Radical media, politics and culture.

WBAI gossip


by Bill Weinberg

Rule by Secrecy: The Hidden History That Connects the Trilateral Commission, the Freemasons, and the Great Pyramids. The title itself reads like a self-parody. The fact that it is not is a sad comment on our times. The fact that HarperCollins chose to publish this amateurish potboiler is even sadder. But saddest of all is that it was offered as a premium in the last fund-raising marathon by New York City’s "progressive" WBAI Radio.

WBAI, whose leadership was purged in a notorious "Christmas Coup" last year, once offered premiums by the likes of Noam Chomsky. But it was the voice of Jim Marrs that issued from the station’s transmitter in relentless interviews during the May marathon. Marrs was chosen as the latest political guru by morning show host Marjorie Moore and approved by WBAI’s Interim General Manager Utrice Leid. Both repeatedly praised his "research" over the air. That WBAI is now promoting Marrs, a peddler of the most vulgar anti-Semitic conspiracy theory, loans credence to those who argue that the station has assumed a rightward trajectory since the "coup."

In Rule by Secrecy, Marrs of course goes out of his way to disavow anti-Semitism—but in terms that are clearly anti-Semitic! "While it may be true that secret organizations in the past were built along both racial and religious grounds" and "[a]lthough many international financiers are of Jewish descent," it is unfair "to accuse the Hebrew race of an international conspiracy." Note the slippery use of "Hebrew race" in place of the more common and accurate term "Jews." He complains that "the broad brush of anti-Semitism frequently has been used to besmirch anyone offering a conspiratorial view of history."

After this requisite disavowal, Marrs goes on to portray the "gigantic and secretive Rothschilds banking empire" as the "covert and indirect" power behind nearly every government on Earth (ultimately tracing their grand design for world domination to the Illuminati and Masonic conspiracies dating to ancient Egypt). His "sources" are the usual ones, all too familiar to followers of the far right and fascism.

Topping the list, of course, is the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, the purported Jewish conspiracy masterplan which served as propaganda for the Czarist pogroms and then the Nazi Holocaust. While Marrs does concede that the Protocols are a hoax, he nonetheless vests much legitimacy in them: "It is the possibility of ‘historical truth’ which has kept the Protocols in circulation since its inception. Today, modern conspiracy writers see it as a real program predating Nazism or Communism... The Protocols may indeed reflect a deeper conspiracy beyond its intended use to encourage anti-Semitism, one hidden within the secret upper ranks of the Iluminati and Freemasonry."

The kneejerk anti-Communism which always characterizes this genre is there as well. Marrs writes that Marx’s program points in The Communist Manifesto "bear a striking resemblance to the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, suggesting some common origin." Much, of course, is made of Marx’s Jewish ethnicity. Concludes Marrs: "The goals of the Russian communists and Karl Marx were largely the same goals of the Illuminati and continental Freemasonry."

Again and again, Marrs attempts to legitimize the anti-Semitism of Henry Ford, the Krupps and even Hitler, portraying them as mere over-reaction to the arrogant power of "international Jewish bankers." Marrs argues that the Jews themselves were behind Hitler, another line familiar to those who follow this unsavory milieu. All of the American, British and Dutch industrialists who aided Hitler’s rise to power are portrayed (on no evidence) as stand-ins for "the great Rothschild empire." Marrs goes one better by claiming that Hitler was a Rothschild—that his grandmother was not impregnated by her husband Johann Georg Hiedler, but by one "Baron Rothschild," in whose Vienna home she was working as a servant. Marrs cites a (conveniently) "suppressed" OSS report for this allegation, but provides no details on its name or where it is to be found. The actual report, by psychologist Walter C. Langer, was published in 1972 as The Mind of Adolf Hitler, but Marrs doesn’t tell us that, since its findings on the theory of Hitler’s secret Jewish grandfather were utterly inconclusive. This angle really seems to originate with another "author" extensively cited by Marrs elsewhere in Rule by Secrecy—David Icke, whose Web site also claims that Jews are the pawns in an elaborate Rothschild-Iluminati breeding experiment, and are "impregnated with a reptilian genetic code." (Marrs fails to mention the reptilian stuff—this being apparently too wacky, even for him!)

At least Marrs acknowledges the fraudulent origins of the Protocols. He doesn’t seem to have got the word about another notorious hoax, the Report from Iron Mountain. This one was actually conceived during the Vietnam era by leftist intellectuals (including The Nation’s Victor Navasky and author EL Doctorow) to parody the prevalent far-right view that anti-war sentiment was the pawn of a secret plot to impose a super-powerful world government. Ironically, the spoof was taken by the very folks it was spoofing as the Real McCoy—a leaked government document revealing the elite agenda! Even after the satire’s perpetrators have long since come clean, right-wing conspiracy-mongers continue to cite it as vindication of their worldview. Marrs offers not one syllable of intimation that Iron Mountain is anything other than legitimate.

Marrs’ source that the JP Morgan banking empire is a "front" for the Rothschilds is Eustace Mullins, who is cited as merely an "author." Marrs does not tell us that Mullins is a partisan of the neo-Nazi Liberty Lobby and a leading light of their Spotlight newspaper. In the ‘50s, before becoming Liberty Lobby’s top theorist of the Federal Reserve system as the tool of a Jewish plot to destroy America, Mullins authored a less subtle tome entitled "Adolf Hitler: An Appreciation"—which he has never repudiated. (See Martin Lee, The Beast Reawakens, Little, Brown 1997, p. 347)

Marrs has been going from wacky to wackier throughout his career. His 1990 book Crossfire: The Plot that Killed Kennedy, was a comparatively legitimate work, and provided much of the source material for Oliver Stone’s movie JFK. But he followed it with 1997’s Alien Agenda: Investigating the Extraterrestrial Presence Among Us, which opened: "The controversy over the existence of UFOs is over. UFOs are real... The questions now are ‘What are they?’ and ‘What do they want?’ What is the alien agenda?"

The question for WBAI listeners may well be "What is the Utrice Leid agenda?"

Was Lied put in power by a right-drifting and increasingly corporate Pacifica National Board to discredit and destabilize the intransigently radical-left WBAI? Under the leadership of Samori Marksman, a Pan-Africanist and Marxist who died at the helm in 1999, nearly every management position at the station was held by a person of color, and the station was committed to a radical multiculturalism. The general manager and program director who were ousted in the December coup were both Black. Yet Utrice Leid portrays the struggle over WBAI as a "race war," and portrays all opposition as a white racism.

This seems to be part of a pattern. In her early ‘90s tenure as editor of The City Sun, New York’s now-defunct African American weekly, Leid frequently printed commentary on local Jewish affairs by Jon Kalish, a veteran of the New York Post and Daily News tabloids whose journalistic raison d’etre was to root out supposed "black anti-Semitism," vigorously covering every Jewish fringe-group protest against Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton. Jewish reporters with an emphasis on building Black-Jewish solidarity were bypassed by Leid.

Some of Leid’s new team are continuing in this tradition. On June 4, Lied-appointed morning news anchor Paul DeRienzo got into a physical altercation with a reporter from the Independent Media Center covering a protest at the station. IMC reporter Kevin Prichard suffered a broken finger, and is pressing charges. Immediately after the incident, DeRienzo went on the air to give his version of the event. He embellished that the IMC (actually the autonomous network of Web sites that emerged from the Seattle anti-WTO protests) is funded by international financier George Soros—"the right-wing guy who says he’s for all of these positive causes, but is really financing an attack on a public radio station and trying to take it over." Paul went out of his way to emphasize Soros’ ethnicity, stating that the IMC is controlled by "one rich man in Hungary." Soros, who actually lives in New York (and only provided the Los Angeles IMC local with a one-time $10,000 grant to cover the Democratic Convention last year), is a Hungarian Jew.