Saturday, May 22, 2004

Brock Speaks

David Brock is interviewed by Tara McKelvy at The American Prospect (web exclusive). Brock, you will recall, was once a hit man for the right wing, penning such screeds as The Real Anita Hill in which he labeled her as “a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty,” plus numerous articles for The American Spectator and other rags. He has since repented, and I’m glad to have him on our side. Some highlights:

  • You spent $100,000 on an anti-Limbaugh ad for cable television. Clearly, you think he’s more than just a big idiot.

    One of the huge mistakes progressives have made is to write him off as ineffective and, frankly, as a crackpot. They seem to think he’s nothing more than fringe nonsense. It’s not the case. The Washington Post’s media critic, Howard Kurtz, says he has more influence than Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, or Peter Jennings. And there’s the viral nature of radio. That means he’s reaching more than just his listeners. If there’s one Limbaugh fan in an office of 10 people, well, that one person can poison the whole well with misinformation he’s gotten from Limbaugh.

    When I heard the things Limbaugh said about Iraqi prisoners, I thought, “If a liberal commentator said something like that, it would be on the crawl on FOX News and would be known all over the country.” But when a conservative says it, you publish an article about it and put it on a Web site, and you may still not get the word out to a big audience. That’s one of the reasons we did the ad. Still, you’d like to get to a stage where you don’t have to pay to get your point across.

  • You once talked about feeling uncomfortable with conservatives. How are things with the liberals?

    There was a part of me that was never comfortable with the way people on the right would channel emotional aggression into politics. It’s a significant part of what motivates the right wing. There’s another part that had to do with the difficulty with sexuality. It’s not only that I was gay. There was also the issue of subjugating my own values, such as the fact I was pro-choice, to the ideological movement. Part of my story was a recovery of values, and I couldn’t have gotten out of the right wing if I didn’t have a conscience. Afterward, I spent time in self-reflection and tried to become more balanced. There have been times when it’s been hard — like when I’d encounter people who worked for the Clintons or met people I’d written terrible things about. I think that is to be expected.

    Remember, I didn’t jump out of bed and do this. This has been a seven-year process. And, as a whole, the people I’ve met have been open to the idea that people can change. It helps if they read Blinded by the Right, to be honest with you. It also helps if they get to know me a little bit. Then they can judge my sincerity. Is there skepticism? All ideological converts face this. I think that comes with the territory. And, yes, there was a time when I thought about leaving Washington. But I felt if I have something to contribute, I should stay and find my way.

  • An interesting footnote to Brock’s story is that when he was on the Right, he didn’t keep his sexual orientation – gay – much of a secret. He writes in Blinded By The Right that he was hit on many times by well-known conservative men who, in public, proclaimed loudly their staunch support for family values and against the “homosexual agenda.” But remember, a blowjob isn’t sex, is it…?