April 5, 2007

"The Hoax"

From my review in The American Conservative (not online) of the film opening Friday, April 6:


Now, "The Hoax" rounds out cinematic Howard Hughes lore with a comic biopic of novelist Clifford Irving (played by Richard Gere), the scamster who brought the world's Hughes obsession to a crescendo in 1971-72 when he extracted huge advances from the greedy and credulous New York publishing and magazine industries for The Autobiography of Howard Hughes. ...

Exciting more controversy is the film's claim that Irving's fake autobiography helped inspire the Watergate break-in at the headquarters of Democratic National Committee chairman Larry O'Brien, who, possibly not coincidentally, had been Hughes' chief lobbyist.

While overstated, this is not wholly implausible. Nixon had several shady links to Hughes, such as the tycoon's unsecured $205,000 loan to his brother Donald's Nixonburger restaurant chain. Nixon believed the revelation of this dubious deal may have cost him the exceedingly close 1960 election. A decade later, according to his chief of staff H.R. Haldeman, Nixon was irrationally obsessed with plumbing the relationship between Hughes and O'Brien.

The truth is that we still don't really understand Watergate, mostly because, in sharp contrast to the JFK assassination, the media haven't been all that interested in finding out precisely what happened. The good guys won and bad guys lost, they reason, so why bother with details that might muddy the glorious memory?


It's hard to remember now, but JFK conspiracy theories were highly respectable in the media from the early 1970s until Oliver Stone's 1991 film "JFK" came out, at which point they became unfashionable. And yet, it was always likely that either the FBI or CIA or both had played a larger role in the overthrow of Nixon than in the Kennedy assassination, as was confirmed in 2005 by the revelation that the FBI's #2 man, J. Edgar Hoover loyalist W. Mark Felt was Deep Throat. But, nobody was ever very interested in Watergate after Nixon resigned.


My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

13 comments:

Kendal Mintcake said...

Steve, are you implying a belief that the CIA/FBI were involved in some way with a plot to kill JFK?

As one of the foremost authorities on the Kennedy assassination, I would be interested in your views.

Steve Sailer said...

My best guess of the JFK assassination is that Lee Harvey Oswald very much wanted to be part of a conspiracy, but that the many organizations he approached (such as the KGB, which hosted him for a couple of years in Russia) eventually realized he was a dangerous nut, so that he had to do it either alone or in a very small group.

Anonymous said...

People look for grand conspiracies where there are none. Only the Lincoln Assassination and attempted assassinations of Seward etc. rise to the level of genuine conspiracy. Concocted by a bunch of third raters, lunatics, and idiots but then it's not particularly hard to kill a man. Even the President.

JFK was clearly killed by ardent Communist and nutcase Lee Harvey Oswald. What made him successful and say Squeaky Fromme and the other Manson Family nutcase failures was Oswald's Marine training which led him to select a bolt action rifle. Accurate, powerful, and able to kill from a distance.

If you look at the anarchist assassins of Garfield, McKinley, the Manson Lunatics attempts at Ford, the Palestinian Nationalist incensed at Robert Kennedy's speech supporting Israel (Sirhan Sirhan), Oswald, the nutcase who shot Reagan to impress Jody Foster (he MUST be crazy) and the lunatic who shot John Lennon a clear pattern emerges:

Lone lunatics who through sloppy security occasionally get lucky.

The only outliers would be the Puerto Rican hit squad after Truman, and possibly King's assassin or Wallace's would-be assassin. It's hard to say about the King and George Wallace guys (because I know little about them), but the Puerto Rican guys were hard core killers who meant business and were part of an organized conspiracy.

No one in their right mind would want to kill either Kennedy. They were so reckless in their personal life that you had whacking great blackmail chits you could call in. Not much use if either was dead.

Nixon? What's interesting is how much infighting and personal animosity there was in a nominally conservative Administration opposed by very liberal forces in the Media and Congress. Odd how he was brought down and say, Reagan was not (over Iran-Contra) because Reagan had more unity in his Administration. Heck Bush Senior won over Dukakis.

Steve: The US doesn't "torture." Waterboarding is unpleasant but I won't shed tears for KSM undergoing it. Bastard deserves far worse, perhaps being flung out a burning building 110 stories up like his victims. The Iranians and Ahamadinejad are masters of torture. The hostages from 1979 recount fake executions, beatings, and even nastier things.

The Brits broke because they were the feminized NGO-fake military that Blair and most of EUtopia wants. The hard boys of Hezbollah who know how to cut off genitals and stuff it in the mouths of beheaded Menchaca and Tucker (US Army, taken hostage by Iranian Agents) probably broke them in seconds.

Anonymous said...

"...Nixon was irrationally obsessed with plumbing the relationship between Hughes and O'Brien."

Well-played.

Riot Nrrd said...

It's interesting to note that Oswald did use a bolt-action rifle, but that of all the dozen or so models of military surplus rifles which were available for pocket change in 1963 (the U.S. civilian market was the only place they could be sold, as third and fourth world dictators wanted only new automatic rifles for their troops as less would be unprestiegious, and they were illegal for civilian ownership in any other country to speak of) he would select what had to be the worst possible choice available, aside from a 1870s Swiss Vetterli perhaps.) U.S. Springfield and Garand rifles-which he would have been trained on-were available for only a few dollars more.

Also, keep in mind marksmanship skills do not age all that well. If you are not current the physical aspect of shooting accurately goes away pretty quickly, and comes back slowly. I know of no evidence Oswald spent a great deal of time on the range after the Marines, and it would have been impossible for him to stage a shot like what he'd encounter from the Depository window for practice.

That's not to say he didn't do it. But he had help if he did, and help with a somewhat complex agenda.

Riot Nrrd said...

"
The only outliers would be the Puerto Rican hit squad after Truman, and possibly King's assassin or Wallace's would-be assassin. It's hard to say about the King and George Wallace guys (because I know little about them), but the Puerto Rican guys were hard core killers who meant business and were part of an organized conspiracy."

As Steve has said there is a very good book,"American Gunfight", on this event available. They failed because of lack of training and poor weapon selection.

My guess is that the Kennedys were a little less vulnerable to blackmail than one would think, because everyone knew about their activities even then. The one person I think was able to successfully coerce them to some extent, aside from J.Edgar Hoover (who hated them so much, particularly Bobby, he wouldn't bother unless he really needed to-I think he was going for Kennedy's political end when Sirhan Squared made it moot) was Ralph Greenson, Marilyn Monroe's shrink. I think he got them to do some modest evidence obliteration, such as White House phone records and Noguchi's tissue samples, to keep his ass out of the fire over his involvement. I think her death (short story) was medical malpractice on his part, probably enacted by Eunice Murray. But that's another story entirely.

Anonymous said...

Sailor, I respect you; but you are weak on the issue of muslim terrorism. I had no time for talk of Iraqi democracy; but the s.o.b.
Hussein had broken every agreement he made in the aftermath of the Gulf War, and had to be taken out.
Just because a war is poorly executed does not mean it is unjustified.

The muzzie-nuts are serious and there is no power in the world to fight them but us. You must face up to this, the isolationist option in not realistic. Besides, I can get that crap from the Dems all day long.
Cordially,
Mike Mitchell

Justin said...

Steve, are we getting a Grindhouse review from you?

John Uecker said...

Saddam was a snake, a mean and fast and big snake, but he wasn't any danger to us as long as we have B-1 bombers and Tomahawk missiles. It was the Israelis, or more correctly a faction of Israelis, that wanted Iraq broken into dysfunctional bits, and a candidate they could manipulate into office who would do fo them what Chloe Sevigny did for Vinnie Gallo in "Brown Bunny".


He kept the Islamists out and a lid on his own zoo. We put him there to do that and that he did.

Instead of doing the one thing we have a right to do in the Middle East after 9/11-chop off Osama bin Laden's head and hold it aloft, dripping blood, for all to see, we do everything BUT, because if we did it would cause trouble in Saudi, and trouble in Saudi means lowered oil profits. George Bush is a male prostitute for oil money. I have no doubt he would commit any act sexually or otherwise, on anyone of either sex, for the oil interests, the fundie preachers, and their controllers in Tel Aviv and New York.

John Uecker said...

I would have thought the recent Anna Nicole Smith autopsy report would have made clear what professionals have said about the Monroe case from day one and to today:"when chloral hydrate is involved, all bets are off".

She was a minor actress and took a lot of pills one night. Case closed. Judy Garland, ditto. Pier Angeli went the same way, and a better actress. So were Judy Holliday and Marilyn Maxwell, two blond actresses who died young of medical causes (lung disease and cancer). Why the former Norma Jeane Dougherty is famous beyond reason and so many others of the day aren't is, in my opinion, a consequence of the importance of gays in the media. Monroe and Garland are gay favorites, and were even in their lifetimes. (The Stonewall riots were partly triggered by the death of Garland being announced.)

Tom Donnell said...

Marilyn Maxwell was primarily a TV actress after she had a child and got chubby. Her film career was mostly unimpressive comedies such as "Off Limits" with Bob Hope.

Pier Angeli was never a movie star in the U.S. She's famous here at all because she was originally picked for "The Godfather" and died before shooting commenced.

Judy Holliday was also a minor actress who had exactly one substantial role of note-"Bells Are Ringing" with Dean Martin.

Monroe, on the other hand, died the number one box office attraction in the US-the essence of a movie star. In a notably short career she made 29 films, not exceptional in itself, but after 1952, she made fourteen completed films-in eight years, all but three or four of which are considered classics of their genre today. She was never nominated for an Oscar, but at least five of those films are iconic.

I don't think there is another performer in American cinematic history that did that. Add in her notorious marital and personal problems and that's a singular career streak.

"She played the best game with the worst hand of anyone in Hollywood", goes the quote.

Sockstand said...

"I don't think there is another performer in American cinematic history that did that. Add in her notorious marital and personal problems and that's a singular career streak."

The only streaks she left were on Frank Sinatra's furniture, brown and red.

Peter L. Winkler said...

"Judy Holliday was also a minor actress who had exactly one substantial role of note-"Bells Are Ringing" with Dean Martin."

Her not so minor performance in Born Yesterday earned her an Oscar.