizations cannot possibly out-shout.

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