Betsy McCaughey has responded to my reporting in the latest issue of Rolling Stone that her infamous writings for the New Republic magazine, which helped torpedo the Clinton health care reform effort of the early 1990s, were shaped by the world’s largest tobacco company, Philip Morris.
McCaughey calls the reporting “baseless” and “fictional.” But here — as in the health care debate — McCaughey is the one distorting the facts. Rolling Stone never claimed that McCaughey “worked for a tobacco company.” Further, McCaughey brags that her New Republic piece “No Exit” received a National Magazine Award in 1994. True enough, but McCaughey ignores the fact her willful misrepresentations of Hillarycare were exposed by James Fallows in the The Atlantic in 1995, and that the New Republic recanted her story in 2006.
Now for the truth in black and white: Here is a link to the March 1994 memo (click here for the .pdf) by a Philip Morris executive detailing the tobacco giant’s strategy to derail the Clinton health care plan.
The coaching of McCaughey — then a fellow at the Manhattan Institute — is detailed on page 5:
A final note: McCaughey tries to attack the messenger, criticizing Rolling Stone for accepting tobacco advertising. Yet McCaughey’s own political fortunes have been propelled by tobacco company funds. As this thank you letter on McCaughey ’94 stationery reveals, her leap to become lieutenant governor of New York was made possible, in part, by a “generous” campaign contribution from the Tobacco Institute.