"I haven't heard that name in 20 years."
-- Frank Luntz discussing John LeBoutillier last year on Fox Business.
A list of the most ridiculous Fox News hosts would have to include their in-house 9-11 Truther Andrew Napolitano, who spends much of his time labeling everything unconstitutional; Eric Bolling, the former commodities trader turned birther conspiracy theorist; and the entire crew of Fox & Friends, who, when they aren't trying to roast marshmallows with their bare hands, are attacking the Obama administration for using "chintzy" binder clips.
But any list of outlandish Fox personalities would now be incomplete without their newest hire, former Republican congressman John LeBoutillier. Among LeBoutillier's career highlights: penning a "fevered sexual fantasy" about Gary Condit's sex life and his supposed involvement in Chandra Levy's murder that was so outrageous it was pulled by NewsMax; writing a book deemed so "idiotic" by Don Imus that Imus temporarily stopped hosting him on his show; and trying to build an anti-Clinton library with a room devoted to the dozens of people Bill Clinton has (maybe!) "whacked."
"Does the media -- many of who already know much of this -- report it and expose this sick bisexual and gay behavior?"
During an appearance on Imus' Fox Business show last week, LeBoutillier plugged Campaign Confidential, the new online FoxNews.com show he cohosts with Fox News Democrats Pat Caddell and Doug Schoen. LeBoutillier told Imus, "you gotta get this show on Fox News Channel."
While the network isn't exactly devoting a large chunk of its production budget to the show (it looks a bit like LeBoutillier, Caddell, and Schoen borrowed a camera and filmed it in the break room), it's still telling that despite LeBoutillier's more than two decades of peddling conspiracy theories, Fox still thought it was worth giving him a platform on their network.
LeBoutillier touts Campaign Confidential as "the only show on television or on the internet that features only people who have actually run or worked in campaigns, not your normal bloviating talking-head reporters who really don't know what they're talking about."
It's also the only show co-hosted by someone who once wrote a column positing that Gary Condit had Chandra Levy killed by a motorcycle-riding "Caribbean male prostitute that he frequented."
Over the course of 2001, LeBoutillier published a series of columns for NewsMax obsessing over Gary Condit's sex life and his supposed involvement with Levy's disappearance. (Investigators later concluded that Condit had no involvement with Levy's murder. Earlier this year, a man named Ingmar Guandique was convicted of killing her.)
In one July 2001 column, titled, "The Key to Finding Chandra: Follow the Sex," he advised the FBI to explore "every aspect of [Condit's] sexual life" in order to "find out what happened to Chandra."
A separate July 2001 column by LeBoutillier managed to achieve the impressive and rare distinction of being too ridiculous for NewsMax .
Lloyd Grove of The Washington Post described the piece (headlined "Gays, Bisexuals and Murder") as a "fevered sexual fantasy" that forwarded "gamy speculation about Gary Condit's alleged sex life." Explaining that "aghast NewsMax.com editors" pulled the column almost immediately, Grove wrote that it nonetheless lived on after being "launched through cyberspace in a fantastic voyage."
Similarly, The Washington Times, which described LeBoutillier's piece as "particularly scurrilous," wrote that the posting, despite being pulled by NewsMax, "was recirculating via e-mail."
BreakTheChain.org, a website dedicated to debunking chain emails, reposted a copy of the LeBoutillier column they had been forwarded, and the editor of the site wrote that LeBoutillier confirmed he had written the article they posted. (LeBoutillier did not respond to Media Matters' request for comment about the column.)
The piece reprinted the allegations of "RJ," LeBoutillier's anonymous "inside-the-Beltway source," whom LeBoutillier explained in the first line had "never steered me wrong."
LeBoutillier quoted "RJ" saying Condit is well known "inside the gay community here in DC for being a big, big user of gay male prostitutes -- especially blacks from the Caribbean who ride motorcycles and love to wear black leather."
The source alleged that "one particular Caribbean male prostitute" who Condit supposedly frequented picked Levy up "on his motorcycle, took off some where, killed her, and dumped her body. Then, on orders from Condit and with money from Condit, he headed back to Haiti or wherever he came from."
LeBoutillier used this insane fable to ask whether the FBI was investigating "this absolutely perverted behavior and this scenario," and chastised the media, which "loves to portray gay victims of violent crime but often ignores gay perpetrators of violent crime." LeBoutillier asked if they would "put aside their Politically Correct view of bi-sexualism and prostitution and tell the truth here."
"Obama's grandmother, living in Kenya...has claimed consistently that he was born in Mombasa, Kenya."
During a November 2010 edition of Imus in the Morning, Imus told sidekick Charles McCord that LeBoutillier, who had previously been a regular on the program, "hasn't been on a while, and that is because of the idiotic -- remember the book he wrote, Charles?"
The book to which Imus was likely referring was The Obama Identity, the "satirical novel" LeBoutillier cowrote and self-published with Ed Klein last year. The novel details the adventures of an investigator tasked with getting to the bottom of various conspiracy theories about President Obama and includes Pulitzer-worthy scenes featuring Katie Couric "in full swoon over Barack Obama" with "erect nipples" "clearly visible through her blouse," and characters describing Obama high-fiving Jeremiah Wright after Wright forcefully endorsed giving "every black man, woman and child" $100,000 a year in reparations.
While Imus was apparently not too impressed with the book, LeBoutillier did appear on Fox & Friends to promote it. During the segment, the Fox & Friends crew and LeBoutillier repeatedly suggested that the novel was grounded in reality, with onscreen text reading "Fact Or Fiction? 'Obama Identity' A Fictional Tale Of Reality."
Fox & Friends cohost Steve Doocy introduced the segment by saying that the book is "fiction, but a lot of the stuff sounds like it really happened." As an example of how he had used "so much real stuff" in his book, LeBoutillier repeated the already-debunked lie that President Obama's grandmother, Sarah Obama, confirmed her grandson was born in Kenya.
LEBOUTILLIER: Obama's grandmother, living today in Kenya, we have her in the book, it's fiction, but in reality she has claimed consistently that he was born in Mombasa, Kenya. She said this, adamantly, on the record. So we took that and used it in the book.
By the time LeBoutillier published his book, it was clear the Obama grandmother story was not "real stuff." In fact, LeBoutillier's retelling of the event was essentially the opposite of what happened.
The story -- bandied about for years by WorldNetDaily, G. Gordon Liddy, and other credibility-deficient conspiracy theorists -- was based on a 2008 interview with anabaptist bishop Ron McRae during which, in an apparent moment of confusion, Obama's grandmother supposedly said through a translator that she was present at Obama's birth.
But, as reported by Slate's David Weigel, "after [McRae] asked one question and got an affirmative response, he asked for more details and the translator, having misunderstood the first question, explained that Barack was not born in Kenya."
Here's a sample of the transcript of the interview, from a 2008 post by former Salon reporter Alex Koppelman. ("Ogombe" is Vitalis Akech Ogombe, Sarah Obama's translator.)
MCRAE: When I come in December. I would like to come by the place, the hospital, where he was born. Could you tell me where he was born? Was he born in Mombasa?
OGOMBE: No, Obama was not born in Mombasa. He was born in America.
MCRAE: Whereabouts was he born? I thought he was born in Kenya.
OGOMBE: No, he was born in America, not in Mombasa.
MCRAE: Do you know where he was born? I thought he was born in Kenya. I was going to go by and see where he was born.
OGOMBE: Hawaii. Hawaii. Sir, she says he was born in Hawaii. In the state of Hawaii, where his father was also learning, there. The state of Hawaii.
Two years later, LeBoutillier turned this into Sarah Obama saying "consistently" and "adamantly on the record" that Barack was born in Mombasa.
"Some people believe that the Clintons have had up to 70 people whacked over the years."
When he wasn't reprinting lurid hearsay about Gary Condit's sex life or repeating debunked conspiracy theories about Obama being born in Kenya, LeBoutillier's work was driven by his irrational hatred of the Clintons. He has written too many inane Clinton columns to recap them all here, but as a brief sample, consider his February 2001 column, "Bill Loves Sex, Hillary Loves Cash." In it, LeBoutillier forwarded rumors of the Clintons' possible involvement in Vince Foster's death, and wrote that "[f]or years there have been rumors of the Clintons having an account -- named Chelsea -- in the Cayman Islands, which is a refuge for drug money."
In the early 2000s, LeBoutillier spent several years trying to build a Counter Clinton Library, a "permanent facility that will forever counter the lies and distortions certain to come from the Clinton Liebrary."
During a 2004 Daily Show segment mocking the proposed facility, LeBoutillier told former Daily Show correspondent Rob Cordry: "Some people believe that the Clintons have had up to 70 people whacked over the years."
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So welcome to Fox, John LeBoutillier -- you'll fit in just fine.