Where are the counterculture journalists of today? The sixties produced a bunch of us, but we desperately need reinforcements because our society has become awash in idiot culture, short-term attention spans, click-baits, celebrity gossip, and runaway narcissism. But it wasn’t always like this. There was life in America before the dumbing-down campaign reached epidemic proportions.
PM Press published two of Paul Krassner’s penetrating essays on life behind the curtains in the seventies, one on the kidnapping of Patty Hearst, and the other on the murder of Harvey Milk. This book is a quick read designed to appeal to even the shortest of attention spans, but it also plumbs deep into the murky waters of the national security state, which took over the country long ago, and apparently had numerous operations ongoing in California in the seventies designed to derail the counterculture revolution.
The Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) kidnapped heiress Patty Hearst and brainwashed her into joining their violent revolution, which included robbing banks, territory already well charted by the Baader-Meinhof gang in Germany as well as the Weather Underground, a pro-violent off-shoot of a once non-violent Students for Democratic Society.
If you can’t get control of a movement through penetration ops, the other way to co-opt any movement is by creating a more fanatical and violent alternative that can accuse the movement leaders of being too timid. This sort of game has been played for a long time, yet few journalists ever catch on.
Krassner caught on, although his groundbreaking conspiracy research often got all mixed up with his political satire. Real investigative journalists in America tend to die young: just ask Steve Kangas, Danny Casolaro or Gary Webb. It’s unfortunate, Krassner dropped his conspiracy investigations because they began making him paranoid. To make matters more confusing, Krassner practically invented fake news in the 1950s and 60s by writing satirical stories in The Realist. His favorite trick was to make up something so outrageous it couldn’t possibly be true, but fill it with details that fooled people into thinking it might be. The best example would be his account of LBJ fucking JFK’s head wound in order to alter the direction of the fatal shot, something a few people in the Beltway seemed to have briefly swallowed.
Fortunately, satire is not a part of this collection, not really. While covering the Patty Hearst trial, Krassner discovered the family of an SLA member had hired Lake Headley, an ex-police intelligence officer, to find out what the SLA was all about. Headley soon informed them the SLA was part of the CIA’s CHAOS program. Donald DeFreeze, founder of the group, was a documented police informant who had probably been subject to mind control during his incarceration.
It’s strange how the publisher promotes this as “satire,” when, in fact, it’s just good journalism, the sort we need more of today.