Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

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Friday, May 02, 2008
The vast Blumenthal conspiracy
We have officially entered the Twilight Zone. The Clinton camp has cozied up to the right wing media, including Fox News, they've been blessed by Richard Melon Scaife, and they've adopted every sleazy campaign tactic that has ever been used against them. Now this:
Yesterday in the Huffington Post, Sid Blumenthal, a close friend and advisor of Hillary Clinton who has been widely credited with coining the term "vast right-wing conspiracy" used by Hillary in 1998 to describe the alliance of conservative media, think tanks, and political operatives that sought to destroy the Clinton White House, appears to be exploiting that same right-wing network to attack and discredit Barack Obama. And he's not hesitating to use the same sort of guilt-by-association tactics that have been the hallmark of the political right dating back to the McCarthy era. Blumenthal regularly dispatches emails to a list of opinion shapers, including journalists, former Clinton administration officials, academics, policy entrepreneurs, and think tankers -- an obvious effort to create an echo chamber that will reverberate among talk shows, columnists, and Democratic Party funders and activists.
From Dreier's original post:
Almost every day over the past six months, I have been the recipient of an email that attacks Obama's character, political views, electability, and real or manufactured associations. The original source of many of these hit pieces are virulent and sometimes extreme right-wing websites, bloggers, and publications. But they aren't being emailed out from some fringe right-wing group that somehow managed to get my email address. Instead, it is Sidney Blumenthal who, on a regular basis, methodically dispatches these email mudballs to an influential list of opinion shapers -- including journalists, former Clinton administration officials, academics, policy entrepreneurs, and think tankers -- in what is an obvious attempt to create an echo chamber that reverberates among talk shows, columnists, and Democratic Party funders and activists. One of the recipients of the Blumenthal email blast, himself a Clinton supporter, forwards the material to me and perhaps to others.

These attacks sent out by Blumenthal, long known for his fierce and combative loyalty to the Clintons, draw on a wide variety of sources to spread his Obama-bashing. Some of the pieces are culled from the mainstream media and include some reasoned swipes at Obama's policy and political positions.

But, rather remarkably for such a self-professed liberal operative like Blumenthal, a staggering number of the anti-Obama attacks he circulates derive from highly-ideological and militant right-wing sources such as the misnamed Accuracy in Media (AIM), The Weekly Standard, City Journal, The American Conservative, and The National Review.

To cite just one recent example, Blumenthal circulated an article taken from the fervently hard-right AIM website on February 18 entitled, "Obama's Communist Mentor" by Cliff Kincaid. Kincaid is a right-wing writer and activist, a longtime critic of the United Nations, whose group, America's Survival, has been funded by foundations controlled by conservative financier Richard Mellon Scaife, the same millionaire who helped fund attacks on the Clintons during their White House years. Scaife also funds AIM, the right-wing media "watchdog" group.

The Kincaid article that Blumenthal circulated sought to discredit Obama by linking him to an African-American poet and writer whom Obama knew while he was in high school in Hawaii. That writer, Frank Marshall Davis, was, Kincaid wrote, a member of the Communist Party. Supported by no tangible evidence, Kincaid claimed that Obama considered his relationship to Davis to be "almost like a son." In his memoir, Dreams from My Father, Obama wrote about meeting, during his teenage years, a writer named "Frank" who "had some modest notoriety once" and with whom he occasionally discussed poetry and politics. From this snippet, Kincaid weaves an incredulous tale that turns Davis into Obama's "mentor."

Kincaid's piece had been previously circulating within the right-wing blogosphere, but Blumenthal sought to inject the story into more respectable opinion circles by amplifying it in his email blast. ...

Scary stuff. And there's a lot more in the piece. It will be interesting to see how, or if, Camp Clinton (or Mr. Blumenthal himself,) responds. Clearly, the only lesson that the Clintons learned from their experience in the 1990s, is how to do the dirt that was done to them, and to be willing to do it to one of their own.

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posted by JReid @ 4:10 PM  
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