Media Whores vs. Hitchens, Part 3

The columnist responds to the Clintonites at the journalism gadfly site.

By Anthony York
Published April 16, 2001 7:10PM (EDT)


Drudge Report: "Russians Create 'Artificial' Human Brain" "Bush Breaks Promises On Education Spending -- Deceptions Continue" "It Cost Millions to Steal the Election -- Now Bush Won't Pay the Bill"
WorldNet Daily: "New Republic rips off WND's Chao-China story" "When the Market Fails"
Andrew Sullivan: "Easter in San Francisco"

Big buzz

Last week, this column reported on a little dust-up between Media Whores Online and Christopher Hitchens. Actually, "dust-up" is probably not the correct word. Dust-up implies some back and forth, a bit of hand-to-hand combat. The Media Whores fracas was simply an "open letter" posted on the site attacking Hitchens for his association with David Horowitz, and implying that the liberal journalist and outspoken Clinton critic was on the payroll of conservative sugar daddy Richard Mellon Scaife because he had spoken at a Horowitz-sponsored event.

The Media Whores piece earned a nasty response from Horowitz, who said Hitchens had not received a dime for his appearance at the event. And this weekend, Hitchens himself chimed in with this:

TO: Various curious and interested friends
FROM: Christopher Hitchens

Call me old-fashioned if you will, but as an open-letter veteran I'd say that for a "letter" to be "open" it must be both addressed and signed. There is no "Chris" at my place, which is only a detail. But one is left to guess at the identity of the wannabe "challengers" at the other end. I've no time to waste in investigating: however there's a fetid and furtive Clintonoid reek to their tone; a rotten fruit would not in any case have very far to roll from that grisly tree. Amusing, though, to see that this sad little bunch actually defines itself as whorish.

As all of you know, I am capable of the odd pro-bono event (oddly enough including the ones mentioned) but prefer to be paid for my efforts when possible. Mr Scaife has not so far deigned to notice me, but I hereby confirm that he's welcome to offer me a commission if he likes.

Since one or two of you tell me that you have had inquiries from honest readers, I'll break my rule of not denying slanders or innuendoes and say that you can forward this freely to anyone who is curious. It's only a sentence: Even the lightest insinuations made by the self-described "media whores" are witless and mendacious, and can be found to be so by anyone with access to the open (and accountable) media.

There. I feel slightly tainted even by looking under that rock. It will be faintly interesting to see if they pass this on unedited; at any rate they are on notice that people with real names and real sites can check and find out.

I hope this dispels the ephemeral aroma. Back to the book tour; please keep in touch.

As ever, fraternally,

MWO wasted little time in posting their response [Note: The original response appears as a paragraph-by-paragraph response to Hitchens' letter. We have taken the liberty of consolidating the response below.]:

Don't be dramatic, Christopher. And why is "investigating" always the first instinct of any right-winger when faced with opposition? (Unless you're Snitch pal David Irving, in which case the censorship tool of first resort is a baseless libel suit. Although when it comes to open-and-shut cases of libel such as Matt Drudge's sleazy smears against the betrayed-by-Hitchens Sidney Blumenthal -- Snitch's promoter, spokesman, and new best friend David Horowitz not only leaps to Drudge's defense but even starts a "defense fund" for him.)

Anyway. We're not "challengers", wannabe or otherwise, as much as mere Americans asking a few simple questions -- the answers to which we believe would serve as valuable information for news consumers, particularly progressives who read The Nation.

And as for our "Clintonoid reek". As opposed to what -- an Irvingoid reek? We are more than happy to be identified with the best president of our lifetime (although we have no idea how Christopher figured out our secret, pro-Clinton allegiances. Nothing, apparently, gets past him).

But we would be very, very ashamed to be associated, say, with a Nazi apologist/Holocaust denier. So ashamed, in fact, that we might "forget" to mention them in collections of our articles. As for "defining ourselves as whorish" Christopher seems a little obtuse ... or maybe that was wit.

As all of you know, I am capable of the odd pro-bono event (oddly enough including the ones mentioned) but prefer to be paid for my efforts when possible. Mr. Scaife has not so far deigned to notice me, but I hereby confirm that he's welcome to offer me a commission if he likes.

Pro bono actually means doing something without compensation -- "for the good" -- which, contrary to his claim, is certainly not something Christopher is known to be "capable of." But what is most interesting to note is that he seems to coyly offer himself up to whore for Scaife if the price is right. As far as denials go, this one seems a little "soft" so far.

Christopher has a rule of not denying slanders and innuendos? We wonder if he would respect the same policy if its practitioner were President Clinton, or if he would hold him to a double standard. Well, what do you know? We have the (predictable) answer.

In his March 1999 Salon column, Hitchens not only holds Clinton to a different standard, but in this case he claims that if he were the subject of slanders and innuendoes he would deny them. Hitchens wrote, "And yet, 'he' hasn't said anything yet. If I was accused of rape, and the woman making the charge was a lady of obvious integrity, I would want to do better than have a lawyer make a routine disclaimer."

Seems Christopher has either again demonstrated for us the double standards that are the hallmark of the typical Clinton-hating hypocrite, or he has lied to us already in his letter -- and we're just getting started!

As for the substance of his "one sentence," what exactly does Christopher mean? That he is not being paid, directly or indirectly, by Scaife or the Scaife-funded Horowitz to appear at the upcoming "Restoration Weekend"? That no expenses will be covered for a stay at the luxurious Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs, Colo.? That he has never received any such compensation for any of his past appearances at Horowitz events? Maybe we "self-described media whores" are dense, too, but we need further clarification.

Christopher feels tainted by answering questions about his funding sources, but not by his willingness to accuse people of rape without proof, by his friendships with Nazi revisionists, or by his stunning betrayals of trusting friends. Go figure.

And why would Christopher believe we would hesitate to pass along his vague comments, unedited? We publish the rantings of Clinton-obsessed Freeper types like himself all the time. (And what does he mean by "real sites"? What does he think MWO is -- some whatever-induced figment?)

Well, that whole fact-finding mission seems to have been a wasted effort. As with Horowitz's lackluster denial, this one seems just as purposefully ambiguous. But what Hitchens has made perfectly clear is that, if he is not already accepting money for doing Scaife's dirty work - he likely would.

Seems like a distinction without a difference. That is, basically he's a whore who claims to be unable to attract customers, but nonetheless stands on the corner night after night, hoping his luck will change -- and even used his response to our open letter to seek offers for his services.

Good luck on that book tour, Christopher! And, sure -- we'll keep in touch.

Write to The Nation and ask them why a progressive publication promotes someone of the caliber of Hitchens, who defends Holocaust deniers and solicits offers from the likes of Richard Mellon Scaife.

Anthony York

Anthony York is Salon's Washington correspondent.

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