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Wed Jan 9, 2013, 09:29 AM

How the New York Times Screwed Martin Luther King Jr.

How the New York Times Screwed Martin Luther King Jr.

*Timothy Noah
Senior Editor
* January 9, 2013 | 12:00 am

Harvey Shapiro would have likely preferred to be remembered as a poet, and perhaps also as one of the better editors of the New York Times Book Review. But his Jan. 7 Times obituary plays up another aspect of his life of which I was previously unaware. It was Shapiro, then an editor at the New York Times Magazine, who assigned Martin Luther King Jr. to write his 1963 “Letter From Birmingham Jail,” which today ranks as one of the preeminent literary-historical documents of the 20th century.

The assignment would have assured Shapiro a place in magazine-editor heaven if the Times Magazine had published the result. But it didn’t. Rejected, the letter ended up (under the headline, “The Negro Is Your Brother”) in the Atlantic. The Times Magazine’s role here ranks well above William Styron’s rejection, as a reader at McGraw-Hill, of Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon-Tiki as one of the great busted plays in American publishing.

According to Diane McWhorter’s Carry Me Home: The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution, Shapiro phoned the offices of King’s organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, in July 1962. King was doing jail time in Albany, Georgia, on charges of disturbing the peace while protesting the segregation of public facilities. Shapiro suggested that King write a “letter from prison” modeled on those of early Christian saints; Shapiro may also have been thinking about another 20th century political martyr and Christian minister, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. But (according to Taylor Branch’s Parting The Waters: America In The King Years, 1954-1963) one of King’s lawyers, Chauncey Eskridge, worried that the letter might get published before King was released from jail and compound his legal problems. Before a decision could be made, King was set free...


@jonathanchait: Lots of writers have been jerked around by the NYT magazine, but only Martin Luther King gets a memorial. http://www.tnr.com/blog/plank/111733/how-the-nyt-screwed-mlk


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Reply How the New York Times Screwed Martin Luther King Jr. (Original post)
MinM Jan 2013 OP
Octafish Jan 2013 #1
MinM Jan 2013 #2
Octafish Jan 2013 #3
MinM Jan 2013 #5
Octafish Jan 2013 #6
MinM Jan 2013 #4

Response to MinM (Original post)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 10:02 AM

1. The country wasn't ready for equality.

What do you think this is, MinM, a democracy?


The paper of record is exposed for being little more than an organ for the ruling class. Recently, the CIA was shown to have spiked a story critical of the agency. Seems like SOP going back more than a half a century.

Thank you for the heads-up on a fascinating example of how frightened power is of an individual with ideas, especially one who thinks of peace, love and understanding.

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Response to Octafish (Reply #1)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 10:36 AM

2. The New Republic, The New York Times...

Thanks Octafish, they all have 'interesting' histories...
1. Its not true that The New Republic did not touch the JFK case again. In 1967, Fred Powledge wrote one of the very few fair article about Jim Garrison for that magazine. I know from a friend who was doing research on this subject that this article brought a ton of attention from the powers that be and it was after this that TNR really never did do another fair article on the case. In fact, they went the other way...




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Response to MinM (Reply #2)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 12:47 PM

3. Lies Of Our Times = LOOT

Yours is a great memory, MinM.

OTOH, as the years go by, I find I gotta rely on the GOOGLE more and more.

F'r instance: NPR's Scott Simon humiliates Daniel Schorr over baseball

Wherein "Lies Of Our Times" was recommended for those interested in learning about the whole story, to put it politely.


Posted on July 12, 2012
By John Sergeant

Editors’ Note: ”Who Killed Martin Luther King?” a documentary produced by John Edginton was commissioned by the BBC in September 1989. John Sergeant was assistant producer. The substance of this startling film has never been discussed in the U.S. media. Indeed, neither PBS nor any of the networks would air it in this country. On March 18, 1990, the film will be shown on the Arts & Entertainment cable stations. A lengthy piece on the findings of the filmmakers will appear in the Spring 1990 issue of CovertAction Information Bulletin.

In July 1979 the House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded in its final report that the murder of President John F. Kennedy was probably the result of a conspiracy. The Committee also concluded that Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed by James Earl Ray, but that a conspiracy of rightwing businessmen from St. Louis was probably behind it. Although the scenario behind the death of John F. Kennedy has been challenged frequently since the Committee issued its report, for some reason this has not been the case with Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Committee severely criticized the FBI for its dirty tricks campaign against King, but exonerated all local, state, and federal agencies from involvement in the killing itself. With that the matter rested, and in 1983 the Justice Department quietly closed the case.

Quite why the U.S. media did not rigorously scrutinize the findings of the Committee regarding the King assassination did not become clear to us even as we researched Dr. King’s death.

At street level, African-Americans told us from the beginning that the government had assassinated Martin Luther King, but almost everyone agreed we could never get to the bottom of it. As we learned, for example, how documents and evidence could be forged by official agencies we were tempted to agree. But in seeking out surviving witnesses and experts on the case many of whom had never been interviewed by the authorities or the media- it became very clear that there still remained gaping holes in the official story – individuals, issues, places, that have not been, should be, and still could be, properly investigated.

In the end our film poses a simple question:

How does the U.S. government explain the apparent involvement of one of its agents in the provision of Ray’s aliases before, and immediately after, the assassination?

If the answer is that this cannot be explained away, then we must consider the probability that agents of the government really were involved, and that one of the greatest cover-ups ever perpetrated has been mounted against the U.S. public and the world beyond.

We believe the truth, elusive as it is, still lies out there awaiting the right triangulations of diverse personal memories.



PS: Hope AW gets up and running full speed and Mr. Jerry finds the right DC. My team's gunslinger wants to return home after his tour in Motown. The way the team's going, I think that's sooner rather than later.

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Response to Octafish (Reply #3)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 10:07 AM

5. "the CIA's spokesman at The Washington Post."

Glenn Greenwald's description of David Ignatius still holds water...
America Needs Obama to Be Like Ike

By David Ignatius - January 10, 2013

WASHINGTON -- It's telling that one of Chuck Hagel's favorite gifts to friends recently has been a biography of President Dwight Eisenhower, a war hero whose skepticism toward the military is a model for Hagel's own.

Thinking about Eisenhower's presidency helps clarify the challenges and dilemmas of Barack Obama's second term. Like Ike, Obama wants to pull the nation back from the overextension of global wars of the previous decade. Like Ike, he wants to trim defense spending and reduce the national debt.

This back-to-the-future theme is visible, too, in Obama's appointment of John Brennan as the new CIA director. A 25-year CIA veteran, Brennan wants to rebalance the agency back toward its traditional intelligence-gathering function, and away from the recent emphasis on paramilitary covert action. More trench coats, less body armor, in other words. If Eisenhower is a model for Hagel, perhaps the superspies of the 1950s, Allen Dulles and Richard Helms, will be similar icons for Brennan...


BTW thanks for that MLK piece, Octafish.

It goes along with the roles that Merrell McCollough and Ernest C. Withers played.


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Response to MinM (Reply #5)

Sun Jan 13, 2013, 02:34 AM

6. Correspondence and Collusion between CIA and the New York Times

Greenwald on the Mighty Wurlitzer...

Correspondence and collusion between the New York Times and the CIA

Mark Mazzetti's emails with the CIA expose the degradation of journalism that has lost the imperative to be a check to power

Glenn Greenwald
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 29 August 2012 14.58 EDT


But what is news in this disclosure are the newly released emails between Mark Mazzetti, the New York Times's national security and intelligence reporter, and CIA spokeswoman Marie Harf. The CIA had evidently heard that Maureen Dowd was planning to write a column on the CIA's role in pumping the film-makers with information about the Bin Laden raid in order to boost Obama's re-election chances, and was apparently worried about how Dowd's column would reflect on them. On 5 August 2011 (a Friday night), Harf wrote an email to Mazzetti with the subject line: "Any word??", suggesting, obviously, that she and Mazzetti had already discussed Dowd's impending column and she was expecting an update from the NYT reporter.


Even more amazing is the reaction of the newspaper's managing editor, Dean Baquet, to these revelations, as reported by Politico's Dylan Byers:

"New York Times Managing Editor Dean Baquet called POLITICO to explain the situation, but provided little clarity, saying he could not go into detail on the issue because it was an intelligence matter.



PS: You are most welcome, MinM. Thank you for the info on the informers. I think we cross the type frequently.

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Response to MinM (Original post)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 01:20 PM

4. Martin Luther King Jr.'s badass speech that everyone forgot about

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