As Conason points out, the sick irony of it all is that today's GOP dirty tricksters all came of age during the Nixon administration. And the masterminds behind Watergate are not only back in power, but doing the only thing they know how to do.
These false claims lacked any sourcing, but that didn't prevent the usual media miscreants from broadcasting them, from John Gibson on Fox's "The Big Story" and Rush Limbaugh down to Melanie Morgan and her sidekick at San Francisco's KSFO radio station. Just the usual modus operandi of the noise machine -- except for that telltale twist of smearing Clinton with responsibility for the attack.
Where could they have gotten that brilliant idea?
Performing a dirty trick on one Democratic presidential candidate in a way that would reflect blame on another Democrat was the specialty of the Watergate crew led by Hunt, which back in the early '70s included G. Gordon Liddy and Donald Segretti, as well as a host of lesser goons and spies such as the ingénue Lucianne Goldberg.
According to "Nightmare: Underside of Nixon Years," the definitive book on the Watergate scandal, by the late, great journalist J. Anthony Lukas, Goldberg filed gossipy espionage reports from George McGovern's press plane on "who was sleeping with whom, what the Secret Service men were doing with the stewardesses, who was smoking pot on the plane -- that sort of thing." Or so she told him.
Meanwhile, Segretti and company had been putting out nasty smear stories about certain Democratic candidates and attributing the smears to other Democrats, in order to divide the opposition and destroy Nixon's potential competitors.
Once again, I have to applaud CNN for strangling this particular right-wing lie in its cradle. Although the mainstream press as a whole bears much of the blame for giving us this disastrous administration in the first place-- and if they had done their jobs all along, every story from the Whitewater 'scandal' to Al Gore inventing the Internet to the rise of the Swiftboaters would've been dealt with appropriately: a quick investigation, a thorough debunking, and a big helping of scorn served up to the Republican party for winning elections through lies.