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3.9 out of 5 stars
Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative
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215 of 226 people found the following review helpful
on March 10, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Though nowhere near the importance or writing quality of a Koestler book, nevertheless Brock's book blows the lid off the moral emptiness of movement "conservatives."
I'm "anonymous" for a reason: I witnessed a lot of the events that Brock portrays accurately in his book, and I am a conservative who was also a first-hand witness to the Gingrich revolution. I bought the book with the mindset that Brock was a scam artist and opportunist; I finished the book with the mindset that he has done this country, and true conservatives, a great service. Take it from me: though Brock may have lied in the past, in the service of his paymasters, he is NOT lying now.
Brock describes so accurately how hypocritical a lot of conservatives are. No one is flawless, but it's sickening to read Brock's chronicle, and to remember my own recollections, of how movement conservatives would attack others for the same behavior they themselves engage in.
Hypocrisy is just the tip of the iceberg. Brock accurately cites the bigotry that pervades the movement, especially sexual bigotry like homophobia. Movement conservatives' obsession with sex, which culminated in the constitutional bonfire of the Clinton impeachment, did not just cause the undoing of some conservative politicians' careers (Livingston, Gingrich), but is a particular epidemic of the movement. Washington is Sodom and Gomorrah rolled up into one, at least on the conservative side.
Sex, as well as disregard for the rule of law and common sense, is why conservatives went after Clinton. I was no fan of Clinton when he was in office, and my only beefs with him were legal (lying before a grand jury) and political, not personal. Still, I became sickened as the impeachment process wore on, but I laughed at the same time, because many Clinton critics' own personal lives would put Monica Lewinsky's to shame. And I remember being in Washington, and watching Hillary Clinton attacking a "vast right-wing conspiracy." Though I knew of many coordinated efforts to "get the Clintons," I was not aware of how vast this extra-constitutional effort really was. Brock is so incredibly precise in explaining the machinations, fueled by far right-wing money, of movement conservatives trying to undermine a sitting president.
I can't say enough about Brock's book. As a conservative, I am appalled at how the party of Reagan and Lincoln has been taken over by hucksters, charlatans and confidence men, posing as principled members of the right. With both political extremes showing themselves capable of pursuing their aims at all costs, I fear for our nation, because one day our system may break from the stress of yet another hypocritical witchhunt. Or, maybe Brock's book will touch enough people and change enough minds, like it did mine, and we will become less destructive in our politics.
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138 of 145 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon July 13, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Does the title of this review seem confusing? Well, let me explain.
I grew up in a culture that was "conservative" -- an ambiguous term, to be sure. Some may still consider me conservative. I don't like excessive deficit spending, I think the Federal Government has gotten too big, I'm pro private enterprise, I'm pro-family and hold to a myriad of other principles that many would consider "conservative."
But I have not liked some of the directions I've seen the more extreme right taking lately. I don't have all the facts and figures that both the liberal and conservative commentators have, so what I share here is impression which may or may not have to be corrected. But my discomfort will show why I appreciated what Brock had to say.
Neither conservatives nor liberals have a corner on lying. For so long I've listened to conservatives bewail the lies of the liberals, and they may very well be true. But I have often wondered if the conservatives might be doing the same thing. Brock's book was interesting for me because it addressed this question that had been nagging me for years. I didn't see Brock trying to espouse any particular political view. But I did see a writer who was trying to correct some wrongs that he felt were promoted by "The Right."
He tries to give a balanced view of the Whitewater matter -- something I can't comment on because I don't have the information that he does. He tries to give a balanced view of Hillary Clinton as well. He also tries to correct a lot of information he previously gave about Anita Hill.
I appreciated this book because:
1. I am a Christian who is distressed at seeing the Religious Right grab the flag and the cross and try to promote their political agenda as being straight from God Himself.
2. I am a straight, white married woman, but I don't like gay-bashing. For that matter, I don't like the outright bashing of any people different from oneself.
3. The ultra conservative right doesn't seem to be very concerned about the needs of the poor. While I'm not in favor excessive government handouts, I do believe that we need to have a system that will be fair to everyone.
I think Brock's book needs to be read, even by people who think thy don't agree with him. I'm not sure if I agree with everything he says, either. But it brings a perspective that needs to be seen, if we are to be open minded and consider all sides to the issue.
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123 of 130 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
Anyone who likes to follow U.S. politics in more depth than they are likely to find on their local news channel ought to read this book.
As a non-ideologue and a registered independent, I grant no free passes to the left OR the right... however, I certainly did feel that the vilification of Clinton during his presidency, the charges of mass murder, theft, and rape, the claims that he was a security risk to the country, were deeply disingenuous and, to use a heavily loaded term, unpatriotic. Remember that many of those screaming the loudest, such as Newt Gingrich, were not the moral paragons they claimed to be when their own personal lives were eventually examined.
This book goes a long way toward illuminating what real power is in today's America and how far from any egalitarian notions of representative democracy we have come. If you don't know the names Richard Mellon Scaife and Grover Norquist then you simply have not done your homework and don't understand the true nature of the radical right wing that leads us today. Brock's book is indeed a road map to where all the bodies were buried in the nineties.
This book made me rethink my belief that the left, in order to regain whatever effectiveness and voice it had in past decades, needs to fight fire with fire, innuendo with innuendo, and ethics accusations with ethics accusations. This book left me feeling that there is no excuse for the kind of ugliness the Scaifes and Norquists and their minions have injected into political discourse. Of course, that leaves me somewhat depressed and adrift from my moorings when I consider strategies for retaking America from the ideologues who, at our present juncture, are in control of Washington D.C.
I am torn between despising Brock for the damage he did to the country and embracing him for his introspection and his desire to come clean.
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83 of 92 people found the following review helpful
on August 6, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I always read the one star reviews first. And most of them, for this book, are misguided.

First off, Brock never claims any loyalty or affiliations with the Democratic party. So to call this some leftist hate slander treasonous etc etc is just ignorant. At the end of the book, Brock has broken his last meaningful ties with his ex-conservative friends, and sits in a political purgatory. He is exchanging ideas with a member of the left, Sidney Blumenthal, about Clinton. Brock admits to being very skeptical of Sidney to begin with, as he does not want to become the puppet of the other side just as he had been with the conservatives. His conclusion is that, contrary to his belief, there were some nice people on the left.

The first line of his epilogue, he states "In the fall of 2000, I registered to vote as an INDEPENDENT" (emphasis mine).

I've seen a review state that he changes sides like he changes his socks. Brock was a conservative, in practice, for 18 years. So that claim is absurd.

Brock exposes the journalistic integrity that was gradually forsaken as he strived to become an important member of the party, aided by those who wanted to use his skills to keep Democrats out of power. Brock admits freely that he harbors no ill will towards his ex friends, because HE is entirely responsible for his own actions and self-delusions. his intent was to expose the influences and pressures prevalent in the movement.

The argument that he wrote this to make a buck is silly, too. Brock was well aware that, had "The Seduction of Hillary Rodham" towed the party line, and bashed the first lady, he would, again, have been a millionaire. (He collected his advance, but gave up any future book deals by refusing to discredit Hillary in his book). Initally, after leaving the conservative movement, Brock played the brainwashed role, and refused culpability for his writings (confessions of a right wing hit-man). He makes clear that writing this book is also a way to expose his own lack of integrity and unwillingness to be true to himself as major reasons for his actions. This is the only way to reestablish trust.

I think every time O'Reilly and Hannity (and even the president) refuse to admit their own faults and lies in the face of evidence to the contrary, makes them WEAKER and less trustworthy. I can forgive a guy who says, "Ya, my fault".

ALSO, Brock mentions many times that he thinks the people he was dealing with were NOT representaive of the entire conservative movement, much less the Republican party. He states that those he dealt with, the Scaife's and the Olson's and the Barr's, the ones funding and informing HIS magazines and books, acted this way. Brock notes several times how Republicans often rejected the idealistic extremes of the neo-cons, and that some were appalled by the head hunting of Clinton. Brock is making an observation about his situation, which was no doubt influential in the conservative movement, but is not ever meant to represent everyone on the right. Brock also never claims that no one on the Left acts that way either. But since he doesn't have the experience of 'being on the left', he can't comment on it. That's a major point of the book...the pundits that said the most vile things about Hillary were the ones that were least familiar with her.

So please don't ascribe motives and theories about Brock's book that don't have any refernece to what he actually wrote.
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80 of 89 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
In one way, this book does not break much new ground. Much of what Brock has to share has been presented to the public before by a number of investigative reporters, though it should be added that for many of them, Brock was an important source of information. Indeed, I learned many of the details in this book from reading Conason and Lyon's THE BETRAYAL OF THE PRESIDENT, which mentioned Brock's experiences on several occasions. What is new is the insider's perspective the book offers. The many books on the Clinton years and the shenanigans of the Right in trying to destroy Clinton are mainly written from the viewpoint of the Left. Although a convert, Brock gives some insight from within his old position.
In many ways this book is much better than I had anticipated, though in a couple of ways the book bothers much like his book on Anita Hill did. The book does seem more honest and truthful than I had expected. He seems to have matured a lot over the past few years. The genre to which the book belongs is largely that of conversion narrative, which he rightly acknowledges in the Preface. Conversion narratives-both in books and films-were extremely common in the 1940s and 1950s, during the days of the Red Menace, and in the 1970s and 1980s, as former radicals moved to the mainstream. The book is unique in chronicling one person moving from the Right to the Left, instead of the opposite, more common direction in such narratives. But the book is also in part personal confession, as well as an indictment of his former friends.
It is the indictment aspect of the book by which I am most bothered. Brock rightly is disturbed by much that he discovered on the Right: cultural and social intolerance; the unconcern for the truth and obsession with harming their enemies, even if it meant telling lies or half lies; the lack of ideas apart from attacking their opponents; their demonization of those on the Left; and the enormous hypocrisy on the part of many of those who were morally intolerant of Clinton. The problem is that in proving their hypocrisy, he deals a bit more than I like with the adulteries and other sins of those on the Right. The book is already getting some press because near the end he suggests that Matt Drudge, of The Drudge Report, pretty transparently made explicit homosexual overtures to him. I am always uncomfortable when anyone "outs" someone who is not already "out." Also, Brock also uses a lot of negative physical imagery in discussing his former colleagues. He has a genius for describing people in profoundly unflattering ways. I can understand pointing out someone committing adultery while at the same time condemning Clinton. But what is the point of talking of how unattractive someone is?
The crucial event in Brock's beginning to move from the Right to the Left was, he recounts, the publication of STRANGE JUSTICE: THE SELLING OF CLARENCE THOMAS by Jane Mayer and Jill Abramson. The book was in many ways a refutation of Brock's own book on Anita Hill. In it, the authors uncovered significant evidence that Justice Thomas had an ongoing interest in kinds of subject matter of a kind that would have bolstered Anita Hill's claims, even video stores where he rented certain kinds of videos. In attempting to disprove this, Brock discovered that although he had not previously known that Thomas was involved with naughty subject matter, many of Thomas's friends and colleagues, who were Brock's friends also, already knew of his interest. In other words, although a knowledge of Thomas's involvement with these things offered a powerful corroboration of Anita Hill's testimony, many on the Right kept it secret and damned Hill when they knew she was probably being completely honest. Although he defended his book at this occasion, his confidence in both himself as a journalist and the Right as a moral force were both seriously undermined.
One telling anecdote comes relatively late in the book, after Brock has left the Right and the American Spectator and is doing some freelance writing. A woman calls him to ask questions about an article he has written for the New Yorker, asking him for notes and additional information about some of the things he has written. The woman was someone that he had never talked to in all his years working in Right wing journalism: a fact checker. While writing for the Washington Times and the American Spectator, he had never talked with one. He earlier in the book related that at neither publication did anyone require the standard two sources that all reputable newspapers and magazines employ. One disreputable and biased source that was not checked for believability was a more than adequate basis for running a story, as long as it was damaging or embarrassing for the opposite side.
The book is yet more evidence that the confirmation of Clarence Thomas to the US Supreme Court is one of the most shameful incidents in recent American history. Ted Olson, the current solicitor general, who was narrowly and controversially confirmed just before Jeffords leaving the GOP and giving the Democrats a majority in the Senate, also comes across very, very badly in this book. And as in all books on the Right's political activity in the past twenty years, the presence of Richard Mellon Scaife is felt everywhere. The more I read about Scaife and the enormous fortune he has expended in bankrolling some of the more nefarious activities by the Far Right in the past few decades, the more I wish that someone would write an exhaustive biography about him. No one should wield that much influence on the American political process without being very well known by the public at large. The book also provides yet more confirmation of something that has by this point been proven pretty much beyond question, that there was indeed a conspiracy on the Right to undermine the presidency and the Clintons. Brock's only quibble is with using the word "vast" to qualify it.
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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on August 29, 2005
Format: Paperback
I was one of the new American Spectator subscribers David Brock writes about who were influenced by Rush Limbaugh and Mr. Brock's earlier writings. I devoured anything anti-Clinton that was written during the early 90s and I was convinced that the sitting President was an immoral villain who deserved the castigation he received from the honorable Republicans who relentlessly pursued him.

Then I woke up. My conversion to and from conservatism coincides with Mr. Brock's own timeline. So I found this memoir about the unscrupulous reporting that went on at the American Spectator very interesting.

Politics is a dirty game and I certainly don't think Democrats and liberals are immune from pursuing their opponents with questionable tactics. But Republicans play dirty tricks and then postulate they are elected because of their "moral values". Uh, I don't think so.

In "Blinded by the Right", Mr. Brock reveals that he was a tortured soul struggling with both his sexual orientation, his politics, his relationship to his father, and his own success. It is a classic tale of the problems that result when a person sells his soul to the devil.

One of those problems is that fact that when an author confesses his earlier writings were lies or stretched truth, he loses credibility in his future writings. So, I am a bit skeptical when Mr. Brock asserts Matt Drudge and Armstrong Williams made sexual moves on him. Apparently, Mr. Brock's new editors still didn't demand that these accusations be fact-checked. Were there any witnesses to these events? Or is David getting a little full of himself. Does he really think he is that good-looking and irrestible? And if they did make a move on him, why did he feel the need to publish it in this book? Was Mr. Brock trying to embarrass them? Discredit them? I'm not so sure David learned from the viciousness he skillfully wielded when he was attacking the Clintons and other liberals.

And I am not sure why all of a sudden in a later chapter that his conservative ex-friends become "elves". Mr. Brock was once an "elf", so why is he so hostile? This just another insult from a man who has made a career insulting people.

As of the writing of this book, David Brock reveals that he still was a tortured soul. I know he runs a website that analyzes the media and I know he is a frequent guest on Air America radio. I just still don't know if I can trust him yet.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2002
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
For me, the most telling fact in this book is David Brock's confession that in researching and writing his best seller about Anita Hill and the Thomas confirmation hearings, he did not speak to ONE source from the other side. Not one.
This book's greatest revelation is this: That a best selling author of books and articles that could so profoundly affect our politics, and, in turn, profoundly impact the lives of the nation's citizens, spent years completely isolated within a very tiny beltway community -- that was equally isolated from much of the rest of Washington, as well as from the greater interests of the nation.
Nowhere in this book is there any indication that the denizens of that little world gave any real thought to what was going on in the larger life of the nation. The desires and interests of the larger population of American voters is not part of the equation in their strategies and scheming. As for the "other side" -- they were simply perceived as the hated enemy, with no consideration ever given to the fact that they represented the political will of large numbers of Americans.
In Brock's tiny world, not only was Clinton "illegitimate," but so, by implication, were the millions of voters who put him, and kept him, in office.
Mr. Brock's experience is on the Right, of course, and there is no way to know, from this book, if the obvious detachment from the greater American experience and interests is as rampant on the Democratic side as it apparently is within the conservative "3rd Generation" movement that Brock writes about and once epitomized. But, considering how completely the "mainstream" beltway reporters and pundits abandoned the issues that American voters had made apparent as their major concerns in the '92 election -- health care, economic strategies for dealing with the displacements of a globalized economy, deficit reduction, among others -- in order to embrace the questionable "character" themes and false scandals propagated by these conservative strategists and polemicists, one can only conclude that, at least in what is often called the "liberal" beltway media, an equally profound detachment prevailed.
Brock is a good writer, and this book moves along briskly. His gradual awakening to the lack of integrity and honesty in his own work is logical and believable. This is not the usual tale of political conversion from one "side" to its opposite. Instead, it is the story of one man's journey away from self-delusion. In the process, much is revealed about how political opinion is manipulated and controversy contrived.
In the long run, this book left me with disturbing questions about what is going on in Washington -- most especially about the apparent lack of commitment to, respect for, and understanding of, the principles and institutions of democracy among our nation's "chattering" class.
Anyone who cares about democracy -- at every point on the political spectrum -- should read this book. It provides a clear view of a disturbing reality that every voter needs to be aware of in order to be truly informed.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on August 3, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book needs to be read by Americans of every political persuasion. The author puts names and faces to the forces that allied and conspired to destroy the Clinton presidency. Perhaps some Democrats will be glad that this book was written and view it as a vindication of sorts, and no doubt certain Republicans will continue to be unhappy with the contents and the author. But I had a different reaction. I view the book as a wake up call to any American, (Republican, Democrat or whatever) who cares about his country.
The book is a warning about the dangers and consequences of intolerance (on all sides of the political spectrum) and what can result when a group of determined individuals decide they are going to have things their way, somehow. Mr. Brock's distress at seeing conservative speakers shouted down in his early days at Berkeley should be a warning to liberals who view themselves as the standard bearers of inclusion and diversity, but do not actually walk the walk. However, events described later in the book are not excused by the author as a reaction against liberal intolerance.
The underlying, recurring refrain in the book is the unscrupulous pursuit of power by any means. Mr. Brock gained fame and money working for the individuals who financed the "Get Clinton" and "Get Anita Hill" movements. Their agenda and methods are made plain, and as a beginning journalist he was their willing tool. Slander, calumny, lies and invective were used to achieve preconceived ends. The Special Prosecutor laws were warped, the media were manipulated, and so on. It is there for everyone to read.
Historians and people who have watched American politics for a long time may say that that this type of thing is not really anything new for either party, but the lobotomized, unremitting hatred with which Clinton was pursued is noteworthy. The book describes it as a kind of cottage industry, financed by wealthy people with an axe to grind.
Some critics question the author's motives for writing the book, or are leery of it because of the author's past writings. But I fear that this book is truthful. In the end, the author has done a great service by holding a mirror up to a recent chapter of political discourse in this country. Its not his fault that the reflection is revolting, or that some of the chief villains of the day are a faction in the Republican party.
Judging by the large number of reviews of this book, many Americans have read it and are dismayed. Now that we have this information, now that we know what went on, what is to be done? The answer is easy, it's the execution that is difficult. I like to think that the bad guys will reap what they sow without any action on my part, but it doesn't seem to work that way in politics, at least in the short term. Americans need to be more vigilant. We have to continually hold our elected leaders and the organizations that support them to a higher standard. We must be more discerning about what we believe and hear in the newspapers, radios and tv. We must cry foul, and snap the reins, even if its the "other side" being smirched, when political discourse begins to turn sour and muddy. Perhaps I am dreaming, but this is such a wonderful country, we musn't let a malicious group of a few people (of ANY persuasion) make it less so.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on June 11, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is a fascinating book about how the far right neoconservative wing of the Republican Party has used the media and the judiciary to promote their radical agenda. The fact that many neocons, such as Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perle, Cheney, etc. are currently running the country makes this an important read for anyone who cares about America. Republicans, as well as Democrats, should be concerned about what Brock has to say. Many people watch the neocon Fox News channel or read the neocon editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal without realizing that they exist to indoctrinate and promote a certain agenda rather than inform. The fact that we were all deceived about the imminent threat Iraq posed, by the right wing media is alarming.
Neoconservatives were originally liberals who abandoned the left largely because of their hatred of communism and their belief that Democrats minimized the communist threat. Republicans normally were isolationist and promoted small government. Neoconservatism is an ideology that supports using American power (military and otherwise) and wealth to mould the rest of the world into what they feel protects American interests. Their agenda requires larger government, increased military spending, unilateralism (i.e. no UN) and nation building. As recent events in Iraq have shown the neocons live in something of a fantasy world. It is not easy to overthrow bad governments and install something better.
Brock was a member of the third generation of neocons. He started out a liberal at Berkeley but felt that the left was too radicalized, which was largely true in the 1970s. However, he became swallowed up in a completely radicalized right wing movement. As he became more successful in his writing career he tried to justify his behavior. He wrote a character assassination of Anita Hill even though he believed she was telling the truth, simply to assure the nomination of Clarence Thomas (whose policies he disagreed with). He was part of a conspiracy to destroy the Clinton presidency and actually started the ball rolling on Clinton's impeachment with his article on Troopergate even though he doubted the credibility of the troopers involved. He ignored homophobia among his friends and colleagues. He ignored unethical behavior from a trusted advisor, a D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals judge.
Some question if Brock is actually telling the truth in this book because he lied in the past or because he did not use footnotes. The fact that no one mentioned in this book has filed a libel or slander suit against Brock is evidence enough that he is telling the truth. Many neocons have attacked Brock's character but have not challenged anything his book has to say.
Regardless of your political beliefs you should want to know about the sleazy, dishonest world of right wing movements. You should want to know that some in the Christian right want to implement Biblical law such as the death penalty for adultery. You should want to know about the misogyny, hypocrisy, character assassinations and lies. Thank you David for exposing the truth.
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
David Brock's Blinded by the Right is part autobiography, part expose. Brock's description of his early life and his first political interests (liberal Democratic) is a lead up to a major epiphany: While a student at Berkeley in the early 1980s he saw Jean Kirkpatrick being shouted down by a group of left wing thugs. Justifiably outraged, Brock began to attack political correctness and other foolishnesses in a series of articles for the campus newspaper. Through this exposure he came to the attention of the national right wing, which adopted him and assisted his ideological move from liberalism through conservatism into the arms of the extreme right's lunatic fringe. Brock joined this fringe just at the time it reached its loudest and most hysterical pitch during the early Clinton years, a period when the traditional four horsemen of the Radical Right, greed, sexism, racism, and bigotry were joined by a fifth, prurience.
The story Brock paints of those years when the Far Right launched an unprecedented assault on the legitimately elected government is shocking, especially when he details the campaign of rumor, innuendo, and lies these self-proclaimed guardians of the nation created. For all the weaknesses and frailties of President and Mrs. Clinton (and I make no excuses for either of them), Anita Hill, Vincent Foster, and the other victims of the Right Wing in those years, surely no human beings ever deserved such hatred and vituperation.
Blinded by the Right is an important book for four reasons:
1. It confirms (as if we needed confirmation) the existence of the "vast right wing conspiracy." Brock gives names, dates, places of documented contacts and collusions between individuals and groups who sought to unseat the President and force their extremist agenda on the nation.
2. It clearly delineates the differences between today's right wing and the honorable, decent conservatism of the past. While reading this book one is often moved to mourn the passing of the Goldwaters and Tafts and to muse over the probable reaction of Edmund Burke to today's so called conservatives: would he not rush to scrape them off his shoes?
3. It reveals the hypocrisy of those right wing spokesmen and women who condemned President Clinton's moral failures while maintaining their own cozy little ménages and other dubious liaisons.
4. It depicts in detail the petty meanness and nastiness of the so-called humor of the right wing, which came to dominate the airwaves during the 1990s. Stories and jokes which would be too vulgar for a boys junior high school locker room are banded about freely amongst these self-described ladies and gentlemen. I would use the term "sophomoric" but I teach high school sophomores and few of them would stoop to repeat some of that stuff.
To his credit, Brock details his own part in these savageries without excuses beyond pecuniary ones (he evidently did quite well financially out of it all). And he points out with regret the damage that was done to our nation's political process and to the public's perception of that process. This is indeed damage that will take a long time to mend. I trust that eventually Brock's former associates will join him in regretting what they have done.
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