'Presidential Puppetry' Discussion Examined Civic Mysteries, Propaganda

 

The NoVa (Northern Virginia) Writers Group hosted me Feb. 28 for a lively public discussion of Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters at the Lorton Library near Washington, DC.

Presidential Puppetry by Andrew KreigThe hour-long discussion in cooperation with the Washington Authors Meet-up process addressed the mysteries unraveled by the research, their relevance to top news stories today -- and how authors in the audience can beat the odds to bring their own books to public attention.

The events followed my hour-long interview on the Phil Mikan Show in Connecticut Feb. 26 in which we revealed and analyzed a new set of outrages imposed on the public by puppets on behalf of what I describe as "puppet masters."

Others have different names for such entities, such as the title of a chart below at left published by the Brookings Institution, which is itself tightly aligned with the power structure and thus more knowledgeable than most regarding specifics.

Brookings Institution Billionaires ChartOn March 7, President Obama is scheduled to speak in Selma, Alabama for the 50th anniversary of the historic "Bloody Sunday" civil rights march of 1965.  Local authorities so brutally beat civil rights marchers that the nation responded by passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, thereby helping enable blacks to register and vote in significant numbers for the first time in the region's modern history.

News coverage this year will be especially strong because of the 50th anniversary and the Oprah Winfrey movie Selma, winner of an Oscar for best theme song and nominated for the best picture award.

Present also will be many civil rights advocates who have long advocated for the Obama administration to undertake far more serious reforms to the justice system than it has.

As in the past, a heavy focus will be on the plight of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman (1999-2003), who remains imprisoned for 1999 actions many experts regard as non-criminal, especially because of the gross prosecutorial and judicial misconduct during his trial on corruption charges. 

We attended last year's march and related events in Selma for nearly a week, and have often reported on Selma, Siegelman and other Alabama legal controversies.

They include especially dramatic cases that are replicated across the nation and even internationally.

Our recent column on Attorney Gen. Eric Holder, was reprinted in Indonesia Feb. 27 by the Fifth Estate blog, which goes to ex-patriates and others in the Far East who follow the effectiveness of democracy in the United States.

 
The writers group's monthly meetings provide an excellent opportunity to share ideas in ways far more open than many venues in the nation's capital that subject authors and members alike to subtle censorship and Lorton Libraryself-censorship.
 
My invitation to the Lorton Library came last fall from the group's the NoVa Writers Group 2014 president, Dr. Lisa Schaefer, who also runs Meet-up groups for authors in the Washington metro area and who is the founder of CrowdPublish.TV, an emerging platform for authors of self-published and other independent books.
 
At the talk's outset, I suggested three goals we could accomplish during the meeting:
 
1) Entertainment for those who like the process of solving mysteries and puzzles, with my own research journey an example;
 
2) Better effectiveness in understanding current affairs for their own potential roles as researchers, reporters, authors, or other civic participants. "This is for those who want to understand the news," I said, "not just watch it.
 
3) Tips on more productive marketing efforts for their own works, based on my career in the communications industries, including as a reporter, radio show host, and author, including of two books and more than 250 book reviews published in newspapers.
 
Washington's Mysteries Decoded
 
To begin, I described how public affairs increasingly mystified me beginning about a decade ago even though I was presumably knowledgeable after a career in journalism, law, politics and business placed me in the presidency of the Wireless Communications Association, a global trade association for those seeking to transform a vision of a wireless Internet into reality.
 
While that was a challenging and gratifying task in itself, I found myself wondering about elements clearly missing from news coverage of such once-prominent news stories as the anthrax attacks on Washington in October 2001, the all-out 2006 prosecution of Deborah Jeane Palfrey (dubbed in the media as "The DC Madam"), and the U.S. attorney firing scandal of 2006-2007.
 
The common thread? As I learned, there were hidden components to these any many other occurrences. For one, the mysteries involved deep corruption by relevant government officials and their private sector benefactors, with the trail of crimes variously including blackmail, corruptly awarded government contracts and other political strategies, foreign policy schemes, and even murder and its cover-up.
 
The news media failed to cover these matters in an independent manner, I pointed out, because too many in the media — broadly defined as to include the book industry and academia, including at the high prestige levels — are rewarded for avoiding harsh truths and not for revealing them. Thus, the current scandals regarding Brian Williams of NBC and MSNBC and Bill O'Reilly of Fox News should be regarded, I suggested, as small symptoms of a larger pattern at the top levels and not as aberrations.
 
Yet very few working in relevant fields in the key areas of the media, other business, or government know the ultimate result of their work on truly sensitive matters, which are often obscured these days by largely bogus claims of "national security."
 
Michael SpringmannFor example, I pointed to the experience of former career U.S. Department of State foreign service office J. Michael Springmann, right, an attendee at my lecture.
 
While working for the State Department in Saudi Arabia a quarter of a century ago examining applicants for visas, he was subjected to extreme pressure by superiors to issue on national security grounds visas to certain applicants who clearly were not eligible for travel to the United States under standard legal criteria. Those required standards include proof of residence in Saudi Arabia and a discernible purpose for visiting the United States, and likelihood of return to their country when that purpose is accomplished.
 
Springmann realized only after his protests of illegalities and after many years of independent research that the unspoken reason certain superiors wanted the visas. His belief, based on compelling circumstantial evidence, is that the disputed visa applicants had been U.S.-backed Muslim fanatics recruited from around the world and trained to fight against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. He tells the story in his courageous and expert book published last month, Visas for Al Qaeda: CIA Handouts That Rocked the World — An Insider's View.
 
As the U.S.-backed Taliban's war against the Soviet Union successfully wound down in the late 1980s, allied nations like Saudi Arabia supplying the fighters did not want such radical revolutionaries unemployed in their nations. So, Springmann deduced, a few U.S. officials knowledgeable about longer term plans advanced their careers by granting visas with the unwritten goal of helping the CIA train the fighters in United States for their next assignments in revolutions and regime change, including in Yugoslavia and the Mideast.
 
Springmann, whose story we shall describe here at greater length in an upcoming column, had the training and gumption to at least question the dubious process he discerned. But most people, have too many obligations to play detective regarding their own colleagues, bosses, and organizations.
 
This includes, of course, many who are researching, writing and speaking about topics such as the above-noted, secret training programs. The real story of arms smuggling to Syria via Benghazi falls in that category because it is part of the Obama administration's secret war against Syria that has been akin to the Iran-Contra scandal during the Reagan Administration. Neither Republicans nor Democrats nor the major media want to touch it, as I pointed out in Presidential Puppetry. Instead, they make vague allegations that will never be fully explored because neither party thinks the public can handle the truth, or is even entitled to it.
 
 
Tips for Independents To Reach Your Audience
 
My five-part suggestion for other writers to succeed in this environment started with some blunt statistics about book sales, even for writers widely imagined to have been wildly successful.
 
Scott Fitzgerald's now-famous book The Great Gatsby was regarded as a marketplace failure more than a decade after publication. Save the Last Waltz For Me, the only book by his wife, inspiration and nationally known celebrity, Zelda Fitzgerald, fared even worse, with fewer than 1,400 copies sold for total royalties of just $120 during its first years, as reported on their Wikipedia write-ups, citing biographers.
 
I offered those and current examples not to discourage the audience but to inspire and instruct on the steps needed for when their own books come to fruition. My five tips were:
  • Create a "book proposal" covering all elements of the work, even if self-published. A successful author at any level must be pro-active, I argued, drawing from relevant experiences in the New York City book publishing world.
  • Create a professional-quality website and marketing materials.
  • Learn to use social media, including video, effectively.
  • Seek out like-minded creators and groups, and support them. Few will care about your work if you don't care about anyone else's. And "bottom up" success is a far better strategy, especially for those independent in spirit and message, than an attempt to crack the top echelon at the start. That's highly unlikely, and even if so, every ticket has its price.
To illustrate the themes in tangible ways, I passed out copies of a news release specifically about their event that I wrote for the occasion. Also, I pointed to the presence in their midst of video crew from independent news producers covering the lecture.
 
Additionally, I passed around to the audience sample books illustrating the themes of my talk, including the vital importance for all authors, whether published by large, small and self-published sectors, to think through book Phil Mikan Showindustry process not simply as a creator but as a big picture strategist. Finally, I noted that I had bought a membership in their group at the beginning of the year, and stood ready to help its members try to achieve their goals at similar speaking events in the region — and welcomed addition invitations myself.
 
After the free event at the library, located in Lorton, which is just south of Alexandria on Interstate 295, I invited all attendees to a book signing and extended Q&A over pizza and beer separately at a nearby restaurant, Vinny's Italian Grill at Gunston Plaza.
 
Thanks to the generosity of a Presidential Puppetry supporter who impulsively grabbed the check, we had delightful two-hour discussion over several of the restaurant's homey tables pulled together for the occasion, helping provide a model for this kind of low-budget message building at the community level.
 
Sharing similar values, albeit hundreds of miles north, was the longtime Connecticut broadcaster who invited me to return to his show to discuss Presidential Puppetry.
 
The Phil Mikan Show is simulcast on Connecticut stations WLIS-AM and WMRD-AM. The longtime host, a student of American history and current affairs, urged listeners to learn from Presidential Puppetry about why Washington is "broken" — except for the powerful and wealthy. He invited my return this week to continue the discussion.
 
 
Editor's Note: This column was updated from the original preview of the talk to reflect what occurred.
 
 
Contact the author Andrew Kreig
 
 

Related News Coverage

Justice Integrity Project, Big Media Helped Holder Burnish His Image, With Next Month's Selma March To Provide A New Stage, Andrew Kreig, Feb. 21, 2015. The media fail to report rampant abuses at the U.S. Justice Department:  An overview of how a craven and compromised Big Media protect a Puppet President, his team, and the masters they all serve. Attorney Gen. Eric Holder polished his legacy Feb. 17 with a National Press Club speech that illustrated the sharp limits of political accountability and media curiosity in the nation’s capital. Holder received for the most part the standard deferential treatment accorded to high officials. Moderators screened audience questions, as commonly the case, thereby keeping discussion focused within comfortable parameters.

 

Catching Our Attention on other Justice, Media & Integrity Issues

OpEd News, Pentagon Inspector General Ignored & Rejected NSA Whistleblower Thomas Drake's Claims of Retaliation, Kevin Gosztola, Feb. 26, 2015. NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake has learned that the Pentagon Inspector General's Office has rejected his whistleblower retaliation complaint, which he filed after the Justice Department's prosecution against him collapsed. As part of the Pentagon IG office's audit, Drake (shown in a file photo) provided details about waste and civil liberties abuses related to a program called TRAILBLAZER. He alleged in his complaint that he was spied upon by NSA management as he participated in this audit as a material witness. When he grew upset with the failure of the NSA to address problems, he decided to contact a Baltimore Sun reporter and reveal details related to the corruption. The complaint he submitted to the IG's office comprehensively detailed nearly ten years of retaliation by the agency for his whistleblowing. But, for no legal or statutory reason, the investigation into whistleblower retaliation only focused on five months and ignored a vast amount of other allegations made against the agency. McClatchy Newspapers reporter Marisa Taylor, who reported on the rejection of Drake's complaint, also reported that officials in the Pentagon IG's office have been "forced to blow the whistle on their own office." See Rejection of NSA whistleblower’s retaliation claim draws criticism.

 

Media Issues

Keith OlbermannCBS News, ESPN's Keith Olbermann suspended for Penn State tweets, Staff report, Feb. 24, 2015. ESPN has benched anchor Keith Olbermann, shown in a file photo, from hosting his show for the rest of the week following comments he made on Twitter regarding Penn State University. "We are aware of the exchange Keith Olbermann had on Twitter last night regarding Penn State," ESPN said in a statement on Tuesday. "It was completely inappropriate and does not reflect the views of ESPN."

New York Times, For Bill O'Reilly and Fox News, A Symbiotic Relationship, Jonathan Mahler and Emily Steel, Feb. 25, 2015. When the magazine Mother Jones reported that Bill O’Reilly had engaged in self-aggrandizing rhetoric about his coverage of the Falklands war, he called one of the authors of the article “an irresponsible guttersnipe” and used his nightly show to fight back against his accusers. His bosses at Fox News, including the chief executive, Roger Ailes, rallied to his defense. Fox’s handling of the controversy says a lot about the network. It also says a lot about its most visible star, a man who perhaps more than any other has defined the parameters and tenor of Fox News, in the process ushering in a new era of no-holds-barred, intentionally divisive news coverage. Since dethroning CNN’s Larry King as the king of cable news almost 14 years ago, Mr. O’Reilly has helped transform a start-up news channel into a financial juggernaut, with estimated annual profits of more than $1 billion. He and Fox News have risen not on the back of big interviews or high-impact investigations but on the pugnacious brand of conservatism personified by Mr. O’Reilly. Reports have since emerged questioning some of O’Reilly’s other assertions. Most notably, Media Matters has challenged Mr. O’Reilly’s claims that he was outside the Palm Beach, Fla., home of an acquaintance of Lee Harvey Oswald when he killed himself with a shotgun in 1977.

Deadline.com, Jon Stewart Defends Bill O’Reilly: “No One’s Watching Him For The Actual Truth,” Lisa de Moraes, Feb. 25, 2015.  Jon Stewart rose to the defense of his friend Bill O’Reilly last night, telling The Daily Show viewers that no one should expect the truth from the Fox News Channel host. “Really? We’re going after O’Reilly for exaggerating being in a war zone?” Stewart marveled at the top of last night’s The Daily Show, in re the Mother Jones Bill O'Reilly Reality Check Fox News Channelarticle that called into question some of O’Reilly’s reporting over the years – particularly his work in Buenos Aires at the end of the Falklands War in ’82. In the wake of Brian Williams’ suspension by NBC News over claims he made about his work, the media has glommed on to the Mother Jones investigation. 

Guardian via Raw Story, Another shoe drops: Bill O’Reilly’s ex-colleagues call his L.A. riot stories ‘completely ficticious,’ Jon Swaine, Feb. 25, 2015. Former colleagues of Bill O’Reilly, the Fox News host whose tales of past reporting exploits are facing renewed scrutiny, have disputed his account of surviving a bombardment of bricks and rocks while covering the 1992 riots in Los Angeles. Six people who covered the riots with O’Reilly in California for Inside Edition told the Guardian they did not recall an incident in which, as O’Reilly has claimed, “concrete was raining down on us” and “we were attacked by protesters.”

Media Matters, O'Reilly Lied About Suicide of JFK Assassination Figure, Former Colleagues Say, Ben Dimiero, Feb. 24, 2015. Bill O'Reilly has repeatedly claimed he personally "heard" a shotgun blast that killed a figure in the Bill O'Reilly Killing Kennedy Coverinvestigation into President John F. Kennedy's assassination while reporting for a Dallas television station in 1977. O'Reilly's claim is implausible and contradicted by his former newsroom colleagues who denied the tale in interviews with Media Matters. A police report, contemporaneous reporting, and a congressional investigator who was probing Kennedy's death further undermine O'Reilly's story. George de Mohrenschildt was a Russian emigre who befriended Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald and testified before the Warren Commission investigating the Kennedy assassination. On March 29, 1977, the same day he was contacted by the House Select Committee on Assassinations, he committed suicide at his daughter's home in Florida. At the time, O'Reilly was a reporter for Dallas' WFAA-TV who regularly reported on stories related to the Kennedy assassination.

O'Reilly has bizarrely inserted himself into de Mohrenschildt's story, claiming in books and on Fox News that he was outside the house seeking to interview de Mohrenschiltd at the time of his death. O'Reilly is under heavy criticism and scrutiny for his false claims about his 1982 Falklands War reporting. O'Reilly's implausible tale was first flagged by Jefferson Morley in a 2013 post for his website JFKFacts.org. Morley has worked as an editor for the Washington Post, Salon.com, and Arms Control Today, and is a visiting professor at the University of California, Washington Center. New interviews with former O'Reilly colleagues who say he wasn't in Florida on the day of de Mohrenschildt's suicide and documents obtained by Media Matters bolster Morley's reporting. In his 2012 best-selling non-fiction book Killing Kennedy, O'Reilly writes on page 300 that as a "reporter knocked on the door of de Mohrenschildt's daughter's home, he heard the shotgun blast that marked the suicide of the Russian ... that reporter's name is Bill O'Reilly."