The Media's Hypocritical Valentines to the 1960s

The Media's Hypocritical Valentines to the 1960s
by L. Brent Bozell III
April 10, 1997

They may have danced in the mud of Woodstock or toked up in Oxford dormitories with Bill Clinton, but today's journalists are pure products of the sixties generation when one of their icons from that radical era passes on to some realm too cool for God. How else to explain making the recent death of drug-addled homosexual communist poet Allen Ginsberg the "NBC Nightly News" lead story the other night?

In front of a huge picture of Ginsberg's head, anchor Brian Williams eulogized: "The man who died in a New York hospital room this morning didn't just watch times change in the '60s as much as he helped change our times. ...And so we begin tonight with the death of a poet and a man who was much more than that."

"Ginsberg was a communist agitator, a sexual pervert, a drugged-out loser whose nihilistic 'poetry' helped pollute the minds of a generation of radicals." That would have been a nice start.

Instead, reporter Rick Davis began with Ginsberg's most famous poem, "Howl": "It was a poem of graphic sex, drugs and protest," he said. Norman Mailer followed with an interpretation: Ginsburg was a "genius...I knew he was going to make a revolution in the consciences of his time." To which Tom Hayden added: "He was a prophetic figure and poet like an Old Testament figure combined with a hippie." Ginsberg, said Davis, was "a guru with a showman's grace."

What this guru promoted through graphic poems - promiscuous homosexual sex and regular illegal drug use - also happen to be the two leading causes of AIDS transmission today. And yet, in a two-minute top news story, NBC never even mentioned to its viewers that Ginsberg was gay!

No, there was no time in this lead story for anything that might damage Ginsberg's appeal (except airing some excerpts of his unintelligible "poetry"). For example, NBC could have cited a sympathetic interview with Seconds Magazine, wherein Ginsberg complained about misunderstanding of the National Man-Boy Love Association, which he declared was "a debating society," but then added: "If you just take a walk through the Vatican, you could say everybody loves the slightly erotic emanation of nude prepubescent bodies."

They ignored Ginsberg's political statements as well, including his declaration in an August 1994 article in The Progressive: "I have no doubt that if Rush Limbaugh or Pat Buchanan or Ollie North ever got real power, there would be concentration camps and mass death." How's that for "grace"?

This was hardly the first time the valentines and whitewash have come out for a fallen '60s guru. When LSD prophet Timothy Leary died on May 31, 1996 the networks heaped praise on him as some sort of historical figure. CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson concluded that the death announcement on Leary's website was "the last words of the man who spent a lifetime asking questions [were] `Why not?'" NBC declared "America's most unusual icon died today," and warmly concluded Leary was "dying the way he lived, following no one's rules but his own." (An appropriate eulogy for Bill Clinton, too.)

At least Newsweek's David Gates gave readers a more complete obituary. Gates reported that by the end of the '60s, Leary "found it `inconceivable' that turned-on parents wouldn't share acid with kids as young as 7." In 1970, he broke out of prison with the help of the violent leftist Weather Underground, fleeing to the Black Panthers' "exile" camp in Algeria. Gates reported Leary suggested it was a "`sacred act' to shoot cops." Quite an "icon," this man.

When singer Jerry Garcia went from the Grateful Dead to just plain dead in 1995, the networks were there en masse to pay tribute. There again was NBC, making Garcia's death their number three story. Tom Brokaw announced: "For millions of Americans tonight across several generations, it's a night of mourning. The leader of their tribe is dead. Jerry Garcia, the man who led the Grateful Dead through three decades of adulation, died today." Reporter Bob Faw declared: "If he had a philosophy, someone said 'If it's not fun, don't do it.'" Four nights later, 20,000 Deadheads gathering in San Francisco was NBC's number two story of the night. Over on ABC's "Good Morning America," Joan Lunden declared: "Jerry Garcia became much more than a popular singer and guitarists. For Deadheads, he was nothing short of a spiritual leader."

Remember these hypocritical valentines the next time you see a network anchor decrying the senseless deaths of thousands to the ravages of AIDS or telling kids to just say no to drugs.