Earlier this week Fox News hosted the "professional dirty trickster" who founded an anti-Hillary Clinton group with the acronym "C.U.N.T." The day before, it was the attorney who pushed fabricated anti-Clinton stories in the 90s. Last month, it was the woman who has suggested the Clintons may have had her husband killed.
Fox has never had particularly high standards for who they put on air, and it appears there's no source too incredible for Fox to host as long as they are willing to smear the Clintons. And that list is long.
As Joe Conason and Gene Lyons detailed in their book The Hunting of the President, in the 1990s, an array of conservative operatives, right-wing journalists, and opportunists sought to drive the Clintons from the White House. Their backgrounds were often shady, their methods deceitful, and their claims fraudulent.
So who might be the next guest for a network with no standards and an urge to stop a potential Hillary Clinton presidential run? Some of these figures have gone on to extensive careers in the conservative media, while others haven't been in the public eye for decades.
But all have literally unbelievable stories to tell.
Gary Aldrich is a former FBI agent who wrote a 1996 book about his time inside the White House during the first three years of the Clinton administration. CNN described the book, produced by a right-wing publisher and flacked by a Republican operative, as filled with "second-hand, unsubstantiated sexual rumors about and bitter attacks against President and Mrs. Clinton," including ludicrous claims that President Clinton was regularly ditching his Secret Service detail for trysts at a downtown hotel (Aldrich later said that allegation was a "hypothetical"). Aldrich also wrote that on "orders from the First Lady's Office," the White House Christmas tree was decorated with crack pipes and other drug paraphernalia as well as sex toys and condoms (unsurprisingly, the White House denied the charge).
Aldrich used the notoriety from his book to become a professional conservative. He founded the right-wing Patrick Henry Center for Individual Liberty in 1997 to support federal whistleblowers (Linda Tripp was among the organization's first clients), but the bulk of the group's spending soon focused on raising money and paying Aldrich's salary. The group was largely silent during the Bush administration, but re-emerged to support tea party groups in 2010. Aldrich has written op-eds for TownHall and the Daily Caller.
Larry Nichols spent years at the heart of the conservative campaign to smear President Clinton. A former jingle writer who became a marketing consultant for the State of Arkansas, he was fired from the Arkansas Development Finance Authority in 1988 for making hundreds of phone calls to Nicaragua contra leaders and their American political supporters on the taxpayer's dime, and apparently held a grudge. Shortly before Bill Clinton's 1990 re-election as governor of Arkansas, Nichols held a press conference announcing he was suing Clinton for allegedly using state funds to conduct affairs with five women. All five women subsequently signed affidavits denying the claims and threatened to sue Nichols, who later issued a statement saying he had wrongfully issued the accusations because he was mad about being fired. But the incident nonetheless ushered in the right-wing focus on Bill Clinton's sex life.
Nichols, who described himself as "smut central" in a 1998 interview, spent years tracking down sketchy rumors about women who had had affairs with the president and trying to peddle them to everyone from supermarket tabloids to major newspapers. Last year, he offered a new explanation for why he had spent years trying to destroy the Clintons -- he claimed to have "beat up women and beat up husbands to protect the Clintons" and even "killed people" for them for money until they turned on him and he had to defend himself.
Right-wing media are acting as de facto political advisers for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, offering the candidate an array of advice that includes replacing his staffers, finding "his inner pit bull," and talking more about his faith.
Declaring that he "has had enough" of "national news programs" that mislead American voters, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly said he will now aim to tell viewers "every time I see craziness in the national media during the campaign." However, the examples of "craziness" O'Reilly cited, including the myth that "Obama was not born in America," have all been promoted on Fox News -- something he did not mention.
"I haven't heard that name in 20 years."
-- Frank Luntz discussing John LeBoutillier last year on Fox Business.
A list of the most ridiculous Fox News hosts would have to include their in-house 9-11 Truther Andrew Napolitano, who spends much of his time labeling everything unconstitutional; Eric Bolling, the former commodities trader turned birther conspiracy theorist; and the entire crew of Fox & Friends, who, when they aren't trying to roast marshmallows with their bare hands, are attacking the Obama administration for using "chintzy" binder clips.
But any list of outlandish Fox personalities would now be incomplete without their newest hire, former Republican congressman John LeBoutillier. Among LeBoutillier's career highlights: penning a "fevered sexual fantasy" about Gary Condit's sex life and his supposed involvement in Chandra Levy's murder that was so outrageous it was pulled by NewsMax; writing a book deemed so "idiotic" by Don Imus that Imus temporarily stopped hosting him on his show; and trying to build an anti-Clinton library with a room devoted to the dozens of people Bill Clinton has (maybe!) "whacked."
What sort of book gets the author an invite to Fox & Friends? In the case of Edward Klein and John LeBoutillier's The Obama Identity: A Novel (Or Is It?), it's the sort of book that features the foreskin of President Obama as a major plot point, along with birtherism, an incomprehensible plot, and the inclusion of every ludicrous conservative conspiracy about Obama.
Appearing on Fox & Friends this week, LeBoutillier took great pains to note that the book "used real things" and has "so much real stuff." In reading this self-published book (both Klein and LeBoutillier have had books published via legitimate publishing houses in the past, yet that was not the case here) it's clear that the "real" in the book was largely confined to using the "real" names of President Obama and other prominent figures like (former) Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. Otherwise, there isn't much about the book that is real or coherent.
It shouldn't be a surprise that John LeBoutillier would pop up on Fox & Friends to spout utterly discredited conspiracy theories about President Obama's birth -- after all, he's a conspiracy-monger from way back.
LeBoutillier was one of the more rabid Clinton-haters in the 1990s, hurling all manner of smears and embracing conspiracies, such as those surrounding the death of Vince Foster. For instance, in a February 2001 Newsmax column, LeBoutillier claimed there were "stories for years that Vince Foster -- shortly before his still-mysterious and still-unsolved death -- had just visited Switzerland. Could it be he was depositing cash for the Clintons and then had to be silenced?"
In that same column, he wrote that "The busty Denise Rich's 100 White House visits last year while Hillary was campaigning all over New York suggest sex" was a factor in President Clinton's pardon of Marc Rich. He also wrote that "For years there have been rumors of the Clintons having an account -- named Chelsea -- in the Cayman Islands, which is a refuge for drug money," suggesting that that account was where the supposed "cash ... used to secure the Marc Rich and other pardons" was deposited. He went on to insist that "Any proper investigation of the Clintons and the pardons needs to treat the Clintons just as an investigation would treat a John Gotti or an international drug lord."
There's much more LeBoutillier insanity on the Clintons: