WASHINGTON - David Brock, the reformed right-wing reporter
who once took aim at Hillary Rodham Clinton, has cultivated surprisingly deep
ties to the senator - paying $200,000 to a Clinton confidant for working at his
watchdog group, Media Matters.
In the strange-bedfellows world of Washington, few couplings are odder than
the Clinton-Brock alliance. The ideological chameleon has emerged as a
reliable defender, while she's quietly nurtured his $8.5-million-a-year
"David is immensely valuable to Hillary," says a wealthy Democrat with ties
to Brock, speaking anonymously. "It's like having your former prosecutor
running around saying you were wrongfully prosecuted. He's living proof the
right wing is out to get Hillary. ... I don't think anyone really trusts him.
He'll never get a job in the [Hillary Clinton] White House, but he's useful."
Back in the mid-'90s, Brock, now 44, seemed the perfect choice to write the
definitive anti-Hillary tome. While at American Spectator, reporter Brock
repeated claims that she had an affair with her family friend Vince Foster. He
also broke the Paula Jones sex scandal, creating the cascade of denials that
ultimately led to Bill Clinton's impeachment.
But researching "The Seduction of Hillary Rodham" domesticated the attack
dog: Brock ended up admiring Clinton, infuriating his backers and driving him
into the Democratic fold. "In finding Hillary Clinton's humanity," he later
wrote, "I was beginning to find my own."
Brock's mediamatters.org Web site debunks attacks on all prominent
Democrats and has been funded by donors with connections to many party leaders.
Still, it's been particularly kind to Clinton. The site posts three to four
articles per week chiding perceived Clinton bashers from Bill O'Reilly to
Tucker Carlson to The New York Times. When Brock listed his 2005
accomplishments, he highlighted his point-by-point dissection of Ed Klein's
error-strewn Clinton biography.
For her part, Clinton's extended family of contributors, consultants and
friends has played a pivotal role in helping Media Matters grow from a $3.5
million start-up in 2004 to its current $8.5 million budget.
Two years ago, she advised Brock on creating the group, encouraging the
creation of a liberal equivalent of the Media Research Center, a conservative
group that has aggravated Democrats for decades.
And while Clinton and Brock aren't exactly chums, she chats with him
occasionally and thinks he provides a valuable service, according to people
familiar with the relationship.
Kelly Craighead, one of the Clinton's closest friends, served as one of
Brock's top advisers during Media Matters' formation in 2004. She was paid as
part of a $202,781 contract with her husband, Erick Mullen's, consulting
company, tax records obtained by Newsday show.
Brock, whose group is committed to media accountability, declined to
comment for this story and didn't return repeated calls. Mullen and Craighead
didn't return calls.
Craighead - whose 2001 marriage ceremony in California was performed by
Sen. Clinton, acting as a justice of the peace - now serves as a top adviser to
the Democracy Alliance. That group, which advises Democratic donors on where
to spend their political contributions, has steered more than $6 million to
Brock's group in the past two years, say alliance members.
Two of Media Matters' top alliance donors are Susie Tompkins Buell and
James Hormel, both Clinton loyalists and donors.
There are other Clinton connections. Media Matters' special projects
director, C. Neel Lattimore, was Clinton's press secretary when she was first
And Brock is close to Bill Clinton's former chief of staff John Podesta,
founder of the powerhouse Democratic think tank Center for American Progress.
Podesta, one of Hillary Clinton's top policy advisers, made room for Media
Matters in the center's offices before Brock found permanent digs for the group.
Still, Brock's backers say that his relationship with Hillary Clinton
merely reflects his rising stock among the liberals who once reviled him.
Its Web site has become a destination for liberal bloggers and radio hosts,
providing truth-squad commentary on the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Tucker Carlson
and Michael Savage. It also tracks the mainstream press, pointing out
reporting errors while alleging anti-Democrat or pro-GOP bias in news stories.
"David's really filled a void," said Fred Baron, a Texas lawyer and
Democratic donor to Media Matters. "The thing that sets him apart is his
commitment to publishing scrupulously accurate information. He really holds you