Some call it reframing; others put a coat of paint on it and call it a new car. Basically, it is the process by which a deception is perpetrated simply by saying thus is so and pointing to the shiny surface as proof.
This is once again happening with the egregious David Horowitz. Several years ago, I had the unexpected misfortune of having to experience the true nature of David Horowitz due to his spearheading a disinformation campaign against me and my 2013 book American Betrayal. This campaign of lies would end up including nearly two dozen pieces by a cabal of writers, the first of which I rebutted, perhaps ironically, at Breitbart News. (Other rebuttals, too, for that matter, ran at Breitbart when other websites refused me space.) For new readers, American Betrayal, in part, is about how Moscow-directed and -loyal communists and their accomplices were secretly able to infiltrate and influence the US and other great powers into cataclysmic acts that entrenched, enriched and expanded the Soviet empire abroad; at home, they rotted out the Republic long before "the Sixties" ever began -- all, according to "court history" ever since, under the banner of "victory" in World War II and the Cold War. It seems fair to say this is not a subject that a normal anti-Communist, especially ex-Communist, would lose his mind over.
In the several years since (and during) this shockingly sustained attack-campaign, I also began to learn how Horowitz has shaded his own biography to obscure the proximity of his early life to the KGB in America -- an alarming choice for one self-billed and trusted as a guide to domestic Communist affairs.
There. Disclaimer done. Where was I?
The latest Horowitz-reframing appears in a paint-job-superficial Washington Post piece headlined: "How a ‘shadow’ universe of charities joined with political warriors to fuel Trump’s rise."
The Post's premise -- the centrality of Horowitz in that "shadow" universe supposedly fueling the rise of Donald Trump -- could not be more wrong, or more absurd. For one thing, Trump's lift-off was in 2015, sans charities or shadow-universe thereof. Where was Horowitz? "This column is not an endorsement of Donald Trump or any candidate," Horowitz wrote on December 22, 2015. (Full disclosure: My own endorsement of Trump ran at Breitbart News on December 26, 2015; then again, I am not a tax-exempt charity.) Soon thereafter, as Trump swept toward the nomination, Horowitz would start piggybacking onto Breitbart News with a series of look-at-me-Trump op-eds. At the time, it struck me as a naked effort to catch up with the Trump Train before it pulled into Washington without him.
This is somewhat interesting on different levels. One would think, as a universe-creator and all that, Horowitz's own Frontpagemag.com was the center of that supposed Trumpian firmament; at least, if Horowitz really was, as the Post claims, the "intellectual godfather to the far right."
For some time in 2016, however, Horowitz was just another Breitbart by-line (average age 25?), apparently seeking some new credentials, if not "cred," of his own. In May 2016, which was really just in the nick of time to make any kind of a pre-nomination fuss, Horowitz finally scored by dropping the perfect stinkbomb of a headline at Breitbart News: "Bill Kristol: Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew."
Antique echoes of Daily Worker jargon aside (who but old-time Bolshis say "renegade" anything?): In the ensuing media clamor over Horowitz's "Renegade Jew" headline (he *confessed* to writing it himself), Breitbart had to fend off charges of anti-Semitism, which would dog the site throughout the presidential campaign -- but now with the help of Horowitz, who is Jewish. Mission accomplished! Having mixed it up with Breitbart boys under siege, Horowitz was now, basically, one of them. Plus, in so gratuitously slamming neocon Kristol, ex-Communist and, now, surely, ex-neocon Horowitz was also able to run up the Jolly Roger of the alt-right. "Renegade Jew," indeed. Good political positioning is more like it. Meanwhile, the issue that lit him up so much -- Obama's Iran deal -- is still on Trump's table, not that Horowitz cares so much now.
So, why wouldn't Horowitz just take care of all of this personal reframing exclusively at his own website?
A quick look at the latest Alexa website rankings explains all.
Today, Frontpage.mag is No. 12,639 in the US -- which, of course, means there are 12,638 more popular websites than David Horowitz's website out there today; it ranks 41,338 globally.
Breitbart News, on the other hand, is No. 61 in the US today, and No. 292 in the world.
To be fair, yours truly's site ranking is barely measurable at No. 140,911 in the US -- but perhaps dianawest.net would do a bit better if it raked in some fraction of the $5.4 million David Horowitz's Freedom Center received as charitable largesse in 2015 alone, as the Post reports. Horowitz, not by the way, skimmed $583,000 of the top in salary that same year. Running a "shadow universe" is so terribly taxing, especially when your fancy web$ite isn't so widely read.
Point is, Horowitz's Frontpagemag.com is not the center of the Deplorable universe. Never was, never will be.
Maybe that's just the way of the world, a hard place where "intellectual godfathers" are never paid their due (in this case, however, I don't mean monetarily).
This Post puff 'n' fluff must be some consolation, however.
Since its formation in 1988, the Freedom Center has helped cultivate a generation of political warriors seeking to upend the Washington establishment. These warriors include some of the most powerful and influential figures in the Trump administration: Attorney General Sessions, senior policy adviser Miller and White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon.
"Cultivate" is a better word than the Post may know. If by "raise or grow," Horowitz frequently tags Stephen Miller, whom he met when Miller was a 16-year-old conservative in high school, and mentored through college, as his "protege." It is a fact, though, that the issues for which firebrand Miller is well-known and admired -- ending "free" trade agreements succh as NAFTA and TPP and ending mass immigration -- are not issues that the hyper-prolific Horowitz writes much, if anything at all, about.
But "cultivating" as in "winning friendship or favor" -- that surely describes the Horowitz m.o. In fact, I think he does oodles of currying favor.
By the time Horowitz opened shop as a brand new "conservative" with a "freedom center" in 1988 (having "come out" in 1985 after Reagan's record-shattering re-election), Jeff Sessions had already served as Assistant US Attorney and US Attorney (appointed by Ronald Reagan) for 13 years. His career already included a particularly vicious *take-down,* as some say, by the Left on and around the floor of the US Senate to smear and defeat Sessions' nomination by President Reagan to the federal judiciary. No matter how many testimonials Horowitz might honor Sessions with now, the man was plenty "cultivated" himself before he ever met Horowitz. Sessions even served several US Senate terms without him.
As for Steve Bannon? Well, I never saw him trying to place Breitbart op-eds at Frontpagemag.com.
The most absurd act of reframing the Post commits, though, is dubbing this Half-a-Million-Dollar-Man as the "intellectual godfather" of the "far right" -- the Trump right.
There is only one person with a rightful claim to such status. That one person is without question Ann Coulter, whose remarkable and super-selling book, Adios, America, was the perfectly weaponized manifesto of what became the stunning and victorious Trump primary campaign -- as she publicly predicted from the very start. There is just no other possible claimant. Coulter is the godmother of the Trump right. End of story. Horowitz, meanwhile, is the godfather (moneybags) of his Freedom Center fiefdom. I won't call the Post on "sexism" (not my style), but, frankly, describing Coulter in this same piece, which grossly over-inflates Horowitz's impact on the Trump movement, as simply "another [conference] regular and a contributor to Frontpagemag.com [who] was writing a book called “Adios, America...” is politically tone-deaf, at the very least.
Coulter's Adios, America wasn't just political dynamite in Trump's hands, it was also perfectly timed political dynamite, coming out on June 1, 2015. Trump was the only GOP contender to embrace, internalize and take the book's message to the hustings, and, of course, win on its anti-immigration themes. In 2015, "godfather" Horowitz was still actually writing about how "Jeb Bush Was Right About Iraq" -- remember candidate Trump audaciously courted the anti-war conservative vote -- and not discussing the existential threat posed by lawless, endless migration into this country via Mexico.
It is true that Horowitz did publish a best-selling Trump book of his own, BIg Agenda: President Trump's Plan to Save America"; but that wasn't until January 17, 2017, kind of long after the American people voted for that same plan, as presented by Trump, sans Horowitz.
I actually read the Horowitz book. It has so little to do with the Trump's orginal "big agenda" that I bet Horowitz originally wrote it as a Republican playbook designed to come out a few days before, not Donald Trump, but Hillary Clinton was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States. A few tweaks here and there, and -- Trump book!
One thing Horowitz is: flexible. Remember (bet you forgot), he is the "conservative" who actually greeted Obama's first inauguration with multiculti hosannas, as the late Lawrence Auster astutely observed.
His Freedom Center can declare itself a “School for Political Warfare,” as the Post dutifully reports; Horowitz can keep repeating his mantra, it's a "battle tank not a think tank," as dopey as it sounds -- but "godfather" of the Trump movement? Not in a million years. It seems pretty clear it would have been business (gravy train) as usual if Horowitz and his band of scribblers were really all we had -- and that goes no matter how many conferences he, or, rather his charity, hosts at The Breakers.
War is hell.