Tag Archives: conspiracy theory

Five Years Later: An Open Letter to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Editor’s Note: Five years ago MHB posted the letter from James Tracy to the Sun-Sentinel and accompanying statements republished below. The newspaper and its editor, Howard Saltz, played key roles in circulating fraudulent and deceptive reports and commentary on the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, Boston Marathon bombings, and subsequent mass casualty events, while Sun-Sentinel editorial staff took aim at FAU Professor James Tracy for analyzing such events on his personal blog, Memory Hole.

Saltz’s inflammatory articles targeting Tracy culminated in a December 11, 2015 opinion piece purportedly authored by Lenny and Veronique Pozner, parents of a Sandy Hook child victim, according to the incident’s official narrative.

Saltz was terminated by the Sun-Sentinel’s parent company, Tronc, in February 2018, just days after the major mass shooting event at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida. During his seven year tenure at the paper Saltz frustrated Sentinel reporters for allegedly censoring important stories at the newspaper, with one critic calling him a “cancer on Florida journalism.”

On June 3, 2013 James Tracy sent a letter to Sun-Sentinel editor-in-chief Howard Saltz citing the paper’s repeated attacks on Tracy for publicly questioning government pronouncements and overall news coverage of the Sandy Hook massacre and Boston Marathon bombing. In a June 17 response to the letter Saltz maintains that the Sun-Sentinel’s remarks are defensible given its newsworthiness and under the tenets of free speech.

“Our news coverage has not judged the merits of your arguments,” Saltz contends. “It never will. We will report them, and let the chips fall where they may.”

Tracy’s article, “The Sandy Hook School Massacre: Unanswered Questions and Missing Information,” received wide circulation in alternative media outlets in late December, immediately prior to the Sentinel‘s string of stories and commentaries highlighting Tracy.

The letter is reprinted in its entirety below followed by excerpts from Saltz’s response.

James F. Tracy, PhD
Boca Raton, FL

June 3, 2013

Howard Saltz
Editor in Chief
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
500 East Broward Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33394

Sent Certified Mail: Return Receipt Requested

Dear Howard Saltz,

I am writing in reference to the numerous articles and opinion pieces published by the Sun-Sentinel regarding my public commentaries on the December 14, 201[2] Newtown massacre and the April 15, 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Without seriously assessing what I have actually sought to argue, each of these pieces have almost without exception vigorously assailed my character and overall assessment of these public events while advocating for dismissal from my faculty post at Florida Atlantic University, implying or explicitly calling attention to my alleged moral or even mental incapacity to hold such a position. Taken as a whole, the uniformly negative nature of such articles and commentaries can be considered as nothing less than a concerted campaign against me and is arguably libelous.

The following are quotes from some of the news and opinion articles published by your newspaper since January 7, 2013:

“A communication professor known for conspiracy theories has stirred controversy at Florida Atlantic University … “ Mike Clary, “FAU Prof Stirs Controversy By Disputing Newtown Massacre,” January 7, 2013.*

“A tenured professor has to spout a lot of craziness before you can oust one … I find conspiracy theorists fascinating. They view the world through a permanent prism of distrust and paranoia. Maybe they were dropped on their head when they were babies, or it’s something in the genes.” Chan Lowe, “FAU Prof’s Sandy Hook Conspiracy Theory,” January 11, 2013.

“James Tracy still has a job at Florida Atlantic University, FAU media relations director Lisa Metcalf said Wednesday. But beyond that, she didn’t say much about Tracy, a tenured associate professor of communication who has brought much embarrassment to the university with his comments questioning the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre … I’m all for academic freedom, but there’s a not-so-fine line between critical thinking and crackpot lunacy. I sure am glad I’m not FAU president Mary Jane Saunders. I don’t know if I’d fire Tracy. Perhaps the best we can do is ignore him.” Michael Mayo, “FAU Takes Heat for Professor James Tracy’s Sandy Hook Comments,” January 24, 2013.*

“So score another one in the weird column for FAU … After taking a public relations hit last month with the wacky Internet musings of tenured communications professor James Tracy about the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre …” Michael Mayo, “FAU Stadium Deal with Prison Company is Odd Way to Feather Nest,” February 20, 2013.

“So far, 2013 has been a controversial year for the university. In January, associate professor James Tracy questioned on his personal blog whether the Sandy Hook massacre happened.” Scott Travis, “FAU Apologizes After Jesus Assignment Sparks Outrage,” March 25, 2013.*

“In January, after professor James Tracy made national news by suggesting the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre may have been staged, it took Saunders two days to release a statement saying his views were not shared by the university.” Sun-Sentinel Editorial Board, “More Missteps at FAU,” March 27, 2013.*

“Earlier this year, you had the public relations fiasco involving professor James Tracy, a tenured professor of communication who claimed that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings may not have happened, or didn’t happen as reported. The claim got national publicity, and not the good kind.” Gary Stein, “Does Stomp Jesus Show FAU Needs an Image Makeover?” March 27, 2013.*

“Unveil latest course offerings at school’s ‘edgy’ communications department: ‘Muhammad Cartoon Drawing 101,’ ‘Advanced Holocaust Denial,’ and ‘Professor James Tracy’s Lies, Damn Lies and Conspiracies.’” Michael Mayo, “How Low Can FAU Go?” March 27, 2013.

“ … professor James Tracy’s blog musings about the Sandy Hook massacre … “ Michael Mayo, “FAU President Says She’s ‘Totally Secure’ in Job,” April 3, 2013.

“ … FAU’s conspiracy theorist.” Scott Travis, “Controversial FAU Professor Questions Boston Bombing,” April 23, 2013.

“‘Our own FAU handbook says an employee may be terminated for questionable conduct, professional or personal,’ [FAU] trustee Robert Rubin said. ‘And what Professor Tracy said wasn’t?’ But making comments that are embarrassing to a university is not grounds to fire a tenured professor … “ Scott Travis, “Controversial FAU Professor Questions Boston Bombing,” April 23, 2013.

“Tracy’s Sandy Hook postings received nationwide attention and prompted FAU to issue him a formal reprimand.” Scott Travis, “Controversial FAU Professor Questions Boston Bombing,” April 23, 2013.*

“Florida Atlantic University professor James Tracy … obviously needs a hobby so he can stop coming up with crackpot theories.” Gary Stein, “Should the FAU Professor be Fired for Off-the-Wall Theories?” April 25, 2013.

“FAU Professor James Tracy offered his opinion on the recent events that occurred in Boston in the Sun Sentinel on April 24 … While the vast majority of our university professors tend to be to the left of the political spectrum, most of them try to minimize mixing their ideological views with their professional responsibilities. There are others however, who use their title and position to intimidate and coerce students who do not subscribe to their way of thinking.” Caren Besner, “Some Professors Trying to Force Views on Students,” May 7, 2013.

“Forget the Clowns, Send in the headlines! … James Tracy’s musings …” Michael Mayo, “More Questions at FAU,” May 8, 2013.

“And everyone got mad when tenured communications professor James Tracy started spouting conspiracy theories about the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre and Boston Marathon bombings on his personal blog.” Michael Mayo, “FAU President’s Resignation No Surprise,” May 15, 2013.

“It didn’t help that Saunders had to deal with a wacko professor who twice made national news for doubting the veracity of the massacres at Sandy Hook Elementary School and later, the Boston Marathon.” Sun-Sentinel Editorial Staff, “What’s Next for FAU, Given It’s President’s Resignation,” May 16, 2013.

“As president, [Mary Jane Saunders] could not be blamed for the antics of some of her faculty (conspiracy theories …), Chan Lowe, “FAU’s Saunders Resigns,” May 16, 2013.

*Note: The memoryholeblog.com site had existed since March 2012. The blog and I were thrust into the national news only after the Sun-Sentinel published its January 7, 2013 story, “FAU Prof Stirs Controversy by Disputing Newtown Massacre.” Thereafter the Sun-Sentinel repeatedly refers to the “controversy,” suggesting its spontaneity, even though the paper played a major role in initiating and perpetuating it.

Published Letters to the Editor

“But I was also dismayed because the Sun Sentinel chose to put the article on the front page, needlessly giving more attention to this nut-case than he deserves.” Richard Mangan, “Give FAU a Break,” April 28, 2013.

“FAU professor James Tracy certainly has to have his First Amendment rights protected. However, if the students are as rankled by his blogs as many of us are, just don’t register for any of his classes.” Mike Marcus, “Don’t Attend James Tracy’s Classes,” April 28, 2013.

“When will this insanity stop? FAU associate professor James Tracy should be fired immediately. A person with his kind of thoughts has no place teaching young adults. Who knows what a mentally disturbed person like Tracy could do in the future. Let us stop hiding behind tenure.” David Hofield, “Why Should Tracy’s Tenure Matter,” April 28, 2013.

As the above examples clearly indicate, the Sun-Sentinel has repeatedly attacked my person and character. Your paper and staff have on numerous occasions published material suggesting that I be relieved of my position. At no time, however, has your paper sought to seriously dispute what I have said or written concerning Sandy Hook or Boston, instead choosing to ride the tide of poorly informed public outrage it has played a major role in fomenting. Such conduct is not so much journalistic as it is political.

As noted above, the entire controversy regarding my analysis of Sandy Hook massacre news coverage can be traced to a January 7 story written by Sun-Sentinel senior reporter Mike Clary. Clary expressed his delight that the story was picked up nationally in a January 8, 2013 telephone conversation with me. He again drew attention to this a few days later in a follow-up piece. “A Monday story in the Sun Sentinel in which Tracy discussed his views went viral and touched off a firestorm of controversy,” Clary wrote. “While many callers and emailers defended or even applauded Tracy’s remarks, others, including current and former FAU students, said they found his theories outrageous and offensive.” Mike Clary, “FAU Prof Should Be Fired, Newtown Official Says,” January 10, 2013.

Thus much of the “controversy” the Sun-Sentinel repeatedly points to with the underlying suggestion that it is spontaneous can be traced to its initial story—a story that your staff clearly sought to make as sensationalistic as possible. On the evening of January 7 in a telephone discussion with Mr. Clary, your reporter forcefully and repeatedly pushed me to assert that the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre was staged. He seemed irritated when I responded to his queries by remarking, “It’s a possibility,” or “The coverage suggests that it may have been.” My responses mirror the commentaries on my blog.

Further, in our initial telephone interview on the afternoon of January 7 Clary sought to question me under a false pretense—stating that he had been informed that the FAU administration was potentially initiating disciplinary action against me because of my blog. I have been told by one reliable party working within the FAU administration at the time that administrators knew nothing of my blog until Clary’s January 7 article was published and thereafter became a national story. Indeed, I was never spoken to by administrators about my blogging until January [18], [two] weeks after Clary’s initial story ran.

I have done a considerable degree of research on both the Newtown massacre and the Boston Marathon bombing. With the above in mind, and since the Sun-Sentinel is a newspaper with a skilled staff and a significant regional and national influence, I formally challenge you or any member of your editorial or reportorial staff to a public debate on the veracity of either Sandy Hook or the Boston Marathon events as related by government and law enforcement agencies, as well as in your newspaper and by the US press more broadly, versus the arguments that I have put forth.

I am sure you will agree that such a dialogue will be of special value since it will move us beyond tactless name calling and toward consideration of substantive evidence and analysis of events with major import. If you are confident enough in your particulars of how each of the events transpired, as suggested by the paper’s continued publication of such such serious and continual denunciations of my being and character, I am confident that you or your staff will be pleased to engage me in such an exchange.

If you agree to my challenge, arrangements for a suitable public forum and accommodations will be negotiated between your staff and me. If the Sun-Sentinel prevails in such a debate the public will be reassured of the paper’s devotion to truth, journalistic integrity, and the censures of me will be wholly justified. I will thereafter devote myself to further contemplating and learning from the flurry of disparaging coverage and remarks your staff and its regional broadcast peers have directed toward me and my person. If you are not successful in the exchange you will publicly apologize for the uniformly negative series of reports and commentaries your newspaper has published about me over the past five months.

Thank you for your consideration of the above. I look forward to your reply.

Sincerely,

James F. Tracy, PhD
561-___-____

On June 17 Mr. Saltz replied to the above correspondence via email, making the following points quoted verbatim here:

  • There is no concerted effort. Reporters and columnists are looking for stories, as they always do. And they’re finding stories in this situation.

  • Are the stories you cite legitimately newsworthy? I say yes. You’re a high-profile member of the community, in a position to influence others, espousing viewpoints that are unusual and perhaps inflammatory. That’s newsworthy, almost by definition.

  • You suggest in your letter that you may have been libeled. I am quite comfortable in my belief that the SunSentinel has not libeled you. We will therefore act accordingly.

  • The facts provided in the articles are, to the best of my knowledge, correct and true. If you believe there is an error of fact in our coverage, please feel free to tell me. You have not cited any in your letter.

  • The opinions expressed are within the bounds of fair comment. You advocate unusual theories; people will always challenge unusual theories and, perhaps unfortunately, some will be offensive in doing so. The people expressing these opinions are using the same free-speech right with which you espouse your views.

  • We would not engage in debate. That’s not what newspapers do. Your suggestion confuses our reporting of positions contrary to yours with taking positions contrary to yours. They are not the same thing.  If you engage in a public debate with someone else, we would report that. You could also express your views on the Newtown and Boston Marathon situations in an op-ed article; I would be happy to publish it.

Our news coverage has not judged the merits of your arguments. It never will. We will report them, and let the chips fall where they may.

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The Boston Globe’s Hit Piece on the Assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy

Edward Curtin
(June 4, 2018)

The counterattack on those, including Senator Robert Kennedy’s children, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, claiming that Senator Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated as a result of a conspiracy involving at least a second gunman, has commenced.  The Boston Globe, the traditional hometown newspaper of the Kennedy family, published a clearly misleading piece on May 31, 2018 by Nik DeCosta-Klipa, with the curiously long and loaded title “Bobby Kennedy’s son thinks he was killed by a second shooter. Is there anything to it?  Or has RFK, Jr. “launched a whole new generation of conspiracy nuts 50 years later.”

Whether DeCosta-Klipa was acting on orders from above to produce such a specious piece or is ignorant of the fundamental research in a case that shouts out conspiracy is a question I cannot answer, although based on his go-to “expert” in his article – Daniel Moldea, whose contradictory disinformation on the case is well known to serious researchers – I would guess the former to be correct.

Let me begin with the title, which is marvelously propagandistic and sets the naïve reader’s mind on the intended trajectory.    RFK Jr.’s recent claim in The Washington Post of a second shooter and his call therefore for a re-investigation (a redundancy since no genuine official investigation was done; it was a cover-up from the start) is followed by a question: Is there anything to it?  This is followed by a headlined quote from Moldea, repeating the CIA created meme about conspiracy nuts: Or has RFK Jr “launched a whole new generation of conspiracy nuts 50 years later.” A question mark for RFK, Jr., while Moldea is allowed an assertion in the title that is not followed by a question mark.  Language is the key to effective propaganda, including punctuation.  It is a very subtle art, at which our mainstream corporate media are adept.

But if you think I am being picky, let me explain further

DeCosta-Klipa begins by asserting that “conspiracy theories concerning President John F. Kennedy’s death may be most widely circulated.”  Thus the reader is led into this article with the insinuation that of course Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK and anyone who questions that is a conspiracy nut.  So what about RFK’s murder?

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The CIA and the Media: Historical Fact #91

Immediately following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy the CIA used its own disinformation conduits to link the event to Cuban President Fidel Castro. The Nov. 23, 1963, special edition of the magazine, Trinchera (in English: Trenches), was published by members of the Cuban Student Directorate (DRE), a CIA-funded organization operating out of Miami.

The CIA funneled leaders of the Directorate $51,000 per month in 1963 dollars ($389,000 per month in 2013 dollars), or about $4.8 million per year, according to Agency records. Trinchera’s publication was paid for by the CIA officer George Joannides, who was chief of psychological operations at the CIA’s station in Miami.

In August 1963, agents in Joannides’s organization provided the public backdrop for their November 23 Trinchera publication by counter-protesting Oswald’s one-man chapter of the pro-Castro “Fair Play for Cuba Committee.”  Trinchera’s November 23, 1963 special edition also highlighted comments Oswald made during an August 1963 debate on a New Orleans radio program with DRE Delegate Carlos Bringuier. Drawing on this, the DRE argued that Oswald and Castro were “the presumed assassins.”

Joseph Lazarro, “First JFK Assassination Conspiracy Theory Was Paid For By the CIA,” International Business Times, December 5, 2013.

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South Florida Cop Suspended for Facebook Posts may be Sanest Cop in America

Editor’s Note: As of this writing North Miami Beach police officer Ericson Harrell remains suspended with pay pending an internal investigation centering on his social media activity. Harrell’s case is similar to that of James Tracy in that his employer has taken issue with the policeman’s extracurricular commentary on the American police state and mass casualty events principally because of its content.

Now Florida public employers within the purview of the Southern District of Florida may very well be using the TracyvFAU decision as precedent to discipline workers based on speech-related “thought crime” offenses. There is no dispute that such employers and their legal advisors are aware of the court’s decision, and that the State of Florida fought vigorously to establish such a legal precedent. Please see our previous discussion of Officer Harrell’s situation here.

Carlos Miller
TheMaven.net
(May 6, 2018)

A South Florida cop suspended for comments he made on his personal Facebook page explains his views in detail.

The media had a field day mocking North Miami Beach police officer Ericson Harrell last month for suggesting on his personal Facebook page that the victims of the Parkland school shooting were “paid actors.”

The media attention resulted in Harrell placed on paid suspension while his agency “investigates” his comments.

But it’s been more than a month now and the only thing to investigate is whether or not Harrell made those comments while on duty, which may be a violation of department policy.

After all, Harrell never made those comments in his capacity as a police officer.

Instead, he made them on his personal Facebook page to his friends and followers, whom he says consists more of police accountability activists than police officers, including myself, who met him in person years ago.

In fact, he makes no mention of being a police officer on the About section of his Facebook page, not that he makes it a secret either as he frequently speaks out against police abuse on his page.

That being said, I believe some of his views about mass school shootings are far-fetched and irrational; based more on speculation than substance; a conspiracy-laden dogma arising from a complete lack of trust in the government.

But I also believe he is one of the sanest cops in the United States, which may help you understand my view of cops in this country.

This, after all, is a cop who is fully aware of the growing police state in this country, especially for those who stand up for their Constitutional rights; a cop who runs a YouTube channel called “The Penitent Cop” where he tries to educate people about their rights when dealing with police.

But I’ve been told my views are also radical, so I am posting the entire interview above to allow you to judge for yourself. Please let us know what you think in the comments section.

Joining us in the interview was First Amendment attorney Marc Randazza, a longtime PINAC reader who also asked Harrell some questions.

From left to right, Marc Randazza, Carlos Miller and Ericson Harrell

Harrell, a 19-year veteran of the North Miami Beach Police Department, said he had a red pill awakening a few years ago while looking into the conspiracy theories behind 9/11.

That led him to question the government about everything, especially about mass shootings, many which he describes as being hoaxes, including the Sandy Hook school shooting and the Las Vegas massacre.

And while it’s understandable such comments may offend the family and friends of the victims slain in those shootings, it’s not like he tagged them in his post.

As mentioned before, the only thing his department can discipline him for is if he was making those posts during work hours, which he says he does not remember if he did or not.

But even if he did make those comments during work hours, that is much more preferable to me as a taxpaying citizen than having him spend those hours destroying the lives of innocent citizens, which takes place daily in cities throughout the United States.

But then again, I am considered a radical for my views, so maybe I’m failing to see what the big deal is here.

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“The US Government Killed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”

By James F. Tracy

Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the most significant Black man in United States history. Western news media are quick to hollowly mourn his death. These are the same mainstream voices that, in concert with the Lyndon B. Johnson administration, almost uniformly condemned King when he came out against America’s criminal war in Southeast Asia during his April 4, 1967 Riverside Church speech. Abundant evidence now suggests that one year later the US government orchestrated his assassination. Unsurprisingly, major media continue to cling to the debunked government conspiracy theory that James Early Ray was the sole assassin of Dr. King. As is often the case, the truth is far deeper than such make-believe journalism is willing to fathom.

Reader Warning: British Broadcasting Company and National Public Radio are funded in whole or in part by the United Kingdom and United States governments respectively.
Image Credit: Ann Witmer | awitmer @ pennlive.com

Along these lines, the United States is especially fond of dedicating monuments, boulevards, even airports to the elected leaders and public officials its lettered agencies have murdered. Dr. Pepper’s research and legal efforts that resulted in the 1999 King v. Jowers verdict elaborated on in the video below left no doubt that the US government was directly involved in the April 4, 1968 assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. As Coretta Scott King remarked, “The jury was clearly convinced by the extensive evidence that was presented during the trial that … the conspiracy of the Mafia, local, state and federal government agencies, were deeply involved in the assassination of my husband.”

Continue reading “The US Government Killed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”

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Vice News = Fake News? (Video)

153News.net
Commentary on ViceNews’ recent video, “False Flag Hoaxers

(Warning: Profanity)

Editor’s Note: Vice News is a largely anti-journalistic video production company with a clear political agenda. Their most recent production borrows its title from “activist” groups openly seeking to quell free speech through intimidation, cyberstalking, and fraudulent copyright infringement claims. Some of their methods are critiqued in the video below.

Continue reading Vice News = Fake News? (Video)

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Obama: Fake News On Facebook Hurts Democracy

People need to pay attention to “what’s true and what’s not,” he said.

[Editor’s Note: We have reached truly Orwellian proportions when the president calls out public discussion and “fake news.” What makes this a real howler is that Obama has presided over countless government and media-constructed events at home and abroad alongside the 2012 repeal of the 1948 Smith-Mindt Act banning psychological operations targeting the American public ]

Marina Fang
The Huffington Post

President Barack Obama on Thursday pointed to the profusion of fake news on social media as a sign that people should not take democracy for granted.

In a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Obama warned that the ease with which people can promulgate fraudulent news stories threatens basic democratic principles.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcb8XcV9XIo

“In an age where there’s so much active misinformation ― and it’s packaged very well, and it looks the same when you see it on a Facebook page or you turn on your television ― where some overzealousness on the part of, you know, a U.S. official is equated with constant and severe repression elsewhere, if everything seems to be the same, and no distinctions are made, then we won’t know what to protect,” Obama said.

“We won’t know what to fight for, and we can lose so much of what we’ve gained in terms of the kind of democratic freedoms and market-based economies and prosperity that we’ve come to take for granted,” he added.

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