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>> and made it more possible for the war to be successful and and spent and he deserves credit. >> let's say that lyndon johnson's vietnam war had ended in victory in late 66. would we be looking at him as a great war leader and someone who did this in the right way to? >> hear their story. seems to me -- you are the historian. somerset wars are a series of catastrophes in dubai success. they are difficult, they are hard, the enemy has a brain. eisenhower i think said the plan is worthless. planning is everything, and the plan is worthless. ..
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>> it is not symmetric, it is ever changing. it will be a challenge for our leadership, for our country, but the growing fall di of those weapons -- what president bush was faced with when making his decision on iraq was there was a study by john hopkins university called "dark winter," and if my memory serves me correctly what a series of experts got
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together, and they said what if we took smallpox and put it in three locations in the united states of america, and in a relatively short period of months, the dark winter exercise done by john hopkins university concludes, and i'll be wrong by a bit, but concluded that something in the neighborhood of 800,000 americans would be dead. someone here knows that exact number. is that -- where's keith? no keith. that's close enough. [laughter] something, a multiple of that would be infected with smallpox. imagine in our country if that happened, think of the marshall law if that happened and the inability to move from state to state. free people, that's what we are. we are people who want to get up in the morning, go where we want, say what we want, think
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what we want, and the purpose of terrorism is not to kill people but to terrorize, alter your behavior, and imagine this country if we had 800,000 people dead from smallpox, and marshall law imposed across our country, and that study exists. it's available, and it is that concern that caused george w. bush and his administration to step up and decide not to wait to be attacked again, but the only thing to do is try to put pressure on terrorist states and put pressure on terrorist networks and make every single thing they do harder, harder to raise money, harder to move, harder to communicate with each other, and keep that pressure up so that they can't collect themselves to the point where they can engage in an act like that against our country.
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>> we have just a couple more minutes. i have a few more questions. what should a historian write about donald rumsfeld second time at the pentagon. >> i'd give it 10-20 years. [laughter] i think perspective is good. journalists like to think that they write the first draft of history. i don't know that i'd use the word history with that first draft. i served a lot of years in government, and now i've been out for four, and i debated whether i should write a short book in a year and use my memory or whether i should digitize this incredible archive i've accumulated over my lifetime and start inviting people in to discuss the phases of my life and the events i'm involved in and if you look in the
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acknowledgement section, i don't know how many people are listed there, but it's many, many dozens and we'd talk and transcribe, go back to the records, and i said if i have that archive, why shouldn't we digitize and see if we can't make it available to the reader. i'm told maybe for the first time we not only are going to be held availability e-book, electronic book is what that means i'm told. [laughter] didn't use to have those when i was a kid. [laughter] you can read the book, and you can look at the end note and see the source where i cited something, and then you can go to the website and pull up the entire document and see right there whether or not the context or the perspective that i've provided which i work just like the dickens to make it accurate and fair and correct. you can then look at the entire
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document and say to yourself, gee, either i would have done it this way or i would have done it that way, but there's thousands of pages of documents, hundreds of documents, many of which have been recently declassified available on this website. >> which is great. okay. we'll have the documents, but what do we write in 20 years about your time in the pent gouge? >> 20 years i'll be 98 years old. write whatever you want. [laughter] [applause] >> our final question, this book, as i've mentioned, has very detailed accounts of secretary rumsfelds encounters with public figures, world leaders, influential people in important positions, but maybe one of the most intriguing one is the encounter with elvis.
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what can you tell us about that? [laughter] >> oh, my goodness. elvis presley. a lot of his songs were really not my thing. [laughter] >> now, why does that not surprise me? [laughter] >> but on any given sunday, today, if joyce and i can't get to church, we have some elvis pressley singing gospel tapes and we played them sunday after sunday after sunday. when i was running war on poverty, sammy davis j.r. was on the advisory board and he cared about the country age about the poor, and i was out in las vegas giving a speech, and it coincided with his 100th performance at sands casino or something, so we went to see his
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show, and he and his wife were there, and he performed, and he was spectacular. it wasn't an accident they called samm mr. ie -- sammie davis the world entertainer. he was superb. joyce had the night off, and he said we're going to see the best inten tanner. the next night, we went to another casino. we got up front. if you are sammy davis, you get a good table. it was elvis. he believed elvis was the best performer in town. it was in his later years, and he was large. [laughter] he was wearing a sequence jump suit. >> not the white house attire? >> no, no.
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of course i had never seen the man or heard the man, and he had these -- what color is it? red, pink? scarlett? he had scarlett scarves and he would wipe his face and sing. it was fantastic. he sang the most ridiculous thing in the world and people would cheer and yell and love it. i'd sit there and go like this. [laughter] he would sing a ballad, and it was absolutely beautiful. i mean, this man had a voice that was spectacular. i love country music, and i love ballads, and he would sing, and you'd just get carried away with it. he'd wipe his face off and throw the scarf out into the crowd, and everyone would scream. joyce got one of the scarves, and it's framed. [laughter]
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what happened was afterwards, sammy said, come on, let's go back into the dressing room. you know, i'm not the type who hangs around las vegas dressing rooms. [laughter] you go in this place, and it's large, and here are all these people, sammy is getting dressed walking around, and all the show girls are there, and there are very attractive women with trays selling cigarettes and selling western jewelry and turquoise and what have you and all the hangers with the staff and they are milling around, and joyce starts talking with somebody, and she couldn't find me. she looked around the room, and way off in the corner elvis had me cornered. i was against the corner, and he's big, and he was like this, and i was kind of hidden right behind him. he was talking about the united states army. if you remember, there was a
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draft during that period and some of the people did not go in the draft. they went to canada or refused, and he went in and served in the united states army, served in germany, and he wanted to talk about it. he loved the army. he valued his time serving, and he was sitting there going back and forth with me about this and that and the other thing, and i just found it fascinating that here was this man a minute ago up there wiping the sweat off his face and everybody screaming, and here's all these gorgeous women walking around his dressing room, and he was standing there asking me question after question on the united states army. it says a lot about the man. >> indeed. what can i do after that but say thank you, mr. secretary. [applause] >> thank you. >> this event was hosted by the national constitution center in
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philadelphia. to find out more, visit constitutioncenter.org. >> i'd like to welcome you all to city lights bookstore, a literary land mark since 1963 here in the city of san
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fransisco. we're delighted to have john mcmillian here tonight. he's taught at harvard on the committee of degrees in history and literature and also the undergraduate writing program. he's the founding editor of the 60s, a journal of history, politics, and culture, and tonight east going to discuss the topic of his book, the smoking typewriters and the rise of alternative media in america published by oxford university press. it examines how the left uprising in the 60s emerged and with the dramatic events taking place in the middle east and the own uprising here in wisconsin, the book is thymely in the -- timely in the way of studying media in the insurrection from the burkley press to the revolution and the advent of chat books, and the democktyization of the 60s, and
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it was offering insight into the development of contemporary movements of social change. please, join us in welcoming john mcmillian. [applause] >> thank you very much. it's great to be here and see old friends. i never lived in san fransisco, but i've visited here for extended period. i make it a point to come to city lights. it's neat to be here this this capacity. i appreciate it. originally my plan was to read the first four or five pages of the book and have a wide-ranging discussion. i decided not to do that. i did this event last week in atlanta, and in order to read the type, i have to hold the book this close to my face, and that's awkward. i don't know if my eyes are deuterating or masturbation.
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[laughter] what i'm going to do instead is just talk through the introduction very carefully, but i want to pass around underground newspapers. there's people here who know about the underground press, but maybes others are not as familiar. they are rare, but not that rare. you can buy these for $15-$20 any day of the week on e bay, and they are delicate, but not so much you can't handle them. this is the los angeles free press, considered to be the first underground newspaper in the 60s that started running in 1964, and that issue is from 1965. what's interesting about that one to me is 65, of course, is a few years before the youth rebellion gets heated up, and that paper championed articles in there about ballet. there's a reference to yoko ono
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before she met john lennon, and later the paper is associated with hippies aroy yachts and -- riots and rock n. roll, but it started more open minded. this is the paper of 1967 with tasteful art on the back as well. as you flip through this paper there's articles in here championing con confrontation with the police, and just about ever, you know, large city underground paper had a classified ad section. today these are run of the mill with the advent of dating websites and social media and stuff, but these were tentlating to some rairds. some of the ads are not promises. wanted, a girl 18 and up to cook and clean house for a rock band
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in a groovy scene. i seek others for passion. that raises an eyebrow nowadays. jesus christ is returning soon, are you ready for the end of the world? people never get tired of that message. this is the great speckled bird from atlanta where i live now. it was the most respected paper in the south. this is from 1970s. it says hard drugs suck. they suggested that maybe people should use for corkness expanding drugs, more marijuana and less cocaine or heroin. there's articles in there about wood stock and the black panthers and whatnot, so each of the papers reflect a movement in different periods. i start this book with the headlines from the berkley tribe dated december 1969, and in big bold print it says stone concert
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ends it, and the subheadline beneath that, the duck, it says america now up for grabs. it was referring to the concert that the rolling stones had at ut ma in december of 1969, and this is supposed to have been a triumphant affair. they shows withed jefferson airplane and the burrito brothers, but they had a hard time getting a venue, and overnight they built a stage. it was three feet high, and it turned out to be a disaster. people clam moried on top of each other to get close to the stage. someone had the bright idea of hiring the hell's angels motorcycle gang for security and paid them with beer. they showed up with pool cues, guns, and knives. they were beating up spectators,
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and probably would have been less violent if they played earlier. the concert was filmed for a documentary called "give me shelter" which you are probably familiar with. it's a great movie, but mcjager was reluctant to play until dark. by every account bad vibes were there and it was an eggly scene -- ugly scene. there was commotion around them, they are nervous trying to soothe the crowd saying chill out, we're cool brothers and sisters. no one paid much attention, and the most violent moment happened with an african-american american teenager pulled out a gun. he was being beatenned up or punched around by the hell's angels. he held it over his head, and he
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plunged his knife between his neck and shoulder and died there. ever since then it was a damaging event. they make distinctions between the early 60s and the late 60s. the early 60s is a time of idealism and associated with lunch counter protests and the beatles and their face and jfk and in the late 60s is associated with urban rebellion, riots, charlesmanson, and ultima as well. it's seen as the counterculture. people don't realize that emerged in the underground press, and the berkeley tribe gave saturation coverage and what a disaster it had been, and the tribe's journalists were not
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merely -- they didn't show up purely as journalist or show up at the concert as participants, but they were both, participants and observers. they wrote about the event in a very sort of familiar style with the kind of hip vernacular emerging from their own culture, and almost everything they wrote about the event struck a pore ten, tone and they were concerned about what happened there and what it all meant. at the same time, the san fransisco examiner covered this event, and they completely missed the concert's significance. they stressed in the first articles that there was no violence. the only problem associated with the conference or with the concert was the traffic headache it caused on the interstate. later they mentioned meredith hunter died, but also three other people were killed at well. two were run over while camping and another person drowned while on drugs in the swift moving
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irrigation canal, and then they fumbled as the story unfolded and couldn't explain why 3,000 people wanted to attend this concert in the first place, and then when they finally on december 14th there was a columnist who said the event was a disaster for the counter culture, but his tone was so priggish it's hard to imagine younger readers taking him seriously. he said, "maybe it's wishful thinking, but to me that rock fiasco looked like the last gasp of the whole hippy drug thing. they were the stones peddling their idiot beat before the mindless of animals, the human mob. it was just another manifestation of the rock drug slobbery cult to which you can only say good riddance." i use this event at the beginning of the book to -- because i think it helps us to understand the powerful appeal
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of the underground newspapers for the young readerrers in the 1960s and they lacked pretense of objectivity, but put across forcefully written opinions growing out of their own subculture and the examiner was the flag ship of the newspaper chain using a prefab bring kateed template and it was a wood stock style concert and they were completely wrong. these underground newspapers emerged in the mid-60s. someone pointed out that tech -- technically they represent the most spontaneous growth in the history of publishing. in 1965 there were five such newspapers. there was the east village in new york, a paper called the fifth of state in detroit, and then iranically for me and matt because we went to michigan state, but by 1965, the papers
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were springing up quickly and there were 400 newspapers in every city, campus, community with the readership that stretched into the millions combined. people sometimes asked how i got interested in the topic. this grew out of my dissertation in columbia. first i used the papers as source material, and i was interested in trying to understand how it was that the 60s rebellion happened, and to me it's perplexing that so many young people in the 60s were so intensely radical to the point where they not only thought that, you know, united states is not that the country is moving in a wrong direction, but rather it needs to be reformed, and by 1969 one survey showed 1 million college-aged students self-identified as radicals.
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to me, that's astonishing. you know, historians put forth obvious explanations for it. demographics, the baby boom generation, people coming of age in a time of unprecedented prosperity. they had a sense of their own generational potent and were equipped to tackle life. there was a civil rights movement that was important and obviously in african-american faced down fire hoses, they dramatized the power of collective action to bring down social change. they mentioned the narrowness of the cold war era where people march lock step into the gender roles, and then obviously the vietnam war had an important radicalizing effect, the fact that, you know, the war from 1968 on ward was the advent of
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satellite television, images were in people's living rooms, and, of course, the draft, you know, was profoundly important. in addition to all of this, historians have found it necessary to look at internal dynamics within the movement to account for growth and how it was so stylized, and until recently, the most widely read work in the 60s was done by people who lived through the 60s themselves, and by some coincidence the scholars had also been members of students for a democratic society or sds, the largest left group in the period. this is pie pioneering work they did, but they tended to arguably write about the 60s relying on their own memories and perspectives and also writing about sds, they talked about it from a top-down perspective. these people left behind archive
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materials so they were important to understand what happened at the grass roots level. from the 60s, we can account for the distortions. they were community papers, so you get a gross grass roots and local speer spective and they were wildly acceptable so anyone who wanted to make an intention on the claim of the youth rebellion could do this by writing an article rather through their underground newspaper. the very phrase, underground press is a misnomer. the papers were never technically legal. in world war ii papers attacked the nazis, france, and the netherland, but these were widely available. they rose because the people who
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put them together styled themselves as cultural outlaws, but they could be subversive. in some cases they were -- well, they attacked american culture sharply, and they sometimes champions the revolutionary overthrow of the united states government, and so in some cases they encountered harassment from police and various authorities. although the papers are critical of capitalism generally, someone pointed out they are a great example of practical free enterprise, and so in the 1960 -- or until the 1960s newspapers were set on hot type, so that was a procedure that was costly and difficult, and in the early 60s there was the add vent of photo offset printing, so what you would do is you would take a picture of whatever you printed on to a paste up sheet, and it was reproduced exactly as
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photographed, and so suddenly for a couple hundred dollars you could print several copies of an 6-16 page tabloid and sell femme -- them for a dime. they were drawn to the idea of profit making. in 1972 someone did a survey showing 72% of the papers made no profit whatsoever, and they often weren't of very high quality my professional standards, and to me, maybe that's an unfair criteria to apply, but i'm not interested in the synthetic considerations in the book, but how they socialized people into the movement and radicalized people and drew people into their fold and gave readers a since of connection and belonging to the new left. that's the argument i try to pursue. the failure of daily newspapers cricketed in a lot of ways to
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the success of the underground press. large cities tended to have multiple different newspapers, but they became valuable properties, and people who could afford to buy them and consolidate them did, and cities with many papers began to have one or two, and so in a formally diverse newspaper world there was room for angry opinions to plushish and -- flourish and some people thought they were more bland and consensus based and the corporate structure that undergirded the newspapers were looking for trained journalists and the diets of americans changed. this helps to explain why this is one of the reasons why the underground papers were so attractive to young people. underground journalists claim for themselves a privilege. they had a sense that only those people who were deeply
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implicated in the new left rebellion could understand what it was like. you had to be in the rock or drug or protest culture to understand what was going on, but if you with a journalist in the suburbs, then you just didn't get it at some level. they could also be fiercely political, these papers, but they sometimes pointed out that they, you know, did not corner the market on highly ideological agendas. there's a letter in here that i like written by al jen -- allen ginsberg. part of the mission was to protect the free speech rights of writers everywhere. he was upset about the harassment the writers were facing, and he confronted thomas fleming to release a statement contending the harassments, and he was not a fan of the papers
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at all and they were inflammatory, but they deserved the same free speech protections as anyone else. he wrote a letter saying he was grateful for the statement but said, "i would have taken exception were it my place applying wholesale to left literature outside the ideology displayed in se readers digest with its cold war theory or the new york daily news which proposes bombing china counting 2 million persons at their own estimate as reasonable, or for that matter the new york times whose business as usual reporting in time of crisis inflames my own heart. be that as it may, merely to say i find aboveground language as often inflammatory as new left underground rhetoric as would wc
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fields." [laughter] that was allen ginsberg in 1970s. finally, these papers, you know, they brought people into the movement fold. they could shore up people's political participation. they welcomed participation in all aspects of newspaper production. a lot of times they engaged in old fashioned muck raking and i point to a couple instances where the papers outperformed journalists at the "new york times" and "washington post". they were often visible in communities they were loud in some cases. their offices doubled as meeting spots for hippy travelers and activists and some, you know, very robust enclaves. a person could earn a living by selling the newspapers on street corners and rallies and whatnot. you know, as a result of the
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visibility, another big theme in the book is the fact they encountered a tremendous amount of harassment. i would point out that, you know, it is true that salacious material was common place in the newspapers, so they were not shy to use dirty words. a key feature a lot of these papers was underground comics spelling comic comix to suggest they were x-rated or suitable for adult readership. they were aimed at teenage boys frankly, but they were offending with mutilation and incest and extremely offensive sometimes, and that was the point. especially in the late 60s and early 07s nudity was common place in these newspapers, pictures of half naked and naked women were common place, and it's easy to see how average citizens were troubled by the material, but it was all
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constitutionally protected and the supreme court was clear on this in order to be legally obscene, work has to appeal to interests and confront community standards and utterly without redeeming social value, and all these papers, first of all, they were widely read so it's hard to suggest they violated community standards in every case, but in the broadest sense they were social and political papers that dealt with social and political concerns, and so they ought to have been immune from the obscenity charges, and that was not the case. i would say that obscenity and harassment of street venders is what people used to stifle the papers. i could not find an example of a newspaper with an obscenity conviction that was ever held, but they busted people for loitering on the street corners, selling the papers and whatnot. sometimes the papers were victims of vigil antigroups and
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they fire bombed the paper. in san diego there was a long series of attacks on the underground papers there. lolabergman from 60 minutes was an underground journalist in in period in san diego, and later, you know, some guy affiliated with the minutemen, a right wing group, he was involved with this and had help with the police. the fbi was heavily involved in the press. they infiltrated the systems and here in san fransisco there was a memo surfacing where this bureau function had the idea where the underground papers were getting advertisements from large record companies and he suggested the companies should not advertise in the underground press, and then suddenly the bottom dropped out for the papers. advertising in many cases with rolling stone magazine which was interesting. it's not an underground newspaper, but it was always
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commercially oriented. rolling stone would sell braiment the, you know, heat in the political elements, but it was critical of new left militants, sds, the underground and hippies so they drew record advertising and the fbi had schemes from a james bond novel. they started two short lived underground newspapers of their own, counterfeit papers met to promolt moderate view points opposed to radical ones and then there was the idea of creating a chemical, a foul smelling chemical that smelled and the idea was to spray the odor on the bundles of papers before it was delivered and make them unreadable. that was true. all this took a real toll on the newspaper, but at the same time i don't blame, you know, there are other reasons for the decline of the underground press. i mentioned before they functioned as decentralized
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collectives meaning that everyone who worked for the paper had an equal say in how they should operate or be run. literally that meant a person could get off the bus, show up in town and say he's part of the underground paper now and had as much say in the paper as someone who had been there a very long time, and so people found these editorial structures alienated over the long haul. the papers could be exceedingly course even by the countercultures loose standards of civility and propriety. they could be giving reasons for people to turn noses at the movements, and frankly, the papers mirrored, you know, the sexism and the homophobia we saw in the culture of the period. i give them credit for the moral stance on racism and the vietnam war, and by today's standards, they would fall short in areas as well. they deprived themselves of
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talent, from women and gays sometimes and when radical feminism and the gay movement happened in the late 60s, they gave people reasons to light out for new ideological territory, and so you know, all those reasoning thed for the decline -- all those reasons accounted for the decline of the papers. i know this book sounds heavy analytical, but one of the things i try to do in the book is also tell great stories. there's a narrative component to the book as well. it has elements of rock and drugs and sex and violence. i think it should be a best seller for that reason and here in the united states -- there's funny characters. there's, you know, one guy known as an excellent scam artist who could move money around and rip off people. there was sometimes the underground newspapers falling into disputes and there would be conflicts and some became violent. one of the legendary figures in
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the underground press was one the biggest drug dealers in new york smuggling marijuana by the ton into new york through florida. one of the papers in boston was founded by a guy named mellineman, and he was the acid head turning into his paper to a cult where people were not allowed to leave. a lot of the underground press meetings were humorous fiasco. there's two suicides in the book, so i just want to mention there's a story telling component to the book as well. you know, whenever i look at a new book, sometimes the first thing i do is look at the index to get a sense of the, you know, range of topics that are covered. there are some, i think, humorous se qengses in here. go to the h's, and i write about homoe rod schism. over at the l's there's lennon,
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john, and over in "s" you got, well there's sex, sex pistols, and sexism. you know, there's a wide range of topics that i explore. it's been in stores for a few weeks, but the official publication date was a few weeks ago. it's done well in reviews, one negative review from the "wall street journal," but my publicist says there's one more review to look forward to which will be a big piece in "high times" magazine. [laughter] i'm expecting better treatment from them than the "wall street journal". in anyone wants to ask me why "wall street journal" was unfair, let me know. [laughter] with that, i'm happy to take questions. thank you very much. [applause]
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>> why was the "wall street journal" -- [laughter] >> could you tell us about the "wall street "wall street journal" incident? [laughter] >> sure, sure. how much time do we have? >> [laughter] there's different reviews. you can get work that's unappreciative of the work, and that's disappointing or a bad review that misrepresents your views that says you do things you don't do and do do things that you don't do. this was both. it was written by russ smith, and he's a person who i admire his work. he wassed founder of three alternative newspapers, so i make a distinction in the book of the underground press in the 60s and the free weeklies in vending boxes. you know, he -- he claimed in the review that i, you know, celebrate the editorial structures, but i just criticize
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them. i don't deal with the issue of the fbi's seemingly uninterested in rolling stone magazine, but coming down hard on the underground newspapers and said that issue was unexplored with me, but i did. i can show you the page numbers. i gave short swift to the village voice i guess, and went on to talk about that and mentioned a guy named dan wolff, an early editor and there was a light editor yam hand and that was important. i say those things myself in the book. he didn't say anything in the review that i didn't say myself. i thought it was lazy. i thought it was lazy. >> did he read it? >> did who read what? >> did the "wall street journal" read the book? >> he must have read it, but if you give a bad review, do due diligence. he has more errors in the review than i have in the book as far
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as i can tell. >> [inaudible] >> the other thing is -- i don't want to dwell on this too much. [laughter] the reviews, you know, there's a suggestion that he's hostile to the idea that these papers should be, you know, critically analyzed. he thinkst there's too many -- he thinks there's too many footnotes, and he thought it was ironic that the newspapers were free leading and cavalier and whatnot and i'm analyzing them carefully as a scholar, but it's a scholarly book in respects. >> one question. one of the things that struck me recently was with all the upset in the middle east. i keep seeing these newscasters that supposedly are airtight people talking about upsets on the rising streets, invariably in some point in the discussion of it they look at the camera and say imagine in those things happened in the united states. you're an expert on the 60s, and
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my question is don't people remember the 60s aside from the cliche? don't kids learn about history in that period? >> why can that be catch leerily -- cavalierly said by people who should know better? >> it doesn't seem to me people don't know a lot about it. that's my own perspective. the fact that these papers were, you know, faced such terrible suppression from the police and fbi and everything else, it does surprise me people protective of free speech rights seem to overlook or ignore the way the papers were targeted or harassed, but the 60s loomed large in the culture and politics and political issues today are reflections of how people feel about the 60s. bill clinton said something along these lines i thought was rude. if you take a person today ask them if there's more harm or good done in the 60s, you know,
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you they are likely to be a conservative or a republican. if you think on balance there's more good than harm done, you're a liberal or democrat. i think that rings true to my own experience, but i think a lot of the culture politics that, you know, we face today they have no or gens in the -- urgent in the 6 o 0s. it's fascinating for me to see bill ayers in the news every day. i think it still looms large in our politics. >> i was wondering if there were any papers now that you are, you know, thinking sort of live up to the underground idea? i have friends on berkley working on slingshot and independent press, and i think there's a lot of different papers of political stances that maybe people within that group read it. >> right. >> i'm just curious your thoughts on that current press.
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>> there's a lot more diversity now with the internet. the cliche that says everyone with a laptop and internet connection has their own press in a sense. it's easy for people to put across, you know, di senting view points nowadays. you know, ironically as, you know, even though i'm critical the way the "new york times" in the 60s put across mainstream establishment values and sort of failed do acknowledge their own bias, their own mainstream bias, i still think there's a place for professionally staffed daily newspapers today more than ever, and so, you know, a paper like the "new york times," i mean, there's a publisher and editors, professionally trained people who try to the best of their ability to, you know, first of all spend a lot of money with bureaus across the world, and try to figure out what's important and give it the right amount of, you know, way to proportion, and sometimes they get it wrong, often times i'm
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sure they do, but we live in the phenomena of people talking about, you know, the closure or the information cacoons or people tend to oftentimes consume media that reiterates their own beliefs or values or whatnot, and i see this a lot. i did an experiment a couple months ago, a little longer than that. remember christine o'donnell running for office in delaware? i was surfing on the web and it came up she didn't understand the first amendment or the freedoms protected in this, and she kind of made a fool of herself in this debate, and i just thought it was interesting, and then that night i knew what was going to happen. i went home, spent two and a half hours flipping back between msnbc and fox, bill o'riley and sean hanty. on fox, they didn't mention it
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happened. if you only watch fox, you wouldn't have known that night this big news story broke. i think people are, i think too quick to, you know, find media that -- consume media reflecting their own subjectivities, so i think there's space for professionally oriented newspapers. amy. >> john, hi. so one of the things that came up for me is the imagined communities from the book in which it sort of national -- sorry to go academic on you, but the idea of national collective responsive is in part created by print culture so that thinking of ourselves as americans happens because we read newspapers that call us that, and so i'm wondering how decentralized underground papers helped create a national sense
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of the movement, the 60s, and then if the common denominators went beyond rock n roll, drugs, and so on and then particularly what relevance that collective we-ness might have had and left opposed to be a separatist and whatnot. >> i'm talking about the structure of most underground newspapers. there's exceptions. there's some run by individuals in a hire ark yal way. but there's two organizations. one playing a big role in the book and they had journalists covering events and cement out news pacts from where they were located and some in new york and massachusetts and sent these to every other newspaper that subscribed, and so, you know,
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people reprinted the material that was in there, and this lns made the underground press a site for intermovement communication, you know? there was another organization and they simply sent copies of their papers to every other paper and had no concern about copy rights or permissions to reprint anything, and so that was helpful for smaller papers that were in smaller cities or campuses that were away there the pageants of the big cities. people groups could still get a sense of the common culture being created. there's a commonality of taste generated in the paraphernalias that i mentioned, and then what was the second part of the question? i mean, there is that -- i make a -- most people says 60s make a distinction between the wing of the counterculture, people
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accepted in the radicalism and wanted to create a subculture that, you know, they would drop out and then there was another sort of political wing very interested in finding the right formulas for ending the vietnam war and whatnot, and in the underground press there's more overlap of the two tendencies, especially by the late 60s. the divisions of political people and cultural people are hard to discern, and you see that in the underground press, but you don't see that in the writings done in the 60s until recently. thanks for asking about benedict anderson. there's material on page 68. hayden white was the vain of my existence when i worked at harvard, but i found a way to work him in. [laughter] yes? >> did any of the individual papers or individuals within the papers go evolve and become
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mainstream and become well-known in another capacity? >> yes and no. there's one running con secttively since 1965 called the 5th of state from detroit, but it's mutated from the original vision. in the late 70s there was the alternative press, and i see this as the second generation liberal press, commercially oriented, muck muck raking news sheets, the bay guardian is one of them, the papers in the vending boxes, and they, you know, are very left wing, giving the writers personal freedom to sort of go their own way and they allow people to contribute who maybe don't have pedigrees to break into the daily papers. they appeal to young people going after this, you know, 18-34 demographic, covering the arts very well, rock n roll especially and has some of the same qualities as the
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underground press. the underground papers were always about, you know, movement building. they were staffed and run by people who generally saw themselves as activists first and journalists second, and then this, you know, network of alternative papers is maybe the reverse of that, but they were very successful in the 80s and 90s. i mean, they got gang-buster results and profitable enterprises. i think they are falling on harder times like a lot of print media is generally, but they played an important role because for a long time before the advent of the internet, they were truly the alternative. they were the alternative to the mainstream dailies in their cities, and they have that appeal. >> john, looking at a globally with the internet and advancement of having global leadership, do you think this wikileak could be considered the
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by-product of the underground press in america or maybe even in europe? >> i don't know -- not really, i don't think so. he, you know, yeah, i think there's -- i think it's obviously a left-wing orientation, and people are, if i was a person of government, i would be threatened by him or concerned about what he was doing, so you think he's probably right to be nervous for his safety. if he's not -- there's not a rising social standing where he's connected with. i think what he's doing is interesting, and i haven't made my mind up about it. >> hi. i was just curious if you could say more about how you did your research and if you talked to the people who founded the presses. >> you know, i'm lucky that the underground newspapers are preserved in the microfilm
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collection, so i spent a lot of time in new york and also in the libraries in the basement going through the microfilms. in some ways that made my research easy, but i also discovered sources that people haven't used before, and so, you know, one thing i'm proud of is i brought a lot of primary sources to light that scholars have not tended to and i think that's need. i found collections in various archives across the country, and i did this thing, you know a significant number of interviews and correspondents with yonder ground people. they are excited to see their history being told, and it's been neat to build relationships with some of these underground press people. someone back there. this is pretty tame for a wine
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city. i thought there would be a jug of wine being passed around. [laughter] >> you mentioned about the sexism. >> uh-huh. >> now, i was in the san fransisco-berkley area in 67-68, and i remember all the kids selling the paper or the san fransisco oracle, and you'd see these middle-aged guys going back to the suburbs stop and, you know, buy the bash or whatever for the sex ads. >> right. >> of course, we would laugh at them because we wouldn't pay for it because we would share it and say, hey, the money -- we're surviving on the money we make selling the paper to these guys who hate us, and we hate them. does your book go into the economics? basically a lot of -- we came to the conclusion that a lot of these subversive ideas in the paper were being supported
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simply because of the sex ads or whatever, you poe. >> yeah, i mention that briefly. what you are saying is exactly correct. especially by the late 60s and 70s in the big cities, these randy back page sex ads drew attention, not from dirty old men, but people from the suburbs you didn't like. [laughter] what happened is several underground press publishers founded their a-political porn magazines. there's several examples of that in the early 1970s so there's a sense these papers lost relevance or it was wrong to draw, you know, so heavily from -- they are becoming a-political in that sense, so i think your observation is squaring from what i heard from other people as well. >> i know your book is about papers in the united states, but did you find that there were underground papers like this in europe as well? >> there were. i don't write about them a lot,
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but they were substantial in europe. i think it's called the international times is the first paper in europe, and, you know, they were also some of the european papers part of the underground press syndicate. if you were lucky enough to get an interview, you could be reprinted in a paper in europe, and so there were a few of those papers. i just don't write about them that much other than a few canadian papers do show up. well, thank you very much. yeah? >> [inaudible] [laughter] >> i only drink red wine usually, but i think i'm going to have beer tonight. i'm going out with a couple old friends, but you guys are welcome to come along if you want. thank you so much. i really appreciated it. thank you.

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