In his Wall Street Journal column yesterday, Tom Frank paid homage to Richard Hofstadter's famous essay, "The Paranoid Style in American Politics." As Frank noted, Birthers convinced that Barack Obama's birth certificate was forged in a plot to turn the United States into a fascist state are heirs to a long tradition of conspiracy thinking that has periodically flourished on the fringes of the American right.
But the paranoid style has seeped into some institutions on the left as well. For proof, look no further than a recent meeting of the Pacifica radio network's National Board, where a resolution was introduced that requires all programmers to disclose funding sources above $5,000. "The reason I created this motion," Chris Condon, a member of Pacifica's National Governance Committee, explained, "is because there has been a lot of debate about whether or not Amy Goodman has received CIA conduit foundation funding from the Ford Foundation and other places."
Amy Goodman is, of course, the co-host of Democracy Now!, an unabashedly progressive news program that airs on over 800 stations across the country. As anyone who has listened to even five minutes of the program knows, Goodman is about as likely to be on the payroll of the CIA as Howard Zinn or Noam Chomsky. She has probably devoted more airtime to dissecting the CIA's transgressions in the past decade than any other member of her profession.