DENNIS KING's riveting new investigative biography, Lyndon LaRouche and the New American Fascism (Doubleday), ought to provoke red faces in newsrooms across the country, especially the one on West 43rd Street. King shows how "from the beginning of LaRouche's rise most major newspapers shied away from analyzing his organization in any but the most superficial terms. They avoided the terms 'fascist' and 'neo-Nazi,' which alone could adequately express his aims and methods. The New York Times in its 1979 series on LaRouche at least kept the concept, expressing it through euphemisms and vivid examples, but soon even the euphemisms were dropped."
After the 1986 Illinois Democratic primary victory of LaRouchite candidates for lieutenant governor and secretary of state forced gubernatorial candidate Adlai Stevenson III to abandon the Democratic line on the ballot, Senator Pat Moynihan labeled LaRouche's operation "neo-Nazi," but "the Times went so far as to censor out the forbidden word in its coverage of Moynihan's speech....The Wall Street Journal published an editorial suggesting that LaRouche was really still left-wing....Suddenly the fact that U.S. and West German ultra-rightist networks had nurtured LaRouche and provided him with ideas, money, and allies (not to mention weapons training) for the previous 10 years became too controversial to dwell on....The New York Times called him 'eccentric' and a 'conspiracy theorist' while announcing that he somehow defied classification in conventional terms....The only serious analysis of LaRouche appeared in smaller unorthodox we! eklies such as the Chicago Reader, the Boston Phoenix, and In These Times."
King, a dedicated and stubborn fellow, spent a decade covering LaRouche, publishing anywhere he could while the national media dummied up. LaRouche sued Our Town, the Manhattan weekly in which King published a series on him, and even though the suit was eventually dropped, "his followers maintained his litigious reputation by calling up reporters and editors at the drop of a hat to threaten legal action. A Catch-22 resulted: Newspapers toned down their coverage of LaRouche by using 'soft' labels and avoiding mention of the nastier aspects of his movement....No longer was LaRouche perceived as...dangerous....Hence there was no incentive for editors to call his bluff."
In 1984 LaRouche learned that he would be the subject of an expose on NBC's First Camera that "threatened to undermine his ties with the Reagan administration and the intelligence community. But LaRouche must have known that First Camera was not watched by many people. If other media could be prevented from repeating the charges, the damage could possibly be contained. He sued NBC for $150 million prior to the show. The result was that some NBC affiliates didn't air it and many newspapers didn't report on it. Thus most Americans failed to hear that the Reagan administration had been meeting with neo-Nazis who in turn were in bed with racketeers, and that the leader of these neo-Nazis had discussed assassinating Jimmy Carter and other government officials in 1977. Furthermore, the major media failed to follow up First Camera's work, even though it was a presidential election year in which the news value of the story was potentially very gr! eat."
One of the worst failings was during New York's 1981 mayoral campaign in which LaRouchite Mel Klenetsky, running in the Democratic primary, attacked Mayor Koch's principal opponent, the mildly leftish Assemblyman Frank Barbaro, as an "anti-Semite," while Koch was telling The Times that "Klenetsky, he's not as bad as his rhetoric; Barbaro is as bad as his rhetoric." King told me that, too late for inclusion in the book, he found out the Loews Foundation, controlled by the Tisch family, had given $5000 that year to LaRouche's Fusion Energy Foundation--at a time when Bob Tisch was a member of Koch's finance committee. Koch benefited from the LaRouchite campaign against Barbaro, just as George Bush did from LaRouche's rumor-mongering about Michael Dukakis's mental health.
King's philosophical dissection of LaRouche's transition from Trotskyite sectarian to hardcore anti-Semite, based on a close reading of LaRouche's writings and their sources in classic Jew-baiting texts, is as fascinating as his reporting on LaRouche's role in the birth of SDI, his ties to General Noriega and Jackie Presser, and his hate campaigns against Roy Cohn and Henry Kissinger. This book deserves a wide audience, for it is a tocsin, not only against the LaRouchites still with us, but against future fascist manipulations of the media.