Wednesday, October 31, 2007

`Let Me Die Standing Up'

Let me die standing up with my fist in the air
And not live on my knees enslaved or in fear
Let me die standing up living righteously
Resisting the laws of the oligarchy.

Let me die standing up in revolt against wrong
And not live passively while they wage unjust war
Let me die standing up and not bow to their greed
Let me answer their hate with my love and beliefs.

Let me die standing up living with dignity
And not sell my soul for the sake of money
Let me die standing up speaking out only truth
And not meekly submit to the lies of the brutes.

Let me go to my grave fighting to be free
And not try to survive by obeying the thieves
Let me die standing up, honest to myself
Yes, I’d rather not live if I have to bow down.

To listen to "Let Me Die Standing Up," you can click on the following music site link:

The Let Me Die Standing Up protest folk song was written in the late 1970s or early 1980s.

Next: Is Columbia University’s 21st-Century Campus Expansion Project Legal?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

1968 Columbia Strike Leader Gilbert's November 25, 2004 Statement

One of the anti-war leaders of the 1968 Columbia Student Strike, Columbia SDS co-founder David Gilbert , is still imprisoned at Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York. Following the publication of his 2004 book, No Surrender: Writings from an anti-imperialist political prisoner, Gilbert issued the following statement on November 25, 2004, which he titled “No Surrender and the Losses of 10/20/81:”

“The warm reception for my book is most welcome. I hope the title hasn't caused any misunderstanding. No Surrender comes from the Nazim Hikmet poem about prison, which opens the book, on never giving up one's principles, spirit, and zest for life. I did not at all mean to refer to a military concept or in any way to glorify the shoot-out that led to my incarceration.

“I feel terrible about the deaths, the wounds, the fractured lives and families that resulted from that action. I've said this (and talked more specifically about the errors I made) in the few interviews I've done over the years, but perhaps my regrets and apologies haven't been heard clearly because of all I've also had to say about the colossal violence of the social system and the brutal attacks on the Black Liberation Movement. However, my relationship to the deaths on 10/21/81 is very direct, so I need to address those losses very directly. Such a statement is especially needed because during trial, feeling very embattled and defending armed struggle as an abstract principle. I failed to publicly express regrets about the individuals who had been killed and wounded.

“I feel terrible about the loss of life and the pain and suffering for the families of the two officers and guard who were killed. [I am not mentioning them by name out of respect for the wishes of the families.] Whatever the historical context for us, these three men just happened to be on duty that day. So it must have been an especially bitter loss for their families.

“In another sad repercussion three days later, longtime Black liberation activist Mtayari Sundiata was killed by police. All the losses are more anguishing because they resulted from the grievous mistakes we made.

“My own family was badly hurt; they never got to make choices about the risks I would take but they suffered the consequences. Yet as hard as it's been for us, we've still been able to maintain a strong, tangible connection. The families of those who died were left with far more devastating losses: children growing up without fathers, mothers carrying on without husbands, families without a chance to share joys or ever again to hug their loved ones.

“In any struggle, no matter how intense, we must never lose our feeling for each and every human being. The only reason to become an activist is love, love for the preciousness of life and for the rainbow colors of human potential. Those same values mandate that we take the greatest care and responsibility in how we fight for social change.

“I proudly stand by my broad history of struggle and by solidarity with the Black liberation movement; my actions on 10/21/81 were wrong, and I deeply apologize for their role in the tragic loss of lives.”

[David Gilbert is a North American political prisoner and longtime anti-imperialist. On October 20, 1981, he and other comrades were captured at Nyack, NY during an attempted expropriation by a unit of the Black Liberation Army and other white revolutionaries (known as the Revolutionary Armed Task Force - RATF). During the expropriation attempt, 3 officers were killed. Charged and convicted of felony murder, David is serving a 75 year (minimum) to life sentence. While in prison, David has been actively involved in the struggle against AIDS, and has remained a staunch opponent of oppression still dedicated to human liberation.]

Next: Let Me Die Standing Up lyrics

Monday, October 29, 2007

Interviewing `Time' Magazine's Managing Editor In The 1990s

Downtown spoke with Time magazine’s then-managing editor, Henry Muller, in 1990 about Newsweek’s criticism of his magazine’s June 11, 1990 Scott Turow cover story. Muller adamantly denied that Time magazine would ever use its cover to promote products being marketed by other Time Warner media institutions it owns.

Newsweek only criticized us for not mentioning that Scott Turow’s first book was published by Warner—which we mentioned the next week,” Muller said. “It didn’t accuse us of using the cover story to promote the book and movie.”

Muller also declared that “One of the salient points of the Times’ article was that Newsweek was clearly engaged in intra-mural fighting. And that Newsweek’s motives for criticizing Time were dubious and self-serving.” (Of course, since the New York Times was a business partner with Time Warner in its Time Distributors operation in 1990, some cynics might also go so far as to argue that the Times article itself was self-serving).

Downtown asked Muller why Time magazine didn’t initially mention that the author it put on its cover was first published by another division of Time Warner. “Our policy is that we only mention Time Warner corporate connections in all business and press action stories. But not in our review or movie sections or in news stories. We have never mentioned corporate connections in our review columns,” answered Muller. “Before Time merged with Warner, this was our policy. Our long-standing policy was not to mention the corporate ownership of movies and books we review.”

Would Time magazine mention that Madonna records were produced and distributed by another division of Time Warner in 1990 if it decided to put Madonna on its cover? “If we do a `people’ item on Madonna—it depends. You have to see the actual story. It depends on the nature of the story. Is it a review? Or is it in-between?” Muller replied.

Downtown asked Muller what effect the Time Warner merger had on Time magazine’s editorial independence [during the early 1990s]. According to Muller, Time magazine’s editorial independence was “not in any way…affected by the merger. We’ve probably done 20 or 30 stories that have a corporate connection. And they all demonstrated our total independence in writing. We’ve written about Paretti [a 1990 business controversy involving Time Warner] and cable deals. We’ve got a 100 percent record of independence.”

In his 1988 Beyond Malice book, however, the former Time-Life broadcast chairman, Richard Clurman, wrote:

“Very few people or organizations are capable of ongoing public confessional or disclosures about themselves. When I covered the press for Time, my editors wanted intensive reporting and criticism of others. But it was taken for granted that when I had to write about some development at Time Inc., itself, I would shift to the spare repose of a corporate press release.”

Asked by Downtown whether it should be mentioned in Time magazine that the chairman of the Executive Committee of Time Warner’s corporate board in the early 1990s, J. Richard Munro, was also a member of the Mobil Corporation oil company’s board of directors, Muller answered:

“Why should it be? Let me give a more direct example. General Motors is a heavy advertiser in Time. Should we write that General Motors is an advertiser in Time every time we mention General Motors in a news story?”

When Downtown noted that there’s a difference between a company advertising in Time magazine and a company like Mobil having its director heading Time Warner, in terms of possible conflict of interest, Muller denied the possibility of any conflict of interest. “We’ve made our reputation on being independent. The only question that matters is `Does your product have integrity or doesn’t it? Nobody’s going to compromise with Time’s independence,” said Muller.

Downtown asked Muller whether there was any internal debate at Time magazine before it was decided to put the author of a Time Warner-published book on its front cover. “There was no internal debate. The judgment was made by our book reviewer that this merited a cover story. Everybody has standing instructions around here to pursue journalistic responsibilities without regard to corporate ownership,” Muller replied. “And today it is a point of view backed up by a `helluva’ track record. Except for that initial mistake [i.e. not publishing an article on the Time Warner merger the week it was announced], we haven’t done anything journalistically wrong in our coverage of Time Warner.”

The Time magazine Managing Editor vigorously denied that Time magazine would ever be influenced by Time Warner business considerations. “I don’t think Time people would put up with any kind of corporate interference. Nobody’s dumb enough to compromise on that. This is basic. My responsibility is to preserve the integrity of Time. It’s nutty to think that anyone at Time would start to try to interfere with Time’s editorial integrity for business reasons,” Muller insisted.

Muller claimed that the separation of the business side of Time from its editorial side “had probably strengthened since the merger. We’re more independent. I am passionate about this,” said Muller.

Asked whether he thought it was archaic to worry about one company owning both a newspaper and a television station in one city or both magazines and cable TV stations, Muller replied: “Whether the San Francisco Chronicle should be allowed to own a TV station, I’m not prepared to answer. My one job is to make sure the independence of our magazine is preserved. The only thing I can say with total confidence is that Time magazine is more independent than ever. We would never act as a catalog to market Time Warner products.”

Would Muller resist corporate pressure to make Time magazine a catalog? “I would—though there’s never been any pressure.”

When Downtown mentioned to Muller that perhaps omitting coverage of Time Warner business activities or omitting coverage of people who raised media monopolization issues was a more likely journalistic sin than publishing articles in response to Time Warner business needs, Muller said: “There’s no omission. We’ve printed articles on cable regulation and on the Time Warner-Paretti deal. You wouldn’t find a better story in Newsweek on Time Warner. We wrote about problems with Entertainment Today. We’re in nobody’s pocket.”

(Downtown 10/24/90)

But I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting in the 21st-century for Time magazine to do more frequent cover-story articles about U.S. political prisoners, the number of Iraqi civilians actually killed as a result of U.S. military intervention in the Middle East since 2003 or the anti-war folks in the U.S. who have questioned the U.S. government’s official story of what actually happened on September 11, 2001 in Downtown Manhattan.

Next: 1968 Columbia Student Strike Leader Gilbert’s November 25, 2004 Statement

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Time Warner and 1990s Media Monopolization

According to the March 27, 1989 issue of The Nation magazine, Time Inc.’s management initially told Time magazine’s business section editors and writers “not to cover the merger story” after Time Inc. purchased Warner Communications in 1989.

Henry Muller was the managing editor of Time magazine during the early 1990s. He graduated from Stanford University in 1968 [and also sat next to former Stanford University Provost Condi Rice on the Carnegie Corporation of New York foundation board of trustees in the 1990s], after having worked for Time Inc.’s Life magazine as a student intern during the 1960s. According to Muller, “The Editor-in-Chief did not want to do a story” on the Time Warner merger only because of deadline considerations. “Our deadline is on a Saturday and the merger news was announced on a Saturday.” But he has told reporters that he was “mistaken” not to cover the Time Warner merger story.

Yet according to George Winslow, a freelance writer who writes about the mass media, “Time Inc. released the news on Saturday to avoid wide coverage” of the Time Warner merger and “Newsweek beat them to the punch. Time wasn’t critical with many aspects of the merger—even those aspects that affected Time Inc. stockholders.”

In The Nation magazine’s March 27, 1989 issue, writer Richard Pollack criticized the Time Inc.-Warner Communications mass media merger for expressing a business trend that “daily accelerates the country’s terminal homogenitization.” Pollack also noted that Ohio’s then-U.S. Senator Howard Metzenbaum “was concerned about the merger’s impact on media diversity” and had “asked the Justice Department to review the antitrust implications.”

Time Warner has sometimes been criticized for using Time magazine to promote the products being marketed by other Time Warner media institutions it owns. In its June 18, 1990 issue, for instance, the New York Times observed that:

Newsweek magazine has taken Time magazine to task over Time’s cover story on novelist Scott Turow, whose paperback publisher is owned by Time Warner and whose first book was turned into a movie produced by Time Warner subsidiary Warner Brothers.”

Newsweek had reported the following in its “periscope section”:

“What responsibility does the magazine group of Time Warner have to let its readers know that a film it praises in a news story was produced by the movie part of the corporation? None, if you ask the company. Last week’s curious cover story in Time was about Presumed Innocent author Scott Turow, whose new book The Burden of Proof has received mixed reviews. The article offered lavish details about the upcoming movie version of Presumed Innocent but neglected to mention Warner Bros. made the movie. Time spokeswoman Jennifer Epstein said the magazine did not have a responsibility to report the corporate connection and denied there was a conflict of interest. She also said Time never identifies which movie company made a film.”

(Downtown 10/24/90)

Next: Interviewing Time Magazine’s Managing Editor In The 1990s

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Time Warner/Time Inc.'s Historic Political Role

The late 1990 cheerleading role that Time magazine played in supporting the U.S. military build-up in Saudi Arabia [like its early 2003 cheerleading role in supporting the 21st-century U.S. military intervention in Iraq] is not inconsistent with Time Inc.’s historic role. In his The Powers That Be book, David Halberstam characterized the role that Time magazine played in generating support for the mid-1960s U.S. military build-up in Vietnam:

“Throughout the Vietnam War, Time did much of its heavy-duty advocacy through the Press section, attacking anyone critical of the war, praising anyone who liked it, and it was frequently and often brutally employed.”

Halberstam’s book also noted how the U.S. president who prolonged U.S. military intervention in Indochina after 1968—before being forced to resign over the “Watergate Affair” in 1974—was promoted by Time magazine in the 1950s:

“Certainly Time, during the crucial early years of Nixon’s career, took pain to portray him as the bright young fellow on the rise, filled with all the best of American virtues. `Fighting Quaker,’ Time typically titled an early cover story.”

Before Henry Luce died, there was some fear in Time Inc. management circles that the media corporation would have difficulty surviving without Luce’s autocratic leadership. For this reason, according to Halberstam’s book, news of Luce’s 1958 heart attack was suppressed by Time magazine “for fear that it would harm the Time Inc. stock.” But after Luce’s death in 1967, Time Inc. prospered and purchased Warner Communications in 1989 for $14 billion to form the Time Warner global media conglomerate.

(Downtown 10/24/90)

Next: Time Warner and 1990s Media Monopolization

Friday, October 26, 2007

Labor-Management Conflict At Time Warner/Time Inc. Historically

On June 2, 1976, 600 dissatisfied Time Inc. magazine staff and book publishing employees, led by the Newspaper Guild, went on strike. Time Inc. management had sought to reduce pay rates by reducing the minimum pay rates and the number of staff members who received mandatory percentage raises, while increasing the number of staff members whose pay rates could be increased only if individual Time Inc. managers decided they “deserved merit raises.” Newspaper Guild members, however, voted to end the strike after 18 days and accept an unfavorable new contract—after their strike failed to stop the publication of any Time Inc. publications.

(Downtown 10/24/90)

Next: Time Warner/Time Inc’s Historic Political Role

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Time Warner/Time Inc.'s Historical Discrimination Record

According to David Halberstam’s The Powers That Be book, in the early 1940s Time magazine:

“did not hire Jews. Jews were very much a they, they were not yet in the mainstream of American letters, let alone Luceian letters; indeed, for another fifteen years it would be difficult for Jews to join the foreign staff of Time. They could be hired and they could work as stringers, but whether they could go on the masthead if their names were too Semitic was another thing. For the Luce publications, like Luce in those early days, were Waspy and old-school; until the very end of his life Luce was still capable of turning to a Jewish editor and asking, `And what do our Jewish friends think of that?’”

Luce’s Time Inc. employment police in relation to African-American and women journalists also left much to be desired in the 1950s and 1960s. As late as seven years after the 1954 Supreme Court decision outlawed legal segregation, for instance, only about 2 percent of all employees at Time Inc. were African-American and not one of the 50 African-American employees at Time Inc. held a major editorial job. The Black Media Committee criticized a special 1970 Time magazine issue on “Black America” by describing it as “a ghettoized supplement.” As late as the early 1970s, African-Americans held only 1 percent of the jobs at Fortune magazine, only 2.5 percent of the jobs at Life magazine and Sports Illustrated and only 4 percent of the jobs at Time magazine.

In 1970 Time magazine’s research chief, Marylois Vega, had also confessed: “Any fair observer of Time over the past 25 years would admit that there has been a prejudice against women in the editorial department of this magazine…” Time Inc.’s practice since the 1920s had been to track the women it hired into the lower-paying clerical, secretarial and researcher jobs and to reserve the higher-paying writer or editor slots for the men it hired. Time magazine’s editor-in-chief in 1979, Henry Grunwald, had said in 1969: “I must add in candor that I have not met many women who seem to have the physical and mental energy required for Time senior editing.”

One-hundred-and-forty-seven women members of Time Inc.’s editorial staff subsequently signed a formal complaint of sex discrimination by Time Inc. management which was presented to the New York State Division of Human Rights. On May 4, 1970, New York State Attorney General Louis Lefkowitz filed the complaint which specifically charged Time, Life, Fortune, Sports Illustrated and Time-Life Books with sex discrimination. The New York Civil Rights Bureau Chief also charged Time Inc. management with gender discrimination.

(Downtown 10/24/90)

Next: Labor-Management Conflict At Time Warner/Time Inc. Historically

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

`Non-Profit' IDA Paid IDA President $323,000 Annual Salary In 2002

Being the president of the Pentagon’s tax-exempt, “non-profit” weapons research think-tank, the Institute for Defense Analyses [IDA], is an even more lucrative job than being the president of the tax-exempt, “non-profit” Teachers College of Columbia University. Between Sept. 2004 and Sept. 2005, for instance, the then-Columbia University Teachers College President, Arthur Levine, was paid a $315,600 annual salary. Yet as early as 2002, the President of IDA, Retired U.S. Air Force General Larry Welch, was being paid an annual salary of $323,979, according to IDA’s Form 990 for the year beginning Sept. 29, 2001 and ending Sept. 27, 2002.

At least ten other IDA executives were also paid annual salaries of over $140,000 in 2002. For instance, the IDA Vice-President for Administration and Finance, Ruth Greenstein, was paid an annual salary of $261,212, while the IDA Vice-President for Planning and Evaluation was paid $212,554. Annual salaries of between $196,889 and $231,076 were also paid to the directors of IDA’s five weapons research divisions in 2002.

In addition, the chairman of the IDA board of trustees, former University of South Carolina President John Palms, was paid an additional $27,100 in 2002 by IDA for his work as IDA board chairman. MIT Professor Sheila Widnall, a former Clinton Administration Secretary of the Air Force, also was paid an additional $10,800 in 2002 by IDA for apparently representing MIT on IDA’s board of trustees in 2002.

Although IDA claims to be a “non-profit” and a “public charity”, from its Pentagon weapons research contracts in 2002 it earned total revenues of $145 million that were $4 million more than the $141 million it had to spend on its weapons research think-tank activity. According to IDA’s 2006 Annual Report, between 1996 and 2006, “Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom was examined” by IDA researchers “for lessons for future joint military operations and for operational test and evaluation programs.”

Next: Time Warner/Time Inc.’s Historical Discrimination Record

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Hollywood Racism and Classism

Hollywood has never been eager to hire many African-American screenwriters and directors to help produce its movies. As The Urban Plantation: Racism & Colonialism in the Post-Civil Rights Era by Robert Staples noted as late as 1987, “of some 5,700 writers in the Writers Guild of America-West, only 70 are black” and “only 252 of the 6,672 members of the Directors Guild of America are members of minority groups.”

The same book also made the following observations about African-American-oriented radio stations in the United States:

“Most of the 400 black radio stations are owned by whites, some of whom have become millionaires through their control of the black communications media…A black owner seems to be no guarantee the black community’s needs will be met or even the job stability of black personnel at these stations. The son of Adam Clayton Powell purchased a black soul station in Oakland, California, converted it to an all-news format and replaced most of the black employees with whites…”

(Downtown 4/27/94)

Foreign transnational-owned Hollywood studios still make a lot of money distributing their films to audiences of U.S. working-class people. Yet Hollywood has long been accused of portraying both U.S. working-class people and their labor unions in a classist way.

In his 1953 book Film In The Battle Of Ideas, one of the blacklisted “Hollywood Ten” screenwriters, John Howard Lawson, for instance, argued that “workers and their families see films which urge them to…emulate the corrupt values of their enemies” and “the consistent presentation on the nation’s screens of the views that…workers who seek to protect their class interests are stupid, malicious or even treasonable” is what Hollywood engages in. Through Jaundiced Eyes: How The Media View Organized Labor by William Puette also observed during the 1980s:

“The real problem with Hollywood’s portrayal of unions is its blatant inaccuracy. Most unions, particularly the well-established ones, are shown as being connected in some way to organized crime. In fact, a 1982 presidential commission on organized crime found that fewer than 400 of the country’s 70,000 locals, less than one percent had been suspected of such influence. There is likely a parallel if not considerably higher incidence of crooked bankers, lawyers, doctors, and politicians as well. Yet no media portrayals of these professions would ever suggest endemic corruption.

“…The portrayal of unions in the media, particularly in movies, plays a major role in shaping the attitudes of Americans towards labor unions. With few exceptions, that portrayal has been both unrepresentative and virulently negative.”

(Downtown 2/2/94)

Next: “Non-Profit” IDA Paid IDA President $323,000 Annual Salary In 2002

Monday, October 22, 2007

Turkey's Human Rights Record In 1990s

Even the Associated Press (7/7/95) reported in 1995 that “thousands of Iraqi Kurds fled their villages…after Turkish forces dropped bombs in Northern Iraq, and about 3,000 soldiers pressed their cross-border offensive against Kurdish rebels” while “an estimated 3,000 Iraqi Kurds from 18 villages…fled their homes for safer areas.” The Turkish government that invades Iraq to deny the Kurdish people their democratic right to self-determination is a NATO ally of the U.S. government.

(Downtown 7/19/95)

The 1996 deaths of political prisoners in Turkey also indicated that during the 1990s the Clintons’ first administration remained aligned with a Turkish government that violated the human rights of its political opponents. In its 1994 Annual Report, Amnesty International summarized the human rights situation in Turkey during the Clintons’ first term in the White House:

“Hundreds of people were detained as prisoners of conscience…Torture of political and criminal detainees in police stations was widespread and systematic, and there were at least 24 reported deaths in custody as a result of torture. At least 26 people reportedly `disappeared’ in security force custody and scores of people were killed in the mainly Kurdish southeastern provinces and also in western Turkey, in circumstances which suggested that they had been extra-judicially executed by members of the security forces…”

The New York Times (9/7/96) also reported that on Sept. 6, 1996 “Turkish planes continued their bombing attacks…on camps inside Iraq that are used by the Kurdish faction, the Kurdistan Workers Party.”

Next: Hollywood Racism and Classism

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Two-Term President Bill Clinton's Puppet: Hillary Clinton?

In order to apparently evade the spirit of the 22nd amendment of the U.S. Constitution (which attempted to prevent any U.S. politician from occupying the White House for more than two terms), former U.S. President Bill Clinton’s wife, Hillary Clinton, is running as a 2008 Democratic Party presidential candidate. The former member of the Wellesley College board of trustees and Wal-Mart board of directors is also attempting to portray herself as being something other than Bill Clinton’s surrogate and political puppet. Yet as former New York Times reporter Jeff Gerth and current New York Times reporter Don Van Natta Jr. observed in their 2007 book, Her Way: The Hopes and Ambitions of Hillary Rodham Clinton:

“Hillaryland’s chief advisor, of course, is Bill, who often test markets Hillary’s position or sound bites before she uses them herself to see how they play…

“She supported Bush’s invasion of Afghanistan…On October 25 [2001], she voted for the Patriot Act…She remained decidedly hawkish, far closer to President Bush than most of her fellow Democrats were…

“…Her husband, Bill Clinton, had signed a law in 1998 that contained…provisions calling for regime change, and he also predicted the same year that Saddam Hussein would use weapons of mass destruction…

“Bill served as her main counsel on the Iraq war vote…Hillary voted against an amendment to the war resolution that would have required the diplomatic emphasis…Instead of voting for Bush to pursue more diplomacy, she voted to give Bush the authority to invade Iraq…”

In utilizing his wife as a stand-in candidate to apparently evade a term-limit constitutional amendment, former Democratic Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton seems to be doing something similar to what another former Southern Democratic Governor, George Wallace, did in Alabama in 1965 to violate the spirit of a section of the Alabama state constitution which prohibited Alabama governors from serving two consecutive terms in office. As the 1994 book George Wallace by Stephen Lesher recalled:

“…In September 1965, Wallace called the legislature into special session with instructions to draw up a constitutional amendment to allow a sitting governor to run for a second consecutive term…

“…Immediately after being notified that the succession resolution had been voted down, Wallace rose from his desk; jabbed a cigar in his mouth; and, as he started out the door for an out-of-town engagement, turned to his staff and said simply, `My wife may run.’…

“…Only with Lurleen [Wallace] as governor could Wallace claim…to be…the co-sovereign…

“Rep. Edith Green of Oregon feared that Lurleen’s evident role as her husband’s pawn might set back the movement toward women’s equality…

“After Lurleen’s overwhelming victory in the primary and general elections, George…offered a number of `recommendations’ for the new administration, which everyone understood to be Lurleen’s proposed legislative program…

“After Lurleen’s inauguration, she moved into the governor’s office suite (number 100), while George moved in across the hall (number 101) but retained the key to the private entrance to Lurleen’s office. Lurleen kept George’s cabinet intact…"

The Politics of Rage by Dan Carter also observed that “the sweeping victory of Lurleen Wallace, stand-in candidate for governor, had made George Wallace the king of a captive state.”

Next: Turkey’s Human Rights Record In 1990s

Saturday, October 20, 2007

`Living On Stolen Goods'

Oh, many, many ages ago
Red people lived alone
At peace with the buffalo
Oh, they’re living on stolen goods.

To make money they came
The Anglos and their slaves
For housework they had their dames
Oh, they’re living on stolen goods.

And they brought with them their guns
And whipped and shot Black ones
They brainwashed their children
Oh, they’re living on stolen goods.

And westward ho! they marched
And shot down the reds who tried to resist
And this whole land they robbed
Oh, they’re living on stolen goods.

And they cramped the red people in camps
And they ghettoized the Blacks
And now they’re into Asia
Oh, they’re living on stolen goods.

Amerika, your riches
Are based on your robbery
You rich fascists are doomed
‘Cause you’re living on stolen goods.

Yes, many, many ages ago
Red people lived alone
At peace with the buffalo
Oh, they’re living on stolen goods.

To listen to "Livin' On Stolen Goods" folk song, you can click on following music site link:

The Living On Stolen Goods protest folk song was written in the Spring of 1971. The words for the song came to me while riding on a bus through Harlem, into the Bronx and Westchester and up to Boston for a day trip.

Next: Two-Term President Bill Clinton’s Puppet: Hillary Clinton?

Friday, October 19, 2007

`New York Times' Coverage of MLK Assassination Case

In an essay entitled “The Second Dallas Casualty: The Media And The Assassination Of Truth,” which appeared in the 1976 book Government By Gunplay, Jerry Policoff made this reference to Times coverage of the Martin Luther King assassination case:

“The Times record on the King case, once the `official’ verdict was in, was no better than it had been in the John F. Kennedy case…March, 1971 brought a challenge to the `official’ contention that Ray had killed Dr. King and that there had been no conspiracy. The challenge was a new book by Harold Weisberg, Frame-Up: The Martin Luther King/James Earl Ray Case…Persuasive evidence suggested that a bundle conveniently left behind in a doorway near the rooming house and which contained the alleged assassination rifle and several of Ray’s personal effects, had actually been planted on the scene by someone other than Ray. Much more in Frame-Up pointed toward a conspiracy in which Ray had served the role of `patsy.’

Frame-Up was reviewed in The New York Times Book Review on May 2, 1971, by John Kaplan…Kaplan’s review was…a personal attack upon Harold Weisberg which totally ignored the contents of Frame-Up…Published the same week as his review of Frame-Up was [his] article written for the U.S. Information Agency (the…propaganda arm of the government) entitled `The Case of Angela Davis…’”

In the preface to James Earl Ray’s 1992 book, Who Killed Martin Luther King? , Mark Lane wrote the following:

“I join in [the now-deceased] James Earl Ray’s call for the appointment of an independent federal special prosecutor to investigate the FBI’s involvement in the plot to kill Martin Luther King. The facts are clear that former FBI officials removed King’s defenses just before he was killed, transferred potential witnesses the day before the murder and tampered, `lost’ and destroyed key evidence. FBI written memos provide undisputed evidence that the bureau targeted King for harassment and `removal’ from the scene. This documentary evidence alone is enough to establish probable cause that the bureau, Director J. Edgar Hoover and his underlings conspired to assassinate the civil rights leader. Together with the testimony of former agents and Memphis police officers I am convinced that a federal grand jury presented with relevant evidence by an honest special prosecutor would conclude that Hoover and other FBI officials were responsible for the assassination of Dr. King.”

Next: Living On Stolen Goods protest folk song lyrics

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Chicago After King's Murder

As SDS by Kirkpatrick Sale observed:

“The assassination of Martin Luther King…was a propelling moment for radicals both black and white: it seemed a signal…that the old ways were finished, that whatever romance lingered from the civil rights days was dispelled, that the time had come for more than nonviolence, more than working with the system, more than moral witness…”

In his 1980 book Soon To Be A Major Motion Picture, Abbie Hoffman recalled what happened in Chicago after King’s murder:

“During the uprisings following the killing of Martin Luther King…the south side of Chicago exploded with a fury…Mayor Daley issued the following proclamation: Shoot to kill any arsonist or anyone with a Molotov cocktail in his hand and shoot to maim or cripple anyone looting a store in our city…In the Spring, when Rennie Davis and other organizers staged a peaceful antiwar march, Daley’s police along with thugs waded into the marchers with a fury…”

In his foreword to Government By Gunplay: Assassination Conspiracy Theories From Dallas To Today, Sid Blumenthal asserted that “The assassinations of President Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King…significantly altered the shape of American politics and society” and “Martin Luther King, at the time of his death, was speaking of uniting blacks and whites around common economic concerns.”

Government By Gunplay contains a 1976 article by Jeff Cohen, entitled “The Assassination of Martin Luther King,” which observed that the 1974 hearing of the [now-deceased] man imprisoned for King’s murder “revealed that the state’s case against Ray as the sole assassin lacked more than the people’s belief; it lacked evidence.” The same article also noted:

“Not a single eyewitness could place Ray at the murder scene…Ballistics expert Herbert MacDonnell testified at Ray’s 1974 hearing that there was `no way the rifle said to have killed King could have been fired from the rooming house bathroom window’…Harold Weisberg…waged a…legal battle for the public record of Ray’s 1968 extradition hearing…The file contained FBI testimony that none of Ray’s fingerprints were found in the rooming house or bathroom, and that Ray’s motel registration slip, dated the day before the murder, contained someone else’s handwriting…”

(Downtown/Aquarian 4/3/96)

The FBI surveillance file on Martin Luther King that was maintained by the Democratic Kennedy and Johnson Administrations in the 1960s contained “thousands of pages of paperwork” and “more than a hundred sections,” according to Martin Luther King, Jr: The FBI File by Michael Friendly and David Gallen. In a de-classified memo to W.C. Sullivan from King’s FBI file, an FBI official named F.J. Baumgardner stated on Jan. 8, 1964:

“We completely analyzed avenues of approach aimed at neutralizing Martin Luther King, Jr. as an effective…leader. One of the avenues explored was that concerning any facets of the financial operations of King and the organizations through which he operated which investigation might reveal either violations of the law or other potentials for discrediting King or otherwise neutralizing his effectiveness.”

(Downtown/Aquarian 7/10/96)

As Kenneth O’Reilly observed in his 1994 book Black Americans: The FBI Files, “when my previous book, Racial Matters, was released I received invitations to speak in African-American communities” and “during the question-and-answer sections of those engagements, members of the audience inevitably asked, `Why did the FBI kill Martin Luther King?’…” In his 1989 autobiography, And The Walls Came Tumbling Down, King’s successor as Southern Christian Leadership Conference [SCLC] leader, Ralph Abernathy, also recalled that “when I got over the shock of the incident and began to speculate about the person who might have committed such a crime…I immediately narrowed my suspects down to two types;” and “the second [type] was someone trained or hired by the FBI and acting under orders from J. Edgar Hoover himself.”

Next: New York Times Coverage of MLK Assassination Case

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Former NBC News Anchor's Son Is Columbia University's Provost

Corporate media news departments at GE-NBC, MSNBC and Disney-ABC don’t generally allow much unflattering news about the Columbia University administration to ever be put on the television screen these days (unless there’s a blatantly racist hate crime incident like a hangman’s noose being left outside the office of one of the few African-American professors that Columbia University has been willing to hire). One reason might be because the son of the now-deceased former NBC Evening News Anchor and former ABC News Sunday talk show host David Brinkley is currently Columbia University’s Provost.

David Brinkley’s son, Alan Brinkley, was paid an annual salary of $396,250 by “non-profit” tax-exempt Columbia University in 2005 for being its Provost. In addition, David Brinkley’s son also is the chairman of the board of the Century Foundation, whose board also includes the Clinton White House’s former chief of staff, John Podesta. Coincidentally, the Century Foundation’s web site has recently been posting articles on health care reform which seek to block the establishment of a single-payer health care system in the United States; and, instead, institute a health care reform system which doesn’t cut into the excess profits of the HMOs, pharmaceutical companies, Big Five insurance companies and the U.S. medical-university hospital complex.

In its Dec. 7, 1994 issue, the now-defunct Lower East Side alternative newspaper, Downtown, made the following reference to Columbia University Provost Alan Brinkley’s now-deceased father, David Brinkley:

“As The House That Roone Built: The Inside Story of ABC News by Marc Gunther noted, `away from the office,’ David Brinkley’s circle of friends `include politicians Robert Dole and Robert Strauss…and [Archer-Daniels-Midland Chairman] Dwayne Andreas, a well-connected agribusinessman’; and the executive producer of Brinkley’s show in recent years, Dorrance Smith `had played tennis and become friends with the sons of…George Bush.’”

Coincidentally, on Dec. 11, 1992 George W. Bush’s father, former CIA Director and former President George Bush I, gave Columbia University Provost Alan Brinkley’s father, David Brinkley, a Presidential “Medal of Freedom” which stated:

“The name David Brinkley is synonymous with television news. From his days as NBC's White House correspondent to his time as co-anchor of the Huntley-Brinkley Report to his Sunday morning show on ABC, David Brinkley has explained the complexities of current events to generations of Americans. With the wisdom of experience and a wry wit, he has informed the Nation's citizens and helped hold its leaders accountable. The United States recognizes his contributions to broadcast journalism.”

And following the death of Columbia University Provost Brinkley’s father, current U.S. Establishment President George W. Bush issued the following White House statement on June 12, 2003:

“David Brinkley was a pioneer of broadcast journalism. He was respected for his integrity, admired for his candor and wit, and distinguished by an exceptional career that spanned more than a half century. Laura joins me in offering our heartfelt condolences to Susan and the entire Brinkley family.”

Next: Chicago After King’s Murder

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Should The Clintons Get A Third Term In The White House?

According to Section 1 of the 22nd Amendment to the United State Constitution, "no person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice." Yet in 2008, the Democratic Leadership Council [DLC] apparently wants U.S. anti-war voters in the Democratic Party to help former President Clinton and his 1990s "Co-President", Hillary Clinton, get elected for a third term--despite the Clintons' support for the Republican Bush Administration's morally disastrous and politically stupid military intervention in Afghanistan in 2001 and in Iraq in 2003.

The DLC folks who support the idea of allowing the Clintons to be elected for a third time (in violation of the spirit of the 22nd Amendment) claim that the Clintons will be able to win the 2008 election--even though Billionaire Ross Perot will not be running for president in 2008, like he did in 1992 and 1996. Yet as U.S. consumer activist Ralph Nader noted in an April 1, 2003 essay, "The Corporatist Democratic Leadership Council" that appeared in his 2004 book The Pursuit of Justice:

"Launched in 1985, the...Democratic Leadership Council [DLC] grew to have a controlling interest in the party through the efforts of then-Governor Bill Clinton...The DLC brags about one of their own--Bill Clinton--developing the message that brought the Democrats the White House in 1992...Clinton insiders will tell you that Ross Perot (and his 19 million votes) was more responsible for beating President George H.W. Bush than the DLC strategy."

Nader also noted in an October 25, 2000 essay, titled "Strengthen OSHA," that "according to a 1999 Public Citizen report, the Clinton administration's record" during the Clintons' first two terms "on protecting workers safety is the worst since passage of the OSH Act in terms of the number of annual inspections and the percentage of proposed serious, willful, or repeat (SWR) violations that were dismissed or downgraded."

Perhaps the Democratic Leadership Council folks should consider first repealing the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution before they give their party's nomination to the Clintons in 2008 for a third term in the White House?

Next: Former NBC News Anchor’s Son Is Columbia University’s Provost

Monday, October 15, 2007

`The Hoovergate Scandal: Hoover's FBI and the King Assassination'--Part 5

(The following article appeared in the April 19, 1995 issue of the now-defunct Lower East Side alternative newspaper Downtown).

As Downtown (12/16/92) has previously noted, The Murkin Conspiracy: An Investigation Into The Assassination Of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Professor Philip Melanson also argued that “the truth of the King assassination is that it was a…sophisticated conspiracy executed by persons possessing the kind of expertise generally found within intelligence circles” and “there is now overwhelming evidence that the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. could not possibly have been the work of one man.” In addition to apparently being located near the Tennessee naval base where the FBI’s Division Five maintained a headquarters, Memphis also possessed a public safety director, Frank Holloman, who had served as Hoover’s appointments secretary and personnel director during his 25 years as an FBI agent prior to being named to control Memphis’s police department.

As Downtown (3/31/93) has also previously noted, prior to King’s assassination, Hoover’s FBI had been spying on King since September, 1958, wiretapping his phone calls, spreading false news stories about him through its friendly media contacts and hiring SCLC staff members to act as FBI informants; and The COINTELPRO Papers asserted that “there are serious questions concerning the possibility that the FBI might have been involved in the assassination of Martin Luther King.”

As James Early Ray noted in his 1992 book, Who Killed Martin Luther King? The True Story By The Alleged Assassin, the 1960s “FBI files on the activities of Dr. King…including audio tapes, occupy 58 cubic feet of storage space at the National Archives, sealed from public examination until the year 2027.” Coincidentally, at least 134 pages of CIA documents related to Dr. Martin Luther King are also still locked away in the CIA file room, according to The Murkin Conspiracy, as Downtown (12/16/92) has previously reported.

According to a March 1979 supplementary staff report, “An Analysis Of The Assassination Investigation Of The Department Of Justice And The Federal Bureau Of Investigation,” that was published by the House Select Committee on Assassinations, there were “serious defects in both the focus, and the methods of the overall conspiracy investigation” conducted by the FBI following King’s murder.

The same supplementary staff report also noted that “the day following Ray’s guilty plea, Assistant to the [FBI] Director Cartha De Loach proposed a…cooperative effort, with a friendly, capable author, to produce a carefully written, factual book on the investigation” of King’s assassination and “it is…clear that portions of [Gerald] Frank’s 1971 book, An American Death, bears striking similarities to the FBI reports covering the same subject matter.”

FBI officials have, predictably, always denied all reports that people linked to J. Edgar Hoover’s Division Five unit or any other part of the FBI secret police apparatus were responsible for Martin Luther King’s assassination. And the House Select Committee’s 1979 report following its investigation of the King assassination did not, in fact, charge Hoover’s FBI with King’s murder. But, according to Plausible Denial by Mark Lane, “when the evidence regarding the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. began to demonstrate the likelihood of intelligence coverup in that crime, and allow for the possibility of intelligence complicity in the murder, the CIA and the FBI were concerned and moved to stifle discussion of the subject.” After it was announced in the 1970s, for instance, that a congressional committee was preparing to investigate King’s assassination, the mayor of Memphis ordered the Memphis police “to burn all of the files—180 boxes of them—that composed the entire history of the domestic intelligence division of the Memphis police,” according to Code Name `Zorro’.

During the final years of his 39 years on earth, Martin Luther King was apparently nicknamed “Zorro”—the Spanish word for “fox”—by Hoover’s FBI. Given the possibility that Division Five of Hoover’s FBI may have been involved in organizing the “fox-hunt” which took the life of its “Zorro” target, perhaps the time has come for a televised “Hoovergate” congressional investigation—to determine what role J. Edgar Hoover played relative to the Dallas events of Nov. 22, 1963 and the events in Memphis on April 4, 1968. (end of article)

(Downtown 4/19/95)

Next: Should The Clintons Get A Third Term In The White House?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

`The Hoovergate Scandal: Hoover's FBI and the King Assassination'--Part 4

(The following article appeared in the April 19, 1995 issue of the now-defunct Lower East Side alternative newspaper Downtown).

In his 1977 book Code Name `Zorro’, Mark Lane also argued that “the present available and known evidence leads inexorably to the conclusion, I believe, that persons employed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1968 must be considered to be prime suspects in the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King.” In his 1991 book Plausible Denial, Lane also claimed that a member of the late 1970s House Committee which investigated the King Assassination, Walter Fauntroy, told Dick Gregory privately—in Lane’s apartment—the following:

“We know the FBI killed Martin. We have the proof. But Dick, the FBI is bugging my home, my congressional office, even my church. We can’t report that they did it. It’s too dangerous.”

An Oct. 20, 1978 affidavit signed by Daniel Ellsberg also indicated that there is possibly some evidence existing that Division Five of Hoover’s FBI may have organized the assassination of King. During the Vietnam War Era, Ellsberg had shared his copy of the previously-classified Pentagon Papers with anti-war people, thus revealing that the Pentagon was waging covert warfare against North Vietnam months before an alleged Vietnamese attack on a U.S. ship (in the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964) provided the pretext for the Pentagon’s 1960s bombing campaign against North Vietnam. In his Oct. 20, 1978 affidavit, Ellsberg described a June 19, 1978 conversation he had with an assistant to the U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Brady Tyson, in Midtown Manhattan:

“Just as we were leaving the Mission at the UN Plaza, we got on the subject which we discussed during the walk over…We discussed the subject which was the killing of Dr. Martin Luther King, for at least half an hour…

“One of us, either Tyson or I, raised the subject of the killing, and I asked Tyson whether he thought there had been a conspiracy and who he thought might have done it. He said very flatly to me, `We know there was a conspiracy and we know who did it’…After a pause, I asked him who it was…and he said again in a way that was very surprising to me in its lack of equivocation or reservation: `It was a gang of off-duty and retired FBI officers working under the personal direction of J. Edgar Hoover.’ He said further that this was a group working secretly and known to almost no one else in the FBI…

“…He said:…`We’re 80 percent sure that we know the names of all the people who were involved…’”

In his autobiography, From Yale To Jail, Dave Dellinger also pointed out that “In 1988 a British filmmaker produced a film Who Killed Martin Luther King?, funded by BBC Television, which raises questions about U.S. government complicity in the assassination” and “he and his associate, John Sergeant, provide a lot of evidence for government complicity while arguing the case in the Summer 1990 issue of Covert Action.” (end of part 4)

(Downtown 4/19/95)

Next: The Hoovergate Scandal: Hoover’s FBI and the King Assassination—Part 5

Saturday, October 13, 2007

`The Hoovergate Scandal: Hoover's FBI and the King Assassination'--Part 3

(The following article appeared in the April 19, 1995 issue of the now-defunct Lower East Side alternative newspaper Downtown).

As early as 1970, at least one analyst, William Torbitt, was arguing that Division Five of Hoover’s FBI—not Ray—actually organized and carried out the assassination of Martin Luther King in Memphis.

According to Torbitt’s Nomenclature Of An Assassination Cabal, “the real assassin of King entered the naval base near Memphis, TN where” the FBI’s “Division Five maintains a headquarters, only minutes after King’s assassination”; and “on August 14, 1969, James Earl Ray confirmed that Division Five of the FBI was used in the slaying of Martin Luther King, Jr.,” when Ray “stated that Dr. King was killed by federal agents and that they used him to be a fall guy” in the Memphis assassination.

According to Ray, his gun-running supervisor “Raoul” had ordered him to rent a room in the rooming house from whose bathroom King was allegedly shot, three hours before the assassination. Then—about one hour before King was shot—“Raoul” suggested that Ray go by foot to a nearby movie theater and return to the Memphis rooming house in two hours.

In this same Nomenclature Of An Assassination Cabal document, Torbitt asserted that, like Ray, “the fall guy” in the JFK assassination, Lee Oswald, was also apparently handled in Memphis by Division Five of the FBI (around the same time other writers have asserted that Oswald was being simultaneously trained by the CIA). According to Torbitt, “Oswald was taken to Memphis, TN by Division Five of the FBI while in the Marine Corps” and “there he received the highest level of covert espionage activities training during June, July and August of 1957 at the Naval Intelligence School located on the Memphis Naval Base.”

Downtown (5/26/93) also has previously noted that, according to Destiny Betrayed: JFK, Cuba and the Garrison Case by James Di Eugenio, “Michael Levy has unearthed a Navy document which reports” that “Ruth Paine was requesting information about the family of Lee Harvey Oswald in 1957.” Ruth Paine was the person who arranged for Oswald to just happen to be working in the Texas School Book Depository when JFK was assassinated in 1963.

If James Earl Ray was, in fact, funded by Hoover’s FBI in the months prior to Martin Luther King’s assassination, this would resemble the way Oswald may have been treated by Hoover’s FBI in the months prior to JFK’s assassination. According to Torbitt, prior to JFK’s assassination “Lee Harvey Oswald was paid by J.Edgar Hoover through a subterfuge account with the Department of Immigration and Naturalization…at the Dallas office of the Immigration Department” whose “address in the Rio Grande Building was found in Oswald’s notebook.”

Torbitt noted that “Dallas Chief Deputy Allan Sweatt said in a Secret Service document that Oswald was being paid $200 per month by the FBI” prior to the JFK assassination and that Sweatt “furnished Oswald’s informant number, S-172.”

Act of Treason: The Role of J.Edgar Hoover In The Assassination Of President Kennedy by Mark North also recalled that after JFK was assassinated, “Hoover’s first priority” was apparently “to contain news of Oswald’s relationship to the FBI” because “an initial examination of his file” revealed Oswald’s “connection” to Guy Bannister and Dave Ferrie. So according to Act of Treason, on Nov. 24, 1963 Hoover instructed the Special Agent In Charge of the Dallas FBI Office—J.Gordon Shanklin—“to sanitize Oswald’s file,” although “this amounted to wholesale destruction of evidence and nothing less than obstruction of justice.”

In Plausible Denial, Mark Lane also noted that he was told by an FBI informant in New Orleans, Crest Pena, that Oswald had also worked for the FBI in New Orleans, prior to JFK’s assassination, under the supervision of FBI Special Agent Warren DeBrueys. According to Lane, Pena told him that FBI Special Agent DeBrueys “had introduced Oswald to contacts known by Pena to be CIA” prior to JFK’s assassination.

Coincidentally, in his 1970 Nomenclature Of An Assassination Cabal, William Torbitt described FBI Special Agent DeBrueys as “the FBI’s Division Five Resident Agent in New Orleans;” and noted that another person mentioned by many writers as possibly being involved in a CIA-linked plot that apparently eliminated JFK—Guy Bannister—“had been in charge of the Midwestern FBI Division Five operation with headquarters in Chicago up until 1955.” Torbitt claimed that at that time J.Edgar Hoover “shifted Bannister from an official basis with Division Five to a retainer and contractual basis and moved him to New Orleans,” where “Bannister had close contacts with all the armed service intelligence agencies.”

Given the possible involvement of people connected to Division Five of Hoover’s FBI to the JFK assassination, it also might be possible that people connected to Division Five of Hoover’s FBI were involved in the Martin Luther King assassination less than five years later. (end of part 3)

(Downtown 4/19/95)

Next: The Hoovergate Scandal: Hoover’s FBI and the King Assassination—Part 4

Friday, October 12, 2007

`The Hoovergate Scandal: Hoover's FBI and the King Assassination'--Part 2

(The following article appeared in the April 19, 1995 issue of the now-defunct Lower East Side alternative newspaper Downtown).

Frame-Up: The Martin Luther King/James Earl Ray Case by Harold Weisberg also argued that “conspicuously missing is any promise of fingerprints lifted from…the bathroom from which the crime, allegedly, was committed” and “in all the evidence, real or narrated, where the fingerprints are required to be to connect Ray with the crime rather than the locale, there are none.” According to Weisberg, there was no evidence “that Ray, in person, was at the scene of the crime, particularly at the moment it was committed,” since neither a “single credible eyewitness” nor any fingerprint evidence ever placed Ray at the alleged scene of the crime.

In Code Name `Zorro’, Mark Lane also asserted that prior to Ray’s agreement to plead guilty the State did not even allege that Ray “had left behind a fingerprint…in the bathroom from which the State alleged the shot had been fired”; and, according to Lane, the State couldn’t prove that the rifle Ray had purchased “fired the bullet that killed Dr. King.” Although Lane thought the prosecutor could prove that Ray had purchased the rifle that allegedly was used to murder King, he reminded his readers that “proof of ownership of a weapon employed in a murder case does not establish the owner as a criminal.”

The only witness who identified Ray as fleeing from the rooming house’s second floor bathroom after the shot which killed King was fired “was evidently too drunk to observe the culprit and could not have seen him from his position on the bed in one of the rooms of the rooming house,” according to Code Name `Zorro’. Ray, himself, claims that at the time King was assassinated he was getting air in the spare tire of his white Mustang car at a gas station and that, prior to King’s assassination, he “didn’t even know that the Lorraine Motel was behind the rooming house,” “didn’t know that King was staying there” and “didn’t even know that King was in town,” according to Code Name `Zorro’.

As Downtown (12/16/92) has previously observed, A Case Of Conspiracy by Michael Newton revealed that “Willie Green, a black attendant at some unspecified service station in the vicinity of the murder…recalled waiting on the driver of a white Mustang at approximately the time King was shot.”

According to Code Name `Zorro’, Ray pled guilty to King’s murder in 1969 for the following reason:

“Ray had purchased a rifle illegally, and transported it across state lines in order to participate in the illegal sale of arms abroad. If anyone died as a result of that effort, Ray was led to believe, he was legally guilty of murder. At least Ray began to believe he might be legally guilty even if he had not known of the conspiracy to kill Dr. King and even if he had not fired the fatal shot, as long as there actually was a conspiracy.”

The Yankee And Cowboy War: Conspiracies From Dallas To Watergate by Carl Oglesby also pointed out other reasons many analysts have never believed any theory of how Martin Luther King was assassinated which argues that Ray acted alone:

“The problems with the lone-Ray theory are much the same as the problems with the lone-Oswald. Four eyewitnesses to the April 4 (1968) killing, including two police detectives spying on King, said they saw the gunman in bushes on the ground, not in the second story window…The angle of the mortal wound is consistent with a shot fired from the ground, inconsistent with a shot fired from the second story. For the alleged murder weapon, a rifle, to be aimed at the correct angle from the bathroom window alleged to have been Ray’s nest, the butt would have had to project into the wall…”

(Downtown 4/19/95)

Next: The Hoovergate Scandal: Hoover’s FBI and the King Assassination—Part 3

Thursday, October 11, 2007

`The Hoovergate Scandal: Hoover's FBI and the King Assassination'--Part 1

(The following article appeared in the April 19, 1995 issue of the now-defunct Lower East Side alternative newspaper Downtown).

“The essence of Mr. Lane’s charge is that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated by a squad of off-duty FBI agents, under the direction of FBI Director J.Edgar Hoover, that this committee has in its possession evidence that proves such an FBI plot including the names of the agents, and that I informed Ambassador Andrew Young that this committee had such evidence in its possession, but that I am afraid to make that information public…

“…The only new evidence that Mr. Lane submitted to us at the meeting bearing on FBI complicity consisted of an affidavit by Daniel Ellsberg, the individual who attained national prominence by leaking the Pentagon Papers…”

Former D.C. Congressional Rep. Walter Fauntroy on Nov. 17, 1978

On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King was mysteriously murdered shortly after 6 p.m., as he stood on the second floor balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. Not until over two months later—on June 8, 1968—was the alleged killer of Martin Luther King—James Earl Ray—taken into custody at Heathrow Airport in London. Ray was then eventually extradited back to the United States, where he entered a prearranged plea of guilty in a Tennessee courtroom on March 10, 1969. Despite this plea, [the now-deceased] Ray always maintained, during his many years of imprisonment, that he was not the person who shot Martin Luther King on April 4, 1968.

The evidence that Ray actually shot Martin Luther King through the bathroom window of a nearby rooming house was apparently not very conclusive. In the 1977 book Code Name `Zorro’: The Murder of Martin Luther King, for instance, Mark Lane argued that “the essential case against Ray was so flawed that it would have been difficult for the jury to have returned a verdict of guilty…due to the paucity of evidence linking Ray to the crime.”

Shortly after King was shot, Memphis police had alleged that “the killer had left scuff marks in the bathroom and a palm print on the wall over the tub,” but, after the Memphis chief of homicide dusted and examined the palm print, the state concluded that it wasn’t made by James Earl Ray, according to Mark Lane. In the back pages of Volume 13 of the March 1979 report of the House Select Committee on Assassinations’ investigation of the murder of Martin Luther King is contained a “Scientific Report On The Subject Of Analysis Of Fingerprint Evidence” which also drew the following conclusion:

“Two impressions from an unnumbered latent lift card, taken from the second floor bathroom…were also examined. One latent palm impression from the bathtub, was of no value for comparison. The other palm impression from the bathroom windowsill was compared to the palm print of James Earl Ray and found not to match.”

Ray’s fingerprints were also apparently not discovered inside the second floor rooming house bathroom from which King was allegedly shot, according to the “Scientific Report On The Subject Of Analysis Of Fingerprint Evidence.” But a fingerprint of FBI Special Agent Frank Johnson was, apparently, found on the windowsill of this bathroom. As this report noted in 1979:

“Dr. King’s killer apparently fled the scene after firing the fatal shot from a second story bathroom window at the rear of a rooming house…This bathroom window provided a view of Dr. King’s room at the Lorraine Motel…

“The windowsill from the second-floor bathroom at the rear of Bessie Brewer’s Memphis rooming house was sent to the FBI Laboratory and Identification Division, Washington, D.C. The FBI found one latent fingerprint on the sill, but determined it belonged to FBI Special Agent Frank Johnson…”
(end of part 1)

(Downtown 4/19/95)

Next: The Hoovergate Scandal: Hoover’s FBI and the King Assassination—Part 2

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Did CIA Play Role In Che Guevara's 1967 Execution?

The CIA apparently played a key role in arranging the execution of Latin American revolutionary Che Guevara in Bolivia [40 years ago] in 1967. As The CIA And The Cult Of Intelligence by Victor Marchetti and John Marks noted in 1974:

“…Agency `advisers,’ including Cuban veterans of the Bay of Pigs adventure, were…dispatched to Bolivia to assist in the tracking down of Guevara…

“The Clandestine Services were obsessed with Guevara, and even somewhat fearful of him. He was…a reminder of their failure in the Cuban operation…Incapable of gaining direct retribution by destroying Fidel himself…the CIA’s Clandestine Services were left to brood over their failure—until Guevara exposed himself. In doing so he presented himself to the CIA as an inviting target: his capture or death would provide some measure of revenge…

“During the Summer of 1967…the agency’s special ops experts were assisting the Bolivian army in hunting down Guevara…

“…On Oct. 8 [1967], Guevara…was wounded and captured near the small mountain village of La Higuera…

“…The senior CIA operative at La Higuera…attempted to question Che. The revolutionary, however, would not cooperate…

“Antonio Arguedas…as Minister of the Interior, was in charge of the Bolivian intelligence service, with which the agency had many close connections. And Arguedas himself was an agent of the CIA…

“Arguedas…identified some of the agency’s contract officers who had assisted in the tracking down of Guevara: Jolio Gabriel Garcia
[Cuban] and Eddie and Mario Gonzales [Bolivians]…”

The same book also noted that, after he identified some of the CIA contract officers who were involved in tracking down Che, “Antonio Arguedas…was shot to death in a street in La Paz…”

(Downtown 12/13/95)

Next: The Hoovergate Scandal: Hoover’s FBI and the King Assassination—Part 1

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

FBI Created `Get Carmichael Squad' After King's Assassination

In the 1960s, the [now-deceased] Kwame Ture’ was apparently targeted for special persecution by the FBI after he became prominent as the chairperson of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee [SNCC], and as a popular, charismatic orator who was then known as Stokely Carmichael. As a former FBI agent named Robert Wall revealed in an essay entitled “Why I Got Out Of It,” which appeared in the book Investigating The FBI in 1971:

“In the case of Stokely Carmichael the FBI was particularly determined and vicious. When he moved to Washington, D.C. in December, 1967, our squad kept him under surveillance 24-hours a day, following him about the city from lookouts and cars, and on foot. The investigation became even more intense a few days after Martin Luther King was assassinated. When blacks in Washington, D.C., as well as in many other cities, outraged by the murder, rioted for a day and a half, in the Washington Field Office a 50-man special squad was assembled to get Carmichael for inciting to riot. We were directed to gather evidence showing that Carmichael had plotted, planned and directed the rioting, burning and pillage that took place in Washington, D.C. Fifty agents spent their full-time for over a month on this one case.

“…Carmichael had urged the crowd not to dishonor Dr. King’s memory by rioting and had politely asked shop owners to close their shops in his memory. Lacking any substantial evidence on which to base a charge, the Bureau nevertheless submitted voluminous reports on the minute-by-minute activities of Carmichael that were heavily weighted to imply that he had actually incited the mobs. Had Carmichael not decided to leave the country and go to Africa, the FBI, I am confident, would eventually have found something, with which to bring an indictment against him.”

According to The COINTELPRO Papers: Documents from the FBI’s Secret Wars Against Domestic Dissent:

In Sepember of 1958, a personal file had been opened on King…By October 1960, as the Southern Christian Leadership Council [SCLC] call for desegregation and black voting rights in the south gained increasing attention…the Bureau began actively infiltrating organizational meetings and conferences…Actual counterintelligence operations against King and the SCLC more generally seem to have begun with a January 8, 1962 letter from Hoover to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy…SCLC was targeted within the Bureau’s ongoing COINTELPRO-CP,USA beginning with the planting of 5 disinformational `news stories’ concerning the organization’s `communist connections’ on October 24, 1962…Attorney General Kennedy had also authorized round-the-clock…surveillance of all SCLC offices, as well as King’s home. Hence, by November 8, 1963, comprehensive telephone tapes had been installed at all organizational offices, and King’s residence."

The FBI and Martin Luther King, Jr. by David Garrow described how Hoover’s FBI also hired a staff employee of King’s SCLC Atlanta office, named Harrison, to work as an FBI informant:

“`AT 1387-S,’ as Harrison was called in Bureau communications, soon eclipsed the wiretaps on the SCLC office as the bureau’s most valuable source of information on Dr. King’s organization. Weekly he would meet with Atlanta agent Alan G. Sentinella…

“Initially Harrison was paid in cash for his information each time he and Sentinella met. Eventually, though, as Harrison’s tenure lengthened and his stipend increased, the payments were made monthly…

“The major subjects of the conversations were SCLC finances and demonstration plans, with a heavy smattering of office politics and personnel matters.”

By 1964, according to The COINTELPRO Papers, “the Bureau’s intent had crystallized into an unvarnished intervention into the domestic political process, with the goal of bringing about King’s replacement with someone acceptable to the FBI” and “the means employed in the attempt to accomplish this centered in continued efforts to discredit King, maintaining a drumbeat of mass media-distributed propaganda concerning his supposed `communist influences’ and sexual proclivities…” The same book also asserted that “there are serious questions concerning the possibility that the FBI might have been involved in the assassination of Martin Luther King…”

Although people who spy on their fellow-citizens for the U.S. government have never been too popular with most people in the United States, the FBI apparently used our tax money in the 1960s to hire a lot of people to spy on African-American political activists. According to The COINTELPRO Papers:

“By the fall of 1967, every FBI field office was assigned at least one, and in some cases as many as four, agents devoted exclusively to development of `quality nonorganizational sources…for the purpose of expeditiously infiltrating militant black nationalist organizations.’ The Ghetto Informant Program, also called `Ghetto Listening Post,’ was launched at this time and, by the Summer of 1968, employed some 3,248 snitches…Hoover described this small army of contract spies as being `inadequate’ and demanded a major expansion of its ranks during the Fall of 1968…”

(Downtown 3/31/93)

Next: Did CIA Play Role In Che Guevara’s 1967 Execution?

Monday, October 8, 2007

`The Lorraine Motel Murder'

The shot came from the bushes
And not from the rooming house
And on the Lorraine Motel balcony
A Movement was wiped out.

In April nineteen sixty-eight, in Memphis, Tennessee
A Civil Rights leader was the victim of a conspiracy
They murdered him at the Lorraine Motel and blamed it all on a patsy
And hid the gun inside Jim’s Grill before tossing it in the Mississippi.

Two sharpshooters of the Memphis police hid in the brush at 5:45
They soon were joined by the Jim’s Grill owner who knelt down by their side
Shortly after six, the Civil Rights leader walked out of Room 306
The police sharpshooter took careful aim, and from 200 feet the leader was hit.

The shooter gave the murder weapon to the owner of Jim’s Grill
Who ran inside the cafĂ©’ he owned and hid the gun used in the kill
The police sharpshooters made their escape and one jumped into a police car
The one who shot ran the other way, through an alley and into a cellar.

The back-up Alpha sharpshooters were ordered to withdraw
Their expertise was not needed and to Camp Shelby they returned
The Memphis Police, the FBI and the media then covered up the crime
And a Memphis police undercover agent quickly knelt by the slain leader’s side.

The Lorraine Motel Murder protest folk song was written only a few years ago, after I read a book by William Pepper, titled An Act of State: The Execution of Martin Luther King. During the 1990s, I also wrote a number of column items and an article about the 1968 MLK assassination that were originally published in the now-defunct Lower East Side alternative weekly, Downtown.

The Big Media’s official version of the April 4, 1968 elimination of Martin Luther King in Memphis, Tenn. is that the [now-deceased] imprisoned James Earl Ray shot King from a rooming house bathroom at 6:01 p.m. while King stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel. Yet A Case Of Conspiracy by Michael Newton notes that “James Ray insists that at the time of Dr. King’s murder he was away from the Main Street rooming house” and “was parked at a service station several blocks from the murder scene, having his tank filled and getting the air checked in the Mustang’s spare tire.”

The same book also revealed that “Shortly after the assassination newspapers in Memphis carried stories of…Willie Green, a black attendant at some unspecified service station in the vicinity of the murder” and “According to reports, Green recalled waiting on the driver of a white Mustang at approximately the time King was shot…” The Murkin Conspiracy: An Investigation Into The Assassination Of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Professor Philip Melanson also argues that “The Truth of the King assassination is that it was a…sophisticated conspiracy executed by persons possessing the kind of expertise generally found within intelligence circles…” and “There is now overwhelming evidence that the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. could not possibly havae been the work of one man.”

A Case Of Conspiracy also noted that:

“Perhaps the first person to contact police with evidence of a conspiracy to kill Dr. King was Rev. James Bevel, one of King’s closest lieutenants. By his own account, Bevel and other Southern Christian Leadership Council [SCLC] aides learned of the murder plot several days prior to April 4 [1968]. Making his charges public in an interview with Claude Lewis of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Bevel disclosed that the plot came to light when a letter `addressed to a white woman was delivered to a black woman who has the same name.’ The letter reportedly contained `information that Dr. King was to be assassinated while he was in Memphis.’ [Memphis Public Safety Director] Frank Holloman’s police and Hoover’s FBI had been informed of the plot no later than April 3, [1968], but allegedly took no action.”

The same book also revealed that:

“John McFerren, a black businessman and civil rights activist, also produced what seemed to be evidence of a conspiracy behind King’s death. The owner of a shopping center, McFerren had been in Memphis on a buying trip on April 4 [1968]. He was leaving the last of his scheduled stops about 5 p.m., when he passed by an open office door and heard voices raised in angry conversation. Curious he peeked through the door and saw a man he recognized…shouting into a telephone.

“`Hell, no,’ the man growled, `you’re not going to get your pay until you do the job. Do the job, then you’ll get your pay.’ He was startled and frightened as the man in the office suddenly blurted out, `You can shoot the son of a bitch on the balcony!’…

McFerren’s shock at the overheard conversation was transformed into abject horror with the news of Dr. King’s death on the motel balcony an hour later. He revealed his observations to authorities, eventually ending up in a midnight meeting with Frank Holloman himself, homicide inspector N.E. Zachary, and agents of the FBI. McFerren identified the man he had seen, and related details of the conversation.”

Coincidentally, according to The Murkin Conspiracy, Memphis’s Public Safety Director Frank Holloman “was a retired FBI agent whose 25 years with the bureau included a stint as head of the Memphis field office (1959-64)” who “also served as Hoover’s appointments secretary and was in charge of personnel in the director’s office” before becoming the head of the Memphis police shortly before Martin Luther King just happened to be eliminated in Memphis.

(Downtown 12/16/92)

Next: FBI Created `Get Carmichael Squad’ After King’s Assassination

Sunday, October 7, 2007

`The A.P. News Trust's Special Influence: A 1990s Look At The Associated Press'--Part 7

(The following article originally appeared in the July 7, 1993 issue of the now-defunct Lower East Side alternative weekly, Downtown).

A September 1979 Progressive magazine article by former A.P. reporter Samuel Day Jr., entitled “A `Clarification’,” revealed “how Westinghouse helped the A.P. rewrite a nuclear article.” As Progressive magazine noted:

“…A story about a little-known and controversial new atomic reactor began moving on the wires of the Associated Press to newspaper offices across the country on Tuesday, July 3. The story, filed in advance for publication on Sunday, July 15, dealt with an experimental device called the `fast flux test facility [FFTF]’ in the desert of central Washington…The story went on to tell about the big facility that Westinghouse Corporation is building in the sagebrush of the Columbia River Basin to pave the way for the nuclear power plants of the future…There was one thing that neither wire editors nor newspaper readers knew: A.P.’s report on the problems of Westinghouse’s FFTF had been reviewed, rewritten, and re-edited with the help of the Westinghouse Corporation…The story was revised in New York in consultation with the Seattle bureau, which forwarded a detailed critique by Westinghouse…”

In a 1986 Nation (12/6/86) column, Alexander Cockburn also revealed that A.P. apparently attempted to suppress news about the emerging Contragate scandal at the request of Oliver North and/or the Reagan White House. According to Cockburn:

“On March 16, 1985, the A.P.’s Middle East bureau chief Terry Anderson, was kidnapped in Lebanon…Later that year, two A.P. reporters based in Washington, Robert Parry and Brian Barger, began investigating shady dealings by the contras and the activities of Oliver North. They amassed damning detail from a multiplicity of sources, including Federal officials indignant at what they perceived to be the Reagan Administration’s complicity in drug trafficking by the contras…

“…Among those aware of Parry and Barger’s research, it was no secret that the two were frustrated by what they considered to be unwarranted and extraordinary caution exercised by their superiors at A.P. notably by the Washington bureau chief, Charles Lewis…In fact, the story finally put on the wires on January 19 was a shrunken version of earlier drafts, having fallen victim to an editorial prudence that seemed inexplicable. Details were cut, names excised and the story finally put on the wires at the bottom of the news cycle…Oliver North—was in contact with their superiors at A.P….As one person working in the Washington bureau at the time remarks: `Lewis insisted on editing the [Parry and Barger] stories while talking to North. That was a clear conflict of interest and he should have been smart enough to step aside.’”

The A.P. has also apparently not been too interested in transmitting much news over its wires which challenges the accuracy of the U.S. Establishment’s “Report of the President’s Commission On The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy.” The Warren Report, which A.P. published in the 1960s, contained “an introductory note” by A.P. Special Correspondent Saul Prett which stated the following:

“Did one unbalanced mind rob us of a President and another, of his murderer? And if we say that and if we see that, are we then close to sensing that the sick of the world, though unknown to each other, may form as dangerous a conspiracy as any political plot from the left or from the right?

“…The Commission was appointed by President Johnson. It was headed by the Chief Justice of the United States, composed of distinguished citizens, and had at its disposal all the investigative resources of a proud government. Here, then, are its answers…”

In the 1990s, A.P. still seemed to reflect a neoconservative, pro-U.S. Establishment political bias in its editorial policies. Among the A.P.-provided news stories New York Newsday printed in its May 18, 1993 issue, for instance, was one headlined “Lawmakers: Clinton’s AIDS, Cancer Research Plan Hurts Other Programs,” which began with the paragraph “President Bill Clinton’s plan to raise spending on AIDS and breast cancer research shortchanges other federally funded research into diseases such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes or strokes, some lawmakers complained last week”—but failed to include any quotations from either AIDS or women’s health activists in the news story.

Downtown telephoned in the early 1990s the office of an A.P. corporate spokesperson named Mike Bass at 50 Rockefeller Plaza in Midtown Manhattan, and attempted to ask him for A.P.’s official response to the criticism that its news service is editorially-biased. Bass was unavailable for comment, but the A.P. employee who was screening his calls replied: “Before I can find someone to answer that question, they’ll want to know the name of the person who made this criticism.”

After Downtown replied that U.S. academics involved in media studies like Michael Parenti have made this criticism, the A.P. employee informed Downtown that A.P. spokespeople would need to know some specific ways in which their news service was being criticized for being editorially-biased, before they would respond to Downtown’s inquiry.

When Downtown noted that A.P. has been criticized for slanting its news reports by not interviewing enough of a variety of sources, slanting its coverage of nuclear power issues to please Westinghouse, and slanting its coverage of the Contragate scandal to please the Reagan Administration, the A.P. employee said she’d try to obtain an official A.P. response by the end of the day.

But when Downtown telephoned A.P. at the end of the day, it was again told by another A.P. employee that no one at A.P. was available for comment.

So if you’re still waiting for the A.P. News Trust to use its special influence to provide U.S. newspaper readers, radio listeners and TV viewers with much variety in news items, much investigative reporting about Big Media conglomerates, the super-rich, the CIA and the JFK Assassination Conspiracy [or news about what actually happened on September 11, 2001], or much daily news about U.S. anti-war radical activists, you may end up waiting a long, long time for the news—despite A.P.’s extensive network of leased satellite circuits, submarine cables and radio transmissions. (end of article)

(Downtown 7/7/93)

Next: The Lorraine Motel Murder protest folk song lyrics

Saturday, October 6, 2007

`The A.P. News Trust's Special Influence: A 1990s Look At The Associated Press'--Part 6

(The following article originally appeared in the July 7, 1993 issue of the now-defunct Lower East Side alternative weekly, Downtown).

The editorial policies of A.P. have long been criticized by U.S. anti-war radicals for their pro-U.S. Establishment political biases. In 1912, for instance, U.S. anti-war radical presidential candidate Eugene Debs wrote the following in a letter of protest to the general manager of A.P.:

“Pardon me if I give you just an instance or two of my personal experience. During the heat of the Pullman strike, when the Pullman cars were under boycott, the Associated Press sent out a dispatch over all the country that I had ridden out of Chicago like a royal prince in a Pullman Palace car while my dupes were left to walk the ties. A hundred witnesses who were at the depot when I left testified that the report was a lie, but I could never get the Associated Press to correct it. This lie cost me more pain and trouble than you can well imagine, and for it all I have to thank the Associated Press, and I have not forgotten it.

“During the last national campaign, at a time when I was away from home, the Associated Press spread a report over the country to the effect that scab labor had been employed to do some work at my home. It was a lie, and so intended. I had the matter investigated by the chief union organizer of the district, who reported that it was a lie, but I was never able to have the correction put upon the wires. That lie is still going to this day, and for that, and still others I could mention, I have also to thank the capitalistically owned and controlled Associated Press.”

After his expose’ of the U.S. meat packing industry in the best-selling 1905 muckraking novel, The Jungle, created some popular pressure for passage of some kind of pure food law, Upton Sinclair attempted to interest A.P. in sending more news about the unhealthy practices of this industry over the A.P. wires. But although “The Associated Press was the established channel through which the news was supposed to flow,” according to Upton Sinclair’s The Brass Check, “the channel proved to be a concrete wall…as thick as all the millions of dollars of all the vested interests of America can build it.” According to Sinclair, “I first telephoned, and then sent a letter by special messenger to the proper officials of the Associated Press, but they would have absolutely nothing to do with me or my news” and “Throughout my entire campaign against the Beef Trust, they never sent out a single line injurious to the interests of the packers, save for a few lines dealing with the Congressional hearings, which they could not entirely suppress…”

In a 1937 article, Fortune magazine also noted that in 1926 “an A.P. reporter, at the insistence of Assistant Secretary of State Olds, wrote a dispatch about the `specter of Mexican-fostered Bolshevik hegemony’ in-between the U.S. and the Panama Canal” which proved to be “a piece of utter claptrap.” Fortune also observed that former Nation publisher Oswald Garrison Villard once declared the A.P. wire service “constitutionally incapable of doing justice to the underprivileged.” (end of part 6)

(Downtown 7/7/93)

Next: The A.P. News Trust’s Special Influence: A 1990s Look At The Associated Press—Part 7

Friday, October 5, 2007

`The A.P. News Trust's Special Influence: A 1990s Look At The Associated Press'--Part 5

(The following article originally appeared in the July 7, 1993 issue of the now-defunct Lower East Side alternative weekly, Downtown).

As Downtown (6/24/92) has previously noted, former Watergate Scandal investigative reporter Carl Bernstein, in an unpublicized 1977 Rolling Stone magazine article entitled “The C.I.A. And The Media,” wrote that: “Other organizations which cooperated with the C.I.A. include the American Broadcasting Company [ABC], the National Broadcasting Company [NBC], the Associated Press…”

Like other Big Media organizations, A.P. also has a long history of discrimination against women. A study by Lucy Komisar, cited in Women And The Mass Media by Matilda Butler and William Paisley, revealed that in 1970 at A.P. there were “no women in management positions and no women heading any of the 38 domestic or 6 foreign bureaus” and at A.P.’s Mid-town Manhattan office there were only “7 women out of 52 editors and reporters” in 1970. Women And The Mass Media also noted that in 1972 Time magazine reported that U.S. women were only “11 percent of Associated Press’s nationwide news staff of 1050.”

The same book also revealed that “in 1973, the Wire Services Guild charged the Associated Press [A.P.] with discriminating against its female and minority members” and that “In May 1978, the EEOC found that A.P. did discriminate by not recruiting, hiring and promoting women” and “did not hire minorities as newspeople.” Women And The Mass Media also noted that “EEOC data for the end of 1977” showed that “males are 100 percent of the assistant bureau chiefs, 98 percent of the bureau chiefs, 97 percent of the correspondents, 90 percent of the news editors, and 85 percent of the newspeople.”

In the early 1990s, about 88 percent of A.P.’s U.S. bureau chiefs were still male, as were 75 percent of A.P.’s U.S. correspondents. All but two of the seats on A.P.’s board of directors were also still filled by men. And A.P.’s chairman, vice-chairman, president and general manager, as well as its six vice-presidents, were still all men in the early 1990s. (end of part 5)

(Downtown 7/7/93)

Next: The A.P. News Trust’s Special Influence: A 1990s Look At The Associated Press—Part 6

Thursday, October 4, 2007

`The A.P. News Trust's Special Influence: A 1990s Look At The Associated Press'--Part 4

(The following article originally appeared in the July 7, 1993 issue of the now-defunct Lower East Side alternative weekly, Downtown).

The historical origins of A.P. go back to 1848 when six Downtown Manhattan daily newspaper publishers, led by New York Herald publisher James Gordon Bennett, decided to share the telegraph costs of news-gathering and, thus, reduce their individual newspaper news-gathering costs. As then-Boston Globe publisher General Taylor said in 1900:

“Mr. Bennett called the other newspaper proprietors together and proposed that they take a [telegraph] report of two hours and divide the expenses. That was the origin of The Associated Press.”

But Bennett, like A.P., was never too famous for either the quality of his journalism work or for using the special influence he possessed in the world of Downtown Manhattan journalism to promote equal rights for African-American people and the radical democratization of U.S. society. As The Early Black Press In America, 1827 to 1860 by Frankie Hutton recalled:

“In particular, the New York Herald founded by James Gordon Bennett in 1835, said to be one of the most profitable newspapers of its time, was criticized as being such poor journalism as to `vitiate all correct tastes, corrupt all the social and moral habits, and morally degrade human beings.’ Bennett had no qualms about using violent and sensational news to sell his newspaper…”

And, in his Bennett’s `New York Herald’ and The Rise Of The Popular Press book, James Crouthamel asserts that “Bennett was consistent in defending the rights of the South and its institutions of slavery,, in his belief in Negro inferiority and in his view that the antislavery movement was the major threat” and “consistent with his belief in Negro inferiority Bennett opposed extension of the franchise to blacks and integrated education in the North.”

By the 1870s, around 200 U.S. newspapers were utilizing the A.P. wire service to secure international news and national news by telegraph for their readers, without having to hire their own national and foreign correspondents. As a result, according to Development of American Journalism by Sidney Kobre, by the 1870s “control of the wire service meant that someone might shape the thinking of newspaper readers everywhere.” And, in fact, during this period “a handful of men in charge of the monopoly” apparently fabricated A.P. news on occasion whenever it dealt with politics, economics or other controversial issues, according to A.P., The Story Of News by Oliver Gramling.

Around this time, the original Downtown Manhattan newspaper publishers-dominated A.P. began calling itself “United Press.” Later in the 19th-century, a competing news-gathering wire service organization—the Associated Press [A.P.] of Illinois—was established by rival Midwestern newspaper publishers which came to replace the original A.P./”United Press” organization. As a result, in 1893 the Associated Press [A.P.] of Illinois was reorganized as a national press association, with the name of “Associated Press [A.P.],” under a revised set of rules. Following an adverse Illinois court decision, the A.P. was again reorganized as a New York-chartered non-profit cooperative in 1900.

Between 1900 and the early 1940s, “nearly all newspapers which took membership in it were guaranteed that no newspaper that might later be established in their respective cities would be permitted to join the national Associated Press without the consent of The Associated Press members in those cities” and “the promise of exclusivity was considered by all members to be a `franchise’ and that is what they called it…,” according to Kent Cooper And The Associated Press: An Autobiography. Led by newspaper publisher E.W. Scripps, however, those newspaper publishers who were denied the right to print A.P. news because a local A.P.-affiliated competing newspaper already held the A.P. “franchise” in their cities organized a competing news agency wire service in the U.S.—United Press—in the early 20th century.

But after the A.P. board of directors refused to allow the Chicago Sun to join the A.P. and publish A.P.-furnished news in Chicago in the early 1940s, the Department of Justice finally prosecuted the A.P. for violating the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. A federal court then found A.P. guilty and the A.P. News Trust’s board of directors was forced to discontinue its policy of allowing A.P.-affiliated newspapers to monopolize the printing of A.P.-furnished news items in each U.S. city. In the early 1940s, the A.P. also began to furnish its regular news report to radio stations, instead of just to newspaper subscribers.

The Ochs-Sulzberger Dynasty’s New York Times apparently relied heavily on its A.P.-provided copy during the early part of the 20th century, before it became as lucrative a media operation as it was in the 1990s. According to former A.P. Executive Director Kent Cooper, New York Times publisher Sulzberger’s great-grandfather—Adolph Ochs—once said the following with regard to A.P.:

“I owe more loyalty to the Associated Press than I can express. For when I bought the New York Times, with its Associated Press membership, I had no money left with which to buy special correspondence. So the New York Times reached prosperity practically on The Associated Press news service alone. Though we now spend a great deal for our own specials, The Associated Press still remains our prime reliance. Therefore, for the property value the New York Times has now become, I owe most to the Associated Press."

In the late 1950s, A.P.’s United Press competitor in the U.S. took over the Hearst media empire’s International News Service to form United Press International [U.P.I.]. But by 1985, U.P.I. was facing financial bankruptcy, in part “because the A.P. reaped so much more revenue from newspapers it could engage in never-ending price wars to woo away U.P.I. broadcast clients,” according to Down To The Wire: U.P.I.’s Fight For Survival by Gergory Gordon and Ronald Cohen. The same book also noted that “as U.P.I. had shriveled A.P. had grown, its budget soaring toward $300 million a year.” And as the New York Times (8/26/91) also noted, in 1991 U.P.I. was again on the verge of bankruptcy due, in part, to the “competition from A.P.” which had “squeezed U.P.I.’s revenues”—until the Saudi royal family decided to purchase U.P.I. in 1992. (end of part 4)

(Downtown 7/7/93)

Next: The A.P. News Trust’s Special Influence: A 1990s Look At The Associated Press—Part 5