David Horowitz's Long March
When you enter Horowitz's office, in a tony highrise on the West Side of Los Angeles, the first thing you notice on the wall is the New York Times's framed and weather-beaten front page for March 6, 1953. STALIN DIES AFTER A 29-YEAR RULE, reads the six-column headline. Welcome to the Center for the Study of Popular Culture, Horowitz's burgeoning empire, which generates a remarkable range of products and services. There is Heterodoxy. There is his daily online journal, FrontPageMagazine, whose features include a "Left Alert" ("Chevy Chase Says Socialism Works" was one recent item) and an "Intellectual Rogue's Gallery" with unflattering articles about Edward Said, Noam Chomsky and Eric Alterman. There is a publishing imprint, Second Thoughts Books, which brings forth titles like P.J. O'Rourke's Why I Am Not a Conservative, pamphlets like Liberal Racism: The College Student's Common-Sense Guide to Radical Ideology and How to Fight It, and collections of essays by...David Horowitz.
That's not all: There is Horowitz's legal arm, the Individual Rights Foundation, which represents police officers and college professors who see themselves as victims of affirmative action policies; there is the Wednesday Morning Club, which brings speakers like Newt Gingrich, George Will and William Kristol (plus the occasional liberal) to a monthly networking lunch hosted by Horowitz at the Beverly Hills Hotel. There is the Matt Drudge Defense Fund, which raised $50,000 for the online gossip columnist's defense against a libel suit and which provided him with two pro bono lawyers. To burnish the center's image, there is even a charity organization.
The center's annual budget is approximately $3 million, roughly a third of which comes from the Olin, Bradley and Scaife foundations. But Horowitz also has 30,000 small donors who send checks of varying sizes. The center is his war room: His direct-mail campaigns, his endless media appearances (he employs a full-time publicist), his forays to college campuses, his charity work--all of it is coordinated under this roof. Of the fifteen people employed here, some are reluctant to communicate with a visiting reporter; others speak their mind. When I phoned the office a few weeks before my arrival to inquire about its proximity to public transportation, I was informed by one of Horowitz's young assistants, "The bus system is awful, but you don't want to ride with those people anyway."
Horowitz occupies the corner office, which affords a stunning view of downtown Los Angeles from the twelfth floor. It is a cluttered, cramped space, overflowing with unruly piles of books, pamphlets and magazines. Photographs of Horowitz with Bob Dole, Colin Powell and Henry Hyde adorn the walls, along with an admiring 1986 letter from Richard Nixon. Stout and compact, attired in a chic navy-blue suit, Horowitz appears relaxed and cheerful as he ruminates on his favorite themes: leftist domination of Hollywood, the press and higher education. "Hollywood keeps celebrating Communists," he grumbles, in reference to the recent film The Hurricane. "Where's the Hollywood film about Whittaker Chambers?"
Academia, too, is suspect: "I want to know," he snaps, "how many reading lists have von Hayek on them as opposed to Chomsky." But what about the UCLA survey of 35,000 professors cited by Robert Hughes in his book Culture of Complaint, which revealed that only 4.9 percent called themselves "far left," while 17.8 percent put down "conservative." Horowitz's voice rises to a shout. "Norman Podhoretz cannot retire and be a professor anywhere! Clancy Sigal, the novelist, is a fucking professor at USC! He has no degrees. He's written books that nobody reads, and he's got a sinecure."
Is the fractured, demoralized US left really the colossal monolith depicted in Horowitz's voluminous writings? "Leftists will always think of themselves as powerless," he replies cryptically, adding, "The actual views of Nation readers are reflected in the White House today, and in the DNC." Still, those who find themselves on the receiving end of his wrath should not take it personally. Says Horowitz with conviction: "I harbor no ill will toward leftists."