Let's ponder a phenomenon that has fascinated me for years: Fake news and fake history.
"You mean like the New York Times?" I hear you asking.
No, I'm not ragging on the mainstream media. Not this
day. On this day, we look at those non
-mainstream writers who spend an awful lot of time creating hoaxes.
This post is not about conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones, who seems to have a sincere belief in what he says. Yes, he often speculates irresponsibly. But he does not
concoct bogus documents or bogus sources in order to make his suppositions look like reportage.
Some people do just that. In certain instances, one cannot determine why
they do what they do: They spread paranoia for no apparent political or monetary motive.
As Alfred the butler once said: Some men just want to watch the world burn
A few posts down, we mentioned Donald Trump's good buddy and former close adviser Roger Stone
, who became a right-wing dirty trickster under the tutelage of none other than Roy Cohn. Stone is the source for a popular story that Hillary Clinton hired the "pro-Bernie" protesters who were attacked at various Trump rallies, thereby framing both Sanders and Trump. My earlier post outlined the problems with this assertion.
The important thing to understand about Stone's scenario is that he did not offer it as his theory: He insisted that he had developed at least one high-level source within the Clinton campaign. A ridiculous claim. Why would such a source decide to talk to a bizarre fringe figure like Roger Stone
Stone's pal, Robert P. Morrow
, is similarly questionable
. The man suffers from an obsession with sex which is best described as -- well, I was tempted to employ the term "pathological," but that determination should be made by a professional. If you're a shrink, I'd love to hear your assessment of the following.
This blog first took note of Morrow back in 2011
, when he spread stories of an alleged sex scandal involving Texas governor Rick Perry. Morrow -- who worked for Ron Paul at the time -- claimed that his sources would testify that Perry had had dalliances with strippers and gay men. We were told that Perry's bizarre sexual antics would soon force the governor from the race.
At that time, Morrow ran an outfit called the Campaign Against Sexual Hypocrisy, or CASH. I call it an "outfit" even though I have seen no evidence that this "Campaign" had any members not named Robert Morrow.
As I said of Morrow in an earlier post:
RPM seems to have an affection for photos of large-breasted lasses in various states of un- and semi-dress. He also claims to be a lover of both men and women. Maybe the P stands for priapic.
(Side note: On more than one occasion, the press has described Roger Stone -- Morrow's fashion-obsessed friend and fellow libertarian -- as "flamboyant." A code word?)
Readers of Morrow hoped that these "witnesses" to Perry's sexual escapades would soon go on the record; they never did. Sexual secrets did not
drive Perry from the 2012 race, and did not prevent him from making another try in 2016.
A couple of days ago, we looked at Morrow's ongoing sexual obsession with Hillary Clinton. Let's look again at the record:
In a 2014 Facebook post, Morrow wrote, "So do all your sexual fantasies about Hillary Clinton involve 'snuff films?' Probably not good for most of you to answer that question. Probably how Bill fantasizes." In another 2014 Facebook post, he wrote—and, a warning, this is graphic: "Bill Clinton went down on Hillary one time. While he was licking her maggots started coming out of her pussy. Bill with a sickly look on his face looks up and says. "Sarge, I just can't do this anymore." Hillary, without missing a beat, grabs the back of Bill's head and shoves it back onto her snatch and said "WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE?!!" In 2013, Morrow posted this on his Facebook page: "Hillary Clinton masturbation fantasy update. 3 HOURS 27 MINUTES 15 SECONDS. What is wrong with me? I am I getting old? Losing the passion? No matter how much I sniff Hillary's panties which I bought off of Ebay, I can NEVER seen to be able to last more than 4 hours choking the chicken while thinking about her." And there's many similar posts, including several targeting Chelsea Clinton, and others containing sleazy attacks on Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Rahm Emanuel, and others.
Like Stone, Morrow is a JFK assassination theorist who does not have many fans within that community. Morrow believes that the elder George Bush, acting at the command of LBJ, pulled off the crime of the century. Nope. Bush didn't. They
ISIS vs. The Donald.
Trump himself fell for a similar hoax when he claimed that the man who tried to attack him belonged to ISIS. Trump's reasoning: The assertion was on the internet; therefore, it had to be true.
It wasn't. My question: Who created the hoax video which promulgated that baseless idea?
The de-Klein of journalism.
A writer named Edward Klein -- who insists that his information comes from insider sources unavailable to all other writers -- has filled one book and a number of articles with the details of an outlandish Obama/Clinton feud. The "Blood Feud"
thesis is not as popular as it was a mere year ago: In this election season, right-wing interests are better served by picturing Obama and Clinton as co-conspirators instead of enemies.
A previous Cannonfire post
took notice of Klein:
Why does anyone still print or read right-wing pseudojournalist Edward Klein?
A while back, this fictioneer published a book alleging a lesbian relationship between Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin -- a work which one critic called "the sleaziest, most derivative, most despicable political biography ever." Klein's revelations always come from anonymous "informants" -- one of whom, I've heard, is Slender Man.
The real issue here is one of journalistic standards: A writer should not put words in quotation marks unless he knows for a fact that those words were uttered. Political reporting shouldn't be reduced to cheap melodrama.
Think about it: Anyone present at such a meeting between a former and current president, in the Obamas' private residence, would never relay the details of such a conversation to a conservative hack like Klein. And how would this alleged informant know what Obama said after the Clintons left the room?
Anyone who takes this nonsense seriously must also believe that wrestling is real.
Salon has called Klein a "lying fraud." Those are actionable words, if inaccurate. Please note the absence of any libel action on Klein's part.
Even Fox News and Rush Limbaugh
ain't buyin' what Klein has for sale.
Remember this guy? When Obama first came to prominence, Sinclair announced to the world that he shared a night of coke and gay sex with the presidential contender. Larry's presentation to the National Press Club was a bizarre debacle which HuffPo correctly described as "stupefying." Not only did Sinclair admit that he suffered from a brain tumor, he was exposed as having a serious criminal history
, "with a specialty in crimes involving deceit."
Sinclair later wrote a book titled Barack Obama & Larry Sinclair: Cocaine, Sex, Lies & Murder?
. If you would like to see a detailed response to this man's claims, start here
A 2011 story
claimed that Larry Sinclair died under mysterious circumstances. He got better.
The mystery expert who created Birtherism.
Longtime readers will recall this blog's battles with "Techdude,"
the anonymous graphics expert who claimed, in a series of posts published on Larry Johnson's website, to have uncovered evidence of forgery in Barack Obama's short form birth certificate. Supposedly, Techdude's computer magic revealed that the form was actually that of Obama's sister, Maya Sotero.
Techdude insisted that his analysis could be replicated by anyone who knew how to use Photoshop or a similar imaging app. I've been using Photoshop since the very first release of that program, so I decided to have a go. The task was impossible.
As I wrote in my final Techdude post
1. He never provided a jpg proving the existence of the name "Maya." He gave us many other images, but not the important one.
2. No-one could replicate his work.
3. His "technical" explanations of what he did made no basic sense to anyone else versed in the ways of Photoshop.
4. His defenders kept pointing to his resume, as though that settled that. But the resume settled nothing, since no real-world name came attached to it.
5. The dude told a story of severe harassment (including dead rabbits!) that struck many as dubious. If the bad guys already knew his real name and location, why wouldn't he tell us?
6. His much-ballyhooed final report never showed up.
Although now forgotten, the Techdude hoax helped to make birtherism a right-wing phenomenon. Very few now recall the (alleged) connection between Techdude and Larry Sinclair.
You see, one of the chief promulgators of the Techdude hoax was a blogger who went by the name Texas Darlin'. Attempts to contact this person by voice were not successful. However, one investigator found that an IP number used by Texas Darlin' matched that of -- you guessed it -- Larry Sinclair.
I never confirmed that claim. But to the best of my knowledge, Larry never denied it.
Question: Are Texas Darlin' and Larry Sinclair one and the same?
Probably not. This site
claims (or at least implies) that Texas Darlin' is a woman with the unlikely name of Mara Zebest, who is said to be an expert in forensic graphics. (I now suspect, but cannot prove, that Mara was Techdude.) Sherrif Joe Arpaio relied on Zebest's putative "expertise" when he announced that the long form birth certificate was a fake.
A very dubious conclusion, that
For someone like Ed Klein, the monetary motive is clear enough. But what do we make of Henry Makow and Gregory Douglas, who may be related, if they are not one and the same?
Cannonfire published a long post
about them -- or him -- back in 2009, when Makow claimed that the U.S. government deliberately created the flu virus which swept the world at the close of World War I. Makow allegedly received his information from a Nazi bigwig named Heinrich Mueller, who supposedly was still alive -- and very blabby -- decades after the war.
Actually, Mueller died in 1945.
Makow claims to have had access to Mueller's journals and other documents. Since no objective historian has seen this material, I see no reason to believe that they are real.
Makow and Douglas were connected to a website called TBRNews, which regularly presented fake "insider" accounts of life inside the Bush White House. These fraudulent diary entries often took in naive contributors to Daily Kos and Democratic Underground, who did not notice (or comprehend) the many indicators that TBRNews was a fringe right production.
The tale of Makow's fake "Mueller journals" is very complex. Perhaps I should simply quote from my previous post:
We have no evidence that the Mueller journals exist. All the TBRNews references go to this rare book by -- you guessed it -- the elusive Gregory Douglas. The volume was published by R. James Bender, which seems to specialize in large, worshipful volumes devoted to German militariana. I suspect that the people who buy these books also root for the bad guys when they see The Sound of Music.JFK fakes galore!
To judge from the handful of Amazon reviews, the Douglas volume transcribes a communique "proving" that FDR engineered the Pearl Harbor attack. There's also "proof" that the Holocaust did not exist, along with much talk of made-by-the-USA flying saucers.
We can't dismiss the possibility that someone has used reports of Mueller's survival as an excuse for putting history into rewrite.
The same Douglas -- who may or may not be Mueller's nephew -- also wrote a JFK assassination book called Regicide, which draws its argument from a cache of "official" U.S. documents made available to no other researcher. Other JFK investigators (including pro-conspiracy guys) have denounced these documents as frauds. Even Jim Fetzer mistrusts Douglas, and Fetzer's the kind of guy who would believe you if you told him that Cocoa Puffs are imported from Mars.
Trump's good buddy Roger Stone (listed above) wrote a JFK assassination book devoted to the very dubious theory that LBJ masterminded the assassination. Stone's pal, the perverse Robert Morrow, is also one of the lesser JFK writers.
We've also mentioned Greg Douglas, whose fake book Regicide
is depressingly ubiquitous.
One could write a long book devoted to the "fakelore" of that assassination. In fact, I once got a few chapters into writing such a work.
Please do not misunderstand me: I am NOT talking about books which present wrongheaded or foolish theories. (In other words, we're not looking at works like Contract on America
or Final Judgment
.) In this post, I'm focusing on books which present startling information from "insider" sources whose very existence is unprovable and improbable.
The best-known of these works would be Hugh McDonald's Assassination in Dallas
, which has been playing the newbies for suckers since 1975. McDonald's source, code-named "Saul," revealed that JFK died as a result of a KGB plot. Did "Saul" exist? I've seen no proof. Very few within the JFK research community have ever taken this work seriously, and they certainly were not reassured by McDonald's background as a Republican security specialist with ties to the CIA
To me Hugh McDonald's book is a CIA disinformation exercise. It is no coincidence that they selected McDonald for the task. He worked for Goldwater and right-wing Republicans wanted to implicate the Soviets and LBJ in the conspiracy.
Perhaps the earliest example of JFK fakelore is known to specialists as "The Ritzek Diary"
-- a handwritten manuscript deposited on the sales desk at a Continental Trailways bus station in August of 1964. A clerk working at the station found the text, read a few pages, and then called the FBI.
The diary tells the story of Eric Ritzek, a young man who formed a strange partnership with a college friend. Their goal: To commit the most spectacular crime imaginable -- the murder of a president -- using hypnosis. They did this deed simply to prove their superiority, a la Leopold and Loeb.
Many small factual errors prove this work to be fraudulent. For example, the patsy introduces himself as "Lee Harvey Oswald," even though Oswald did not use his middle name in ordinary discourse.
The diary resists classification as an ordinary hoax. The writing style becomes repetitive and surreal, giving the impression of "automatic writing" -- that is, writing produced while in an altered state of consciousness. At times, the handwriting devolves into incomprehensible symbols and ersatz "foreign" phrases. "Ritzek," the master hypnotist, seems to have written his masterwork while in a trance.
(For what it is worth, the finale of the work implies that the author is an extraterrestrial in human form!)
An FBI agent named Robert Gemberling spent a fair amount of time investigating this manuscript, which also seems to have fascinated certain parties at CIA. The origin and purpose of the Ritzek diary are as baffling today as they were in 1964.
"Ritzek" is an actual last name. The only Ritzeks I could find (via online sources) live in the general vicinity of New Jersey. If you live in that area, and if you happen to know someone with that name, could you ask if anyone in the family recalls a Ritzek named Eric...?
And those are just a few examples of political fakelore.
Many more exist. If you would like to cite your favorite works in this genre, please offer your contributions. A follow-up post may appear one day.
But please -- I beg of you -- refrain from saying the obvious and the predictable: "If you want examples of political fakelore, what about the New York Times?"
bitch about the mainstream media; I have done so on many previous occasions, and no doubt will continue to do so in the future. This post is about something different.