The right’s new, ridiculous Clinton conspiracy will make your head explode

Conservatives and the media tie the Clintons to an imagined book-leaking scheme. It's too soon to be this stupid

Topics: conservative media, The Daily Beast, Lloyd Grove, Washington Free Beacon, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, The Weekly Standard, Media Criticism, Media, Politics, 2016 Elections, ,

The right's new, ridiculous Clinton conspiracy will make your head explodeHillary Clinton (Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin)

As of this moment, we are 847 days out from Election Day 2016. There are no declared 2016 candidates. We haven’t even had a Donald Trump head fake yet. Hell, we’re still 112 days from Election Day 2014, which means there’s a long way to go before you can even start making a plausible case that the 2016 election cycle has begun.

And yet, the mere thought of Hillary Clinton as a potential candidate has us acting like it’s late October 2016 and we’re all freak-show obsessed idiots.

A bunch of prominent political journalists recently received unsolicited emails from a person identifying himself as Robert Josef Wright. This person had apparently obtained an early copy of “Clinton, Inc.,” the forthcoming book by Daniel Halper of the Weekly Standard, and scanned it into PDF form so he could send it to these journalists. “Will you take it seriously or will the liberal press coronate the Clintons by attacking the messenger,” this strange person wrote.

No one seems to know how this guy got a copy of the book or how he had the email addresses of so many big-shot journalists, but bored reporters and anonymous sources with wagging tongues quickly helped to fill the information gap with whatever was at hand.

The theory that quickly emerged was that Robert Josef Wright was a person pretending to be a conservative and was likely affiliated with the Clintons. That, at least, was the speculation passed on by Lloyd Grove of the Daily Beast, who attributed this theory to an anonymous “publishing source.”

“The working theory of who it might be is somebody who wants to come across as a conservative, but in a way it seems like they’re trying too hard,” this source said. “So it might be somebody who’s not a conservative. They have an excellent, sophisticated media list, including people who are not commonly known, so this is somebody with some Washington-New York media savvy. The most likely suspect would be someone affiliated with the Clintons.”

“That, of course, is pure speculation, unsupported by evidence,” Grove wrote, stating the glaringly obvious. But unsourced allegations unsupported by evidence were reason enough to contact Clinton spokespeople and ask them if they’d set up a fake-conservative sock puppet to illicitly obtain and blast out copies of Halper’s book. Team Clinton, of course, denied this had happened.



Regardless, the Clintons had been named by some guy in connection to an alleged scheme that may or may not have happened, which (if you’re familiar with the history between the Clintons and the media) is more than enough to secure a conviction. And even though there’s absolutely nothing to indicate that this scheme even existed, the Washington Free Beacon is now saying it’s “backfired.”

Lloyd Grove of the Daily Beast suggests that the “strange leak” threw a wrench in the “ambitious and detailed plans for the rollout” of the book by publisher HarperCollins.

Though many have suggested that the leak is intended to ruin the release, it seems to have had the opposite effect. The book has received wide publicity and praise since it was sent around the media world.

Follow the bouncing ball, if you can: A strange man emails copies of the book to journalists telling them to read and promote it; the Daily Beast quotes an anonymous person wondering if this person was actually pretending to be conservative; from there it’s assumed that this fake-conservative person was somehow trying to squelch interest in the book; that assumption is held as true, and conservatives say his scheme backfired because the book is drawing intense interest (which was exactly what the stated intent of the original emails was).

That gets to the logic of the alleged scheme – how, exactly, would emailing entire copies of “Clinton, Inc.” to influential journalists who salivate over Clinton minutiae serve to dull interest in the book? That’s precisely what publishers do to increase interest in books. None of this makes sense.

And, of course, hovering over all of it is the assumed involvement of the Clintons, who obviously had a hand in this because Whitewater Travelgate Vince Foster etc.

We’re only halfway through July 2014. It’s too early to be this stupid.

Simon Maloy

Simon Maloy is Salon's political writer. Email him at smaloy@salon.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SimonMaloy.

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