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Media Help Reveal the ‘True’ Ron Paul

By Ben L. Kaufman · January 25th, 2012 · On Second Thought
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Dwelling on any presidential aspirant’s personal history, proposals and promises invites accusations of bias that mainstream news media fear most. That might explain reluctance to hammer Ron Paul for views he espouses now or previously published. 

So it was with joy that I found the leftwing Nation’s columnist Katha Pollitt and the neoconservative Weekly Standard’s contributor James Kirchick attacking Paul’s current goals and 1990s “Ron Paul” newsletters.  

Pollitt says that “In a Ron Paul America, there would be no environmental protection, no Social Security, no Medicaid or Medicare, no help for the poor, no public education, no civil rights laws, no anti-discrimination law, no Americans With Disabilities Act, no laws ensuring the safety of food or drugs or consumer products, no workers’ rights. … He wants to abolish the Federal Aviation Authority and its pesky air traffic controllers. He has one magic answer to every problem — including how to land an airplane safely: Let the market handle it.”

She continues: “Paul would overturn Roe and let states make their own laws regulating women’s bodies, up to and including prosecuting abortion as murder. Add in his opposition to basic civil rights law — he maintains his opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act and opposes restrictions on the ‘freedom’ of business owners to refuse service to blacks — and his hostility to the federal government starts looking more and more like old-fashioned Southern-style states’ rights.” 

Kirchick expands on his 2008 expose of Paul in The New Republic after finding archives of Paul’s newsletters. Kirchick says that “though particular (newsletter) articles rarely carried a byline, the vast majority were written in the first person, while the title of the newsletter, in its various iterations, always featured Paul’s name: Ron Paul’s Freedom Report, the Ron Paul Political Report, the Ron Paul Survival Report, and the Ron Paul Investment Letter.”  

Kirchick says the June 1992 Special Issue on Racial Terrorism, a supplement to the Ron Paul Political Report, carried the typical headline: “Order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks.” Kirchick says “racial apocalypse was the most persistent theme of the newsletters; a 1990 issue warned of The Coming Race War and an article the following year about disturbances in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, D.C., was entitled, ‘Animals Take Over the D.C. Zoo.’ Paul alleged that Martin Luther King Jr., ‘the world-class philanderer who beat up his paramours,’ had also ‘seduced underage girls and boys.’ The man (Paul) who would later proclaim King a ‘hero’ attacked Ronald Reagan for signing legislation creating the federal holiday in his name, complaining, ‘We can thank him for our annual Hate Whitey Day.’ ” 

Kirchick says no conspiracy theory was too outlandish for Paul’s newsletters.

One talked about  “Needlin’, ” in which “gangs of black girls between the ages of 12 and 14” roamed the streets of New York and injected white women with possibly HIV-infected syringes. Another newsletter warned that “the AIDS patient” should not be allowed to eat in restaurants because “AIDS can be transmitted by saliva,” a strange claim for a physician to make. “Paul gave credence to the theory, later shown to have been the product of a Soviet disinformation effort, that AIDS had been created in a U.S. government laboratory at Fort Detrick, Md.” 

Kirchick added: “No foreign country was mentioned in the newsletters more often than Israel. A 1987 newsletter termed it ‘an aggressive, national socialist state,’ and another missive, on the subject of the 1993 World Trade Center attack, concluded, ‘Whether it was a setup by the Israeli Mossad … or was truly a retaliation by the Islamic fundamentalists, matters little.’ ”  

Kirchick quotes Paul’s response to the 2008 New Republic article:  “The quotations … are not mine and do not represent what I believe or have ever believed … When I was out of Congress and practicing medicine full-time, a newsletter was published under my name that I did not edit. Several writers contributed to the product. For over a decade, I have publicly taken moral responsibility for not paying closer attention to what went out under my name.”

Kirchick adds, “This sordid history would not bear repeating but for the fact that the media love to portray Paul as a truth-telling, antiwar Republican standing up to the ‘hawkish’  conservative establishment. …  But Paul has escaped the sort of media scrutiny that would bury other political figures.”

Curmudgeon notes:


• Anyone curious about Ron Paul’s newsletters (above) can go to tnr.com or turn to the Jan. 30 New Republic for James Kirchick’s latest excerpts. Yes, Paul’s not going to be the Republican nominee but outliers can affect other aspirants, conventions, platforms and Oval Office and Congressional decisions. 

 

• One of the remaining glories of American journalism is the wild diversity among partisan magazines. Forget stump speeches, attack ads and sound bites. If you want to know the strengths and weaknesses of candidates, public policies and government programs, turn to these magazines.


On the Right, National Review and Weekly Standard are reliable voices of differing conservatisms. On the Left, The Nation, The Progressive and New York Review (of Books) fulfill a similar role.

There are others, farther out on the political continuum, until you reach those that should arrive in Plain Brown Envelopes hiding racist, anti-Semitic and mindlessly anarchic or conspiratorial contents. 

 

• Dave Krieger, a friend who left The Enquirer for Denver dailies, is moving from print to radio there, according to Westword. Now a Denver Post columnist, he’s been on KOA but the station wanted more. "So," Krieger told Westword, "I asked them (KOA) to approach The Post to see if they could work out some kind of cooperative cross-platform arrangement that would be good for everybody. And The Post said they weren't interested in that. They made it clear that I either needed to be their full-time columnist or choose . . . I'm not sure at this point in my career how many more opportunities I'll get to do something new and different, and this is all of those things. So I decided to go with new and different."


Westword said Krieger “is not just a keen observer of football, basketball and more; he's also adept at looking beyond the world of sports.” Westword called him “one of the truly outstanding newspaper sports columnists at work today — not only in Denver, but the country as a whole.”

 

• Anticipating the story by The Enquirer’s Cliff Peale, Xavier University reassigned execs implicated in accusations of mishandling women’s campus rape claims. One woman and her family talked on record and allowed Peale to use their names.  The young woman said she was raped by a fellow student but XU appeared more concerned for him and its reputation than her needs.  

 

• Typically, local TV news misidentifies Corryville, University Heights, Clifton Heights, Mount Auburn, Avondale, etc., as “Clifton.”  Channel 12 got it wrong the other way when weekend visuals accompanying the weather report placed the Butt Ugly Statue at Jefferson and Clifton Avenues as “Clifton Heights.” Is there no one left with any local savvy?

 

• What’s up at The Enquirer? It still was Saturday’s news after 2 p.m.

Sunday at news.cincinnati.com.  Saturday evening, convinced snow was coming, the paper sent electronic Sunday copies to home subscribers but didn’t update the web page. That’s also a pretty early deadline. What happens if news happens?  And if they can’t get that right, what’s going to happen when the paper is printed in Columbus at The Dispatch and trucked to Cincinnati? Who do we call and what state will the call center be in? The Sunday Enquirer home delivery was late even though roads were dry in Cincinnati and it’s still printed here.

 

• In a belated and mean-spirited obit on Monday, London’s Daily Telegraph reported the Dec. 14 death of James Leo, who was dean of Cincinnati’s Christ Church Cathedral. The Brits were interested because he previously was dean of the American (Episcopal) Cathedral in Paris.


The Telegraph said unspecified American obits “stated that Leo was ‘the personal chaplain to the Duchess of Windsor ...  and presided at her burial at Windsor Castle’. This was an exaggeration — one that he encouraged, perhaps from failing memory — in his book ‘Exits and Entrances’ (2008).”


The Enquirer’s similarly tardy Jan. 3/4 obit made both assertions and misspelled the Duchess’ first name, Wallis. 

The Telegraph continued, saying, “Leo maintained that he was a regular visitor to the Duchess's house, an assertion not supported by her (staff). Before her funeral, he presided over the Duchess's memorial service at his cathedral in Paris, but upset her friends with his address. Later he stated that he preferred plain speaking on such occasions, maintaining that it was enough to have the deceased lying in their coffin without the clergyman lying from the pulpit.


“The Dean took part in her funeral service at St George's Chapel and the committal at Frogmore. During those days he gave several interviews to the media. Before one for the BBC, he took a stroll outside his hotel and a large pigeon dropping landed on his head.

“When he arrived at Windsor Castle he was impressed by the treatment he received. At the funeral a pair of Gucci shoes winked out from beneath his cassock as he processed down the aisle. In accounts of his stay at Windsor, he surprised people by relating how early next morning he sought to cap his good fortune in the large bed in which he and his wife had slept. His wife demurred. He concluded: ‘I gave up any amorous ideas and together we arose and went to“Dean Leo claimed that the Duchess of Windsor had given him a wooden cross and a pair of candlesticks to thank him for his ministry. This gift was made by her lawyer, Maître Suzanne Blum. Shortly before his death, the Dean sold them on eBay for $1,975.”

        
Only at the end of its obit did The Telegraph mention his roles in American civil rights struggles and a Cathedral-based refugee program in Paris, adding, “Leo is remembered for his dry wit and his passion for the Episcopal church. He was a considerate and generous host.”

 

• Poynter’s Steve Myers used a New York Times interactive graphic and concluded that 7,282 reporters and editors are among the famous, infamous or mythic “1 percent” of wealthiest Americans. There aren’t that many editors, so it must be reporters. To be included, they live in households with incomes of at least $380,000.


“That means that at least 2 percent of all reporters and editors live in households with that income . . . The median income of journalism majors is $50,000, which is just below the median for the U.S.”


Maybe membership in the 1 percent defines the much-maligned “elite news media” so loathed by Republicans. That’s ironic. Who’d expect anyone in that income bracket to empathize with the poor or other Americans living at the national median income (if they still have an income).

 

• Newt’s win in South Carolina underlines the paucity of politics reporting in a presidential election cycle.  How many unrepresentative polls have led fact-starved reporters to crown new frontrunners? How many reporters cling to Mitt as the inevitable nominee? I’m waiting for nostalgia for Katherine Harris overseeing the Florida vote count in 2000.

 

• I’m waiting for reporters to call the GOP competitors on their racism. Not for the first time, they’ve taken Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” national.


Newt, Rick and Ron all use coded language to arouse their supporters’ fear and loathing of blacks, Latinos and mixed-race Americans. The hot phrase now is “food stamps.”


I’d love the House of Representatives, led by our own John Boehner, to pass legislation ending all food stamps ASAP.

Of course, Obama would veto it if it ever came to him. But nothing would drive millions of white voters to the Democrats faster than that; most food stamp recipients are white, not black or brown.  They’d probably join the white flight from the GOP if they already weren’t Obama backers.

 

• The open marriage allegation by Gingrich Wife No. 2 was interesting but as one NPR commentator put it, hasn’t the public already factored in Newt’s serial adulteries, affairs, mistresses, divorces and blatant moral hypocrisy?

Newt’s response in the final South Carolina debate was perfect when asked about jilted Marianne’s 30 minutes of fame on ABC.


Newt knows his people; Georgia is next to South Carolina. A couple of younger mistresses, a couple divorces and a much younger blonde trophy wife hardly disqualify him for the presidency among Bible Belt voters.  So he responded to Brian Ross’ question with another crowd pleaser: He attacked the news media for paying any attention to a scorned ex.

After all, Newt did the honorable thing: He married his mistresses. Now Wife No. 3, Callista is standing by her man with an adoring look that Nancy Reagan could envy.

 

• Military and civilian leaders lie to create heroes to boost public support for our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They did it before (see: Pat Tillman, Jessica Lynch). They’ve done it again. The latest fakery dishonored a young Marine, Kentuckian Dakota Meyer, who deserved his Medal of Honor.      


This time, the military really screwed up: A reporter was embedded with Meyer’s unit.  According to McClatchy Newspapers’ Jonathan Landay, even Obama was suckered.  He presented the medal, saying “that Meyer had driven into the heart of a savage ambush in eastern Afghanistan against orders. He'd killed insurgents at near-point-blank range, twice leapt from his gun turret to rescue two dozen Afghan soldiers and saved the lives of 13 U.S. service members as he fought to recover the bodies of four comrades.”


Landay said crucial parts of what the Marine Corps publicized and Obama repeated are untrue, unsubstantiated or exaggerated, according to dozens of military documents McClatchy reporters examined.

Landay said sworn statements by Meyer and others who participated in the battle indicate that he didn’t save the lives of 13 U.S. service members, didn’t leave his vehicle to scoop up 24 Afghans on his first two rescue runs and didn’t lead the final push to retrieve the four dead Americans.


Moreover, it’s unclear whether Meyer disobeyed orders when he entered the Ganjgal Valley on Sept. 8, 2009. The statements also offer no proof he “personally killed at least eight Taliban insurgents,” as the account on the Marine Corps website says. The driver of Meyer’s vehicle attested to seeing “a single enemy go down.”

        
Landay continued about what really happened: “Braving withering fire, he (Meyer) repeatedly returned to the ambush site with Army Capt. William Swenson and others to retrieve Afghan casualties and the dead Americans. He suffered a shrapnel wound in one arm and was sent home after the battle with combat-related stress. . . (A)n exhaustive assessment by a McClatchy correspondent who was embedded with the unit and survived the ambush found that the Marines' official accounts of Meyer’s deeds — retold in a book, countless news reports and on U.S. military websites — were embellished.


“They're marred by errors and inconsistencies, ascribe actions to Meyer that are unverified or didn’t happen and create precise, almost novelistic detail out of the jumbled and contradictory recollections of the Marines, soldiers and pilots engaged in battle.”

 

• Long ago, the racist white minority government of South Africa banned the book, “Black Beauty.” Whether the censor knew it was about a horse is unclear or maybe that didn’t matter. More recently, the politically correct computer at a Chicago-area daily wouldn’t accept Enola Gay as the name of a B-29 that dropped an A-bomb on Japan. Enola Homosexual? 


The latest fiasco involves Britain’s Virgin (as in records and airline) TV.

London’s Daily Telegraph says the new system automatically checks the onscreen program guide and rendered the BBC show, “The History of Canals” as “The History of Ca**ls.” Will Smith’s film “Hancock” became “Hanc**k.” The BBC Two show, “Never Mind the Buzzcocks” showed up as “Never Mind the Buzzc**ks.”


Even the middle of the name of London football club, “Arsenal” was blocked out; arse is impolite in England. “The Bleak Old Shop of Stuff,” which is in the style of Charles Dickens, saw the famous author’s name rendered as “Charles D***ens.”


A Virgin Media statement blamed “a temporarily overzealous profanity checker took offence at certain programme titles . . .
The altered titles have been swiftly an*lysed and we’re fixing any remaining glitches."

 
• Sleaze pouring out of Rupert Murdoch’s journalism empire may originate in London but it might become transatlantic and affect two major American news sources.


First, Murdoch’s staff hacked royals’ and celebrities’ phones, then the phone of a missing (and murdered) teenager. We were assured these were rogue operations at Murdock’s Sunday tabloid, News of the World. In an act of damage control and faux contrition, Murdock closed that paper.


Further hacking revelations compromised newspaper management and London police from the top down. Resignations and arrests followed. This led to an unresolved probe as apparently clean London coppers investigated corrupted colleagues who helped hackers with private information.


Now, Murdock’s organization is telling a British judge that it is paying damages to hacking victims as if allegations of a corporate cover-up — which would include lying to Parliament — were true. That’s short of an admission but a 180-degree switch from previous denials.


So what’s it to us? Murdock owns Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, New York Post, etc. If bribery can be proved in Britain, Americans can be prosecuted under our laws banning any role in corruption abroad. Murdoch’s parent companies are American corporations. Let’s wait to hear if that other shoe drops. 

 

• The Murdochs (above) can’t avoid making news. The latest fiasco involves a company he doesn’t own (yet): Twitter.  A joker joined Twitter as @wendi_deng. Wendi Deng Murdoch is Rupert’s wife. That became a news story when Twitter responded to a query with assurance that the phony account was genuine. 


Julie Moos at Poynter Online says London Guardian’s Josh Halliday tweeted the faker who replied: “When Twitter verified it, I was completely and utterly shocked. A little nervous too, if I’m honest, about what had happened and whether it had all gone too far. I just couldn’t believe they would have verified such a high profile account without checking it out, but I absolutely received no communication from Twitter to the email address I used to register.”


The faked tweets were no big deal, according to various news reports, but it all leaves open the question of when verified means verified.


Kara Swisher at allthingsd.com says Wendi had a Twitter account last year as @wendideng.


“Twitter co-founder, creator and product guru Jack Dorsey personally helped make sure (husband) Rupert Murdoch’s account was verified. Even though Twitter’s public ‘verified’ program beta — to help battle fake accounts — was phased out, the communications company still does it for high-profile people, mostly celebrities or other brand names . . . Twitter also moved to verify Murdoch’s spouse’s account and that is when an apparent Internet copy-editing scandal was born. Since the information exchange was done over a hurried holiday weekend, several sources on both sides said there was a miscommunication and the company mangled the @ address it was told by Deng’s assistant. Mistakenly, Twitter apparently thought that the correct account was the one with the underscore and not the one with no space at all. Unfortunately, the underscore Wendi account was the faux one created by a British man having some fun spoofing the famous Deng, who still had the no-space one for reals.”

 

• Sunday, The Los Angeles Times said Twitter was alive Saturday night with death reports for Joe Paterno, the ailing former coach at Penn State. CBS and other major news media reported the unverified tweets that began with a student news site at Penn State. The unconfirmed tweets were challenged by Paterno’s sons and taken down.

I’m not sure whether he was alive or dead but click whores — who live and die by unique individuals following their posts — are beating the drum for speed before accuracy. It’s a long way from the historic news service mantra, “get it first but get it right.”


About the same time, some dim bulb at The Enquirer was writing the Sunday sports headline “JoePa’s Health Serious, Docs Say.”  Uh, yeah, lung cancer is and was serious, so what’s the news?


Moments after reading The LA Times’ story about Paterno, I saw its online bulletin that he died, quoting the AP. OK, he’s still dead. Let’s move on.

 

• Murdoch and Paterno Twitter missteps suggest renewed caution for reporters inclined to leap on a hot tweet news tip, assuming it comes from the person who appears to have sent it.  As Journalism 101 students are admonished, “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.”



CONTACT BEN L. KAUFMAN: letters@citybeat.com


 
 
 
 

 

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