:First, David Brock wrote a devastating profile of Anita Hill, the law professor who testified against Clarence Thomas. Then he took on Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Calling a hatchet man like Brock a legitimate journalist is like reading Crime and Punishment and deciding that Raskolnikov really carried that ax around with him under his coat because he was an undercover policeman.

Brock's now-famous article, titled "The Real Anita Hill," appeared in the far-right American Spectator magazine in March 1992. Conservatives reacted to it with such great glee that Brock followed it up with a best-selling book of the same title.

Brock is hardly a reincarnation of Woodward and Bernstein. His technique consisted of journeying into Hill's past and coming up with all the far-out anecdotes of a sexual nature he could collect. Brock admits there are some elements of satire in his work. Satire? It is a technique widely used in the supermarket-tabloid field, but it has never been used as a tool in the journalism of the far right.

This month, Brock added a new notch to his belt by adopting his technique to Arkansas for four months, he says, to discover the backgrounds of President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Until now, Brock had been pretty much ignored by the mainstream press. His sleazy attack on Hill was so astonishing and titillating that would-be critics backed off rather than engage Brock in a frontal debate. They wrote him off as a salacious weirdo and let it go at that.

Here is a sample of the prose Brock served up against Hill, the woman who came close to preventing Justice Thomas from being confirmed to a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Hill's behavior struck more than one of her colleagues not as feminism, but as plain sexism in reverse," Brock wrote.

"Her flirtatiousness, her provocative manner of dress, was not sweet or sexy, it was sort of angry, almost a weapon."
Having thus set up Hill as an angry, black woman, Brock then proceeded to relate this account of an incident that supposedly occurred while she was teaching law at Oral Roberts University. He wrote:

"The most bizarre incident is alleged to have happened in the school year of 1983-84 at Oral Roberts, according to an affidavit dated October 13, 1991, and filed with the Senate Judiciary Committee, in which Lawrence Shiles, a lawyer in Tulsa, recounted the following:

"Shortly after class had begun, Professor Hill gave us a written assignment which I completed and duly turned in. When this assignment was passed out to the class after having been marked by the professor, sitting next to me were fellow students Jeffrey Londoff and Mark Stewart. Upon opening the assignments and reviewing our grades and comments made by Anita Hill, I found ten to 12 short, black pubic hairs in the pages of my assignment. I glanced over at Jeff Londoff's assignment and saw similar pubic hairs in his assignment, also.

"At that time, I made the statement to Londoff that either she had a low opinion of our works or she had graded our assignment in the bathroom. Mark Stewart overheard the conversation and said that he had similar pubic hairs in his assignment, also.'"
Brock concludes this astonishing passage this way:
"So Hill may be a bit nutty and a bit slutty. . . ."

This month, writing again in the American Spectator, Brock devoted his attention not only to President Clinton's sex life but also to what he perceived as an ongoing sexual dalliance between first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and the late Vincent Foster.

Foster was a partner of Mrs. Clinton's in a Little Rock law firm. This is the same Foster whose suicide after becoming a presidential aide has never stopped haunting the White House. Foster, the Clintons' personal lawyer, handled the papers for Whitewater Development, which is now the focal point of a special prosecutor's attention.

Brock quotes state troopers assigned to protect Clinton as seeing Mrs. Clinton being embraced numerous times by Foster and also of seeing her engage in "open-mouthed kissing" with him. The troopers also cite instances in which the two would go off and spend long hours together, either at the governor's mansion or at a cabin owned by the law firm in which both were partners.

The attacks on Clinton were met head-on. Those on Mrs. Clinton were, I think, considered so distasteful that it was better not to even confront them.

All of these charges, however, were lent some credibility because the Los Angeles Times and CNN reacted to the tales of the unhappy Arkansas troopers at the same time.

One of the first reactions I saw to Brock's attack came from columnist Anthony Lewis on the op-ed page of the New York Times.

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Tom Fitzpatrick