A BuzzFlash Interview with Sander Hicks, CEO of Soft Skull, the Publisher of "Fortunate Son"
May 28, 2001
The right wing print, radio and television have been promoting an insidious and cynical effort at historical revisionism. "At Any Cost: How Al Gore Stole the Election," was written by Bill Sammon, a Reverend Moon-owned Washington Times "journalist," and is apparently selling like hotcakes, due to the shilling of the Bush/Falwell/Cheney/DeLay Amen chorus.
The book promotion page on the rightwing NewsMax.com promises these revelations, among others:
Well you get the picture. It's another right wing media outrage, an Alice in Wonderland diatribe of hypocrisy and doublespeak.
the other side, a book that the Karl Rove propaganda machine nearly buried
soon will be coming out in its second edition. "Fortunate
Son," by Jim Hatfield, will be republished and released in mid-June.
St. Martin's Press originally published "Fortunate Son," but
St. Martin's pulled the book from distribution after being threatened
by the Bush handlers. Soft
"Fortunate Son" covers the seedy and hypocritical past of America's Anointed President-Select. You get a full accounting of the dark underside of the front man for Bush Incorporated.
We interviewed Sander Hicks, CEO of Soft Skull, about the second edition of "Fortunate Son" in advance of the book's rollout.
BUZZFLASH.COM INTERVIEW WITH THE PUBLISHED OF "FORTUNATE SON"
BUZZFLASH: Why did you come to the rescue of "Fortunate Son," and why was it dropped by St. Martin's press?
SANDER: I hate the habits of the big corporate media. They are out of touch with the way regular people think. They move around with their noses in the air. They watch only each other, and act like each other. So I could tell someone had to step in and reprint this book, and it was probably going to have to be us. It was a good way to test the strength of this young energetic publishing company, like taking a motorcycle out on the road after a couple years in the shop. You learn where it's weak. You come back in and know what you have to fix. If you have a distributor that fails to do their job when the media backlash and legal harassment get too hot, you replace the distributor.
BUZZFLASH: Did you face legal action from Bush Incorporated for going ahead and publishing "Fortunate Son." If so, who were the plaintiffs and what was the outcome?
SANDER: Yes, but part of that was our fault. We should have checked with lawyers before printing Hatfield's story of his felony. Not that we think it isn't correct, but the truth doesn't set you free: The truth gets you in trouble in this country. Hatfield was involved in a workplace conspiracy in 1987, and he has a felony on his record. The plaintiffs were his former employers who didn't like us discussing their dirt in Hatfield's new Foreword 12 years later.
BUZZFLASH: How did you end up selling the book? What has the response been?
SANDER: Well, like I said the old distributor fell apart, they just shriveled when there was a fight, so we've gone through a severe cash crunch. But our e-commerce is what really kept us above water. We never stopped selling the book. So a big thank you to all the folks who went there over the last one and a half years and picked up the book on www.softskull.com. I learned a lot about what's really valuable about the net-it allows you to publish content and free tastes of a book or idea really fast, and to set up a relationship with people who are specifically interested in what you are about. We live in a country where freedom, justice, truth are becoming rare things.
BUZZFLASH: What is the reason for publishing a second edition? How is it different than the first edition?
SANDER: We have this great, new distributor, PGW and we love them but they wouldn't touch our old edition because of the lawsuit. We settled the suit, but the only way to really go forward is to reprint the book without the old Foreword. But that's fine. Hatfield's story about his life in 1987 is not really important to the bigger picture about the President. Instead, leading progressives and I wrote over 80 pages of new material about how exactly this book has been repeatedly suppressed, burned, harassed. (Hell, Jim Hatfield's life has even been threatened.) It's been one hell of a ride.
BUZZFLASH: What are the five reasons you believe BuzzFlash fans should read the new edition of "Fortunate Son"? or What will readers find in "Fortunate Son" that they won't find in other biographical accounts of George W. Bush?
SANDER: The biggest thing is I personally expose the sources of the controversial 1972 Bush cocaine arrest story. To make sure everyone is on the same page, when Hatfield did the book in October of 1999 with St. Martin's they were hot for a sure New York Times bestseller, because Hatfield had corroborated a long-rumored story about young Bush being arrested for cocaine possession in 1972. But the sources of the story had sworn him to protect their identity. Hatfield only told one person, me, and over time I've chosen to make this information public.
If you connect all the dots in the "Fortunate Son" story, you get a picture of a President who was made, not elected. The Bush Presidency is a creation of minds much more meticulous and strategic than his own. They removed talk of the Bush drug arrest from the media by feeding it to a biographer they knew had a felony conviction in his past. He breaks the story, and then they break him, the Dallas Morning News reports the salacious story about a car-bomb, a hit man, a boss, a felony conviction, and then the mass media's attention is focussed en masse on Hatfield, who can't take the heat, denies the allegations and flees town. St. Martin's doesn't know what's going on, but they are getting threatened by Bush campaign lawyers who are "looking into" suing them. So again, the rule of the law is just the threat of lawsuits. St. Martin's was paranoid, so they announce that they are pulling all copies, all 88,000 copies of the book from stores. So much for America, so much for the Bill of Rights.
Reason #2 - There's a great political cartoon by Seth Tobocman, the co-founder of World War Three, a comics magazine.
#3 - Mark Crispin Miller, the NYU Professor and media critic, has read all of the biographies of Bush and says that Hatfield's is the best, the most penetrating and complete. Dr. Miller opens up this new edition with a new Foreword.
#4 - Michael Binder is a Dallas cold war historian, who has undertaken the first full, scholarly study of the history of the Texas Air National Guard. He states clearly that the reason that Bush left the TANG early in 1972 was most likely because Bush "had something to hide."
#5 - Mark Levine is a lawyer who's written this great question-and-answer dialogue about the how the Supreme Court itself twisted the law around to suit Bush. I mean, we all know Scalia will never be Chief Justice now because he showed a clear partisan bias. He sacrificed himself like a cow, and for what, for this dumb Dubya? Levine's piece is written like a play, human questions, and clear answers. A lot of people first saw this circulating via email, but we thought it also deserved a home in print.
Here's a sample-
So, there are 5 reasons, 5 answers to your last question. But I'm not done yet:
#6 - David Cogswell wrote a great Appendix to our edition of the book. Cogswell is a media analyst, and the author of "Chomsky for Beginners." He wrote this essay about losing a lot of faith in the media and in the system after the election fiasco. It ends with a detailed emotional account of being down in D.C. in the cold rain, determined to protest the inauguration. I was down there too. We had the majority, we ruled the streets. We just didn't have the power, and we didn't have the President we had voted for.
Here's a sample from Cogswell's piece-
#7 - I had Jim Hatfield thoroughly revise and update this edition. Nothing is edited out, but a few things are clarified and refined.
#8 - Jim also assembled his collection of some of the more revealing, "Bushisms," quotes from the President as he tries to speak coherent American English. Again, a lot of these first appeared here and there on the Net, but we assembled an authoritative collection, for the record.
#9 - Speaking of which, Mark Crispin Miller (the NYU guy from Reason 3, above) is the author of a great new book called The Bush Dyslexicon: Analysis of a National Disorder (coming Summer, 2001 from Norton). Beyond Bushisms, Miller hands in a deep reading of what Bush means when he says what he says. Rather that assuming Bush is a complete shell, Miller shows Bush is a real person, a willing mascot for the interests he serves, a vicious, heartless, truly weird guy. Miller says that Bush is obviously dyslexic and hiding it, and in the same way, the major media can't see what they are actually reporting. We don't mention how horribly absurd the scene is: the election, the Supreme Court selection, and now this entire Presidency. Come on! Arsenic in the water? Who wants that, besides big business? Please!
One thing I have to point out is that Bush himself basically confirms the veracity of the cocaine story that Hatfield reported and got us all into this lovely little warzone in the first place.
Here's what Miller reports in his Foreword in our book:
Bush replied as follows:
What is most significant here is Bush's final phrase: the press attacked Hatfield for "writing the story"-not for "making that stuff up," or "telling those lies," or whatever other phrase he would have used if he were innocent of Hatfield's charges. (Similarly: "That woman who knew I had dyslexia-I never interviewed her," Bush said dyslexically about Gail Sheehy, who did interview the candidate for her profile in Vanity Fair-and, note well, who, Bush admitted, did not "claim" or "say" but "knew I had dyslexia.") What Bush began to say is also as revealing as what he finally said: "to save-to protect the innocent." An innocent party has no need of being "saved" from a destructive allegation. It is the true report that you're in need of being saved from-whereas "the innocent" might need to be protected from a smear. Throughout the controversy, Bush himself never actually came out and said that Hatfield's charge per se was false, but just that it was "scurrilous," and that the author was himself "a convicted elon," as if that alone proved anything. It was-typically-a deft way to dodge the whole messy question of whether Hatfield's charge was true. Although transparent in his stammerings and "misstatements," Bush was sharp enough to kill the story, and go on (with lots of help) to steal the presidency from the Democrats.
#10 - For the final reason, I will speak generally about this country, directly to the Buzzflash readers: Fortunate Son is a good book to have by your side for the next four years, because you, like me, care about your country. You don't like Big Business installing their guy in the White House. You don't like the media telling you it's all right. You want democracy, truth, freedom to be really live things, not ideas locked away in a marble tomb. Bush's entire life and this pseudo-election are worthy of study. They are ugly pictures and will make you angry all over again, but you need to know. We all need to know how to fix this country. We have to look at the problems; we have to cure the disease.
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"Fortunate Son" by Jim Hatfield is available as BuzzFlash Premium at http://www.buzzflash.com/premiums/Fortunate_Son.html and on the Soft Skull Web site: http://www.softskull.com.
Sander Hicks also operates the website SanderHicks.com: http://www.SanderHicks.com
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