There’s much that is annoying but interesting in Jason Zengerle’s profile of David Brock. But this is just bat-guano nuts. I don’t know if it reflects badly on the author or on liberals or on both:
But Brock’s greatest fund-raising tool is his personal story, and Blinded by the Right plays the same role for today’s rich liberals that Witness played for conservative intellectuals a half-century ago. Peter Lewis, the billionaire who gave Brock $1 million to help get Media Matters off the ground and has been a major donor ever since, says he was initially inspired to contribute because he’d read Brock’s memoir. “Seeing the things he couldn’t deal with over there on the conservative side and then being abused because of his sexual preference—his whole story was just compelling to me,” Lewis says. Other major contributors to Media Matters tell similar tales. “His having been among the right and rejected them is really emotionally comforting to donors,” says Brock’s friend Jon Cowan, who heads the progressive think tank Third Way. “They know he’s damn good at what he does, but it also means a lot to them that he hates the right as much as they do.” One Democratic politico who has chased after some of the same money says that Brock is simply a captivating character: “The tortured gay intellectual and dark complicated figure who wrestled with his soul. Some of it is cultivated, some of it is real, but man, is it a good f**king show.”
In how many ways is this a stupid analogy? Witness is one of the greatest autobiographies of the 20th century, according to liberals and conservatives alike. Blinded by the Right is, according to liberals and conservatives alike, a great autobiography for keeping a table with one short leg steady. Whittaker Chambers? One of the most consequential intellectual-journalists of his generation. Brilliant, tortured, profound. David Brock? He was a ethically-challenged hack of the right who has taken his talents where they’re more appreciated and better compensated. Whittaker Chambers was driven by a profound crisis of conscience and a deep faith to switch from what he considered to be the winning side of history to the losing side because it was better to die free than live under Communism. Brock switched sides because as a gay cosmopolitan with “issues” he knew he’d have a better time. Chambers exposed the metaphysical evil of Communism. Brock spends his days fact-checking Glenn Beck’s math as if the fate of Western civilization was at stake.
If rich liberals think Blinded by the Right is akin to Witness or that their conversion narratives are meaningfully similar, they deserve to be bilked by Brock.