The BEAST - Buffalo's Best 59 9/30/04--10/14/04


A Lesson in Family Values

Scamming the Media, Parlock Style

By William Rivers Pitt

Meet Phil Parlock. Parlock is a family man and a staunch Republican. Parlock has a very sad story to tell about how rotten Kerry supporters are. You see, they made his little girl cry.

Parlock, his weeping daughter, and the fiendish union guy holding a piece of the allegedly ripped sign. Parlock was at a rally on Thursday to greet Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards, who was on a swing through West Virginia and Ohio. Parlock brought his three children and a Bush/Cheney sign to show support for his beloved President. According to him, a Kerry-supporting union guy wearing an IUPAT shirt ripped up the Bush sign his little girl was carrying, making her cry.

Terrible, right? A sign that our national politics have descended into these kind of brutish tactics, right? An embarrassing incident for the Kerry campaign, right? The media certainly thinks so, and has dutifully reported on the incident.

For the third time.

A report from the Charleston Daily Mail, August 27, 1996:

"The Huntington man said he was knocked to the ground by a Clinton supporter when he tried to display a sign that read 'Remember Vince Foster,' the deputy White House counsel who committed suicide in a Washington, D.C., park. His death has become the subject of much debate among Clinton opponents...Parlock said some of the crowd tried to make other anti-Clinton demonstrators feel unwelcome. He estimated that about 150 Dole supporters attended the rally, but their signs couldn't be seen for most of the rally."

A report from the Charleston Daily Mail, October 28, 2000:

"Phil Parlock didn't expect to need all 12 of the Bush-Cheney signs he and his son Louis smuggled in their socks and pockets into the rally for Vice President Al Gore. But each time they raised a sign, someone would grab it out of their hands, the two Huntington residents said. And sometimes it got physical. 'I expected some people to take our signs,' said Louis, 12. 'But I did not expect people to practically attack us.' The two said they didn't go to the Friday morning rally to start trouble."

For the third Presidential election in a row, poor Phil Parlock has been abused by terrible Democrats while trying to support the Republican candidate, and while trying to introduce his children to the art of retail politics. Is this just a string of bad luck for Phil?

I doubt it. It seems a great deal more certain that Mr. Parlock is a serial disruptor who has managed to convince the easily-duped mainstream media on three separate occasions that he was attacked by Democrats. Only a truly hard-core fanatic would pull a stunt like this, and Parlock certainly appears to fit the bill.

Note the fact that he was holding a "Remember Vince Foster" sign at the first incident in 1996. Parlock, it seems, is of that particular fringe school of thought which believes Hillary Clinton had Foster whacked as a part of her grandiose evil scheming. Believers in this particular conspiracy theory are not known for their balanced view of American politics. They see the Clinton family as a pack of remorseless murderers, and therefore feel compelled to do whatever they can to thwart them.

Take a look at the sprightly Parlock family, posing beside a giant military vehicle:

Take a long look at the young man in the gray shirt, and then take another look at the alleged union guy who tore up the sign. Am I the only one who sees a striking resemblance?

It appears we have a clever fellow here who has convinced the same Charleston newspaper three different times that he was victimized by Democrats at rallies. He does not seem to have any problem with involving his own children in the game, and may have even gone so far as to have one of his sons play the role of 'Democrat Attacker.'

This would be funny, in a sad sort of way, but for two things.

First, this is how campaigns get mired in utterly mindless trivialities. Instead of discussing the upswell of catastrophic violence in Iraq, we get to hear about poor Phil and his crying daughter. There are important matters to discuss, matters central to the future of the country, but media tricks like this blow the whole show off-track. That's bad.

The second reason this isn't so funny happened two weeks ago. A gathering of Republicans at the local GOP headquarters got a nasty scare when someone fired a bullet at the building. About two dozen people were there to watch the Republican Convention in New York when a single shot hit the window.

Dee Delancy of WCHS news in Charleston reported on the incident, and interviewed several people who were there. One of them was Phil Parlock, who said, "I think this is definitely, definitely an act that was by an extremist kind of thing."

Parlock was there.

This could all be a series of strange coincidences. Parlock could simply be an unlucky guy who always seems to be around when Democrats do something wretched, who took abuse in 1996, 2000 and 2004 for supporting Republicans, who happened to have the same newspaper on hand to report his story each time, and who also happened to be on the scene of a shooting incident that made Democrats look like frightening would-be assassins.

This could be a series of coincidences, but someone should take a long look at this fellow regardless. Manufacturing a few sign-ripping incidents isn't a terribly big deal. But he appears to be hell-bent on making Democrats look like thugs, and there has been a shooting incident involving him on top of everything else. The media, which may well have been repeatedly scammed by Parlock, might want to do some further checking.

Author's note: The manner in which this story came to light is a lesson in modern journalism. The mainstream fellows simply reported the Parlock perspective, but it was an intrepid band of online newshounds - bloggers Rising Hegemon and Atrios, who picked up on the work of one Rezmutt, member of the forums at - who pieced together the strange coincidences surrounding these Parlock incidents. Once upon a time, stories like this would get missed. The internet has created a whole new phenomenon. If the mainstream media wants to avoid being embarrassed, they might want to think about paying attention to this brave new world of investigative journalism.

William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and international bestseller of two books - 'War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know' and 'The Greatest Sedition is Silence.'


2004 The Beast