I never thought I shared a talent for spurring wild paranoia with Abbie Hoffman. But the similarities, even nearly six decades later, are inescapable – if on a ridiculously smaller scale. Hoffman shook up Nixon’s White House. All I rattled was the second floor of RIOC’s Blackwell House.
by David Stone
Wild Paranoia – Sixties Style
It was a watershed moment on July 13th, 1973. Alexander Butterfield, testifying in the Congressional Watergate hearings, told the world about a secret recording system President Nixon installed in the White House.
After the Supreme Court refused to block their release, the voluminous tapes revealed Nixon and his staff overreacting to protestors outside the White House. Wild paranoia made them over-the-top nuts.
Abbie Hoffman, one of the most avid and active protest leaders was shocked. All the time he was chanting, singing and shouting, he was frustrated, thinking the protests had no impact.
But the tapes showed that he and others protesting the Vietnam War were driving Nixon and his team absolutely bug nuts. He was belatedly rewarded and gratified.
Although Abbie’s been dead for a long time now, I always remember that story.
Not on the Same Page. Still…
Back then, Abbie Hoffman and I were not on the same page. There were two kinds of hippies, those like me who disdained politics and those like Abbie who became Yippies.
I didn’t like Yippies because I was what conservatives called “a peace freak,” committed to keeping things cool. Still am, although I no longer believe I’ll see peace in my lifetime.
But I am also a journalist committed to truth, honesty and good government, and through that, I realized last month, I’ve stoked wild paranoia too.
In Blackwell House.
In a lawsuit filed by RIOC President/CEO Shelton J. Haynes and Chief Counsel Gretchen Robinson, the pair credit me with impact beyond my wildest dreams. It’s all fluff, inaccurate and unbalanced.
But I’ll take it, partly because their accusations are so patently ridiculous, no one believes them, probably not even the authors. They just lift my profile.
So alarmed were they over articles written by me that they compiled “…a dossier of Stone’s articles to measure how frequently he disparaged RIOC minority executives.”
Not just that, they accuse me of using good, standard search engine optimization tactics:
“By backlinking (i.e., providing hyperlinks to old articles in new articles), Stone was able to amplify engagement with his negative articles, posted among several social media accounts.”
Thanks for noticing that I do what experts recommend as best practices.
So aggrieved are Haynes and Robinson, they exaggerate my influence beyond all proportion.
“Haynes has been in his role of Acting and Permanent CEO and President of RIOC for approximately three years, or approximately 750 business days. Of those approximately 750 days, Stone has posted 532 articles about him, 98% of which were negative and/or demonstrated racial animus,” they say.
Sorry, but I’ve never found the guy anywhere near that interesting, and there’s nothing remotely like 532 articles about him. While wondering what magnifying glass is in use, I also wonder how much in RIOC resources they used in coming up with this nonsense.
And there’s no such thing as a “negative article,” anyway, just reporting. Maybe I didn’t flatter Haynes and Robinson enough. Plus, you guessed it, there’s not a single example of “demonstrated racial animus,” either.
Were there actions not protected behind the barrier of a lawsuit, these are grounds for defamation against me by Haynes and Robinson. But I’m not the type. I’ll let my reporting speak for itself.
How I Rounded Up Elected Officials and Ruined Morale
“The racist backlash Stone has expressed has been supported by local elected officials who were either allies of Rosenthal or allies to supporters of Rosenthal, namely Senator Krueger and Assemblymember Seawright,” the lawsuit claims.
“Assemblymember Seawright has endorsed Stone’s racist articles on her social media accounts in the past, she pays to advertise on his blog, and has also published Stone’s articles in her constituent newsletters.
“Senator Krueger has taken an interview with Stone and has even posed for a photo with him. Since this endorsement and validation, Stone has been quoted in the New York Times, Crain’s Business New York, and Business Insider.”
If you believe their accusations, my span of influence is huge. My Roosevelt Island Daily reports have turned two longtime elected officials into blazing racists. And not just that, I’ve roped in the New York Times, Crain’s Business New York and Business Insider.
“The pervasive continuous racially hostile articles directed at Haynes and Robinson, and sanctioned by public officials dominated the workplace environment, and led to harassment which resulted in low morale and unwarranted investigations,” the lawsuit alleges.
Is it possible that Haynes’s repeatedly bragging about how many people he fired without consequences had something to do with it? What about his reminding staff that he had cameras everywhere, monitoring their every word?
Any journalist dreams of being that effective, even when it’s all nonsense. I know now how Abbie felt: recognized for driving wild paranoia as far as it could go.
I should add, in fairness, that neither Seawright nor Krueger are racists nor are the other officials targeted in a lawsuit where the main intent seems to be settling scores.
And I am sincerely sorry that Haynes and Robinson were driven to this extreme. But public officials, especially any rewarding themselves with higher salaries than any governor in the United States, are subject to criticism. “if you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen,” President Harry Truman said.
He was right then, taking all criticism in stride – and letting his work stand for itself.
Americans admired his “The buck stops here” slogan. While what we’ve got now is “The buck stops there” finger-pointing.