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Actual Journamalism

January 16th, 2008 · 11 Comments

The piece I mentioned the other day is finally up at Reason. Dave Weigel and I decided to try to find out who—if not Ron Paul—was responsible for those newsletters. As it turns out, it was the guy a lot of folks had thought, but the “why” turns out to be more interesting than the “who”.

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11 responses so far ↓

  • 1 David // Jan 16, 2008 at 11:13 am

    How Mr. Rockwell responded to James Kirchick’s questions about his role in the newsletters:

    “Rockwell is listed as a ‘contributing editor’ of The Ron Paul Investment Letter, but when I interviewed him last week for the story, he denied ghostwriting material in Paul’s newsletters. He said that he was ‘involved in the promotion’ of the newsletters, as well as, ‘writing the subscription letters’ (maybe he wrote this ditty [PDF]?) and ‘writing mailing lists.’ Rockwell told me that there were ‘seven or eight freelancers involved at various stages’ of the newsletter’s history.

    When I asked him who was in charge of the editing and publishing of the newsletters, Rockwell got cryptic. ‘The person who was in charge is now long gone … He left in unfortunate circumstances.'”


    Who is Rockwell gesturing towards?

    Murray Rothbard? Someone else?

  • 2 Julian Sanchez // Jan 16, 2008 at 11:48 am

    I’m guessing this was an attempt to see if the letters could be pinned on Eric Dondero, but that’s just speculation. Rothbard is certainly another possibility; some of the items do bear hallmarks of his style, and I would be surprised if at least some of the controversial ones were not his work.

  • 3 Jim Henley // Jan 16, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    You and Dave did some awesome work on this, Julian. Thanks and congrats.

  • 4 David // Jan 16, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    The headline for the piece reads,

    “Who Wrote Ron Paul’s Newsletters?
    Libertarian movement veterans, and a Paul campaign staffer, say it was “paleolibertarian” strategist Lew Rockwell”

    Am I correct that you think that others were probably involved in the writing of the newsletters, and not simply Mr. Rockwell?

    I’m not sure I see anything in your piece that rules out Ron Paul himself as the author of some of those newsletters or at least portions of them.

    Doesn’t the jittery paranoid musings about money matters sound like the Ron Paul of those days, AND the Ron Paul who is running for office now?

    What I still find odd about Ron Paul’s story is how it changed from defending the statements in the newsletters to denying he wrote them or knew anything about them.

    That inclines me to think he was more involved in the production of the newsletters than he’s willing to admit now.

  • 5 Richard Garner // Jan 16, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Great piece, Julian. I agre that LRC is not so bad as it was, say, three years ago, but I remember discussing on the old Free-Market.Net forum about how I disliked that site. One person said its main advantage was act as a buffer seperating the Mises Institute from the “paleoconservative” types. I knew the paleo crap would come back to bite libertarians in the ass. Thanks Lew, for nothing.

  • 6 Gil // Jan 16, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    Yes, good work!

    If Rockwell didn’t write all of this stuff, this article might just put enough pressure on him to say who did.

    What amazes me is how myopic these guys were about the harm they were doing to any potentially sucessful candidate. One has to wonder if they were genuinely interested in advancing libertarianism, or just in raising money.

  • 7 Julian Sanchez // Jan 16, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    It seems fairly clear that Paul did write parts of the newsletters, though probably not a majority of the material. Given that the really incendiary stuff is pretty inconsistent with anything else I’ve heard Paul say or seen him write, I’m prepared to believe he didn’t write those items, though.

  • 8 David // Jan 16, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    This part of the article was an eyeraiser:

    “Cato Institute President Ed Crane told reason he recalls a conversation from some time in the late 1980s in which [Ron] Paul claimed that his best source of congressional campaign donations was the mailing list for The Spotlight, the conspiracy-mongering, anti-Semitic tabloid run by the Holocaust denier Willis Carto until it folded in 2001.”

    That’s quite a claim! If Crane’s recollection is accurate, it would be hard to tell where the Ron Paul ends and the racist fringe begins.

  • 9 East Coast Libertarian // Jan 16, 2008 at 9:06 pm

    Nice work Julian! It certainly opened my eyes to things I wish I knew sooner.

  • 10 Patrick // Jan 16, 2008 at 11:28 pm

    Excellent work.

    What should we do now? Do we contact Dr. Paul and demand he take a better stance? Do we vote for him on the policies he’s running on and ignore his distant past? I’ve been trying to understand our moral responsibility, especially since so much of the campaign was based on “let’s do something silly and awesome,” rather then on something tangible.

    The impression from early last year was that libertarians didn’t like Ron Paul’s campaign, but their distaste came off as elitism or even a bit of jealousy to me. Now that these have come out, their distancing makes more sense. Why didn’t libertarians stress how bad Rockwell or the Mises Institute was?

    Does anyone remember an old episode of ‘The Simpsons’ from season 4 called ‘The Front’, where Lisa and Bart write an cartoon using Grandpa Simpson as a cover. I always thought of this as another case of some ‘youngin’s’ taking advantage of the elderly. Ron Paul would have been in his early 50’s when this came out, so it is unlikely that is the case. Why would he accept the unholy alliance then? Is he just a live and let live kind of guy? Was the money just too good? Did he actually think the alliance would work? Or is this a case of not paying attention.

    This entire affair just leaves me with questions. Only Dr. Paul can answer them, but it’s been a week and it hasn’t been brought up.

    Has anyone been following the LR blog? They keep calling this an attack by the ‘Kochtopus’. Which is stupid. Especially when you realize that it’s pronounced /coke/ (hint use Kochroach). Just stupidness all around. It’s very clear they’re Rockwell’s gang is trying to fight a battle without any clue what they’re fighting for or against. Considering how bad the campaign’s been run, and the general quality of their work, I’m not surprised by this at all.

  • 11 Bill Stearns // Jan 19, 2008 at 3:27 am

    I haven’t really read Reason for years, and admittedly I have only heard (and read, when linked to the website) the bad since I frequent antiwar.com and (lately – to follow RP’s campaign) the LRC blog, but after reading your article and its associated links and Raimondo’s global response to those attempting to attack Ron (and in your case Lew Rockwell and Murray Rothbard), I’m glad to see that not many people are buying the sh*t you are trying to sell. Your one link on the alleged racist paleo plot hatched by Rockwell and Rothbard (your real targets here, obviously) leads to a small page where the author gives his own *opinions* on the matter. Is that supposed to be even remotely credible? The rest of your piece is hardly better, being heavy on innuendo and hearsay, but light on facts. In fact, your whole piece boils down to an argument that Ron f’d up – but it’s all Rockwell and Rothbard’s fault – and Ron should apologize for even being associated with these guys. Exactly how is this worthy of an article on Reason’s website? From the responses I’m seeing, I think Reason will regret publishing it.

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