Clinton White House Counsel's Office, "Communication Stream of Conspiracy Commerce" [excerpt], prepared circa July 1995.
Communication Stream of Conspiracy Commerce: The Communication Stream of Conspiracy Commerce refers to the mode of communication employed by the right wing to convey their fringe stories into legitimate subjects of coverage by the mainstream media. This is how the stream works. First, well funded right wing think tanks and individuals underwrite conservative newsletters and newspapers such as the Western Journalism Center, the American Spectator and the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. Next, the stories are reprinted on the internet where they are bounced all over the world. From the internet, the stories are bounced into the mainstream media through one of two ways: 1) The story will be picked up by the British tabloids and covered as a major story, from which the American right-of-center mainstream media (i.e. the Wall Street Journal, Washington Times and New York Post) will then pick the story up; or 2) The story will be bounced directly from the internet to the right-of-center American media, which covers the story; Congressional committees will lock into the story. After Congress looks into the story, the story now has the legitimacy to be covered by the remainder of the American mainstream press as a "real" story.
Background Reading: The emergence of conservative think tanks and their effectiveness at conveying conservative ideas has been discussed by a number of publications. The think tanks serve as the ideas mill for today's Republican Party. The think tanks define and shape the idea's agenda for the party and serve as the training ground for this new generation of conservatives. In many ways, these Republican think tanks are to today's media age of political organizations what the Democratic big city party machines were to the New Deal era of political organizations.
Richard Mellon Scaife: Richard Mellon Scaife is in the vanguard of this aforementioned form of this media age political organizing. Scaife uses the $800 million Mellon fortune which he inherited to fund a virtual empire of right wing newspapers and foundations. These newspapers and foundations use their power to control the Republican Party's agenda and viewpoints. Scaife, in particular, is one of the major backers of Newt Gingrich. Interestingly enough, Gingrich's view on Vince Foster seemed to dovetail with Scaife's following Scaife's pumping of thousands of dollars into Gingrich's GOPAC's coffers.
The Helen Dickey Example: The Helen Dickey story is a classic example of how these right wing foundations and newsletters can use the Communication Stream of Conspiracy Commerce to get a fringe story into the mainstream. In this case, the right wing British tabloid reporter Ambrose Evans-Pritchard reported in London's Sunday Telegraph that an Arkansas State Trooper, Roger Perry, had talked with White House staffer Helen Dickey about the fact that Vince Foster's death [occurred] hours before his death was supposed to have become known. From Pritchard, the story received major coverage by the Scaife funded Western Journalism Center and the Scaife owned Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. From these fringe, right wing publications the story found a far wider audience. From the internet, right-of-center mainstream papers, including the Washington Times and New York Post, covered the Dickey story as a legitimate news item. Once these papers covered the story, Congressional staffers from Alfonse D'Amato's staff had the needed justification to investigate the issue. In turn, the investigation of the issue gave the story further credibility and allowed other members of the mainstream media to cover the story.
The Foster Forgery Note Example: In late October , James Davidson and the organization which he is president of, the National Taxpayers Union (NTU), sponsored a press conference purporting to show that the Foster suicide note was a forgery. The press conference and the report of the forged suicide note was covered by the mainstream media. However, a closer look at the situation shows how fantasy can become fact when it is in the hands of the right wing Foster conspiracy industry. NTU and Davidson relied upon Ronald Rice, a self-described handwriting expert. In fact, Rice is not a handwriting expert with the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office but, in fact, the head of a hypnotist training school in Boston. As for Davidson and NTU has been publishing Foster conspiracy industry stories. Furthermore, NTU received a large chunk of its funding from Richard Mellon Scaife. Finally, the Independent Counsel's report, based on the FBI's findings, has concluded that the Foster note was the real thing. Despite all of these facts, the mainstream press covered the press conference as if it was a legitimate story.
David Bossie: Bossie is a key staffer on the Senate Whitewater Committee. He is also a former leader and organizer for the right wing organization Citizens United. Bossie is known in the media community for constantly spinning out anti-Clinton stories. His involvement in the Whitewater hearings demonstrate the overtly political nature of the hearings. Moreover, Bossie's presence shows the close connection that exists between Republican elected officials and the right wing conspiracy industry.
Right Wing Publications: Right wing publications are produced in a prolific manner.
The Internet: The internet has become one of the major and most dynamic modes of communication. The internet can link people, groups and organizations together instantly. Moreover, it allows an extraordinary amount of unregulated data and information to be located in one area and available to all. The right wing has seized upon the internet as a means of communicating its ideas to people. Moreover, evidence exists that Republican staffers surf the internet, interacting with extremists in order to exchange ideas and information.
Who's Behind All This?
In order to fully understand the Whitewater story, it is important to understand how conservative groups are, and have been, able to generate a media frenzy over the Whitewater story.
The Media Food Chain
The media food chain is the system by which right-wing activists feed conspiracy theories and innuendo from the fringes into the mainstream media. The "food chain" starts with activists such as Willie Horton creator Floyd Brown, Sheffield Nelson and Larry Nichols. These activists feed the partisan conservative press, publications such as the American Spectator, the Washington Times and the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal. The mainstream press then picks up on these reports.
The "Blow-Back" Strategy
One specific "food chain" strategy is the "blow-back." The blow-back starts with conservative groups feeding material to the British tabloids, such as the Sunday Telegraph. Conservative American tabloids and mainstream American media then report on the British reports.
For example, recently the Washington Times reprinted Ambrose Evans-Pritchard's Sunday Telegraph response to a Washington Post article on Vince Foster conspiracy theorists. Pritchard, who took offense to being lumped in with conspiracy theorists, has been a leading reporter of various conspiracies - most recently accusing Vince Foster of secretly being a spy. (Washington Times, 7/10/95 and Washington Post, 7/4/95)
The Richard Scaife Connection
In addition to the use of the media food chain and blow-back strategies, conservatives have another tie - their source of funds. A number of groups that have been peddling conspiracy theories (mainly questioning the suicide of Deputy White House Counsel Vince Foster) are funded by Richard M. Scaife.
Richard Scaife is an heir to the Mellon fortune with an estimate net worth of $750 million. In addition to his financial support of purveyors of Vince Foster conspiracy theories, Scaife also is a Newt Gingrich insider -- backing many of the groups that support and defend Newt Gingrich, including contributing $60,000 to GOPAC and $450,000 to the Landmark Legal Foundation.
SOURCES WITHOUT CREDIBILITY PUSHING STORIES INTO MAINSTREAM PRESS
Whitewater is one of many issues originating with sources without credibility. There is a discernible pattern in which Willie Horton creator Floyd Brown and tabloid "news" organizations have forced stories into the mainstream press. Most interesting is the "blowback" strategy in which stories are planted in the British tabloids and then those stories are reported on in the U.S. press.
Whitewater: From Floyd Brown to Wall Street Journal
2/94 - The Wall Street Journal's editorial board met with Floyd Brown.....
3/4/94 - To the Journal's editorial page: After the meeting, the Journal devoted nearly half of its editorial page to reprinting documents it had obtained from Brown in meeting.
The Journal reprinted a series of letters between David Hale and Paula Casey they obtained from Brown, which it entitled, "Poison, Then Recuse" and "Bargaining in Little Rock." [Chicago Tribune, 3/27/94; Wall Street Journal, 3/9/94]
3/9/94 - From Brown: Brown's "Clinton Watch" published a "Whitewater" Fax Bulletin entitled, Special Counsel Robert Fiske subpoenaed Clinton administration officials and associates but he missed one -- Patsy Thomasson.
This Bulletin spoke of Thomasson's relationship with Dan Lasater and the fact that she searched Vince Foster's office after his death. [Clinton Watch, 3/9/94]
3/10/94 - To the Journal's editorial page: The next day, The Wall Street Journal ran an editorial "Who Is Patsy Thomasson?"
The article stated that there had been a delay in getting a White House pass for her and said, "We suspect that [the delay] had something or other to do with her past association with another Arkansas FOB, bond trader and drug convict Dan Lasater." [Wall Street Journal, 3/10/94]
Other Mainstream Press Have Been Influenced By Brown:
1994 - From Brown to other mainstream media: Floyd Brown and his associate David Bossie claim that "dozens" of members of the mainstream press including Time and Money magazines, NBC and the London Times have used them for information or interviews. [Chicago Tribune, 3/27/94]
2/94 - From Brown to other mainstream media: Bossie and NBC television producer Ira Silverman were seen together while attempting to interview Arkansas S&L regulator, Beverly Basset Schaffer. [Chicago Tribune, 3/27/94]