Anyone who took even a passing interest in American politics during the 1990’s could not fail to be aware of the acrimonious atmosphere that pervaded national politics. Partisan battles raged as left and right fought to win control over the political and cultural life of the nation. A taste of what was to come occurred in 1991, when the whole nation was riveted to its television screens during the Senate confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. Thomas was accused by a law professor, Anita Hill, of sexual harassment, and the hearings contained the kind of lurid detail that is normally confined to supermarket tabloids. Thomas was narrowly confirmed to the Supreme Court, but the vicious infighting that accompanied the process would scar political debate for years to come.
Brock, who made his own contribution to the Thomas affair by writing a book that, he now admits, unjustly smeared Anita Hill, has written a memoir in which he in effect renounces his past. He freely admits to the most damning of sins in a journalist charged with delivering factual information to the public: he lied deliberately, repeatedly, and unashamedly. He was so caught up in his desire to serve the radical right that he lost his integrity in the process. Now he wants to cleanse his soul by confessing the truth. Blinded by the Right does not make pleasant reading, since there seem to be no depths of mendacity to which Brock, the right-wing hit man, would not sink in order to further his own journalistic career. He seems now to be genuinely ashamed of many of the things that he did, but given his consistent track record of lying to suit himself, the reader might be forgiven for wondering whether he is indeed telling the truth and nothing but the truth this time around.
Brock began his political life as a liberal; his hero was Democratic icon Robert F. Kennedy. However, when he attended the University of California at Berkeley in the early 1980’s, he underwent a conversion experience. Disturbed by what he saw as intolerance on the part of the student left, Brock’s misgivings came to a head when Jeane Kirkpatrick, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, visited the campus. Kirkpatrick was an outspoken supporter of U.S. anticommunist policies in Central America, and when she visited Berkeley, student liberal activists shouted her down and she was unable to deliver even a word of her speech. Shocked by this incident, Brock gravitated toward conservatism and in his remaining undergraduate years forged a reputation for himself as a conservative journalist on the main student newspaper at Berkeley, the Daily Cal. In 1986, Brock moved to Washington D.C. and got a job as a news reporter with the conservative Washington Times newspaper. He became increasingly devoted to the conservative cause, and for Insight, The Washington Times’ weekly newsmagazine, he wrote an article in support of the notoriously brutal regime of General Augusto Pinochet in Chile, ignoring the regime’s record of torture and other gross human rights abuses. This set the tone for Brock’s later work. He saw himself as part of a movement that had declared war on the political left and his job as the prosecution of a war with all the journalistic means he could muster. It was “us” against “them.”
In explaining how he got caught up in this way of thinking, Brock writes that he was content to think what everyone else in the conservative movement was thinking. He claims that he never thought deeply about conservative ideology, nor did he see any conflict in his being a homosexual man in the largely antihomosexual Republican party, although he did not publicly disclose his sexual orientation until 1994. During the 1980’s, according to Brock, the Republican Party did not show the hostility toward gays that would characterize it a decade later. Nonetheless, as a closeted homosexual, Brock admits that he was an unhappy man, unable to create meaningful personal relationships. He now realizes that it was his personal misery that in part produced his vituperative writings: “A mad dog, an emotional monster, was about to be released.”
The first fruit of the “mad dog” was The Real Anita Hill (1993), in which Brock tried to prove that Hill’s accusation of...
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