In a 1995 internal memo, President Bill Clinton's White House Counsel's Office offered an in-depth analysis of the right-wing media mill that Hillary Clinton had dubbed the "vast right-wing conspiracy." Portions of the report, which was reported on by the Wall Street Journal and other outlets at the time, were included in a new trove of documents released to the public by the Clinton presidential library on Friday.They (the White House staffers) even had a name for it: "The Communication Stream of Conspiracy Commerce."
The report traced the evolution of various Clinton scandals, such as Whitewater and the Gennifer Flowers affair allegations, from their origins at conservative think tanks or in British tabloids, until the point in which they entered the mainstream news ecosystem.
Not a big fan of the forced alliteration, but before we get the conspiratorial content, there was something about the fancy phrase that caught my eye. Chop off the detailing nouns and you get "stream of commerce."
Here's how USLegal.com defines the phrase:
As used in tort law, stream of commerce theory refers to a principle that a person who participates in placing a defective product in the general marketplace is strictly liable for harm caused by the product.The important part is the phrase "placing a defective product in the general marketplace."
Guess just guess who's prominently featured on that memo from nearly 20 years ago. Take a look:
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 rightwing newspapers and foundations.These newspapers and foundations, in turn, propagate Scaife's extremist views. Scaife along with a handful of other wealthy individuals and foundations use their power to control the Republican Party's agenda and viewpoints.And:
The controversy surrounding the death of Vince Foster has been, in large part, the product of a well-financed rightwing conspiracy industry operation. The "Wizard of Oz" figure orchestrating the machinations of the conspiracy industry is a little-known recluse, Richard Mellon Scaife. Scaife uses his $800 million dollar inherited Mellon fortune to underwrite the Foster conspiracy industry. Scaife promotes the industry through his ownership of a small Pittsburgh newspaper, the Tribune-Review. Scaife's paper, under the direction of reporter Chris Ruddy, continually publishes stories regarding Foster's death.The articles are then reprinted in major newspapers all over the country in the form of paid advertisements.The Western Journalism Center (WJC), a nonprofit conservative think tank, places the stories in these newspapers.The WJC receives much of its financial backing from Scaife.That was true in 1995 and it's just as true today.
Scaife is in the vanguard of a new form of political organizing. Wealthy right wing foundations and individuals finance conservative think tanks and non-profits. The think tanks and non-profits promote their benefactor's agendas and viewpoints. The think tanks and non-profits are able to spin their backer's agenda and viewpoints back into the mainstream and control the agenda of the Republican Party.
Scaife uses his financing of the fringe, right wing publications and non-profits to create a communications stream of conspiracy commerce.The stream effectively conveys the rantings of the fringe into legitimate subjects of coverage by the mainstream media.Here is how Scaife does it: 1) The right wing publications he owns or helps finance such as the Tribune-Review or American Spectator will do a Foster conspiracy story; 2) The story will then be picked up on the internet; 3) From the internet the story will bounce back into the mainstream media; and 4) From the mainstream media, a Congressional investigatory committee will follow up on the story which, in turn, gives the story even more undeserved legitimacy.
And it's interesting to note that reporting of this story has found its way onto the pages of Scaife's Tribune-Review. But look at the byline: Bloomberg News. Take a look:
Scaife, the newspaper publisher and Mellon fortune heir, is the central player identified in the dossier. He is singled out for sowing doubt about whether White House Deputy Counsel Vince Foster committed suicide and for his financial backing of then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Republican organizations.Yea, if Scaife was signing my checks, I wouldn't want to write that either.
“Scaife uses his financing of the fringe, right-wing publications and non-profits to create a communications stream of conspiracy commerce,” the author, who isn't identified, wrote. “The stream effectively conveys the rantings of the fringe into legitimate subjects of coverage by the mainstream media.”
By the way, Vince Foster committed suicide. No less a screaming liberal than Ken Starr said so:
An exhaustive three-year investigation by the office of Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr has reaffirmed previous findings that White House deputy counsel Vincent W. Foster Jr. commited suicide.And where did many of those conspiracy theories come from? Scaife's communication stream of conspiracy commerce.
The report concludes that Foster was severely depressed about his work at the White House, took a revolver from a closet in his home, placed it in an oven mitt, and on the afternoon of July 20, 1993, drove to a Virginia park and shot himself. And it contains new forensic details that refute the conspiracy theories that have long surrounded his death – that Foster was a victim of foul play, or that his body was moved to Fort Marcy Park after his death at another location, perhaps the White House.
But don't delude yourself that the stream's dried up (to continue the riverly metaphor). For example, The Western Journalism Center is reporting on the recent Bundy lawlessness in Nevada:
After the federal Bureau of Land Management agents backed down from their intimidating stance at the Bundy Ranch last weekend, ample evidence has surfaced indicating the standoff between the government and the Nevada ranching family is far from over. Throughout the weeklong stalemate, members of the Bundy family were physically assaulted by armed officers, numerous cows were shot dead, and protesters faced threats of gunfire for merely expressing their outrage.So one rancher in Nevada effectively steals a million dollars worth of grazing time from the guv'ment, refuses to pay up when caught, threatens the guv'ment agents sent to implement a court order and they're the ones violating the Constitution.
Immediately after what many considered a victory against a tyrannical federal agency, a number of leftist voices – most notably, Sen. Harry Reid – indicated the action against this family will continue.
In response, Texas Republican Rep. Steve Stockman sent a letter to Barack Obama, Department of the Interior Sec. Sally Jewell, and BLM Director Neil Kornze, laying out his position that any such action by the agency would violate the U.S. Constitution.
Only in the Scaife' funded fringe.