Austin Kiplinger, David Skorton: Two Civic Giants Going And Coming


An inspiring ceremony Dec. 11 at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts memorialized the life of financial journalist and philanthropist Austin H. Kiplinger, who died Nov. 20 at age 97.

Austin Kiplinger

Three days earlier, Dr. David J. Skorton, the new secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, delivered a speech outlining his vision for the world's largest museum.  

The scenes symbolized a succession in American public life by two of the nation's great civic leaders of recent times.

They have embodied a passion for learning, culture, and a just society by fostering enduring institutions. Such leadership — which included Cornell University posts for each man — is possible only from success in problem solving.

Kiplinger's remarkably varied and important civic endeavors brought forth admirers who nearly filled the vast ground floor of the Kennedy Center for his memorial.

Former Cornell President Frank H.T. Rhodes (1977 to 1995) delivered a powerful tribute to Kiplinger, a 1939 graduate of the university who served 55 years on the university's board. The university, founded in 1865 with a number of innovations, is located on a hill overlooking Ithaca in central New York's Finger Lakes region.

David Skorton Cornell PhotoSkorton (shown in a file photo) spoke separately at the nearby National Press Club on Dec. 8 to describe his plans for the Smithsonian after serving as Cornell's president from 2006 until earlier this year. The Smithsonian complex operates 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park, and various research facilities.

I benefited from a scholarship-assisted education at Cornell, where I studied history and prepared for a reporting and legal career by writing for the Cornell Daily Sun student newspaper. I've lived and worked for nearly a quarter century a short distance from the Smithsonian's most famous museums and the National Press Club, where I've met both men. 

Their careers prompt me to reflect also upon the continuing relevance of a 60-page monograph, "The Use and Abuse of History," by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) that was taught at Cornell nearly fifty years ago by Prof. Allan Bloom, later a best-selling author.

From these experiences are suggested tools for problem-solving during the troubled times that the nation currently faces.

 Austin H. Kiplinger

Austin Kiplinger memorial Kennedy Center

Singers from DC choruses, including alumni from the Cornell Glee Club and Washington Chorus, helped commemorate the Dec. 11 celebration at the Kennedy Center of Austin Kiplinger, an accomplished amateur singer and important donor to the performing arts, among his many causes and enthusiasms.

Each day, Kiplinger and Skorton are improving the lives of vast numbers of other Americans through the institutions they have helped foster, which are too numerous to list here.

A sense of their impact comes from their official biographies and the impressive ceremony at the Kennedy Center. Kiplinger Washington Editors, the family-owned consortium of personal finance newsletters Austin Kiplinger that expanded from his father's legacy, covered career highlights in the Nov. 21 obituary Austin H. Kiplinger Dies at 97.

On Dec. 11, the editors of the National Press Foundation reported the ceremonies earlier that day honoring Kiplinger, who had co-founded the press foundation to enhance lifelong training of journalists. Another co-founder was Robert Ames Alden, an editor at the Washington Post for 49 years, a former National Press Club president, and a student of history whose own experiences at the Post included laying out the multiple editions of the Post on the night of Kennedy's assassination, Nov. 22, 1963. Alden, a close friend of Kiplinger, also is a founding director of the Justice Integrity Project, which operates this site.

The press foundation reported the ceremonies in a column headlined Austin Kiplinger Remembered for his Love of Journalism:

Austin H. Kiplinger was remembered as “an uncommon man with a common touch” and “a champion of journalism,” both accurate tributes to the legendary journalist who died last month. Knight Kiplinger led a celebration of his father’s life, punctuated with music from the National Symphony Orchestra Brass and the Cornell Glee Club, two passions of Austin Kiplinger, who had many. His granddaughter described “Kip” accurately as “a renaissance man.”

The ceremonies brought forward many inspiring or otherwise remarkable aspects of his life beyond his work, family, and civic accomplishments. Kiplinger was, for example, a Navy combat pilot in the South Pacific during World War II, a civil rights advocate, and an avid farmer and horseman. 

His son, Knight Kiplinger, now publisher of the family business, and Daphne Kiplinger, representing six grandchildren, spoke of their shared love of singing. It was so contagious that both son and granddaughter met their spouses at the Washington Glee Club, they recalled. They spoke also of Kiplinger's strong family and community ties. He lived on a Maryland farm, where he and his wife of 63 years, the late Mary Louise (Gogo) Cobb Kiplinger, reared their children.

Such a legacy retains practical and continuing importance, including in ways not readily apparent. As one speaker noted, the best way to honor that kind of legacy for us all to devote "time, talent and treasure" to civic causes in the same generous spirit.

 

Dr. David Skorton and The Smithsonian

 
Smithsonian logo

Dr. David Skortion is a cardiologist by training. But like Kiplinger he is an accomplished amateur musician and otherwise a renaissance man of varied accomplishments. The Smithsonian summarized his background last summer in Smithsonian Welcomes Secretary David Skorton, excerpted below in an appendix to this column.

Robin L. Davisson, Ph.D., Skorton's wife and holder of a joint appointment at Cornell's College of Veterinary Medicine and Weill Cornell Medical College until recently, attended the Kennedy Center celebration. Skorton could not attend because of a previous commitment.

Last week and separate from the Kiplinger memorial, Skorton described his views in a pitch-perfect talk at the National Press Club headlined by the club for its news site as: New Smithsonian head urges emphasis on arts and humanities, but not at expense of science.

 

We highly recommend the video of Skorton's hour-long talk. Skorton described in an entertaining and thoughtful manner what it was like for him to assume museum supervision, a new field for him.

The Smithsonian estimates its total number of objects, works of art and specimens at nearly 138 million, including more than 127 million specimens and artifacts at the National Museum of Natural History. There were approximately 28 million visits to the museums and National Zoo in 2014 and more than 99 million visitors to its websites. The Smithsonian's newest museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, located on the National Mall near the Washington Monument, will open in fall 2016.

Especially relevant to our era of seemingly constant crisis in current affairs, Skorton drew also on his many years of problem solving. He advocated "scientific method" for addressing society's pressing issues, but also capability to visualize new solutions. His lecture bodes well for his stewardship.

But that's not the end of our reflections today.

 

The Abuse and Use of History

As institutional leaders, Kiplinger and Skorton many times confronted difficult choices regarding major social issues.

Kiplinger, for example, was a lifelong civil rights supporter who demonstrated for civil rights during the iconic 1963 March on Washington, which at the time was so controversial in the still heavily segregated nation's capital that the Washington Post failed to cover the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s now-iconic speech. Instead, the newspaper focused on other aspects of the march, including fears (ultimately unfounded) by white residents that demonstrators would break laws and otherwise create safety hazards. Yet Kiplinger as a Cornell board member opposed in the 1980s divestiture of the university's South Africa-related investments as a pressure tactic against apartheid.

In Skorton's lecture last week, he drew in part on his medical training and teaching career to advocate an evidence-based approach to problem solving. But he advocated also openness to creative thinking inspired by the liberal arts.

Such a process, we suggest, is congruent also with Nietzsche's monograph on history that Allan Bloom included in his long-ago Cornell curriculum on Western intellectual history.

Bloom, a popular teacher among Cornell's students, included Nietzsche's little-remembered monograph in a course otherwise populated by more famous political philosophers, including Plato, Aristotle, Locke, Rousseau, Marx, and Lenin. Conventional wisdom has long been that Nietzsche's work is forever tainted because, after his death in 1900, Germany's Nazi leader Adolf Hitler cited him as an inspiration.

NietzscheFriedrich Nietzsche (1875) provided insights valuable today irrespective of politics. In essence, his Use and Abuse (part of a larger work entitled Thoughts Out of Season) attacked historians who are "idlers in the garden of knowledge," that is, those who take pointless pride in knowing facts with scant utility.

Instead, the outspoken political philosopher advocated historical knowledge that: 1) provides examples for those undertaking great although unpopular civic battles; 2) inspires reverence for a society's past; and 3) affirms the duty of all citizens to attack, when necessary, wrong-headed conventional wisdom, including past eminences.

 

Current Controversies: JFK Assassination, 'Conspiracy,' War, Terror

The Smithsonian relies heavily on congressional appropriations and also inevitably deals with sensitive matters as a museum, research center and publisher of magazines, websites, and videos. Such topics include, for example, the full story of President John F. Kennedy's assassination. The Smithsonian has portrayed these events in such formats Smithsonian video "The Day Kennedy Died"as the film The Day Kennedy Died, a three-dimensional model of the killing zone at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, and a 2013 magazine and now web article: Inside the Autopsy Room: The Details Doctors Gathered About JFK’s Assassination.

The Justice Integrity Project has examined new revelations about the assassination in a so-far 29-part "Readers Guide." Most in official Washington — doubtless including many members of congress and other illustrious patrons of the Kennedy Center — find the topic distasteful.

But a vast array of declassified documents and other compelling evidence now suggest that the Warren Commission rigged its "investigation" and otherwise eminent government officials, academics, and journalists have ignored or trivialized that evidence

As we continue to report here, substantial evidence exists — for example from a secret meeting of the Warren Commission in January 1964 — that authorities wanted to suppress all information that accused assassin and former U.S. Marine Lee Harvey Oswald may have worked covertly until shortly before his death with intelligence and/or law enforcement personnel. Even more clear by now is that Oswald's killer Jack Ruby was a member of the mob. The Warren Report in September 1964 flatly rejected both of those contentions. The commission and its personnel acted for a mishmash of motives that included misguided patriotism and selfish careerism, many serious researchers now contend.

Whistleblowers, including from the law enforcement community, have long sought to tell their stories under oath in unbiased investigations but have consistently been shunted aside, including by the congress that controls the purse strings of the Smithsonian, among other relevant institutions.

The House of Representives hired the highly experienced prosecutors Richard Sprague and Robert Tanenbaum in 1976 to lead the last official investigation into Kennedy's death. But both men quietly resigned because congress lost its nerve to explore the evidence without preconceived limits. Their successor, former Senate former aide Robert Blakey, agreed to continue the investigation but not to question the CIA about relevant matters that the agency wanted kept secret.

Blakey now says he regrets deferring so much to the CIA, as we reported last year in Former House JFK Murder Prober Alleges CIA ‘Lied,’ Seeks Hidden Records. “The CIA not only lied, it actively subverted the investigation,” said Blakey, the former general counsel of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, which issued its report in 1979. Blakey urged the National Archives and Records Administration to comply promptly with a federal law unanimously passed by congress in 1992 requiring release of those JFK records still being withheld. 

Sprague and Tanenbaum remain alive and able to share their perspective. Tanenbaum, once a top prosecutor in New York City, went on from the Kennedy investigation to author more than two dozen thrillers and serve two terms as mayor of Beverly Hills, CA. C-SPAN aired his powerful lecture in 2013. Tanenbaum described how congress feared the CIA too greatly to let Sprague and him get to the bottom of Kennedy's murder. We reported that his talk in our Readers Guide segment, JFK's Murder, The CIA, and 8 Things Every American Should Know. 

These days, no official search for truth exists on the Kennedy murder except in the hands of quasi-public entities such as museums or entirely private volunteers. For example, James C. Jenkins, a Navy lab technician assisting the Kennedy autopsy, spoke at two Dallas conferences last month about how all medical and science personnel during the JFK autopsy operated under military command. The specifics, Jenkins and others have stated, David W. Mantik "John F. Kennedy's Head Wounds"undermine conventional accounts in ways too complex for discussion here, but described at length in the 2015 books In the Eye of History by William Matson Law and John F. Kennedy's Head Wounds by David W. Mantik, M.D., Ph.D.

Every museum employee dealing with this kind of issue faces — whether knowing it or not — the same kind of institutional and career pressures as Jenkins Those are the same kinds of pressures face by his superiors conducting the JFK autopsy, the House-appointed investigators Sprague, Tanenbaum, Blakey — and one day perhaps Skorton?

Similar serious, evidence-based questions have long been raised regarding the 1960s assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. Many researchers suspect that patsies were convicted of the crimes. Oswald, for example, worked on the super-sensitive U-2 spy plane project and even after his return from a "defection" to the Soviet Union worked closely with law enforcement and intelligence personnel, according to some accounts. Oswald's former his former Marine Corps roommate James Botelho, later a California judge, was among the Oswald friends who vouched for his good qualities at Dallas conferences last month. Botelho said Oswald was "the best roommate I ever had," a quiet, intelligent, patriotic nice guy whose later "defection" to the Soviet Union was regarded by Botelho and others he knew as likely an intelligence plan by the U.S. government using Oswald as a decoy. Botelho gave a brief statement to Warren Commission investigators in 1964 that was not included in the one-volume report.

The evidence is that even most members of intelligence and law enforcement agencies involved in the case knew only their own narrow assignments after the JFK killing, not big picture information.

Dr. John M. Newman is a professor, author, and a former career Army intelligence officer who rose to become the executive assistant to a National Security Agency director. In the his book Oswald and the CIA and more current research portrayed last year on C-SPAN, Newman has determined that the late CIA covert operations director David Atlee Phillips used scores of secret identities, in part to disguise even from most of his CIA peers his wide-ranging covert activities, such as meeting with Oswald six weeks before the killing, according to eye-witness Antonio Veciana.

As another example, FBI agent and future Ohio police chief Don Adams recalled in his 2012 memoir that he reported before the assassination that a long time government informant tape-recorded nine days before Kennedy's death a prediction by a Georgia racist named Joseph Milteer that a plot was afoot to kill the president "from an office building with a high powered rifle," the title of the agent's memoir. Adams stated that he was among those who warned Washington authorities of the threat and followed up, and yet he discovered to his horror that authorities thwarted the post-assassination investigation and even doctored official FBI internal investigative reports (including a post-assassination report by Adams) that the FBI later sent to the National Archives.

The assassinations, whatever their causes, clearly prolonged the Vietnam War policy and other American political events in ways continuing to the present.

Right now, only a few members of the House and Senate dare to join with 9/11 family member leaders in advocating release of the still-secret 2002 House-Senate intelligence committee report describing  foreign government funding the accused 9/11 hijackers. Even with "terrorism" the number one foreign policy issue, no member of Congress dares risk imprisonment for saying who is responsible, and fewer than three dozen elected representatives even dare advocate release of the findings, as we reported earlier this year in Rand Paul, 2 Other Senators: Expose Financers Of 9/11 Hijackers

Any public discussion of those 9/11 funders, much less scientific questions about the collapse of three World Trade Center buildings, is virtually off limits in mainstream Western media or academic circles, as a number of experts have described.

Instead, the public sees and hears a constant refrain from the corporate-controlled media against "conspiracy theories" with no real discussion of evidence regarding substantive allegations. The "news" coverage is largely name-calling against straw-men arguments. The Washington Post alone published two such attacks this week. One was by media writer Paul Farhi in a feature story presented as a news report attacking Donald Trump for being interviewed by radio host Alex Jones, which thereby enabled Farhi to taint Trump with every kooky idea aired previously on the Jones shows. The second was an op-ed by MSNBC host Rachel Maddow mocking those who doubt official versions of terror attacks. 

To be sure, crackpot theories exist about public calamities. But the appropriate response of institutional leaders should be to examine evidence of the most cogent theories and remind readers that some of the strangest theories could be deliberately floated by disinformation operatives that abound, sometimes cloaked with stellar credentials from legitimate accomplishments.

The general public has long rejected the efforts of the information gatekeepers on the Kennedy assassination, with more 60 percent (and sometimes more than 70 percent) dismissing the Warren Commission findings, according to most public opinion polls through the years.

This skepticism persists even though the CIA's many obstruction efforts included devising the conspiracy theory smear, as documented in a 1967 CIA memo. The 50-page CIA memo, known as "CIA Dispatch 1035-960," is here in the original, and here in reformatted text of its summary.

The CIA memo's purpose? Obviously, it was to deter career-minded journalists and academics from probing the JFK killing too deeply. The same smear is constantly invoked by academics and journalists themselves these days to demonstrate their adherence to conventional wisdom regarding other allegations of government wrongdoing. Museums are vulnerable to the same pressures. This keeps relevant the kinds of professional and other civic-spirited institutions Kiplinger and Skorton have fostered.

High Stakes

The stakes in such debates are important. Imagine, for example, if authorities were complicit in Kennedy's murder and a frame-up of Lee Harvey Oswald as a patsy. The Warren Commission and congressional investigations would be exposed as hopelessly flawed. So would museum, academic, news treatment that continues to purvey official accounts.

How will Skorton react to new developments? Hopefully, he will continue to encourage staff to apply the neutral problem-solving and truth-determining techniques he advocated at the National Press Club.

We can know what Nietzsche might say. "The search for truth is often thoughtless praised," he wrote. "But it has something great in it only if the seeker has the sincere, unconditional will for justice."

This column began with a summary of Kiplinger's legacy. In truth, we have scant information regarding Kiplinger's opinion on the latest revelations about regarding matters in the news. Each person can do only so much, and the true facts are buried under layers and layers of secrecy and compartmentalization. Even members of the Warren Commission and the vast majority of their staff, we now know, had scant idea of the full scope of the evidence. The top staff director tightly controlled the facts and decision-making. Commissioners seldom attended hearings or interviews because of their other responsibilities, a pattern repeated in other high profile commission investigations of major events since then.  

So, the typical journalist, professor and reader -- even those otherwise accomplished in complex research -- has scant basis for solid knowledge about the JFK killing, for example, without the time and understanding necessary to apply a valid method for evaluating evidence.

Therefore, what's important and relevant about Austin Kiplinger's legacy on this kind of matter is not so much his opinion on new materials that he probably never had the opportunity to study, but that he helped foster institutions with a mission to address these kinds of topics in an independent manner.

In that spirit, we end with these additional words from Nietzsche:

What is the use to modern man of this 'monumental' contemplation of the past, this preoccupation with the rare and classic?

It is the knowledge that the great thing existed, and was therefore possible, and so may be possible again. 

 

 Editor's Note: This column was updated several times, mostly recently Dec. 17, 2015.
 
Contact the author Andrew Kreig
 
 

Update:

Cornell Daily Sun, Cornell’s President Elizabeth Garrett Dies at Age 52, Less Than One Year After Assuming Office, Phoebe Keller, March 7, 2016. President Elizabeth Garrett died last night after receiving treatment for colon cancer, the University announced this morning. The thirteenth Cornell president and first female president was 52.

“It is with utmost sadness that I write to inform you that our president, colleague and friend, Elizabeth Garrett, passed away late last evening after a brave battle with colon cancer,” the Chair of the Board of Trustees Robert Harrison ’76 wrote in an email to the Cornell community this morning. “There are few words to express the enormity of this loss.” Harrison called Garrett a “remarkable human being” and a “vibrant and passionate leader” who he said impacted the lives of countless students, faculty members and friends.

“She was the quintessential Cornellian,” he wrote in the email. “From the moment I met her during the presidential search, it was clear to me that she had the intellect, energy and vision not only to lead Cornell, but to be one of the greatest presidents in our 150-year history.” Several of Garrett’s decisions also sparked controversy, including her reversal of President Emeritus David Skorton’s 2035 carbon neutrality goal and the January decision to form the College of Business.

Austin H. Kiplinger News Coverage

ustin Kiplinger, Harold Tanner, Peter Meinig (Valerie Kuramoto photo)

A Cornell trustee for 55 years, a Cornellian for 80. Cornell Trustees Chairmen Emeriti Austin Kiplinger, Harold Tanner and Peter Meinig relax outside of Stimson Hall at the campus in Ithaca, NY following the inauguration of President Elizabeth Garrett, Sept. 18, 2015 (Valerie Kuramoto photo).

Cornell Chronicle, Legendary Cornellian Austin Kiplinger '39 dies at age 97, Joe Wilensky, Nov. 22, 2015 Austin Kiplinger, 1989. Austin H. “Kip” Kiplinger ’39, chairman emeritus of the Cornell University Board of Trustees and a giant in the fields of publishing, journalism, philanthropy and university leadership, died Nov. 20 in Rockville, Maryland, at the age of 97. Kiplinger became a trustee in 1960, served as board chairman from 1984-89 and was elected trustee emeritus in 1989, making him the longest-serving trustee in university history.

Kiplinger helped support the creation of what is now the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts, the restoration of Lincoln Hall for the Department of Music, and served as chair of the presidential search committee that selected Frank H.T. Rhodes as the university’s ninth president.

“The breadth of Austin Kiplinger’s involvement in so many facets of the life of Cornell University, for so many years, has left an indelible legacy for generations of Cornellians in the arts, economics, undergraduate education and through his example of steady leadership,” said Cornell President Elizabeth Garrett. “Kip’s support, wisdom and influence meant a great deal to me even in the few months I was honored to have known him. I was so pleased that he attended my inauguration as Cornell’s 13th president in September — and impressed that of those 13, I am the 10th Cornell president that Kip knew. He was a true Cornellian in every sense.”

“Kip was a legendary Cornellian who loved and gave back to the university in so many ways over many decades,” said Cornell Board of Trustees Chairman Robert Harrison ’76.

Harrison recalled that he first met Kiplinger in 1975 when Harrison was a newly elected student trustee and Kiplinger “was a long-standing, well-respected member of the board. Kip welcomed the involvement of student trustees and went out of his way to engage with us,” Harrison said.

“His grace, good humor, wit and oratorical skills were second to none, and he has served as a role model and hero for me and generations of trustees who have attempted to follow in his footsteps as stewards of Cornell University.”

Kiplinger’s son Knight Kiplinger ’69 said, “Among all the institutions that were central to my father’s life – in his personal development and as the focus of his passion – Cornell was Number One.”

As an undergraduate at Cornell, Austin Kiplinger was president of the Cornell United Religious Work Men’s Cabinet, was his class’s orator and served as editor-in-chief of Areopagus, The Cornell Journal of Opinion. He also was active with the Cornell Glee Club, Student Council, Telluride Association, Delta Upsilon and Quill & Dagger.

A journalism advocate

Kiplinger was editor emeritus of The Kiplinger Washington Editors, publishers of Kiplinger's Personal Finance, The Kiplinger Letter, kiplinger.com and more; he had led the publishing company, founded by his father, W.M. Kiplinger in 1920, since 1959 and served as chairman and president from 1961 to 1993.

Kiplinger began his career as a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle (1940-41). He served in the Navy during World War II, stationed in the South Pacific. He founded the publication Kiplinger’s Personal Finance with his father in 1947 and also worked as a business columnist for the Chicago Journal of Commerce (1948-50) and as a news commentator for ABC and NBC radio and television (1950-56).

He was a longtime advocate of journalism education and founded the Washington Journalism Center with his father in 1965; the center’s seminars eventually became the core program of the National Press Foundation.

A trustee for 55 years, a Cornellian for 80, Austin Kiplinger, Harold Tanner, Peter Meinig

Chairmen Emeriti Austin Kiplinger, Harold Tanner and Peter Meinig relax outside of Stimson Hall following the inauguration of President Elizabeth Garrett, Sept. 18, 2015 (Valerie Kuramoto Photo).

Kiplinger became a trustee in 1960 — the result, said Knight Kiplinger, of Kip sitting by chance next to then-trustee Arthur Dean ’21 on an airplane flight from New York City to Washington, D.C., and having an inspiring conversation about Cornell and higher education. When he joined the board, he was its youngest member at age 42. The most significant issue at Cornell during Kiplinger’s five years as chairman of the board was the pressure by students and faculty to divest Cornell’s endowment of stock in companies doing business in then-apartheid South Africa. Kiplinger supported a policy of selective investment rather than complete divestment, supporting U.S. companies there that were the most progressive employers in that nation. Rhodes cited Kiplinger’s position in a 1989 statement: “We are not doing the easy thing. We are doing the right and responsible thing.”

After Kiplinger stepped down in 1989, Rhodes praised his tenure leading the board “with unfailing calm, courtesy and fairness.” The Kiplinger family’s contributions to the College of Arts and Sciences include the Kiplinger Professorship in Economics; support for creation of the performing arts center (later named the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts), including the Kiplinger Theatre; and Kiplinger's leadership as co-chair of the effort to renovate and expand Lincoln Hall. The family recently helped support construction for the nearly complete Klarman Hall.

Across the university, the Kiplinger family were longtime supporters of the Cornell Annual Fund, Cornell’s capital campaigns, the Kiplinger Family Scholarship, student financial aid and other programs. Kiplinger also supported the Lab of Ornithology, where he served as a member of the administrative board and where his late wife, Gogo, is honored with Gogo’s Garden and he with Kip’s Barn. In 2008, a bench bearing Kiplinger’s name, a gift from his extended family and friends, was dedicated in front of McGraw Hall, near the site where he gave his class oration in June 1939. Kiplinger was one of the oldest alumni of the Cornell Glee Club and still performed with the group at reunions — most recently at his 75th reunion in 2014. A recipient of the Frank H.T. Rhodes Exemplary Alumni Service Award, Kiplinger also was honored as a foremost benefactor and presidential councillor. Kiplinger’s son Todd L. Kiplinger ’68, who died in 2008, attended Cornell. Knight Kiplinger’s son Brigham ’03 and daughter Daphne ’07 also are Cornellians.

A memorial service of music and spoken tributes will be held Friday, Dec. 11, at 1 p.m. at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall in Washington, D.C.

National Press Foundation, Austin Kiplinger Remembered for his Love of Journalism, Staff report, Dec. 11, 2015. Austin H. Kiplinger was remembered as “an uncommon man with a common touch” and “a champion of journalism,” both accurate tributes to the legendary journalist who died last month. Knight Kiplinger led a celebration of his father’s life, punctuated with music from the National Symphony Orchestra Brass and the Cornell Glee Club, two passions of Austin Kiplinger, who had many. His granddaughter described “Kip” accurately as “a renaissance man.”

Kevin McCormally, chief content officer at Kiplinger and a former National Press Foundation board member, said Austin was “an inspirational boss, committed to and in love with his craft.”

Kip certainly loved journalism, active almost to the end of his 97 years.

“Austin was a journalistic statesman,” said Sandy Johnson, president and COO of the National Press Foundation. “He built a news powerhouse at Kiplinger and shared his time and resources generously with so many, especially NPF. We will miss his wise counsel.”

Kip and his father, W.M. Kiplinger, in 1965 founded the Washington Journalism Center, a non-profit, designed to bring young journalists, especially minority journalists, to Washington for candid, off-the-record briefings with leading officials and office holders. At the time it was the only non-university based program devoted to journalism education. In 1972 Kip founded the Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism at Ohio State University, named in honor of his father. W.M. Kiplinger, who had been one of the first two journalism graduates at the university in 1912.

“Kip inspired a generation of news leaders by showing us that entrepreneurship focused on upholding the highest levels of journalism can bring enormous benefit to our communities and families,” said Heather Dahl, chair of NPF and the founder of The Cynja, an educational website and book series teaching kids about the perils of cyberspace and how to confidently beat it back.

“Growing up with the Kiplinger Washington Newsletter was my introduction to news; finding that envelop in the mail inspired a curiosity that would guide me into a career reporting,” she said. “Little did I know that later in life, the man whose publications taught me to think about my rights as a consumer, would also become a role model and mentor. Kip’s approach to business, leadership and journalism showed those of us who had the opportunity to know him that respecting the humanity of all those we engage with is the legacy we should aspire to achieve in our own lives. I will dearly miss Kip.”

Over the years the Washington Journalism Center evolved its format to meet the changing needs of journalism. Instead of six-month long fellowships, it began offering shorter ones, some as short as a week. As various economic waves swamped traditional news business – an increase in the cost of paper, changing audience preferences, a shrinking of the national news force – Kip sought to join forces with another group in Washington that was similarly engaged in journalist education.

The National Press Foundation, founded in 1975, was that group, and a union was effected in 1993. Initially the WJC would operate under its own name, but eventually its programs came under the banner of NPF, without a change in focus or emphasis. Kip joined the NPF board at the same time.

“From Day One Kip was a friend and mentor,” said Bob Meyers, who was hired in 1993 to lead the Washington Journalism Center and two years later became president of the National Press Foundation. “Whether I needed to talk about programming ideas, or personnel issues, Kip was always there and his advice was always invaluable.”

Kip stayed on the NPF board for nearly 15 years. In 2009 he received NPF’s Chairman’s Citation, for his distinguished service to the American journalism community.

“How do you say something meaningful about a life lived that large?” asked Susan Swain, co-president of C-SPAN and an NPF board member. “Well into his 90s, Kip took a personal interest in the National Press Foundation, sharing his warm friendship and wise counsel on the direction of our journalism mission.  He was a true friend of ours, personally and professionally, and will be greatly missed.”

One day, before a meeting of the NPF program committee, which provided guidance to the staff of program direction, Kip reached into his pocket and pulled out a buckeye, the dried nut of the Buckeye tree, recalled George Condon, White House bureau chief for National Journal. “‘I have that with me every day’,” he told Condon. “It reminded him of his father and his journalism. Journalism and journalism training were something very personal to him.”

In addition to support for the Kiplinger program at Ohio State, the WJC and the NPF, Kiplinger and the family foundation also supported other journalism groups, such as the Society of Professional Journalists, said Chuck Lewis, the retired Washington bureau chief for Hearst newspapers and a former NPF board member.

“Kip’s World War II stories were a source of endless mirth,” Lewis recalled. “He often wore a discreet Navy tie and was ready at the slightest prompt to relate the yarn about his exploit as a pilot of a large observation plane landing on the deck of a carrier. The landing incurred the skipper’s wrath because the ship had to turn into the wind to accommodate Kip’s landing plan.”
The Seventh Tower"

Kiplinger Washington Editors, Austin H. Kiplinger Dies at 97, Editors, Nov. 21, 2015. Journalist and philanthropist Austin H. Kiplinger led the Kiplinger Washington Editors for decades. Austin H. Kiplinger, a journalist and financial publisher who was a leader in the civic and cultural life of the nation’s capital for more than seven decades, died November 20 at Montgomery Hospice’s Casey House in Rockville, MD, after a brief illness under home hospice care. He was 97. The cause of death was cancer in his brain, probably metastasized melanoma, according to his son, Knight Kiplinger.

Kiplinger’s journalism career spanned more than a half-century, with work on newspapers from 1936 through 1941, local and network radio and television in the 1950s, and newsletters, books and magazines in the 1960s through ‘80s. For almost 35 years he headed the publishing company founded in 1920 by his father, journalist W. M. Kiplinger (1891-1967). Today Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc. — the last major Washington-based publisher still owned and managed by its founding family, and today headed by his son Knight — produces The Kiplinger Letter, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine, The Kiplinger Tax Letter, Kiplinger.com and other publications on personal finance and business forecasting.

Civic leadership. Kiplinger served in governance leadership at Cornell University, the National Symphony Orchestra, Historical Society of Washington, Federal City Council, WETA, National Press Foundation, Tudor Place, Washington International Horse Show, and other local institutions. He was the longtime president of The Kiplinger Foundation, a charitable trust established and funded by his father which has made grants totaling many millions of dollars to nonprofits in education, the performing arts, history and mid-career journalism training.

Kiplinger was an 80-year resident of Montgomery County, Md., a suburb of Washington. While in his twenties in 1947 and 1948, he served as communications director for the Montgomery County charter campaign, which established the county’s self-rule under an elected council and executive. A lifelong supporter of civil rights, he worked on committees to end discrimination in the county’s housing market in the early 1960s, marching with the county’s fair-housing delegation in the 1963 March on Washington on the National Mall. In recent decades he championed the county’s Agricultural Reserve, a landmark program for farmland preservation.

Among his notable civic achievements in Washington was spearheading, with co-chair and former D.C. Mayor Walter Washington, the 2000 capital campaign that restored the District of Columbia’s historic Carnegie Library on Mount Vernon Square to be the new home of the Historical Society of Washington. In 2012 Austin and his son Knight donated to the Historical Society and several other Washington museums the 5,000-piece Kiplinger Washington Collection, a corporate collection started by W. M. Kiplinger in the 1920s that grew to be the largest assemblage of historical prints, maps, photos and paintings of Washington, D.C. in private hands.

National Press Foundation, Austin Kiplinger Loved Journalism, Nov. 23, 2015. Austin Kiplinger loved journalism. There’s no other way to put it. He also loved life, his family and friends, finding a way to make Austin Kiplinger Portrait at Uris Hall, Cornell Universityconsumer-oriented journalism profitable in an age of changing media platforms, acting ethically, and giving rein to his pixyish sense of humor. But he loved journalism.

Austin Kiplinger died last week at the age of 97, active almost to the end. “Austin was a journalistic statesman,” said Sandy Johnson, president and COO of the National Press Foundation. “He built a news powerhouse at Kiplinger and shared his time and resources generously with so many, especially NPF. We will miss his wise counsel.”

Kip and his father, W.M. Kiplinger, in 1965 founded the Washington Journalism Center, a non-profit, designed to bring young journalists, especially minority journalists, to Washington for candid, off-the-record briefings with leading officials and office holders. At the time it was the only non-university based program devoted to journalism education. In 1972 Kip founded the Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism at Ohio State University, named in honor of his father. W.M. Kiplinger, who had been one of the first two journalism graduates at the university in 1912.

“Kip inspired a generation of news leaders by showing us that entrepreneurship focused on upholding the highest levels of journalism can bring enormous benefit to our communities and families,” said Heather Dahl, chair of NPF and the founder of The Cynja, an educational website and book series teaching kids about the perils of cyberspace and how to confidently beat it back.

“Growing up with the Kiplinger Washington Newsletter was my introduction to news; finding that envelop in the mail inspired a curiosity that would guide me into a career reporting,” she said. “Little did I know that later in life, the man whose publications taught me to think about my rights as a consumer, would also become a role model and mentor. Kip’s approach to business, leadership and journalism showed those of us who had the opportunity to know him that respecting the humanity of all those we engage with is the legacy we should aspire to achieve in our own lives. I will dearly miss Kip.”

Over the years the Washington Journalism Center evolved its format to meet the changing needs of journalism. Instead of six-month long fellowships, it began offering shorter ones, some as short as a week. As various economic waves swamped traditional news business – an increase in the cost of paper, changing audience preferences, a shrinking of the national news force – Kip sought to join forces with another group in Washington that was similarly engaged in journalist education.

The National Press Foundation, founded in 1975, was that group, and a union was effected in 1993. Initially the WJC would operate under its own name, but eventually its programs came under the banner of NPF, without a change in focus or emphasis. Kip joined the NPF board at the same time.

“From Day One Kip was a friend and mentor,” said Bob Meyers, who was hired in 1993 to lead the Washington Journalism Center and two years later became president of the National Press Foundation. “Whether I needed to talk about programming ideas, or personnel issues, Kip was always there and his advice was always invaluable.”

Kip stayed on the NPF board for nearly 15 years. In 2009 he received NPF’s Chairman’s Citation, for his distinguished service to the American journalism community.

“How do you say something meaningful about a life lived that large?” asked Susan Swain, co-president of C-SPAN and an NPF board member. “Well into his 90s, Kip took a personal interest in the National Press Foundation, sharing his warm friendship and wise counsel on the direction of our journalism mission. He was a true friend of ours, personally and professionally, and will be greatly missed.”

One day, before a meeting of the NPF program committee, which provided guidance to the staff of program direction, Kip reached into his pocket and pulled out a buckeye, the dried nut of the Buckeye tree, recalled George Condon, White House bureau chief for National Journal. “‘I have that with me every day’,” he told Condon. “It reminded him of his father and his journalism. Journalism and journalism training were something very personal to him.”

In addition to support for the Kiplinger program at Ohio State, the WJC and the NPF, Kiplinger and the family foundation also supported other journalism groups, such as the Society of Professional Journalists, said Chuck Lewis, the retired Washington bureau chief for Hearst newspapers and a former NPF board member.

“Kip’s World War II stories were a source of endless mirth,” Lewis recalled. “He often wore a discreet Navy tie and was ready at the slightest prompt to relate the yarn about his exploit as a pilot of a large observation plane landing on the deck of a carrier. The landing incurred the skipper’s wrath because the ship had to turn into the wind to accommodate Kip’s landing plan.”

Washington Post, Kiplinger, one of the last old-style media companies, ponders the future, Thomas Heath, March 7, 2014. Visit the Kiplinger media company’s elegant Bay Tree Lodge on Florida’s storied Treasure Coast, and you will understand why no one leaves the company. The resort’s spacious waterfront lodge and five cottages hung with original works by Florida artists are nestled on 10 manicured acres shaded by palm trees. The century-old property includes a tennis court, a pool, two boats and three year-round employees tending the grounds, which were once owned by the family of the legendary financier Bernard Baruch.

It’s monied Old Florida, and it’s free for any employee, as well as family and friends, for two weeks a year. “It’s good for the esprit de corps,” says editor-in-chief Knight Kiplinger, the steward of Kiplinger Washington Editors. But how long can the company’s share-the-wealth culture last?

The 93-year-old shop is an outlier: a family-owned, mission-driven journalism company surviving in an industry upended by the digital age. One by one, families from journalism’s Golden Age have bowed out. The Grahams sold The Washington Post to Jeffrey P. Bezos, owner of Amazon.com, after surrendering Newsweek to a local businessman for $1. Bloomberg bought Businessweek from the McGraws. David Lawrence’s U.S. News & World Report is run by a real-estate mogul. Even the august Forbes family is sniffing around for a buyer for its 97-year-old biweekly.

 

Dr. David Skorton and Smithsonian News Coverage

Smithsonian logo

National Press Club, New Smithsonian head urges emphasis on arts and humanities, but not at expense of science, Gwen Flanders, Dec. 8, 2015. David Skorton, the new secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, made it clear Tuesday that he sees his organization’s mission in broad terms. In a National Press Club luncheon address, Skorton talked about the need for a community to agree on values in order to solve society’s problems. “One way,” he said, “is to reverse our nation’s seeming disinterest and disinvestment in the arts and humanities, but to do so in a way that does not sacrifice our investment in science. ... The arts and humanities complement science, and together they make us better thinkers, better decision makers and better citizens.”

David Skorton Cornell PhotoSkorton, 66, who took the helm of the Smithsonian on July 1 after a career as a cardiologist and educator led him most recently to the presidency of Cornell University, noted the emphasis by schools and governments on science, technology, engineering and math, an emphasis he said has come at the expense of the humanities. “To understand what it means to be human and to understand the complex problems that the world now faces require us to deploy every technique of understanding at our disposal, including and especially those at the heart of the visual and performing arts, social sciences and cultural studies,” said Skorton, shown in a Cornell photo. Questions from the luncheon audience focused on the Smithsonian’s 19 museums and zoo.

Smithsonian, Smithsonian Welcomes Secretary David Skorton, Staff report, June 30, 2015. Dr. David J. Skorton begins his tenure as Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution July 1. Skorton will be the 13th Secretary in the Smithsonian’s 169-year history. “I am eager to begin working with the scholars, curators, educators and staff who have made the Smithsonian a world leader in science, the arts, the social sciences and the humanities,” Skorton said. “At any moment, the Smithsonian has researchers on every continent, exploring everything from the past and present state of our planet, to discovering new worlds at the edges of the galaxy. At the same time, scholars and curators bring a fresh understanding of worldwide cultures and the inspiration of the arts.”

Under his leadership, Skorton said, “The Smithsonian will continue to teach and delight educators, students and learners of all ages through its museums, affiliates and online presence.” The Smithsonian was founded on the principle that education empowers a person, and therefore, a nation, he explained, adding that with new technologies, anyone, anywhere in the world can access the Smithsonian’s vast learning resources.

“With its diverse collections and staff, the Smithsonian is uniquely positioned to lead a global dialogue on critical questions where the arts, humanities and sciences intersect,” Skorton said. “The Smithsonian can advance our understanding of the world around us through a distinctly American perspective.”

Before joining the Smithsonian, Skorton served as president of Cornell University for nine years. Educated as a cardiologist, his research focus is congenital heart disease and cardiac imaging and image processing. He is the first medical doctor to lead the Smithsonian. Before becoming Cornell University’s president, Skorton was president of the University of Iowa from 2003 to 2006 and a member of its faculty for 26 years. He is married to Robin L. Davisson, The Andrew Dickson White Professor of Molecular Physiology at Cornell University.

Skorton earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1970 and his M.D. in 1974, both from Northwestern University. He completed his medical residency and fellowship in cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles in 1979. He succeeds Wayne Clough, who retired in December 2014. Albert Horvath, the Smithsonian’s Under Secretary for Finance and Administration and Chief Financial Officer, served as Acting Secretary for the first six months of this year.

Smithsonian puppies


Sample Smithsonian research: From left, Jennifer Nagashima, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute doctoral fellow, lead author on the paper and the first student in the joint Cornell-Smithsonian Joint Graduate Training Program, and Nucharin Songsasen, SCBI research biologist and co-author on the paper, hold two of the seven puppies produced, for the first time, through in-vitro fertilization. Photo by Jeffrey MacMillan

Smithsonian, Facts about the Smithsonian Institution, Staff report, Oct. 1, 2015. The Smithsonian Institution is a museum and research complex of 19 museums and galleries and the National Zoological Park, as well as research facilities. The National Museum of African American History and Culture is scheduled to open in fall 2016 on a National Mall site between the Washington Monument and the National Museum of American History.

Budget: The Smithsonian’s federal appropriation for fiscal year 2015 (Oct. 1, 2014–Sept. 30, 2015) is $819.5 million. The Institution is about 60 percent federally funded (a combination of the congressional appropriation and federal grants and contracts). In addition, the Smithsonian has trust funds or non-federal funds, which include contributions from private sources (endowments; donations from individuals, corporations and foundations; and memberships) and revenues from the Smithsonian Enterprises operation (magazines, mail-order catalog, product development, entertainment, shops, restaurants and concessions).

History: Established with funds from James Smithson (1765–1829), a British scientist who left his estate to the United States to found “at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge.”

Smithsonian MuseumSmithsonian, The Smithsonian’s New Secretary David Skorton Takes Questions From the Crowd, Beth Py-Lieberman, Oct. 14, 2015. The secretary is creating a new teen advisory board, networking with D.C. arts and science leaders and getting to know the collections.

Smithsonian Institution (Original Building)

Smithsonian, Installation of Dr. David J. Skorton, 13th Secretary of the Smithsonian, Staff report, Oct. 19, 2015. David J. Skorton was installed as the 13th Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution during a ceremony held today, Oct. 19, at the Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Building on the National Mall. The Hon. John G. Roberts, Jr., Chief Justice of the United States and Chancellor of the Smithsonian, presided over the ceremony and presented Skorton with a ceremonial brass key that once opened one of the massive oak doors of the Smithsonian Castle.

Smithsonian Channel: The Day Kennedy Died, Kevin Spacey (Narrator) and Leslie Woodhead (Director) Rated: NR (Not Rated) Formats: DVD (for sale via the Smithsonian or Amazon.com) and free web-based version. Introduction:

Explore the story of JFK's assassination told through the unheard testimonies of those who were there. Experience November 22, 1963 as it has never been presented before, narrated by Kevin Spacey. The doctor who tried to save him. The Secret Service agent who was seconds too late. Smithsonian video "The Day Kennedy Died"The man wrongly accused of his murder. And the woman who unwittingly sheltered an assassin. The death of JFK has inspired thousands of books and debates over the last 50 years, but the stories of the people there on that day have gone largely untold...until now. Experience November 22, 1963 as it has never been presented before, in this minute-by-minute account of that day, narrated by Academy Award-winner Kevin Spacey, and brought to life through rarely seen footage and rarely heard testimonies.

Smithsonian Magazine, An Interactive 3D Model of the JFK Assassination Site, Grassy Knoll and All, Joseph Stromberg, Nov. 22, 2013. A Danish graphic designer has pieced together historic photos and maps to create an interactive digital diorama of the fateful moments. There’s an entirely new way to examine the tragic event, made by Danish graphic designer Leif Sørensen: an interactive 3D diorama that shows the surrounding buildings and area, the path of each of Lee Harvey Oswald’s gunshots and the position of Kennedy’s car at these fateful moments.

Sørensen originally built the model for the Danish newspaper Fyens Stiftstidende to use in printed graphics, then uploaded it to the Sketchfab site, a platform for sharing interactive visualizations. “I thought it would be interesting to give people a feeling of what the place was really like,” he says. “A lot of people have seen maps, but this gives a little more feeling of the surroundings.”

He created the model using historic photos and maps, and used three straight lines to depict the three gunshots fired by Oswald from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository. The green line represents a missed shot fired by Oswald — likely the first shot he fired, shortly after Kennedy’s limousine turned onto Elm Street, according to the Warren Commission, the body of Congressmen and other officials that investigated the assassination. The shorter red line shows the second shot, which hit the president in the upper back, passed through his body and hit Texas governor John Connally, who was sitting directly in front of him. The longer red line shows the third shot, which hit Kennedy in the head after his car had traveled a bit further down the street.

Smithsonian Magazine, Inside the Autopsy Room: The Details Doctors Gathered About JFK’s Assassination, Megan Gambino, Nov. 19, 2013. Fifty years ago, three pathologists at the National Naval Medical Center examined the president's fatal wounds. Click on the pins within the document to learn about some of the doctors’ findings. 

In the last century, there are few events that have been studied with greater scrutiny than the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. But, that is the problem, according to author and History Channel personality Brad Meltzer.

“Put together all of the official investigations, commissions, reports, official reinvestigations, independent reviews of the evidence, journalistic inquiries, reenactments, documentaries, movies, literally thousands of books (fiction and nonfiction), not to mention countless off-the-wall and over-the-top websites, and you’ve got a situation that’s a perfect breeding ground for confusion, differing interpretations, allegations and refutations,” he writes in his latest book, History Decoded: The 10 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time.

There have been those who believe that Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone, that there were two shooters on that fateful day in Dallas, November 22, 1963. Others have tried to pin the blame on the Soviets, the CIA and the mafia.

One natural place to look for answers is the president’s autopsy. Medical professionals at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, examined Kennedy’s body just hours after he was pronounced dead, drawing what conclusions they could from his wounds about the cause of death and location of the assassin. In Dallas, the president’s staff had hurriedly loaded his casket onto Air Force One, while city officials squabbled over a state law that required the autopsy to be performed in Texas. Just nine minutes after Lyndon Johnson took the oath of office on the plane it was wheels up.

President Lyndon Johnson gathered the Warren Commission, a group of Congressman and other prominent officials, a week later to investigate Kennedy’s assassination. The investigators, out of respect to the president’s legacy, saw neither the photographs nor the x-rays from the autopsy, though the decision to keep such medical evidence private has often been questioned. (In 1966, the Kennedy family donated these official images to the National Archives, where they remain sealed from the public.) One of the only visuals left for the group’s consideration was this descriptive autopsy sheet, or “face sheet,” which the pathologists filled out in the autopsy room, marking the figure with the two bullets’ entry and exits points. The doctors referred to these notes when writing the more detailed autopsy report.

Cornell Chronicle, Davisson reflects on life at Cornell, looks forward to D.C., Krishna Ramanujan, March 13, 2014. There are few better words than “bittersweet” to describe the feeling of leaving a place one loves for new adventures. Davisson, the Andrew D. White Professor of Molecular Physiology with laboratories on Cornell’s Ithaca campus and at Weill Cornell Medical College in Manhattan, will stay involved at Cornell to complete projects at her Ithaca lab for some months after she and Skorton relocate to Washington, but she then plans to explore new opportunities outside of laboratory research.

As a scientist she has garnered numerous awards and accomplishments. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a recipient of the 2012 Arthur C. Corcoran Memorial Award and Lecture from the American Heart Association, one of the most prestigious prizes in her field, among other honors.

“At this point in my career, I’ve decided to make a change and pursue other endeavors, still using all that I’ve learned from these 25 years in science,” said Davisson, who has appointments in the Department of Biomedical Sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology at Weill Cornell. She said she plans to use her understanding of science and “bring that skillset and knowledge base to another endeavor that will be likely in the public interest, including nonprofit or policy activities. But exactly what that is, right now, I’ve just begun to explore.”

She said she is interested in global policy issues related to obesity, a subject she has tackled as a scientist, studying the role of the brain in links between obesity and high blood pressure. Davisson, who is a “pescovegetarian” – meaning other than eating fish, she is a vegetarian – also has had a longstanding passion for local foods, nutrition, healthy living, exercise and meditation.

For Davisson, the highlights of her time at Cornell revolve around faculty, staff and students. She said she has been “blessed to have such terrific teams” in her labs, and she has benefited from the “great minds” of her colleagues. “We are doing work that is very different than what I did when I came from Iowa,” she said of her move from the University of Iowa in 2006, when Skorton became Cornell’s 12th president.

Update

Donald Trump book by Brandon Christopher Hall

Washington Post, Book about Trump for sale at National Museum of American History is riddled with falsehoods, Ian Shapira, Jan. 20, 2017. Birtherism? It was Hillary Clinton’s fault. Russian hacking of the DNC? No proof it was Moscow. The Smithsonian gift shop is charging $50 for the “richly illustrated memory-book.” The $50 book about Donald Trump is displayed at the very front of the National Museum of American History’s gift shop, its red-white-and-blue cover featuring the newly inaugurated president’s signature stare-and-hair.

The Trump book, written by Brandon Christopher Hall, a 25-year-old from Atlanta, might not meet their standards for accuracy. Or the standards of the Smithsonian museum, a publicly funded repository of 3 million artifacts — “all true national treasures,” the museum says — that include Thomas Jefferson’s Bible and Abraham Lincoln’s top hat.

Washington Post, The Smithsonian’s Cosby problem only gets worse, Philip Kennicott, Dec. 31, 2015. “When we accepted the gift and loan, I was unaware of the allegations about Bill Cosby,” said National Museum of African Art Director Johnnetta Cole, last August in a statement published on the website The Root. “Had I known, I would not have moved forward with this particular exhibition.” She was defending the museum’s Cosby art exhibition, “Conversations,” which paired works from the Cosby family collection with African art from the museum’s holdings. The show opened in November 2014, and is scheduled to remain open until Jan. 24. The exhibit opened 10 years after Cosby allegedly used wine and drugs to incapacitate a young woman who believed the entertainer was a trustworthy mentor, as detailed yesterday at his arraignment in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. A month before the exhibition opened, a prominent stand-up comic reignited long-simmering rumors about Cosby’s sexual behavior in a video that went viral.

In September, after dozens of women had come forward to describe similar encounters with Cosby, Smithsonian Secretary David Skorton defended keeping the exhibition open on free-speech grounds: “I believe taking down an exhibition will tarnish our reputation among museum professionals and others,” he said. “Creative activity of any kind can generate controversy. We will from time to time get beat up about some of these things.”

It was a mistake to mount “Conversations” in the first place, putting the institution in the business of promoting the commercial value of Cosby’s art and tying them to a man who already had a seriously damaged reputation years ago, no matter what Cole claimed in August. As the Smithsonian contemplates the dilemma yet again, it can’t be stressed strongly enough: This was a bad show from the start. It was bad on ethical grounds (because it could potentially elevate the value of an art collection owned by a close friend of the museum’s director), and it was bad on curatorial grounds.

Friedrich Nietzsche On "The Use and Abuse of History

As summarized in a Wikipedia entry, Friedrich Nietzsche published a 60-page monograph The Use and Abuse of History for Life in 1874 as part of a projected 13-part series. Untimely Meditations (German: Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen), also translated as Unfashionable Observations and Thoughts Out Of Season, consists of four works started in 1873 and completed in 1876. "Nietzsche abandoned the project after completing only four essays, seeming to lose interest after the publication of the third." 

The Use and Abuse of History offers — instead of the prevailing view of "knowledge as an end in itself" — an alternative way of reading history, one where living life becomes the primary concern, along with a description of how this might improve the health of a society. It also introduces an attack against the basic precepts of classic humanism. This particular essay is notable for showcasing the increasingly strident elitism Nietzsche was developing inside his mind.

Here is an excerpt the beginning of the book's Preface, taken from a leading translation (that by Adrian Collins, the source for others quoted here also):

We do need history, but quite differently from the jaded idlers in the garden of knowledge, however grandly they may look down on our rude and unpicturesque requirements. In other words, we need it for life and action, not as a convenient way to avoid life and action, or to excuse a selfish life and a cowardly or base action. We would serve history only so far as it serves life; but to value its study beyond a certain point mutilates and degrades life: and this is a fact that certain marked symptoms of our time make it as necessary as it may be painful to bring to the test of experience.

 

Further Reading: Manipulating History Into Propaganda

Curiously, Nietzsche's life and legacy reveal courageous scholarship, as well as shameless distortion. The philosopher broke with this friend and mentor, the influential composer Richard Wagner, in part over Nietzsche's principled stand against what he regarded as his friend's excessive nationalism. Upon Nietzsche's death, however, his intensely nationalistic sister Elizabeth took control of his papers (many unpublished or published in obscure formats) and edited materials to conform with the nationalist and pre-fascist spirit of her times.

Here's what happened next. Walter Kaufmann,(1921-1980) reared in Nazi Germany as a Lutheran, the faith of his parents, convert to Judaism at age 11 despite the growing Walter Kaufmannoppression in Hitler's Germany.

Seeing the danger, Kaufmann's relatives assisted him in leaving Germany in 1939. He moved to the United States, where he enlisted in the army and worked as an intelligence officer with 15 months duty overseas in Europe.

Kaufmann (shown in a file photo) then became a noted author, translator, poet and political philosophy professor who taught at Princeton University for more than three decades. He learned that all four of his grandparents had been Jewish and also that, according to Kaufmann's breakthrough research as both a translator and scholar, Nietzsche's reputation had been unfairly sullied as an pre-Nazi fascist. 

As one more irony, Allan Bloom left Cornell in fury over the administration's perceived weakness in dealing with black and anti-war protesters in the 1960s. He became famous and wealthy for his 1987 best-seller The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Ha Failed Democracy and Impoverished the tools of Today's Students.

The book received highly enthusiastic reviews from such varied sources as the New York Times and National Review, and enjoyed nearly a half million sales despite its rather abstract and didactic material. From Bloom's teaching post at the Rockefeller-founded University of Chicago, his attacks on liberal tendencies elsewhere on campus provided a rallying point for the fast-growing neoconservative political movement.

Bloom, who died at age 62 in 1990, denied he was a conservative.

But Bloom was a friend and follower of his former professor and University of Chicago colleague Leo Strauss, an influential scholar who quietly advocated in VIP circles that elites are justified in keeping the masses ignorant if necessary for important societal goals. Strauss biographer Shadia Drury, for example, has gone even further and argued that Strauss and his followers advocate dusturbing brands of imperialist militarism, neoconservatism and Christian fundamentalism. Bloom mentioned Strauss only in passing in The Closing of the American Mind but railed against Nietzsche's supposedly nasty influence (via interpreters) on American youth, as law professor Martha Nussbaum noted in a 1987 New York Review of Books column, "Undemocratic Vistas."

The previous five paragraphs help show that academia can incubate extraordinary intellectual courage, as well as tendencies toward elitism and pettifoggery. In Bloom's case, his main scholarly work was highly abstract, and his Closing of the American Mind preoccupied with slights to an exalted status of professors and universities. Virtually absent is any recognition that protesters might have good reason to be concerned about the upheavals involved in the Vietnam War and repeated assassinations of civic leaders. Bloom's focus is actually rather narrow despite his global scope and academic references ranging back to antiquity.
 
His complaining tone is even more striking once it becomes apparent that the public had only flawed understanding of why the war and assassinations occurred. Indeed, some of the more violent and seemingly irrational "radical" protesters of that era were actually provocateurs with a mission of creating disruption on behalf of covert paymasters. By now, those facts have been documented by many academic and popular books, declassified documents, and other memoirs. The CIA and FBI were funding important parts of SDS, the Ku Klux Klan, the Communist Party Daily Worker and many other divisive fringe groups, as well as at least some journalists, academics and mainstream political figures. 
 
That said, our main purpose in citing Nietzsche is to challenge readers here to appreciate the impressive biographies of Kiplinger and Skorton, who appear to have addressed society's current issues in transparent and truthful ways. Academics, journalists, magazine editors, book publishers, film makers and museum personnel face daunting pressure, for example, to avoid close scrutiny of the official accounts of political assassinations and such terrorism incidents as 9/11 and the Boston Marathon Bombing. For example, no reporter from a mainstream outlet covered the remarkable disclosures from the JFK Historical Group's recent three-day conference in Dallas on the Kennedy assassination.
 
Furthermore, JFK researchers have recently learned that Charles Briggs, the former third-ranking executive at the CIA, played a major role in designing as a retiree the Sixth Floor Museum located in the former Texas School Book Depository building in Dallas where Oswald worked. Here is a news account last month from the blog site JFKFacts.org: Charles Briggs, retired CIA officer who assisted JFK museum, was accused of deception by a federal judge. "The Museum, which commemorates the assassination of President Kennedy, consistently endorses the official theory that one man, alone and unaided, caused Kennedy’s death." 
 
The Smithsonian, like other such institutions, must make many similar historical assessments that can be timid or truthful, as in its 2006 video The Day Kennedy Died, which generated praise as well as criticism.
 
 

Cornell University

Cornell University in 1919

An archive photo shows Cornell University on a hilltop overlooking Cayuga Lake at left in Ithaca, NY

Western Union founder Ezra Cornell, a one-time carpenter and traveling salesman for plows, co-founded the Cornell University in 1865 with his $400,000 donation. He brainstormed on educational innovations along with a fellow New York State senator, Andrew Dickson White, the university's first president.

CornellCornell is the federal land-grant institution of New York State, as well as a private endowed university, a member of the Ivy League, and a partner of the State University of New York.

It describes itself "as the first truly American university because of its founders' revolutionarily egalitarian and practical vision of higher education, and is dedicated to its land-grant mission of outreach and public service."

Unusual for its time, the school had no formal religious affiliation. It was the first Ivy League school to admit women (in 1880) and its president advocated intercollegiate sports as an important educational tool. Its rowing team, for example, dominated that sport in an era when rowing was a popular college and professional sport.

As a shining moment for the university and collegiate sporting world, Cornell's president, athletic director and football coach in 1940 forfeited an apparent Cornell 7-3 football victory when it was discovered via post-game films officials mistakenly awarded Cornell a fifth down that enabled the winning touchdown. Cornell had begun the contest with an 18-game winning streak extending over nearly three seasons and a No. 2 ranking in national polling by Associated Press.

Willard Straight Hall takeoverWriting in 2006, ESPN columnist Beano Clark ranked Cornell's "Fifth Down" game as the second greatest story in college football history, second only to Notre Dame's "win one for the Gipper" victory in 1928. The forfeit by Cornell even the league officials said it wasn't necessary according to the rules is regarded as the only time in college football history when victory was decided off the field.

Administrators must make many other decisions, of course.

On April 19, 1969, more than 80 African-American students at Cornell University seized a student center a day after a cross burning on campus. The occupiers emerged 36 hours later brandishing weapons in one of the most iconic images of the 1960s student protest era.

Cornell President James A. Perkins, who believed his approach was in the best interest of the university's varied constituencies, resigned because of criticism over his perceived weakness in confronting student protests. One of those protest leaders later became wealthy via business enough to lead the way in endowing an annual civil rights leadership prize at Cornell in the Perkins name.

Earlier this year, former Cornell Daily Sun editor-in-chief and Washington Post alumnus Stan Chess, a 1969 Cornell graduate, asserted publicly at a Sun reunion that black students covertly burned the cross to dramatize their grievances by falsely invoking a racist symbol. 

Our Justice Integrity Project explored the evidence in a column entitled, Let's Question All Propaganda: Left, Right and Center. The article was illustrated by the photo a right, courtesy of the university's John Henrik Clarke Africana Library, which displays a collection of photos here.

The column reported evidence that several students who went on to successful careers (one as a Cornell board member and generous donor) apparently were involved in cover-up at the minimum, as were several administrators.

Our report concluded that the facts of the Cornell situation, whatever they were, deserved to be reported — but that justice demands at least as much effort regarding comparable and far more serious situations (such as assassination and war) then and now. 

 

Justice Integrity Project Readers Guide To JFK Assassination

* Denotes major articles in this Readers Guide series

Dealey Plaza Panorama (Andrew Kreig Photo)At right is a photo by the Justice Integrity Project in Dallas showing Dealey Plaza. The Texas Book Depository Building where Oswald worked is behind the row of trees. The car in the center lane is near the location of President Kennedy's limo at the time of his fatal shooting.

Shown below that is another JIP photo taken from behind the picket fence on the grassy knoll, some 33 yards from the fatal spot, compared to 88 yards from the book depository's sixth floor. Robert J. Groden, a photo expert whose employer was hired by Life Magazine after the shoot to help process the amateur film shot by Abraham Zapruder, has painted an X on the pavement many times so that Kennedy's death will not be forgotten even as authorities repeatedly remove the X.

Groden, now a freelance author selling his books to tourists and online, told a conference Nov. 20 that he has been arrested more than 80 times for such actions.

He said also that he declined an invitation from the Sixth Floor Museum to become its first curator at a salary of some $225,000 annually because he feared he would no longer be able to speak freely about the killing especially given official pressures in Dallas. His most recent book contains more than 1,000 photos and is entitled "JFK: Absolute Proof." The museum opened in 1989 and promotes a pro-Warren Commission viewpoint blaming Oswald as a lone nut killer while conceding in one placard that some conspiracy theorists hold other views, such as "space alien," Mafia, Communist or unspecified government involvement.

  1. Project Launches JFK Assassination Readers' Guide, Oct. 16, 2013.
  2. Project Provides JFK Readers Guide To New Books, Videos, Oct. 26, 2013. This is a list of new books and films in 2013.
  3. Project Lists JFK Assassination Reports, Archives, Videos, Events, Nov. 2, 2013. Leading video, events and archives from the last 50 years. *
  4. Disputes Erupt Over NY Times, New Yorker, Washington Post Reviews of JFK Murder, Nov. 7, 2013. *
  5. Self-Censorship In JFK TV Treatments Duplicates Corporate Print Media's Apathy, Cowardice, Nov. 7, 2013.
  6. 'Puppetry' Hardback Launched Nov. 19 at DC Author Forum on ‘White House Mysteries & Media,'  Nov. 19, 2013.
  7. Major Media Stick With Oswald 'Lone Gunman' JFK Theory, Nov. 27, 2013.
  8. JFK Murder Scene Trapped Its Victim In Kill Zone, Nov. 30, 2013.
  9. JFK Murder, The CIA, and 8 Things Every American Should Know, Dec. 9, 2013. The CIA implicated itself in the cover-up, according to experts who have spoken out. *
  10. JFK Murder Prompts Expert Reader Reactions, Dec. 19, 2013. Reactions to our Dec. 9 column. 
  11. Have Spy Agencies Co-Opted Presidents and the Press? Dec. 23, 2013. *
  12. Dealey Plaza Picket Fence (Andrew Kreig Photo)Don't Be Fooled By 'Conspiracy Theory' Smears, May 26, 2014. *
  13. Experts To Reveal Secrets of JFK Murder, Cover-up at Sept. 26-28 DC Forum , Sept. 5, 2014. 
  14. Washington Post Still Selling Warren Report 50 Years Later, Sept. 22, 2014. *
  15. JFK Experts To Explode Myths, Sign Books In DC Sept. 26-28, Sept. 24, 2014.
  16. Former Cuban Militant Leader Claims CIA Meeting With Oswald Before JFK Killing, Sept. 27, 2014. *
  17. JFK Readers Guide: Assassination Books, Reports, Oct. 15, 2014. *
  18. Former House JFK Murder Prober Alleges CIA ‘Lied,’ Seeks Hidden Records, Oct. 18, 2014. *
  19. The JFK Murder 'Cover-up' Still Matters -- As Does C-SPAN's Coverage, Nov. 11, 2014. *
  20. JFK, Nov. 22 and the Continuing Cover-Up, Nov. 24, 2014. *
  21. JFK Assassination Readers Guide To 2013-14 Events, Nov. 28, 2014. *
  22. CIA, Empowered by JFK Murder Cover-up, Blocks Senate Torture Report, Dec. 1, 2014. *
  23. Nearly Too Late, Public Learns of Bill Moyers’ Conflicts Over PBS, LBJ, Jan. 2, 2014.
  24. Why Bill O'Reilly's Lie About JFK's Murder Might Matter To You, March 17, 2015.
  25. Free Videos Show Shocking Claims About CIA, JFK Murder Probes, June 29, 2015.
  26. Pioneering Black Secret Service JFK Guard Abraham Bolden Warns Of Current Lessons, July 22, 2015.
  27. Understanding Hollywood-Style Presidential Propaganda From JFK To Trump, Aug. 18, 2015.
  28. Beware Of Wrong Conclusions From New CIA Disclosure On Oswald, Sept. 28, 2015.
  29. The JFK Murder Cover-Up: Your Rosetta Stone To Today’s News, Nov. 29, 2015.
 

Catching Our Attention on other Historic, Justice & Academic Issues

Jimmy Carter portrait Deft NewsTimes of Israel, Israeli breakthrough drug helped cure Jimmy Carter’s cancer, AP and Raoul Wootliff, Dec. 8, 2015. Keytruda fights tumors using the body’s natural immune system. An Israeli-tested drug that tackles cancer through sophisticated manipulations of the body’s natural immune system was key in helping rid former U.S. president Jimmy Carter of life-threatening tumors that developed after he was diagnosed with melanoma earlier this year.

Researched in Israel by Professor Jacob Schachter of the Ella Institute for melanoma treatment and research at the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, Keytruda is part of a promising new class of drugs called immuno-therapies, which harness the body’s immune system to help fight cancer. The US-based Merck pharmaceutical company’s injectable biotech drug works by blocking a protein found in certain tumors called PD-1, which inhibits the body’s natural response to cancer cells. Carter, 91, announced Sunday that doctors found no evidence of the four lesions discovered on his brain this summer and no signs of new cancer growth. He revealed in August that he had been diagnosed with melanoma and had begun treatment, including surgery to remove part of his liver, targeted radiation therapy and doses of a recently approved drug to help his immune system seek out any new cancer cells. “I will continue to receive regular 3-week immunotherapy treatments of pembrolizumab,” he said. That drug goes by the name Keytruda commercially.

New Yorker, Shutting Down Conversations About Rape at Harvard Law, Jeannie Suk, Dec. 11, 2015. Professor Suk teaches at Harvard Law School and is one of 19 professors at the school who have signed a statement criticizing the documentary “The Hunting Ground” for its portrayal of a sexual-assault case. This is a piece on a subject about which I may soon be prevented from publishing, depending on how events unfold. Last month, near the time that CNN broadcast the documentary “The Hunting Ground,” which focuses on four women who say their schools neglected their claims of sexual assault, I joined eighteen other Harvard Law School professors in signing a statement that criticized the film’s “unfair and misleading” portrayal of one case from several years ago.

A black female law student accused a black male law student of sexually assaulting her and her white female friend. The accuser, Kamilah Willingham, has graduated from the law school and is featured in the film. The accused, Brandon Winston, who spent four years defending himself against charges of sexual misconduct, on campus and in criminal court, was ultimately cleared of sexual misconduct and has been permitted to reënroll. The group that signed the statement, which includes feminist, black, and leftist faculty, wrote that this was a just outcome. (The faculty, of which I’m a member, made the final decision not to dismiss Winston from the law school, after a contrary recommendation made by the school’s administrative board.

But last week the filmmakers did more than understandably disagree with criticism of the film, which has been short-listed for the Academy Award for best documentary. They wrote, in a statement to the Harvard Crimson, that “the very public bias these professors have shown in favor of an assailant contributes to a hostile climate at Harvard Law.” The words “hostile climate” contain a serious claim. At Harvard, sexual harassment is “unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature,” including verbal conduct that is “sufficiently persistent, pervasive, or severe” so as to create a “hostile environment.” If, as the filmmakers suggest, the professors’ statement about the film has created a hostile environment at the school, then, under Title IX, the professors should be investigated and potentially disciplined.

James Naismith 1928

Dr. James Naismith, the inventor of basketball, practicing with his wife in 1928. Credit The New York Times 

New York Times, Basketball’s Birth, in James Naismith’s Own Spoken Words, Richard Sandomir, Dec. 15, 2015.  James Naismith, basketball’s inventor, arrived in New York City in early 1939 with three items on his agenda. He gave a speech to basketball writers in which he denounced modern trends in his sport like the zone defense, which he said stalled the game. He attended a college basketball doubleheader at Madison Square Garden, where he shook his head at the rough play he saw in a Syracuse victory over Manhattan. And he appeared on a radio show to recall the birth of basketball, in 1891. That short interview, on the upbeat program “We the People,” may be the only existing recording of Naismith’s voice. But it surfaced from the WOR-AM archives only as Michael J. Zogry conducted research for a book about the influence of religion on Naismith’s life.