Hillary’s Personal Conspiracy Theorist
By Max Holland
The controversy over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s extant and missing emails briefly put long-time Clinton advisor Sidney Blumenthal back in the news, with more surely to come after June 16. That is the day when Blumenthal is scheduled to testify before the House Select Committee on Benghazi, which is investigating the deaths of US ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans on 11 September 2012. It turns out that Blumenthal, Hillary’s “Svengali-like confidant since the 1990s,” advised the secretary on Libya.
Decades have passed since Andrew Sullivan rightly termed Blumenthal “the most pro-Clinton writer on the planet,” capable of making Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.’s Kennedy-worship look downright tame by comparison. And it has been many years since Blumenthal’s less savory turn as a White House aide, speechwriter, in-house intellectual, press corps whisperer, and compiler of dossiers on aggressive reporters during the Bill Clinton’s second term. Consequently, news organizations felt compelled to remind their audiences of Blumenthal’s résumé: as NPR’s Ron Elving put it, “Who Is Clinton Confidant Sidney Blumenthal?”
Oddly, one salient fact was invariably missing from these profiles. While they often noted (as did the National Review and Bloomberg) that Blumenthal’s penchant for conspiracy theories had once earned him the nickname “Grassy Knoll” inside the White House, the fact is Blumenthal’s moniker is not figurative, but literal. Four decades ago, Blumenthal was not only in league with JFK assassination buffs who claimed shots were fired from the proverbial grassy knoll—he also argued earnestly that “the reason the hopes of the ‘60s were not realized was because a group of people at the top made certain they were dashed.”
The previous sentence comes from Government By Gunplay, a 1976 paperback book edited by Blumenthal and Harvey Yazijian—Yazijian being one of the founding members of what was called the Assassination Investigation Bureau (AIB), then headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts.