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David Brock has ascended to new heights – or plummeted to new depths, depending on your point of view.

The Washington Post’s media critic Howard Kurtz reports that the author of “The Real Anita Hill” and “The Seduction of Hillary Rodham” is working with White House lawyer and chief Clinton disinformation artist David Kendall on a “piece sympathetic to the White House” for Esquire.

According to Kurtz, the article will examine Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr’s Whitewater probe. Among the ammunition provided to Brock by Kendall is a 1995 letter he wrote to the editor of the New York Times complaining about a dispute with reporter Jeff Gerth, who broke the original Whitewater stories.

“This sudden fondness for Brock is ironic,” writes Kurtz. “In December 1993, he wrote an article for the American Spectator quoting several Arkansas state troopers as saying that Clinton used them to arrange liaisons with women. That article, which mentioned Paula Jones by her first name, led to Jones’ sexual harassment lawsuit against the president.”

Ironic? Yes. Unexpected? No. Brock long ago transformed himself from reporter into opportunist.

As Kurtz explains it, ” … Kendall told associates that Brock, who has harshly criticized his onetime allies in the conservative movement, has undergone a ‘metamorphosis.’”

Interestingly, Brock was fired at the American Spectator a few months ago for not producing much in the way of compelling copy. Then he was quickly, and inexplicably, rehired and continues to collect a high six-figure salary at the conservative magazine once known for its investigative reporting.

What goes on here? Sounds like a crack in the armor of “the vast right-wing conspiracy.”

I sure hope Brock’s Esquire piece is better than his last one. That was the July article in which he described himself as “hit man for the right.” If he was ever the “hit man for the right,” it’s no wonder the left has been making such strides in recent years.

Brock’s book about Hillary Clinton was such a flop at bookstores that it nearly single-handedly destroyed the Free Press, the only major publishing house in America that actually considered “politically incorrect” manuscripts. It was truly a miscalculation by Free Press, which apparently assumed David Brock’s name had some firepower of its own. It never did.

It’s important to remember why his Anita Hill book became a best seller – because it was true and because it was promoted to Rush Limbaugh’s audience of 20 million listeners. His second book failed miserably because it contained few startling revelations and defended a woman resented by many of the people who rushed out to buy his first book.

So why has Brock become a Clinton sycophant and a basher of those, like investigative reporter Christopher Ruddy, who dare to expose administration misdeeds?

I’m sure one reason is simple comfort. David Brock likes money more than the truth. He also desperately wants to be loved by the very people who viciously attacked him after his work on the Anita Hill project. But I submit there is one more reason. David Brock is a coward.

He once confided in a very good friend of mine that he was afraid to go back to Arkansas to do any more reporting on Clinton scandals — deathly afraid. This came at a time when reporters in Arkansas were being roughed up, threatened, their hotel rooms ransacked. Some took to carrying guns for protection. Others wore bulletproof vests.

Why would one who now defends the administration fear doing investigative reporting into Clinton’s Arkansas circle of power? What could there have been to fear back then? Or had he been totally mistaken in his earlier reporting and observations – as he was about Paula Jones?

After all, he was the guy who first dragged Paula Jones’ name through the mud. It was his reporting in the American Spectator that led to her lawsuit. Why? Because he quoted a state trooper as saying that she wanted to be Clinton’s girlfriend and implied that she had done more than run out of that room at the Excelsior Hotel. I understand Jones’ team considered suing Brock and the American Spectator for libel. Perhaps they should have.

Brock drew plenty of flak in his early days. He was shunned by the talk-show circuit. His first book was universally panned in establishment circles. His “liberal” critics even outed him as a homosexual. Maybe, just maybe, David Brock has found a safer way to make a living. He’s learned to pick out targets who don’t shoot back.

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