No Comment — September 15, 2007, 11:59 am

The ‘B’ham News’ Revs Up the Slime Machine

A No Comment reader who works at the Birmingham News tells us that a certain editor and writer at the illustrious Pravda of the South are royally pissed off at Representative Artur Davis. It seems that Davis’s questions and press releases on the Siegelman case are making a decisive difference in pushing the matter forward. And the reputation of the News, which has played a key role in the anti-Siegelman campaign by giving press cover to the cabal and by disseminating and lending unwarranted credibility to claims of the prosecutors who front for it, is on the line. So what’s the answer? According to my source, the word went out: Slime Artur Davis. If you can’t hit him personally, at least slime some senior aide who works for him. Do it quickly.

I am told that the News will use one of its marquee writers for this, probably one who has been deep in the anti-Siegelman vendetta. Also, the News has been busily poring over the list of Davis’s staffers, family, and other associates to find someone it can land a blow against, hopefully in time for the Sunday edition.

The message that the News wants to deliver is simple: Davis, you’ll shut up if you know what’s good for you. The right adjective for this conduct: thuggish. By a newspaper, moreover. Note: they won’t lift a finger to look into any of the Simpson allegations—all they do is shovel lies attempting to discredit Simpson. And, it seems, anyone else who raises questions about the matter.

It brought back some old memories. Back in the late Soviet period, I worked for Andrei Sakharov and his wife, Elena Bonner, helping out whenever I could, and mostly keeping anxious track of their welfare in a harsh and threatening environment. I remember that when the authorities were angry at Sakharov, they had a number of tools they could use for a sort of graduated response. And one of their favorite tools was to have the media launch an attack—sometimes on Sakharov directly.

But there was a problem with that. After all, Sakharov was a sacrosanct figure, a hero. They didn’t want to publicize the fact that he was critical of them. So it was much easier to take target at someone close to Sakharov. And the favorite target was his wife, Elena Bonner—perhaps the bravest and most determined human rights advocate I ever had the privilege to work with.

One of the most striking incidents related to Efim Davidovich, a Holocaust survivor and then Red Army colonel who sought and was denied permission to emigrate to Israel, and thus became a refusenik. Davidovich played a key role in documenting and publicizing events of shocking anti-Semitism in the former Soviet Union, including one particular incident—the murder of a 14-year-old boy by a group of teenagers whipped into an anti-Semitic rage. But in the view of the justice authorities, there was no anti-Semitism, and the shocking circumstances of the case were therefore officially suppressed.

Davidovich returned his medals as an act of protest over the failure to examine and prosecute this case. And Sakharov and Bonner met with Col. Davidovich to discuss how to advance his case.

In response, and as a caution to get Sakharov to shut up, Pravda published an attack on Elena Bonner, decrying her “anti-Soviet behavior.” She was complaining about the fairness of Soviet justice; she was suggesting that there was anti-Semitism; therefore she was disloyal to the state and deserved to be scapegoated. Sakharov describes this episode in pages 443-45 of his Memoirs.

History, alas, so often repeats itself. In essence what Bonner and Sakharov had done was expose a gross injustice and demand that it be fixed. And that is exactly what Artur Davis has done. But for those who cower in the shadows and who thrive off of this injustice, that was a threatening act. It warranted a reply blow. So tomorrow let us scrutinize the News closely and listen for the echoes of Pravda.

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

Conversation August 5, 2016, 12:08 pm

Lincoln’s Party

Sidney Blumenthal on the origins of the Republican Party, the fallout from Clinton’s emails, and his new biography of Abraham Lincoln

Conversation March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm

Burn Pits

Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.

Context, No Comment August 28, 2015, 12:16 pm

Beltway Secrecy

In five easy lessons

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

October 2016

Psychedelic Trap

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Hamilton Cult

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Held Back

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Division Street

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Innocents

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Quiet Car

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
The Hamilton Cult·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"The past is complicated, and explaining it is not just a trick, but a gamble."
Illustration by Jimmy Turrell
Article
Division Street·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"Perfectly sane people lose access to housing every day, though the resultant ordeal may undermine some of that sanity, as it might yours and mine."
Photograph © Robert Gumpert
Article
Held Back·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"'We don’t know where the money went!' a woman cried out. 'They looted it! They stole our money!'"
Artwork by Mischelle Moy
Article
The Quiet Car·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Flor Arely Sánchez had been in bed with a fever and pains throughout her body for three days when a July thunderstorm broke over the mountainside. She got nervous when bolts of light flashed in the sky. Lightning strikes the San Julián region of western El Salvador several times a year, and her neighbors fear storms more than they fear the march of diseases — first dengue, then chikungunya, now Zika. Flor worried about a lot of things, since she was pregnant.

Late in the afternoon, when the pains had somewhat eased, Flor thought she might go to a dammed-up bit of the river near her house to bathe. She is thirty-five and has lived in the same place all her life, where wrinkled hills are planted with corn, beans, and fruit trees. She took a towel and soap and walked out into the rain. Halfway to the river, the pains returned and overcame her. The next thing Flor remembers, she was in a room she didn’t recognize, unable to move. As she soon discovered, she was in a hospital, her ankle cuffed to the bed, and she was being investigated for abortion.

Photograph by Joshua Lutz
Article
Innocents·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"The next thing Flor remembers, she was in a room she didn’t recognize, unable to move. As she soon discovered, she was in a hospital, her ankle cuffed to the bed, and she was being investigated for abortion."
Photograph © Nadia Shira Cohen

Amount of laundry an average American family of four washes in a year (in tons):

1

A study of female Finnish twins found that relative preference for masculine faces is largely heritable.

It was reported that visits from Buddhist priests could be purchased through Amazon in Japan, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra began streaming performances through virtual-reality headsets.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Mississippi Drift

By

Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'

Subscribe Today