Within a few hours of American Crossroads spokesman Jonathan Collegio smearing conservative Brent Bozell as a “hater” with a “sordid history” and “weird personal axes to grind,” at least 36 prominent conservative leaders had signed a letter demanding that Collegio be fired, stressing that an apology was not acceptable.
Collegio made his remarks on radio station WMAL in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, during an interview in which he defended American Crossroads, a political action committee, and its founder Karl Rove. They have been criticized lately by Bozell and other conservatives for their apparent plan to try to marginalize Tea Party candidates and financially back “establishment” Republican candidates through their newly launched spinoff PAC, the Conservative Victory Project.
In addressing the criticism, Collegio said, “Bozell is a hater and he also, like, has a long, sordid history, like, hating Karl Rove too. So he has, like, weird personal axes to grind.”
In response to Collegio’s smear, a letter signed by three dozen prominent conservatives was sent to American Crossroads President Steven Law, demanding that Collegio be fired.
“Mr. Collegio calling Mr. Bozell a ‘hater’ publicly on WMAL radio this morning reflects the language of the establishment Republicans,” reads the letter. “It is the divisive language of the Left. Rather than engaging in an intellectual debate, you, Mr. Collegio, Mr. Rove, and others in the consultant class attack good conservatives and Tea Party leaders and members.”
“On behalf of the conservative movement, we are demanding you terminate Mr. Collegio,” reads the letter. “An apology is not acceptable.”
The letter to Steven Law also states, “We, the free men and women of this great nation, affirm everyone’s natural right to speak their mind, but we cannot and will not abide the unjust, personal broadside your aide Jonathan Collegio leveled against a man whose family has dedicated itself to advancing the cause of liberty for over half a century.”
“Mr. Bozell is what we call in our movement a ‘legacy,’” states the letter. “He has devoted his life to the cause of American conservatism as did his father, Brent Bozell II, who wrote ‘The Conscience of a Conservative’ for Barry Goldwater.”
Bozell, who has been active in the conservative movement since the 1970s and runs the Media Research Center, NewsBusters, and is chairman of the grassroots group ForAmerica, is the nephew of the late William F. Buckley Jr., who founded National Review, and former U.S. Senator Jim Buckley.
His mother, the late Patricia Buckley Bozell, was a long-time freelance editor for National Review, The American Spectator and Regnery Publishing; also, she and her husband launched the influential Catholic magazine Triumph.
The letter to Steven Law concludes, “American Crossroads and the so-called Conservative Victory Project have already been severely marginalized. The sheer audacity of political consultants maligning a beloved and critically important player in American history is simply a bridge too far.
“You obviously mean to have a war with conservatives and the Tea Party. Let it start here.”
Among the letter-signers are author and talk radio host Mark Levin, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, Ronald Reagan biographer Craig Shirley, RedState.com Editor Erick Erickson, Citizens United President David Bossie, Eagle Forum President Phyllis Schlafly, ISI President Alfred Regnery, former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, Morton Blackwell, former Reagan administration officials Frank Gaffney and T. Kenneth Cribb Jr., Liberty Consulting President Virginia Thomas (wife of Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas), and Jenny Beth Martin, the national coordinator of Tea Party Patriots.
After his appearance on WMAL, Collegio issued an apparent apology, stating, “My words -- they belong to no one else. Bozell called us ‘fake conservatives’ -- which is language that perniciously and unfairly judges the motives of others, and fails to acknowledge that there might be honest differences on strategy within the conservative movement. For my part: I said that in the heat of a talk radio debate, I regret contributing to the vitriol, and I apologize to Mr. Bozell if it offended him. Believe it or not, I’m a big fan of both him and MRC.”
Concerning the letter, however, Collegio later told the Washington Examiner, “I’ve been trying to get my friends to sign it, because it’ll make for a funnier story once I get it framed. It would be flattering, if it weren’t so absurd.”
Disclosure: Brent Bozell is the president of the Media Research Center, the parent organization of CNSNews.com.