Dethroned Miss California Carrie Prejean lands right-wing book deal

Dethroned Miss California Carrie Prejean lands right-wing book deal

Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

Dethroned Miss California USA Carrie Prejean has landed herself a book deal with Regnery Publishing, the notorious right-wing publishing house.

I'm sure Prejean, the darling de jour among Christian conservatives and the right-wing press, will feel right at home with Regnery. After all, Regnery is a major hub in the right-wing noise machine that's been whitewashing her stance on "opposite marriage" for months.

Not familiar with Regnery? Here's some history from The American Prospect:

Welcome to the world of Regnery Publishing--lifestyle press for conservatives, preferred printer of presidential hopefuls, and venerable publisher of books for the culture wars. Call it--gracelessly but more accurately--a medium-sized, loosely linked network of conservative types, with few degrees of separation and similar political aims. Just don't call it a conspiracy.

Regnery Publishing's right-leaning corporate philosophy actually goes back to 1947, when the late Henry Regnery, Sr., set out to publish "good books," as he wrote in the company's first catalogue, "wherever we find them." Works by Regnery's friends among the nascent conservative intelligentsia soon followed, including Russell Kirk's The Conservative Mind, William F. Buckley, Jr.'s God and Man at Yale, Whittaker Chambers's Witness, and Barry Goldwater's Conscience of a Conservative. Henry Regnery's son, Alfred Regnery, who took over in 1986 and moved the company to Washington, D.C., has likewise been both a friend to and publisher of conservative authors. After stints in law school (where he roomed with American Conservative Union Chairman David Keene) and as college director of Young Americans for Freedom, Alfred Regnery was appointed head of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention by Ronald Reagan in 1983. While there, as reported by Murray Waas in The New Republic, he helped run Edwin Meese's ill-fated President's Commission on Pornography; disbursed generous grants to Jerry Falwell's Liberty College, Meese pal George Nicholson, and professional antifeminist Phyllis Schlafly; authored, with then-Assistant Secretary of Education Gary Bauer, a much-ridiculed report called "Chaos in the Public Schools"; and in general cultivated an updated version of his father's network of friends.


Since 1996, Regnery has published no less than eight presidential exposés: Roger Morris's Partners in Power: The Clintons and Their America, Bill Gertz's Betrayal: How the Clinton Administration Undermined American Security, Edward Timperlake and William C. Triplett's Year of the Rat: How Bill Clinton Compromised U.S. Security for Chinese Cash, Ann Coulter's High Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Case Against Bill Clinton, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard's The Secret Life of Bill Clinton: The Unreported Stories, Gary Aldrich's Unlimited Access: An FBI Agent Inside the Clinton White House, and R. Emmett Tyrrell's The Impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton: A Political Docu-Drama and Boy Clinton: The Political Biography. To date, five of these books have made various best-seller lists.


Thus constructed, Regnery's Clinton books run from the racy to the absurd. Tyrrell's Boy Clinton follows the future president from alleged cocaine benders with Little Rock entrepreneur Dan Lasater to his sojourn with communists in Prague during the late 1960s. ("Inquiries I had made about his trip to Moscow turned up little that was new," Tyrrell writes breathlessly. "People were still wondering where he had gotten sufficient funding for such a trip. Some still suspected a KGB front. Others suggested the CIA.") Coulter, although her tone is even more vicious than Evans-Pritchard's ("We have a national debate about whether he 'did it,' even though all sentient people know he did," she writes. "[O]therwise there would only be debates about whether to impeach or assassinate."), relies mostly on the standard litany: Whitewater, Foster's "mysterious" death, Filegate, and Clinton's Paula Jones deposition. It is Evans-Pritchard who proposes what is easily the most tangled web of Clintonian malfeasance, touching not only on the usual stuff--booze, women, land deals--but also on the Oklahoma City bombing, which he argues was actually an FBI sting gone wrong and one of many Justice Department operations by which Bill Clinton has sought to turn America into a police state.

The most infamous of the Regnery titles is undoubtedly Gary Aldrich's Unlimited Access, which included such "revelations" as lesbian encounters in the White House's basement showers, Hillary Clinton ordering miniature crack pipes to hang on the White House Christmas tree, and the claim--backed by anonymous sources--that Clinton made frequent trips to the nearby Marriott to shack up with a mistress "who may be a celebrity." That last bit helped catapult Unlimited Access to the top of The New York Times's best-seller list, though Aldrich soon revealed to The New Yorker's Jane Mayer that the Marriott story was "not quite solid" and, indeed, was "hypothetical." But according to Aldrich, it was Regnery editor Richard Vigilante who had moved the Marriott bit out of the epilogue (where it had been presented as a "mock investigation") and into the middle of the book (where it was presented as an actual occurrence). Vigilante, Aldrich told Mayer, threatened not to publish the book if Aldrich didn't agree to the changes.

In fact, the defects of Unlimited Access--a reliance on loose or anonymous sourcing; the blending of fact, fiction, and fantasy; the influence of Regnery's anti-Clinton esprit de corps--can be found, to varying degrees, in nearly all of Regnery's Clinton books. The drug-smuggling charges in Tyrrell's and Evans-Pritchard's books, for instance, were first aired in the pages of the Scaife-funded American Spectator, the hysterically conservative magazine of which Tyrrell is editor, founder, and chief polemicist. "The Arkansas Drug Shuttle," published in the Spectator in 1995, was a fanciful tale of cocaine smuggling, the CIA, and black cargo jets told to Tyrrell by former Arkansas state trooper L.D. Brown--who happened to be on the Spectator's payroll at the time. Indeed, Tyrrell's dispatches stirred considerable controversy among the magazine's own staff. "Even within the Spectator, people had problems with the [drug-smuggling] stories," says David Brock, the Spectator's star investigative reporter at the time. "People didn't feel that they met the standards of the Spectator." Senior editor Christopher Caldwell jumped ship for The Weekly Standard, and when longtime Spectator publisher Ronald Burr tried to order an independent audit, Tyrrell fired him. "I can't really comment on the Spectator," says Alfred Regnery, who stands by all his company's Clinton books. "But a book publisher doesn't have the same obligations as a magazine. We cross-examine the authors to some extent, but publishers do not have the wherewithal to check every single fact."

Yet Regnery Publishing seems not just to encourage conspiracy theorizing from its authors, but to demand it. In 1997 Alfred Regnery approached veteran crime reporter Dan Moldea about writing a book on the Vince Foster case. Regnery, says Moldea, hoped that his contacts within the law-enforcement community would shed new light on the case. But Moldea came to the same conclusions as all the official inquiries did. "There were some mistakes, some omissions," says Moldea. "But this was a dead-bang, bona fide suicide." When Moldea turned in A Washington Tragedy: How the Death of Vincent Foster Ignited a Political Firestorm, the editors at Regnery "were less than thrilled. There were some real battles that went on between us, between me and the staff," he says. "Things were being cut out of the book that I was really upset about, like this section on Scaife. It got so bad that I was almost hoping that they would reject the book, because I knew that they were just going to seal it and it would never see the light of day."


What is clear, however, is that Regnery's conspiracy theorizing has benefited greatly from Eagle Publishing's web of media enterprises. Sometimes the synergies are transparent, as when Human Events published a list of the "10 Best Conservative Books of 1998," five of which were Regnery titles. Sometimes they're more subtle--not to say conspiratorial. Human Events editor Terrence Jeffrey had ample time, for instance, to convince Buchanan to switch to Regnery during the 1996 presidential race, when he served as Buchanan's campaign manager. (Jeffrey also failed to disclose his relationship with Buchanan when he penned a lengthy, front-page defense of A Republic, Not An Empire in the September 17 issue of Human Events). When Human Events excerpted the "Cox Report" in its June 4 issue, the weekly's lead feature was none other than Caspar Weinberger's introduction to Regnery's edition of the "Cox Report." Regnery's "Cox Report", in turn, was published the same month that Bill Gertz's Betrayal hit the stands (and just a few months before Regnery put out a second Timperlake and Triplett book, Red Dragon Rising: Communist China's Military Threat to America). Similarly, after Aldrich's Unlimited Access was published in June 1996, Human Events ran a five-page excerpt of the book in its July 5 issue--followed, in subsequent issues, by eight more articles defending or discussing the book. Tyrrell's Boy Clinton was also excerpted that year, while the Schweizers' Disney: The Mouse Betrayed was excerpted last spring. Like all Regnery titles, each was heavily hyped by the Conservative Book Club.

Certainly such coordination would not have required many phone calls; Human Events, Regnery, and the Conservative Book Club all share the same Washington, D.C., address. "There's no contract that exists that says we have to carry 'x' number of Regnery titles each year," says Brin Lewis, who doubles as vice president of Eagle Publishing and president of Eagle's book club division, which owns the Conservative Book Club. "But we carry a lot of them."

Normally, implausible exposés are relegated to remainder bins and the back pages of The National Enquirer. But partly thanks to Eagle's pipeline to the conservative elite, and partly thanks to a powerful direct mail operation that doubles as a de facto Eagle publicity machine, the likes of Aldrich's miniature crack pipes make it into broader forums like The Weekly Standard and The Wall Street Journal--and from there out into the political ether. Allegations of Clinton-related drug smuggling at Arkansas' Mena Intermountain Municipal Airport, for instance, filtered up from the Spectator and Regnery's Clinton books to The Washington Times and The Wall Street Journal--the latter running favorable reviews of the books as well as numerous editorials about the Mena "scandal"--which led to further recycling by The Washington Post and dozens of other newspapers in 1996 and 1997. Indeed, as recently as last March, a Wall Street Journal editorial writer used the Juanita Broadrick controversy as occasion to flog, yet again, the Mena connection. Such ludicrous charges might easily be dismissed as rant. Yet in the past three years, Republicans in Congress have opened not one, but two official inquiries into the matter--one under the auspices of the House Banking committee and one by the CIA Inspector General's office.

Regnery Publishing
Carrie Prejean
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