What Is the Left-Wing Conspiracy?

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," April 12, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.


MICHAEL MOORE, DIRECTOR: How could Congress pass the Patriot Act (search) without even reading it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sit down, my son. We don't read most of the bills.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one read it.

MICHAEL MOORE, DIRECTOR: Members of Congress, this is Michael Moore. I would like to read to you the U.S. Patriot Act.


JOHN GIBSON, HOST: Michael Moore (search) and the rest of his liberal cohort trying to take down the president, spawning a lefty revolution just in time for the election. They didn't win, but now they're gaining focus, gearing up for another run at the White House in 2008.

I'm joined by Byron York, White House correspondent for The National Review and author of the new book "The Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy."

Byron, today's big question, so what is the vast left-wing conspiracy?

BYRON YORK, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NATIONAL REVIEW: Well, the book is about MoveOn.org, the Democratic 527s, George Soros (search), Michael Moore, Al Franken and Air America, the Center For American Progress, and a lot of other groups that got together in the last couple of years and formed what's really the biggest and the richest and the best organized political movement in years, designed to defeat George W. Bush. It didn't work, but now they're working hard, one, to defeat the president's policies on issues like the judiciary and Social Security, two, to elect a Democratic Congress in '06, and, three, to elect a president in '08.

GIBSON: Now, Byron, the vast right-wing conspiracy, as enunciated by Hillary Clinton (search), the whole idea behind it was that all these people meeting together and plotting and scheming and so forth against President Clinton. You say that same thing is going on, on the left right now?

YORK: Well, the vast right-wing conspiracy, which Mrs. Clinton coined in '98 during the Lewinsky scandal, came to be a kind of shorthand for a very powerful conservative message machine that could inject new ideas into the political conversation. It could attack its enemies and it could raise money and spur political action.

And liberals wanted exactly that. And that's what they're building now. And, as a matter of fact, some of them are using the phrase vast left-wing conspiracy. Last month, Al Franken of Air America Radio said of Air America, "We're just trying to be part of the vast left-wing conspiracy."

GIBSON: So, the money players are the usual suspects — the George Soros of the world?

YORK: Yes.

And it's not just Soros. To give you an idea, as you know, millions and millions and millions were pumped into Democratic-leaning 527s in the last race. George Soros spent about $27 million, a historic and unprecedented amount of money, in his desire to defeat George W. Bush. One of the things I report in the book is that a large part of the Democratic money was provided by just five people: Soros himself; his friend Peter Lewis from Progressive Insurance; Steven Bing, the Hollywood mogul; and a couple in California named Herbert and Marion Sandler.

Together, they spent $78 million in the drive to defeat Bush. And to give you just one comparison, the federal government gave the Kerry campaign and the Bush campaign $75 million to conduct their entire general election campaign. So, something big was going on last year.

GIBSON: Well, so, how disappointed were they that they didn't win? I mean, were they discouraged and went away licking their wounds, not to return to the field of battle?

YORK: Well, obviously, they were terribly disappointed for a few days. But, as I said, they're very self-consciously creating a new machine that they hope will grow over the years.

So, very, very quickly, they got back to organizing. Now, you might expect people who have worked so hard and lost in a campaign to perhaps go into their room and close the door and look in the mirror and see what we did wrong. Their determination has been really just to do a lot more of what they were doing in 2003 and 2004.

GIBSON: So, what are we looking for in terms of the apparatus that will emerge as part of this self-described vast left-wing conspiracy?

YORK: Well, for example, they really admire the work of the Heritage Foundation, the conservative foundation here in Washington.

And the Center For American progress, which is headed by John Podesta, who is Bill Clinton's last White House chief of staff, is modeled in some ways on at least what they think the Heritage Foundation did. And, clearly, they created Air America Radio because they've wondered for years why a liberal was not able to achieve the prominence on radio that Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and others have achieved.

Now, John, you also know that they throw FOX News into that and they're hoping to start a television network or some sort of other network to communicate via television.

GIBSON: Well, to quote George Bush, it's hard. It's very hard.

YORK: It is.

GIBSON: I mean, they can try.

So, what do you think? Can you expect the same kind of success out of this left-wing template that the conservatives had?

YORK: Well, you know, one of the things I say in this book is that some conservatives are tempted to dismiss people like MoveOn.org and Michael Moore as left-wing nuts. But what I say in this book is that they really need to take them quite seriously, because they're smart; they're well funded; they're very focused; they're very motivated.

And there's no reason that political conditions in the country could not change to favor Democrats. The War on Terror could become less urgent in the public mind or the public could simply become tired of Republicans and feel they've been in power to long. And if that were to happen, this new machinery is right in place to take advantage of it.

GIBSON: Byron York, the author of the new book "The Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy." Byron, it's always good to talk to you. Thanks for coming on.

YORK: Good to be here, John. Thanks.

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