Brock and Dems Form Group to Critique McCain

It's not necessary to end the primary race in order to look past it. Democratic groups are forming to launch critiques of John McCain in the general election.

Wealthy Democrats are preparing a four-month, $40 million media campaign centered on attacks on Sen. John McCain. And it will be led by David Brock, the former investigative reporter who first gained fame in the 1990s as a right-wing, anti-Clinton journalist.

The planned campaign is the product of a shakeup in the top ranks of the struggling independent Democratic groups. Brock, now best known as the ex-conservative founder of the liberal group Media Matters, last month quietly assumed the chairmanship of what's expected to be the main vehicle for independent Democratic attacks on McCain, now called Progressive Media USA.

The group aims to fill the gap left by the press corp's failure to accurately report on McCain. [More...]

But after a dinner Tuesday night at the Manhattan apartment of liberal megadonor George Soros, at which Brock and consultant Paul Begala laid out the group's plans, Brock said his group now has commitments worth $7.5 million — almost twice what the Fund for America is expected to report raising in the first quarter of this year. He said the group would begin running ads before it meets its $40 million goal.

Brock suggested that the group could do the work of a press corps that, he says, has "fallen down on the job" when it comes to McCain.

As to strategy,

Brock wouldn't detail Progressive Media USA's strategy, and stressed that — as required by his group's nonprofit status — the spending would be on a mix of direct electoral politics and issue ads with no direct connection to the race.

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    Media Matters has been pretty pro-Obama... (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Exeter on Thu Apr 10, 2008 at 02:29:00 PM EST
    ...lately. They've historically been a media watchdog with a clear Dem slant, now they seem to have a clear Obama slant.  The OCCASIONALLY defend Clinton, but haven't weighed in on the the "Clinton has zero chance" meme or anything else on the Clinton side.  That said, they did thoroughly debunk the "as far as I know" myth, which was nice.

    I don't care that much (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by madamab on Thu Apr 10, 2008 at 02:34:22 PM EST
    as long as they keep pointing out the RW lies and don't give in to Hillary Hate.

    I could be wrong, of course, but I think their tactics will be honorable against McCain. Why would they need to lie - there's so much material out there!! 100 Years in Iraq??!!!


    Yeah... (none / 0) (#19)
    by Exeter on Thu Apr 10, 2008 at 03:31:44 PM EST
    ...that's true. They're not really built to deal with a primary and do best when they can just focus on the GOP.

    It seems zero chance is opinion not fact (none / 0) (#11)
    by jerry on Thu Apr 10, 2008 at 02:44:13 PM EST
    so it's not clear that it is either bunkable or debunkable.

    I suspect most people who say zero chance are saying "to all practical purposes her chances are zero", and that's an opinion to which they are entitled.  The bastards.


    Right... (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by Exeter on Thu Apr 10, 2008 at 03:30:40 PM EST
    ...That's my point: media matters takes pundits and "news" people to task all the time for stating opinion as news or for having an opinion that is factually false.  The MSM has been saying this "no chance" meme for the last two months.

    It's about frickin' time (5.00 / 2) (#17)
    by scribe on Thu Apr 10, 2008 at 03:09:57 PM EST
    that someone starts hitting St. John Stay in Iraq Forever McSame.

    I saw this somewhere else today, and have to remind everyone to repeat it (and work on other Dems to do likewise):
    "open every comment about McCain or the Presidential race with the statement that Senator McCain says he wants the US to stay in Iraq for at least another hundred years."

    It's both accurate and guaranteed to make Repug heads explode with rage.

    When they explode, BTW, one can also note, dryly, that "it's what he said time and again.  Why does that make Republicans so angry?"

    Twist the knife.

    Excellent news! (none / 0) (#1)
    by madamab on Thu Apr 10, 2008 at 01:52:23 PM EST
    No, we don't have to end the primary to fight John McCain. Look, we can walk and chew gum, too! :-)

    I concur (none / 0) (#5)
    by Molly Bloom on Thu Apr 10, 2008 at 02:07:23 PM EST
    I also applaud Elizabeth Edwards taking on John "more of the same" McCain on health care.

    I believe she makes an excellent surrogate (and I agree with her).


    I dunno (none / 0) (#2)
    by Kathy on Thu Apr 10, 2008 at 02:00:00 PM EST
    I'm kind of mixed on this, especially considering who is in charge.  As y'all might have noticed, it's the former rabid repubs who have bought repub tactics in sheep's clothing to topple a lot of the so-called progressive blogs.

    I mean, do we really have to become what we fear?  And do we have to hire republicans to do it?

    I agree there is reason for some concern (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by fuzzyone on Thu Apr 10, 2008 at 02:05:48 PM EST
    While I like the idea of going after McCain sooner rather than later I think how its done matters. We can beat them without joining them.  At the same time Media Matters does some good work.  I guess I will reserve judgment for now.  

    let me amend (none / 0) (#3)
    by Kathy on Thu Apr 10, 2008 at 02:02:49 PM EST
    that I don't mind at all the attacking of repubs, but it's one thing for a campaign to do it, quite another for a group of wealthy, swift-boat-ish folks to do it.   There are a lot of folks here who were KO fans...until he turned his nasty tactics against one of our own.

    I think David Brock (5.00 / 3) (#6)
    by madamab on Thu Apr 10, 2008 at 02:14:37 PM EST
    has done excellent work on the RW media for a very long time. He doesn't swift-boat, he just tells the truth.

    His involvement in this group speaks well of it to me.


    I think David Brock (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Apr 10, 2008 at 02:30:26 PM EST
    is like a reformed smoker.  IOW, in his previous life, he was in the middle of such slimy tactics, now that he's seen the light, my sense is that he bends over backwards to avoid them.

    Yep (none / 0) (#24)
    by Lou Grinzo on Thu Apr 10, 2008 at 04:21:03 PM EST
    There's no zealot like a convert.

    Whaaa (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by squeaky on Thu Apr 10, 2008 at 02:48:44 PM EST
    Media Matters, George Soros swiftboaters??????

    You must be kidding or misinformed. In fact you are swiftboating here.

    Brock later apologized to Clinton in a public letter and broke publicly with the conservative movement. He wrote about his disillusionment in his 2002 memoir "Blinded by the Right," and Hillary Rodham Clinton later helped him establish Media Matters, which criticizes reporters for alleged right-wing "misinformation.

    In Tuesday's interview, however, Brock said he could not say specifically what information from the troopers may have been false. "I'm saying that story was bad journalism, that I don't stand by the story any more," Brock said. "I can't point to anything specific ... [that] might be wrong."

    He said he came to realize the troopers were upset with Clinton for having failed to share with them the spoils of his electoral victory. They also expected money in exchange for their story.

    "I think what's changed is that the troopers have made ... several public statements that are on their face, I think, incredible and don't have a lot of merit. And so that's given me cause for concern for their original credibility in what they told me."

    Brock said in the letter he was as sure of the story when he wrote it as any journalist can be, but in the years since then, the troopers greatly damaged their credibility.


    Brock doesn't say his old article was inaccurate. "After all," he wrote to the president, "sex is your Achilles' heel."

    But, he adds, "If sexual witch hunts become the way to win in politics, if they become our politics altogether, we will destroy everyone in public life."


    His motives were to bring Clinton down but unlike the swiftboaters, his story was based on fact.

    Here he admits to lying but still far from swiftboating:

    Mr. Brock wrote that in an effort to protect the conservative political agenda, he "consciously lied" in the review of "Strange Justice" in The American Spectator.

    In the review, Mr. Brock wrote that there was no evidence that Justice Thomas had "ever rented one pornographic video, let alone was a habitual consumer of pornography."

    In the excerpt, Mr. Brock writes: "When I wrote those words I knew they were false. It was the first and last time that I consciously put a lie in print."



    I read "Blinded by the Right" and (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by hairspray on Thu Apr 10, 2008 at 03:50:38 PM EST
    am convnced of his sincerity.  He fudged a bit at first, but since that time has done an incredible job for calling out the media. One other thing, he started out as a liberal and became a conservative in college under guidance of some strong friends.  I think he has made amends.

    Yes, I Agree (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by squeaky on Thu Apr 10, 2008 at 03:58:42 PM EST
    He does make it clear that it is possible to learn from ones mistakes and make good from them, rather than be doomed to endless repetition and denial.

    It also shows that the Clintons and Anita Hill are quite substantial people in that they forgave him, and in the case of Clinton, formed an alliance.

    All inspiring examples of how to live life, imo.


    I think it's a mistake for David Brock to do this (none / 0) (#10)
    by jerry on Thu Apr 10, 2008 at 02:42:34 PM EST
    Given his past, and just as importantly, given how he wants MediaMatters to be perceived as a fair observer, I think he is risking quite a bit.

    Also, if anyone is asking me, I would really like to see Bill Gates donate $1B to forming a commercial seaplane service all up and down the coasts.  I think that's it for now.  Back later with even more ideas.

    I don't think anyone thinks of Media Matters... (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by Exeter on Thu Apr 10, 2008 at 03:33:19 PM EST
    ...as a fair observor. I have never seen them defend a Republican or go after a Democrat-- they are definitely a left wing group.

    Can you say Blowback! (none / 0) (#13)
    by 1jane on Thu Apr 10, 2008 at 02:51:05 PM EST

    Don't trust POLITICO.com (none / 0) (#14)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Thu Apr 10, 2008 at 02:55:17 PM EST
    David Brock's initiative to push back against the MSM's coddling of McCain is all well and good.

    But here's what's really rotten: consider the source of the story and how it's being reported. It's coming from the GOP friendly Politico.com; and they're framing it wth this headline "David Brock, Dems plan $40M hit on McCain".

    Politico is framing and naming David Brock's newly minted "Progressive Media USA" in a way that dooms and discredit it from the outset. It's what Politico did to John Murtha and the Dems plan to reduce Iraq war funding. Politico broke the de-funding story (on 1/13/07) and called it the Dem's "slow bleed strategy". Efforts to defund the war were dead in the water thereafter.

    *Politico is ensuring that anything which emanates from "Progressive Media USA" will suffer the same fate. The truth of their stories won't matter - it will all be discounted as part of the liberal "$40 million hit on McCain".

    *Notice that Politico's Ben Smith says Brock is a Clinton supporter - ergo Hillary is framed as part of the $40 million goon squad.

    *Notice that Smith also uses this opportunity to note that David Brock (soon to be known as Tony Soprano) was the "founder of the liberal group Media Matters". Ergo, by extension and association Media Matters is framed as a blood relative of the $40 million goon squad.

    The Politico story is intended to have long term damaging consequences for Democratic strategy in the GE. Somebody needs to get on top of this story FAST!

    Hahahahah (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by squeaky on Thu Apr 10, 2008 at 02:58:42 PM EST
    Let them discredit facts and sources all they want. This is a very good development as far as I can tell.

    I'm not sure (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by madamab on Thu Apr 10, 2008 at 03:01:23 PM EST
    Politico has the power you're giving it.

    The Dems' efforts to stop the war were doomed by Bush Dog Dems, Bush Republicans, and Bush, IMHO.


    David Brock.... (none / 0) (#21)
    by Alec82 on Thu Apr 10, 2008 at 03:35:55 PM EST
    ...is a centrist who let his confrontations with politically correct undergrads cloud his judgment of the right wing movement.  Anita Hill and the Clintons may have forgiven him, but I will always see him as an opportunist.

     That being said, it is a worthwhile effort.

    Article: Who Funds & Runs Politic.com? (none / 0) (#25)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Thu Apr 10, 2008 at 04:39:37 PM EST
    To Madamab upstream, and anybody who doubts Politico's highly-effective, anti-Democratic agenda, just link to this story by Salon's Glenn Grenwald: "Who Funds and Runs Politic.com?".

    Politico.com is a Republican shill top to bottom. Their inflammatory headline: "David Brock, Dems plan $40M hit on McCain" will ensure that the term "$40 million hit" sticks to Progressive Media USA and anything they subsequently reveal about McCain.

    Politico's framing has already influenced the way that Progressive Media USA is being viewed by commenters here at Talk Left. It's being seen as a dirty tricks operation. Politico's headline could have characterized it in a non-prejudicial manner as a "Plan to Push-back Alleged Pro-McCain Media Bias". Instead Politico chose a headline which reflects its own pro-McCain bias.

    In the next few days, the MSM will utilize Politico's deadly term to shoot down Progressive Media USA - before they even get air-borne.

    So WHat? (none / 0) (#26)
    by squeaky on Thu Apr 10, 2008 at 04:45:21 PM EST
    People listen to Limbaugh and The blond s/he pundit as well.

    Not sure why you think that what they say matters one bit. For reasons that elude me you seem obsessed with a non issue.


    Just read the articles (none / 0) (#28)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Thu Apr 10, 2008 at 05:27:48 PM EST
    Squeaky et al, Politico is at the heart of the matter. Jeralyn's post contains quotes and links to a Politico story. In reading that story, it's useful to bear in mind that Politico is not an honest broker. They characterize Brock's Progressive Media USA in very negative terms which will reverberate throughout the MSM.

    See my link below for: "Who Funds and Runs the Politico?".

    If you're still in doubt read this additional article by Simon Maloy (3/7/07): "Is Politico a GOP Shill?".

    Then come back and tell us all how Politico has had no effect on undermining the Democratic agenda.


    damn those dirty political tricks! (none / 0) (#27)
    by cpinva on Thu Apr 10, 2008 at 04:50:08 PM EST
    reporting facts as, um, well, um..............facts! how dare they!

    media matters' mission statement is very clear: it exists to out right-wingnut lies and distortions, from whatever source. i know bill o'reilly hates his own words used against him, but that's life in loofa land.

    if brock and media matters are obama supporters, they do a fair job of at least pretending to be neutral, far better than many so-called progressive sites.

    I just worry when we (none / 0) (#29)
    by Kathy on Thu Apr 10, 2008 at 05:31:38 PM EST
    adopt republican tactics.  Trust me, I want to win (that is why I am such a firm Clinton supporter!) but it smacks a bit of the justifications used for torture:  "It's to save lives!" or wire tapping Americans:  "It's only used on terrorists!"

    Suddenly, we're not even on the low road anymore.  We're in the gutter.

    But, as I said, I am conflicted.  It's just too stinging to hear folks I used to respect and trust turning into rabid republican-type radicals against Clinton, pushing aside progressive ideas out of sheer hatred.  If they treat one dem that way, how are they going to treat the next one?  And the one after that?

    It's like the Martin Niemöller poem.


    Media Matters (none / 0) (#31)
    by squeaky on Thu Apr 10, 2008 at 06:29:46 PM EST
    Does not use republican tactics. The bashing of Clinton and Obama by dems cross the line into republican tactics, imo.

    Better to concentrate on beating McCain. The fact that Brock, who got ugly with Clinton and lied once in print defending Thomas couldn't stand himself for it, should give you assurance that he is not going to adopt Republican tactics now.


    Let's look at it like this... (none / 0) (#32)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Thu Apr 10, 2008 at 06:30:05 PM EST
    Progressive Media USA is a McCain focused version of Media Matters. However, Politico framed the story in a manner that makes it hard for us to view it that way. I'm not buying the Politico spin.

    adopting republican/right-wingnut (none / 0) (#30)
    by cpinva on Thu Apr 10, 2008 at 06:20:27 PM EST
    tactics would require the use of lies and distortions. with mccain, and that whole crowd frankly, there's no need for any of that, the facts lay out the script.

    telling people the truth hardly qualifies, in my mind anyway, as "dirty tricks". if it does, then we're all doomed anyway.