The Scoop: The Forbes List, The JFK Papers and the French Bishops' Lament Token
What would you say if I told you that while Nelson Mandela was still in prison, there was a meeting of the 400 richest people in South Africa -- and 399 of them were white? (The only black, an entertainer who had straightened her hair and changed her accent to become more acceptable to the white majority, was just barely rich enough to afford entry into the group.)You'd nod sadly and consider it an obvious sign of how bad South African racism was, right?Well, suppose for a second it wasn't South Africa -- it's Canada, right now. 399 out of the 400 richest people in Canada are white. You're probably thinking, wow, I thought they were a lot more enlightened than that in Canada. Oh, but wait. Canada didn't do the whole slave and Civil War thing like we did; they have a higher percentage of whites to start with. But still, 399 out of 400. Sounds like the hockey rink isn't exactly level. Yeesh.OK. Now here's the real truth: it's not South Africa, and it's not Canada.[Forbes] magazine has released their list of the 400 richest people in America. And every single one is white. [Every single one.] Except Oprah Winfrey, who is so far down the list that Bill Gates makes her entire net worth every [ten days].Without Oprah, the big money on the [Forbes] list is 100% caucasoid. Even including Oprah's millions -- I did the math -- the biggest fortunes in America are still more than 99.9 percent white. Personally, I think the editors should re-check their numbers. I mean, racism is a thing of the past, isn't it? After all, Steve Forbes says so all the time.***So one of my writer friends calls me last summer with a major scoop. Off the record.He's all excited because he's working with Pulitzer Prize winner Seymour Hersh on a big story for Sy's new book. And ABC is spending major dollars preparing a big TV special on their findings. It's all very hush-hush, so I can't talk or write about it at the time, but it's [big].See, there's a guy in New York who says he found some papers after his Dad passed away. Dad was a big deal lawyer, and the papers are supposed to be a contract in which JFK paid Marilyn Monroe a whole bunch of hush money so she'd keep her mouth shut about their supposed affair. [This] is the big blockbuster: JFK had sex. Possibly with Marilyn. And maybe he paid her off.[This] is what a Pulitzer Prize winner is doing with himself these days. I mean, no disrespect here -- Seymour Hersh is Da Man, OK? -- but Al Gore's having a Buddhist toga party in the Executive Office Building, and the Dean of American Journalism is going through 35-year-old bedsheets.Well, as of last week, it turns out that the JFK papers just might be forgeries. So ABC tries to cover their keister and look all journalistical by wheeling on their source and making [him] look as bad as possible. Class move.ABC got suspicious because the typewriter technology that created the papers doesn't match the dates on the contract. Aha! Good going, Sherlock. Let me again ask the same obvious questions I thought of, in five seconds, six months ago: Why, exactly, would Jack and Marilyn put something they both wanted to keep secret in writing?And why, exactly, would they put a shady, secret, possibly illegal bribe in the form of a legal contract? What's the point? If Jack doesn't come up with the cash, Marilyn needs a legal agreement before spilling the beans?On the other hand, if Marilyn talks and hurts Jack's career, he's then gonna destroy himself completely by suing her in [open court] for the payoff money?Hello? Is there anyone left in TV news with even a slice of a brain? ***I once spent a week in Paris doing the tourist thing. I went up and down the Eiffel Tower, actually stood in line to look at a painting, and like every visitor to Paris, stepped in dog poop almost as often as I stepped on actual grass.I also butchered the language like a pro. I never got coffee the way I wanted until I realized that I had confused the words "plain" and "full." So whenever the waiter asked how I wanted my coffee, I was saying "full." Which, if you think about it, is possibly the single stupidest way to describe how you want your cup of coffee. I also confused the words "fast" and "nearby." So when I was looking for Notre Dame, I kept asking this polite gendarme if the Cathedral was "fast." He said, uh, well, no. And he was right. Notre Dame has been in the same spot for, oh, five or six hundred years. Notre Dame's particular spot is on an island in the middle of the Seine, and it's so gorgeous from the front that almost nobody walks around back. Well, you know me...I went poking around, and not 30 yards away, completely unnoticed by the thousands of tourists -- really, suddenly I was all by myself -- I stumbled into one of the most moving things I've ever seen. It's a Holocaust memorial. A simple one. At the eastern point of the island, you walk down some stairs, and the beauty of Paris and the river is now visible only through bars. And behind you are tiny markers. One for each of the 70,000 French Jews who died. It's... a [lot] of markers.Sadly, most French priests cooperated fully with the Vichy regime. So, symbolically, the memorial truly belongs at the church's back: during the war, the Jews were, too.But now, at the start of the Jewish New Year, France's Roman Catholic Church has asked God and the Jewish people for forgiveness for their silence in the face of the Nazis.The survivors have begged all of us never to forget. And now the French Catholic Church has decided, only half a century later, not to.