Monday, April 30, 2018

Robert Scheer, Muckraker, on Ramparts' Warren Hinckle

I was privileged to meet Robert Scheer from USC Annenberg's School of Communications and Journalism in Berkeley, California on April 29, 2018. 
Scheer, along with William Hinckle, was one of America's original muckrakers. Some of his work influenced MLK's opposition to the Vietnam War, which eventually led to Daniel Ellsberg's whistleblowing. At Berkeley's Book Fest, Scheer discussed working with Warren Hinckle, lesser known than Hunter S. Thompson but arguably a much better writer.
On motivation: "What drove Warren [Hinckle] was journalism." "His success was a rebuke of mainstream journalism... [he was] forging a connection with the anti-war movement and the civil rights movement. We were the start of whistleblower journalism."

On mainstream media: Even the New York Times condemned Martin Luther King. Every single mainstream newspaper has [initially] supported every one of America's wars. In fact, "Martin Luther King's condemnation of the Vietnam War was [itself] condemned by the New York Times."

On whether Warren would have been more famous among New York's hoi polloi: "If we'd been on the East Coast, we'd have been unpublished!" [i.e., too much competition and too many existing outlets and power players]

On David Horowitz's criticism of Ramparts: "Fred Mitchell saved Ramparts... [you can criticize how we spent money but] we didn't pay most or our bills because we declared Chapter 11 [bankruptcy]... [In all seriousness] we lost money [not because of mismanagement] but because of the positions we took. We reported on the Six Day War [and then had pro-Israel Martin Peretz and Dick Russell, two of the magazine's shareholders, withdraw their money, 1 million USD, from Ramparts]. We reported on Malcolm X [when no one else was doing so]." 

Bonus: Steve Wasserman on Warren Hinckle: "Every story he told was true, even the unbelievable ones." "Warren was on the side of the little people... He couldn't bear hypocrisy." 

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