If the media had followed the clear rules they had written for themselves, would we now be on the express down elevator to a meltdown of global proportions? Likely not. We would have problems, but we would have seen them more clearly. We needed the truth. We did not get it.
The first problem was that journalists so blithely ignored the standards of their profession.
The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) has established a code of ethics. The tenets of this code are short, clear, concise, and well-founded. But there is no means of enforcement. If journalists would follow them, we could trust the media. Today most of us do not. If a journalist ignores their ethical obligations, either from sloth or a desire to profit, nothing can be done. If raiding the cookie jar can be carried out with impunity, then there will be no cookies. I know this, having raised several children.
The SPJ has existed since 1909, four years before the Federal Reserve Bank came into being. Their founders could have included Ida Tarbell, the journalist who caused the break up of Standard Oil, though the site does not mention her – an indomitable truth teller. Tarbell told the truth, but a handful of years later the dispersed Standard Oil was larger than ever and still carried out the same exploitive pattern of business.
The takeaway: having the truth does not automatically solve the problem. You need to use the truth to build the cultural tools that enact accountability. We need that accountability today as the world melts down around our ears. Those responsible for the economic collapse got bailouts. Those who will be forced to pay are losing everything, even their Social Security.
It was not just banks or oil companies or the "military-industrial complex" of which Ike warned us, though the sense of immunity to accountability these corporate-cultural structures enjoy is another part of the problem. Many individuals made decisions they knew to be wrong. Along with those heading corporations, journalists were a pivotal part of this failure. They had ample opportunity to act ethically and make a decision that would have influenced the values by which all of us live, building the world through those uncounted separate choices. Unfortunately, they chose unwisely and unethically – and their bad choices drove out the good.
Large media (and non-media) corporations have swallowed up newspapers and other media outlets during the last few decades with alarming speed, with the goal being the use of these outlets as an extension of their control. Individual journalists did not have to cooperate – but they did, in large part. The lack of dispassionate, objective reporting in journalism morphed the profession towards use as a perpetual public relations service for those in power. The question became not "What is the truth?" but "What do you want the truth to be?" Power and profit became the unassailable be-all and end-all of corporate journalism.
These journalistic 'values' are best exemplified by Rupert Murdoch.
Sex, Lies, and JournalismThe following story, provided previously, illustrates how the cooperative efforts of the Bush White House, working with 'media,' such as owned by Rupert Murdoch, can eliminate potential exposure.
What did the culture of Page Six, combined with the Fox cadre of media outlets do to American culture over the last generation?
I first met Doug Dechert at a Fabiani Society Meeting in early 2000. The first words out of his mouth after being introduced was to offer me coverage on Page Six for payment to him of $10,000. My direct comments on Dechert appeared in, Stealing Truth: The John Fund Back Story, first published in January 2009. This article augments the previous version.
Over the next years Dechert occasionally surfaced for us through his relationship with John Fund and others we knew through the Fabiani Society. The period bridged the time when America was being sold the propositions George W. Bush had been legitimately elected President of the United States and Iraq possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction. Over those months I had opportunity to observe Fund and Dechert together and with others and reached the conclusion they were well acquainted, sharing many associates.
What else was going on, behind the scenes, besides hacking phone calls, about which we are now informed?
Most Americans, myself included, believed at the beginning of the first Bush W. Administration that the media was functioning as intended by our Founders, as the public source for truth. Today, most Americans understand this is not the case and the change over probably began with the placement of 'journalists' who did not respect or follow the tenets of traditional journalism, over a period of years.
The Manhattan Institute, Cato Institute & the Fabiani Society
During 2000 I had an apartment in New York at the Rivergate on 34th Street. At the same time we met Doug Dechert at the Fabiani Society we met Barbara Herbich, who soon after began a relationship with Doug Dechert for a while wearing the infamous diamond ring, said to come with a rubber band leading back to Doug, as a sign of their engagement. Doug moved in with Barbara at her apartment located at 845 W End Ave, Apt 15B. It was there Barbara found her self at loose ends one evening in Doug's absence. She picked out one of the many videos he had brought with him and popped it in her player. It was not what she expected.
Barbara said she recognized the man, who was unclothed. The woman with whom he was having sex was, in her expressed opinion, a high-class call girl. Barb later expressed to us the opinion Doug was being paid to set up prominent NY men with prostitutes so their later actions could be 'managed' politically. Would this service have been provided for Murdoch or for Rove or both?
What prominent men in New York could have been blackmailed during those years? How might this have changed the outcome of events?
Barbara died suddenly in October of 2010. As a side note, the documentary she was then working on, “Nazi Persecution of Polish Christians,” remains unfinished. A talented documentary director, Barbara was working in New York when she met Dechert. MEMORIAL VIDEO
Morgan Pillsbury filed charges of domestic violence against Fund in early 2002. The Police claimed no photos were taken (see report, scroll to notes at the bottom of the page). The DA sat on the case. The NeoCon hate machine hit us like a tsunami. Fund's connections, political and journalistic, came to his aid. One article, especially, told me how personal the attacks would be.
Fund solicited other attacks. Wendy McElroy, a woman who calls herself an individualist feminist and individualist anarchist I had known since the 70s, who wrote "False Rape Charges Hurt Real Victims" for FOXnews.com (published July 22, 2003). In so doing she also violated the tenets of journalism, profiting thereby.
Journalists are required to ensure the principals are heard. McElroy failed to call either Morgan or myself. Since I had known her personally since the 1970s, this was a shock. Despite my best efforts I could not even get McElroy on the phone after she published. There was no notice given in advance what so ever.
Instead of carrying out her ethical obligation to seek the facts she wrote the article exonerating Fund and was within weeks hired at FOX News, the major Murdoch outlet long associated with Fund and his fellow NeoCons.
McElroy has made her living for decades writing effective spin for niche groups that want to hear justifications for their positions. These include why women need pornography and why women are as likely to be batterers as men, among other unsupportable assertions. Would she have been hired without providing the hit job under cover of journalism? Soon, we were calling it the John Fund Jobs Program for Needy Journalists.
For me, these events made the political and profit elements, present with Fox News and human ambition, very clear. The subsequent purchase of the WSJ by Murdoch made perfect sense as a political tool which allowed him to reward, punish, and carry out covert operations under the guise of journalism and business as usual.
Also clear, were the strong incentives not to see the 'elephant in the room' evidenced by those whose livelihoods depended on pay checks from a media which had been completely centralized, much of it under the control of Rupert Murdoch, then answering to the Bush White House. Political Operatives, disguised as journalists, were in positions of power and control.
Power & John Fund
As a member of the Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal for 18 years, Fund was on a trajectory toward greater power in 1998. The power he already possessed provided him with a feeling of invincibility. Already accustomed to sexual access to many women who were attracted to power and money, he became accustomed to ignoring the consequences of behavior that was deceitful and ugly.
His personal and professional life matched in this regard. He knew no matter what he did he would be protected.
In October of 1998, he began a sexual relationship with my biological daughter, Morgan Pillsbury, who was raised by my parents. Morgan first met Fund at a convention I helped organize in Los Angeles in 1985. I had known Fund myself since 1980 when we met at a Libertarian Party Convention, where he came across as nerdy and bumbling but likable. The impression stuck. Over the years we kept in touch. He told the kids to call him Uncle John.
When I heard a rumor that Fund was involved with Morgan, I called him directly. He lied to me, telling me she lived nearby. He claimed that he had been feeding her cat for her while she had been away. I believed him.
Having had experience with Morgan over many years, I knew she could be less than honest . She needed strong evidence to disprove Fund's claims to me. That is why the audio tape often referred to as the "Weaselsearch tape" was made.
She and I were arguing about her claims of having had a relationship with John when she realized he was calling. Putting me on hold she recorded a conversation with him. The Beep noise is me calling back. I did not realize she was on the phone with him until she played the tape you will hear.
If you listen to the tape, it becomes immediately apparent that Fund did not want me to know the truth. He lied and pressured Morgan to lie about their relationship. There was no reason for this; if he had told me he was in a relationship with Morgan, I would have been surprised and appalled, but it had been many years since we had been more than friends. My time was occupied caring for my severely handicapped son, Arthur, and by my own health needs, not with his love life.
Morgan was no child. She was born July 5, 1967. John was born April 8, 1956. Adults make their own decisions.
If this had remained merely a case of a man lying about his love life, journalism would never have been an issue. But Fund wanted to continue the relationship with Morgan covertly so he could also have relations with other women.
Unfortunately for Fund, Morgan refused to be his dirty little secret – and it was she who brought computer savvy into the relationship. For much of the three years they were a couple, Fund used Morgan's computer for professional purposes and to receive personal e-mail. Why Fund would have overlooked the chain of evidence thus produced says nothing good about his intelligence of foresight.
And not only did Fund consistently lie about his relationship with Morgan while pursuing other women, he left the evidence on her computer. It was a strange relationship, and I do not pretend to entirely understand it.
At each point I demanded proof from Morgan for just these reasons. I talked to Fund over dinner, on the phone from the apartment the couple shared. I listened as he assured me he loved Morgan and wanted to marry her. I received e-mails and other proof that could not have been falsified, for instance this IM conversation on AOL between Matt Drudge and Morgan. Drudge had been IMing with Fund on Morgan's computer earlier. Fund went to bed, leaving the window up. Morgan continued the conversation.
Fund's lies would have exposed him, if not for his connections.
Fund lied to the daughter of Claire George, Leslie. He had told Leslie Morgan was not living with him. Ms. George called Morgan, demanding she stop stalking John. Morgan told her to call John's land line in two minutes. Standing by the bed she answered, spoke to Leslie, and handed the phone to John. Leslie then emailed Morgan, sharing her father's opinion that Fund is a sociopath.
Newt Gingrich was also briefed by Fund and responded to our request for intervention with this email. Newt refused to provide information on what had been said, making response impossible.
Morgan's 'relationship' with Sidney Blumenthal was limited to asking for help, being refused, and, according to Morgan, having a Blumenthal associate steal information for the book he was writing on the Clinton Presidency, The Clinton Wars.
Around January, 2002, Fund – despite claims to the contrary by himself and others – was fired from the Wall Street Journal, probably because of the scandal that exploded over his own behavior. A letter from Fidelity Investments advised him to, "make a decision about what to do with the savings you have accumulated in your former employer's retirement plan." That employer was the Wall Street Journal. The letter is in Morgan's possession. Fund opened it in her living room and, as Morgan told me, left it laying on the floor.
Morgan told me he had battered her on multiple occasions, first in New Jersey and then after he stalked her back to Manhattan and insisted on moving in with her in her new apartment. I heard several of those incidents via cell phone – as did Eric Buchanan of Roswell, Georgia.
She finally decided to file charges in both New Jersey and New York. Her hesitation, she later said, was the threat made by Fund to launch an attack on her with the cooperation of Rove and Dick Cheney, both friends and close associates of his. She did not share this threat with me until 2009.
Fund coerced a false confession from Morgan to hide his acts, using threats of violence. Morgan sent this email to me and others immediately to refute what she had been forced to sign.
Fund solicited and received the cooperation of other journalists to spin what had taken place.
Fund's "Nuts and Sluts" Strategy
Eric Alterman, a New York based writer known for his partisan political writing, generally perceived as on the left but, in fact, a centrist, authored an article for the May 15, 2003 edition of The Nation, Who Framed John Fund? Morgan and I attempted to contact Alterman. On Mother's Day morning, June 11th, Morgan received an email from Alterman urgently requesting a response to a list of questions. Alterman received her response within three hours. He used none of the material supplied, did not call to follow up on her reply, and did not ask for the further documents that Morgan had offered. On June 25, 2003 a response from another liberal, Mark Crispin Miller, was published with another from Alterman in The Nation. The exchange is titled, 'Ugly Tactics Make for Ugly People.'
Alterman sent Morgan a dismissive E-mail on July 4th.
According to Fred Brown, vice chair of the ethics committee for the Society for Professional Journalists, many journalists would pause before writing an article requested by someone in Fund's circumstances. A journalist who followed the tenets of ethics would also be careful to ensure that all principals had fully aired their cases. Alterman violated every tenet of the code as outlined by SPJ. If you peruse his own website you will see this does not stem from a lack of “credentials.”
Fund was at that time working to have the charges against him in New York dropped. To accomplish that, he had been told he needed to destroy our credibility – Morgan's as the victim, and my own as a witness.
A perfunctory search of the journalists involved also leads to linkages between these individuals. Alterman states in articles he has written that he is a friend of Katie Rosman, about whom you will read more below. A Google search of their names showed they often appear at the same events and cite each other. Alterman "adores gossip," by his own report, and admits to being an avid reader of Page Six, a gossip column run by Richard Johnson with associates such as Doug Dechert.
Dechert was a regular attendee at the Fabiani Society, which met the second Tuesday at the Princeton Club, a place where Fund was also a regular. The organization was disbanded in 2007, according to the Manhattan Institute.
The first time I was introduced to Dechert at one of these events, he asked me for $10,000 to be in Page Six. I did not know what Page Six was and would have declined even more rapidly if I had known.
Selling print in this fashion is not news, it is not journalism, and it is not respectable public relations. Discussing the matter with Fred Brown, we agreed that the term "Slime Journalism" worked to describe it (with apologies to slime, which is an important part of the ecosystem). Reading Alterman's enthusiastic reports on the operation leads one to believe he expects dishonesty and scandal as standard, modeling his professional work on that of Murdoch.
The Fabiani Society was jointly sponsored by two NeoCon think-tanks, the Cato Institute and the Manhattan Institute. The speakers usually represent the opinions marketed by those institutions. Many came only for the opportunity to network or the excellent canapés and ample bar.
Fund sent this email to Morgan at the same time these articles would have been in the works, once again demonstrating his lack not only of professionalism, but maturity.
An article solicited by Katie Rosman, then at Elle, in the autumn of 2003, presents a strategy also intended to silence us using another tack. We met with Katie Rosman at a coffee shop in Manhattan where she asked for an exclusive on the story. We agreed. Soon her contact with us became sporadic. The story was stalled for months, during a critical time period, and then quashed (see correspondence).
Rosman's career received a real boost by not writing an article for John Fund.
Rosman received a job offer at the Wall Street Journal simultaneous to the article being dropped. Katie Rosman is still working at the WSJ and is a friend of Eric Alterman's, according to Alterman.
Fund solicited a woman law professor, Gail Heriot to assist him.
The site, John H. Fund, was originally registered at her address in San Diego, 4830 Hart Drive, San Diego, CA 92116. That has now been changed. Heriot put herself in the category of journalist when she wrote to Gene Gaudette, the editor of APJ, with a letter she sent across the Internet, effectively publishing it. Its content is libelous. (You can read that e-mail from Heriot to American Politics Journal and their demolishing response here).
Heriot had written an email to Fund on January 13, 2002 that reveals the reason she supported him. Morgan and Fund were still living together when she wrote, "So allow me to introduce myself. I am Gail Heriot, the woman whose hotel room you've found yourself in a few times over the last six weeks." See the full letter here.
Gail's articles also appear in the Wall Street Journal today.
Fund was offered support from a female journalist with whom he was evidently conducting an affair at Christian Broadcast Network. Her name was Christine Hall-Reis. Here is a semi-nude photo that she sent to Fund, which he downloaded to Morgan's computer and became her property,given to me to use as needed. Fund and Morgan were living together at the time the photo was sent along with the accompanying email.
One can reach no other conclusion that each and every one of these articles was clearly solicited by Fund.
One also has to relish the irony of Fund using women with whom he was intimately involved to deploy a "nuts and sluts" smear campaign.
Fund also received help from individuals hoping to benefit from the opportunity presented who were not compensated. Two such individuals were Eric Garris and Justin Raimondo, now of Anti-War.com.
Both men had known Fund and myself for many years. Both were members of a small but self-consciously radical group associated with the Libertarian Party and Murray Rothbard, a highly respected free market economist who died in 1995.
I made a call to Eric Garris in 2002 asking for help. Morgan was in hiding, in fear of her life. Fund was using every avenue to destroy my reputation and credibility. Eric refused to help. In 2006 Justin Raimondo wrote an article that appeared on Anti-War.com. The original has been altered. I responded in 24 hours with this article.
Soon afterward I talked to Lew Rockwell of Lewrockwell.com, founder of the Mises Institute, who employs Eric Garris as a webmaster. Eric had read my assertion that the hit piece on Fund was motivated by the realization neither he or Raimondo would never profit by covering for Fund. Lew told me he talked to Garris right after he read my article. Eric, he said, affirmed I was exactly right.
Black Box Road to the Rove White HouseFund's relationship with the Bush White House and the purpose of the book he was then writing, Stealing Elections, were less obvious in 2002. Fund has since admitted he has been routinely briefed by the White House, before and after he was fired from the WSJ. His road to being a willing tool of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue was long and, in many ways, meteoric.
Fund first worked as a political operative in 1979, according to Justin Raimondo. His services were secured to ensure the nomination of Ed Clark for the Libertarian Presidential Nomination for 1980 by Ed Crane. Far from having an interest in stopping voter or election fraud, Fund himself committed a curious specie of fraud by claiming to be a candidate by taking out papers that year but never turning them in while claiming to be running for office and getting 46% of the vote. Justin Raimondo characterized Fund as "an expert lying propagandist of the sleazier sort."
Never in all the years I knew him did I hear Fund express any interest in the issues of election or voter fraud. His political interests were more sensational; his personal interests run to Star Wars and Star Trek. If you really knew him, this sudden change in principal interests should have raised questions about his role with those associated with the administration. It did for me.
The book he wrote is now considered by those in the clean elections movement to be a misdirective tool intended to muddy the water on the issue of voter fraud. It focuses in on purported fraud by individuals, ignoring the enormous issues of fraud now ascribed to such companies as Diebold and ES&S. Fund proposed centralizing control over elections as a solution – an idea completely in line with the big and well-connected "black box" mongers – and is nearly successful in undermining the issue by injecting his spin.
Bev Harris of Black Box Voting said of Fund's position, "It is amazing that this bogus solution is still being put forth. His solutions take us directly to ever more centralized control by a small group of insiders. What is needed is for the people to have local control and access to the results. Complete transparency."
Mark Crispin Miller was even more explicit, saying, "Despite his pose as an impartial expert on American elections, John Fund is in fact a dedicated party operative, who for many years has turned out rightist propaganda for the GOP. Specifically, he has abetted the Republicans' election theft by helping to promote the myth of widespread Democratic 'voter fraud'--a fiction that has been disproved by every reputable study, but one which Fund has pushed at every opportunity. And so whatever he may recommend to help 'reform' US elections should be rejected out of hand, as on this crucial subject he enjoys no credibility at all."
Vickie Karp and others involved in the clean elections movement also agree about Fund and his role as a propagandist and deceiver. All of the agree that Fund's "solutions," which provide cover for ever more centralization and displace real reform, are the opposite of transparency.
Inserting himself into that dialog would have been severely hampered had he been in jail for domestic violence. Yet Fund remains a high level political operative. Understanding how he accomplished his goals provides a clear understanding of the covert operation we know as the Bush Administration.
In all cases each of the individuals above achieved, or hoped to profit by using the appearance of journalism to sell lies.
Rupert Murdoch successfully converted journalism to propaganda, used to protect the interests of the elite of which he is a part and made a profit doing it. He acquired the WSJ in 2005, presumably after he realized how useful it would be to own the most prominent American publication on finance and covert politics. Journalists lined up with their hands out to help him.
For all these reasons it is time to lose your illusions, plant in your garden, and some reserve seed for next year.