Right-Wing Front Group Rolls Out Smear Movie on Obama
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In a July 20, 2004, Salon profile of Bossie -- with a pugnacious title and subtitle "You can't teach an old attack dog new tricks: Partisan hack David Bossie raised political sliming to an art form against Bill Clinton. Now he's out to smear John Kerry and Michael Moore. Why does anyone in the media still take him seriously?", Eric Boehlert called him "a political hit man by trade" and a "renowned Republican dirty trickster" who spent the 1990s "often at the epicenter of churning out stories about President Clinton, deftly feeding the press and Capitol Hill investigators outlandish -- and usually unsubstantiated -- assertions about White House wrongdoing."
According to a July 6, 2002, archived version of his Citizens United profile, SourceWatch, a project of the Center for Media and Democracy pointed out, Bossie was "State Youth Director for Linda Chavez for U.S. Senate (MD) in 1986; and, the Maryland State Deputy Youth Director for Reagan/Bush re-elect in 1984." The same 2002 profile states: "From 1988 to 1990, Bossie was the Director of Programs for the Leadership Institute which trains young men and women in campaign technology, student publications and the operations of Congress."
In the late 1980s he worked as an aide to former Kansas Senator Bob Dole. Bossie hooked up with Floyd Brown's Citizens United in the early 1990s. One of his assignments was to go to Arkansas and dig out the dirt about the Clintons. In the May 6, 1998 edition of Salon, David Corn reported that "at one point, Bossie got into a fistfight in Arkansas with a private detective who claimed Bossie had welshed on a $10,000 payment for anti-Clinton material."
In 1992, Bossie harassed the family of a suicide victim. "An anonymous and untraceable letter" was faxed to some 30 news organizations "claiming Clinton had had an affair with a former law student who committed suicide 15 years ago," an "emotionally distraught young woman, seven-months pregnant" named Susan Coleman. Bossie repeatedly attempted to contact the family for "confirmation" of the affair. With help from former Washington DC police officer James Murphy, Bossie went so far as to follow Susan's mother to a hospital in Augusta, Georgia, where her husband was seriously ill and recovering from a stroke. They "burst into the sick man's room and began questioning the shaken mother about her daughter's suicide." (Source: CBS News, July 13, 1992, quoted at The Allodium web site)
"Not long into the Clinton Presidency, Citizens United produced the video 'Clinton Chronicles,' based largely on dirt Bossie had been digging in Arkansas," Dave Gonzo reported in American Politics Journal. "The video, filled with a plethora of factual errors and uncorroborated or dis-proven rumors, has been almost completely discredited."
Bossie came early to the idea of impeaching President Clinton: In August 1994, Bossie, Director of Government Relations and Communications for Citizens United, and Howard Phillips, a long-term conservative activist who headed the Conservative Caucus, held a press conference addressing the "Latest Whitewater Developments, Impeachment Possibility."
In 1998, Bossie was fired from his job as chief investigator for the US House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform and Oversight -- which was investigating alleged Clinton White House campaign finance abuses -- for releasing selectively edited transcripts of former Clinton administration official Webster Hubbell's prison conversations.
Well-loved by conservatives, Bossie was given the Ronald Reagan Award from the Conservative Political Action Conference in 1999. A few years ago, journalist Max Blumenthal reported that Bossie called himself an "accidental filmmaker." At the 2006 Liberty Film Festival in Hollywood, Bossie told Blumenthal that "We need to use all the political tools available to us. Whether it's a thirty-second TV spot or a full-length feature, we need offensive political tools."
There's no question Bossie has become a master of creating "offensive tools." It remains to be seen whether there will be an audience for "Hype: The Obama Effect" or whether Bossie will be preaching to the choir.
Bill Berkowitz is a freelance writer covering right-wing groups and movements.