Ron Rosenbaum, Writer

December 28, 2009

Was The Times " Hoaxed" By TMZ's JFK Nudes "Scoop"

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 4:52 pm

The more I think about it, the more I wonder whether it was just a coincidence that the august New York Times, for whom I’m proud to have written (including eight cover stories for the New York Times Magazine), published an an almost full-page Valentine to the gossip site TMZ this morning.

On the very morning TMZ published what they seemed to think was the scandal scoop of the century (“The JFK Photos That Could Have Changed History”).

This was an allegedly long hidden or lost photo supposedly taken on a yacht in 1956, supposedly showing JFK sunbathing while nude young women cavorted in the sea and on the deck. If real, if released at the time, it could well have derailed his bid for the presidency and, yes, changed history. Of course JFK probably did engage in such behavior many times before and during his presidency, so you could say “fake but true.”

But it was definitely a fake, as TMZ had to admit later in the day when the photo was revealed to be from a 1967 Playboy photoshoot with JFK’s head apparently cleverly photoshopped onto one of the sunbathing men’s bodies. I’m sure TMZ didn’t try to pull a fast one; I’m sure they believed it. They had all sorts of “experts” to vouch for it.

So TMZ was taken in and admitted it. But why did the Times run their big TMZ story today? Before the original JFK story and the hoax revelation? Sadly the Times quotes TMZ chief Harvey Levin telling the Times reporter that TMZ “has the same rigid standards as any operation in America.” Right.



  1. TMZ is perfectly fine. It’s TV show is alot funnier than unfunny Dave Barry. TMZ is a little obsessed with law enforcement, however, as the LAPD leaks to it hourly. TMZ’s ypung correspondents are winning and easy on the eye. Come to think of it, these days there is not a whole of difference between Ron’s blog and TMZ: both are dealing in nothing but cultural cotton candy at a time when intellectuals are jailed in China, Teheran is burning and so are the pants of an Al Qaeda terrorist on Delta Airlines. But you have about as much chance about hearing about any of this from Harvey Levin as you do from Ron Rosenbaum!!

    Comment by charlie finch — December 28, 2009 @ 5:53 pm | Reply

  2. This story does show Times in a nutshell.

    And while their attempts to be “with it” and hip have eroded their respectability and reliability it’s hardly a new phenomenon, though perhaps one that is intensifying as their ad revenue and circulation continue to decrease.

    As you said, “fake but true.” or… “fake but accurate”.

    So it goes.

    And see how much better it is when you keep the bile down?

    Comment by Jack — December 28, 2009 @ 5:53 pm | Reply

  3. That speculation sounds all too plausible.

    Very metaphorically resonant in light of the weird parody of a “news” organization TMZ enacts on their TV show, too, with all kinds of jokey little photoshops to comment on the celebrities they cover. As the “reporters” eagerly project their own mini-celebrity at the cameras in an effort to be cooler than the “real” celebs…

    The Times got swallowed by a snake that swallows its own tail.

    Comment by Fred Mecklenburg — December 28, 2009 @ 5:56 pm | Reply

  4. I mean “the media story of the decade” ?!? The media story of the decade is Iranian protestors courageously using Twitter and Facebook to send us pictures of the beatings in the street while Amedinajad does interviews with Diane Sawyer (as I predicted on this blog months ago) while his cybergoons hunt down Iranian students abroad and arrest their families at home. Ron, you are about as clued in at the moment as Janet Napolitano!

    Comment by charlie finch — December 28, 2009 @ 5:57 pm | Reply

  5. That speculation sounds all too plausible.

    Very metaphorically resonant in light of the weird parody of a “news” organization TMZ enacts on their TV show, too, with all kinds of jokey little photoshops to comment on the celebrities they cover. As the “reporters” eagerly project their own mini-celebrity at the cameras in an effort to be cooler than the “real” celebs…

    The Times got swallowed by a snake that swallows its own tail.

    It could make a very funny TV movie.

    Comment by Fred Mecklenburg — December 28, 2009 @ 5:59 pm | Reply

  6. Charlie Finch:

    You’re right, Iran is the story of the decade.

    Comment by Fred Mecklenburg — December 28, 2009 @ 6:18 pm | Reply

  7. still want to see Ron react like he used to… don’t care about a book coming out or not. he has time to post many “relevant” stories such as this latest, but has yet to step back onto the posting board.
    Even when he asks us to help him with what we think are the songs of the decade he can not find the minutes it takes to respond.
    good luck with the book, but please stop asking our opinion as if you care…
    Also even though you have a personal relationship with Charlie, it would be interesting to see you respond publicly to the various charges he has recently hit you with.

    Comment by bryan — December 28, 2009 @ 6:55 pm | Reply

  8. Charlie, you have mentioned several times that Ron could have hundreds of commentators if he only publicized his writings to his friends and followers outside of Pajamas… but do you really think they would like the petty Ron who blasts the anonymous ignoramuses and tackles less-than-relevant subjects.
    From being a devoted follower of his at slate and having read all his books and religiously followed his thoughts on shakespeare, I find his Pajamas writing to be completely devoid of any thought, contemplation, or intelligence.
    There is, however, a rare gem that keeps me reading.

    Comment by bryan — December 28, 2009 @ 7:41 pm | Reply

  9. a great mind such as Ron’s should be used to question his own party as well as the other side. obviously knowledgeable on the foreign policy front, more should be devoted to what he honestly thinks about the current situations in the world… and where he might say “I go after the Clintons!” I would respond that he was a loyal supporter and avoided all the obvious downfalls of the powerful couple up until the South Carolina “race card” incident… up until then he was 100% pro Hillary, which still makes me cringe every time he writes something new lambasting the former president… he had at least 4 solid years to think about it and when the democrat primaries were underway he threw his weight behind Hillary… now in the span of 14 or 16 months they have become the Devil’s rejects. Not the 8 years of presidency or the years of Senator Hillary and former Pres Willie did he see anything that might would dissuade him from thinking they would be the right people to lead the country from 2009 and on.. not a well thought out political mindset.

    Comment by bryan — December 28, 2009 @ 7:50 pm | Reply

  10. […] Read the entire story here. […]

    Pingback by Pajamas Media » Was the Times ‘Hoaxed’ by TMZ’s JFK Nudes ‘Scoop’? — December 28, 2009 @ 8:14 pm | Reply

  11. Great article, Mr. Rosenbaum, but I have to correct you on something. In the third paragraph you wrote:

    “Of course JFK probably did engage in such behavior many times before and after his presidency…”

    There was no after-presidency. JFK died in office.

    Comment by cjh — December 28, 2009 @ 8:31 pm | Reply

  12. In my view, Ron feels the need to pander to his natural liberal audience, lest he lose credibility with them, even though he shares some conservative views on Israel, terrorism, etc. This magnifies his discomfort with the conservative zinger wingers on his blog, creating a general discordance at odds with the kind of pipe smoking in the teepee meditations of Belmont Club. If he were to gather a few more choir members in his ersatz liberal amen corner this would have the salutary effect of ameliorating Ron’s angst, make him feel appreciated and add a few buffers against the conservative chorus, thus eliminating the need to occasionally cite an unfunny meriocrity like Dave Barry (Ron citing Dave Barry is like Camus citing Erma Bombeck). Thus we could all elevate the Mother Ship Rosenbaum to its dialectical mission of solving the world’s problems through thought and thpught alone.

    Comment by charlie finch — December 28, 2009 @ 8:44 pm | Reply

  13. What’s with Rosenbaum’s saying that Pres. Kennedy indulged in activities such as are depicted in the PLayboy photo “after his presidency”? As I recall, there was no “after his presidency” for JFK. November 22, 1963 took care of that.

    I’m sure Rosenbaum knows that and that this is just very sloppy writing. He probably meant “after JFK was elected president.” But, again, that was extremely sloppy sentence construction.

    Comment by Michael Dodson — December 28, 2009 @ 9:34 pm | Reply

  14. yikes! Erma Bombeck? I, well my fiance has a copy (from her mother) of Aunt Emma’s Cope Book… clever. terrible.
    Charlie, I read Ron HERE these days almost as much as to see what you post, but I do not understand this latest one.
    Naturally he needs to pander to his liberal audience, but if you read his Slate stuff, which I know you do, there is no pandering at all… or very little.
    There are some horrific “right wingers” on this site. I don’t like them, and neither do the majority of Pajamas readers, which is why I don’t get Ron’s continuously singling out the few racist basterds(Tarantino version of the word) to prove his superiority.
    Even I could write for a site like HuffPo or Slate or Salon and bait the march-step morons into taking my obvios instigation.

    And finally, after posting many times I realize my problem!!!

    I could do what Ron is currently doing! But I am not as gifted as Ron is! I feel, in my own special way I am as intelligent as he is, but I can’t write or THINK the way he does… but when he posts here I am constantly disappointed because I KNOW I can do what he is doing… which in the end is adding absolutely nothing to the intellectual cannon.
    This is a guy who helped me TRANSFORM! my thoughts on Shakespeare. My understanding of Hitler! and this is all he can come up with??????? Ask him to rebut Davis Hanson! have him add something here, PLEASE! PLEASE! PLEASE!
    There is no way his mind adds this crap continually to my daily lexicon… I hate it. it hurts me. what is wrong with him? why does he dumb it down here?
    I understand the joy of instigation. I live for it. I am argumentative (which, as Ron would NEVER acknowledge) has cost me jobs in the NY theatre world… these are serious problems with his side of the aisle and he continuously avoids them!!!!!!!
    I have written extensively about being a Republican in the NY theatre scene and all Ron wants to discuss is why some racist ignoramous will not use his real name… yet he avoids why I will NEVER feel confident using mine. My intentions are pure. I am no racist, no bigot. I am a “Dennis Miller” Republican… yet my ideas will hurt my career more than Ron’s could possible ever hurt his. His “high and Mighty” bs doesn’t fly with me. and as a Shakespeare lover just below him, I find it disturbing that he refuses to acknowledge the fact that the people he loves (Hall, NY
    Public (as bad as they’ve been)etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etcetc etc etc etc etc etc) get a free pass for their outlandish bigotry. I guess I’ve come to HATE Ron Rosenbaum the man, but will forever appreciate some of the wisdom he’s given me. Fuck ‘im.

    Comment by bryan — December 28, 2009 @ 11:00 pm | Reply

  15. He is just gettin old like the rest of us and despairing at the world. His angst at the cranks is a reflexive reaction from his activist youth. Sometimes when a guy contributes as much to your mental universe (yours and mine), you have got to forgive. Ron doesn’t really want to connect with the posters here but he still likes the soapbox. He ain’t gonna change, so let’s just cherish the good stuff and jab him buttward with the darning needle once in awhile to attempt to keep him alert!

    Comment by charlie finch — December 29, 2009 @ 3:54 am | Reply

  16. All this stuff about the Times lowering itself to praise TMZ. The Times IS TMZ!! The Times is loaded up with fluff, bias. It’s mission is to pander to the guilt of its pantywaist liberal readers in order to give them permission to buy the goods of its expesnsive (if dwindling) advertisers. I hate the Times because of its hypocrisy and I have contempt for yuppie liberals. The ones than moan and groan about racism PCing everything while buying the latest deluxe coffeemaker from a Land’s End catalogue would have flaunted their purchases on the auction block back in 1850. We see this two-faced behavior in the Obama Administration, you know, let’s drone the terrorists while pretending that the Fort Hood shooter and the Nigerian bomber acted alone. Let’s pretend that a huge giveaway to our funders in Big Pharma is “reform”. Let’s pretend that the stimulus creates jobs when it is just lining the pockets of Wall Street. The liberal elites preen in the mirror while kicking the working man in the nuts and, unfortunately, even salutary iconoclasts like Ron Rosenbaum fear losing their regard. I don’t. I hated the libs when I was an anti-war activist and I hate them now that I want to nuke Mecca.

    Comment by charlie finch — December 29, 2009 @ 4:24 am | Reply

  17. […] RON ROSENBAUM: Was The Times ” Hoaxed” By TMZ’s JFK Nudes “Scoop”? […]

    Pingback by Instapundit » Blog Archive » RON ROSENBAUM: Was The Times ” Hoaxed” By TMZ’s JFK Nudes “Scoop”?… — December 29, 2009 @ 5:12 am | Reply

  18. I note that my old school pal Michael Daly, a protege of Jimmy Breslin, calls for Napolitano’s resignation in today’s “New York Daily News” and he is an old time Kennedy liberal. Even the CNN commentators are trashing Obama’s people. Wanna know why? Because they get on airplanes! Alot!! But, I guess Ron will just continue posting about infomercials and “A Charlie Brown Christmas”…

    Comment by charlie finch — December 29, 2009 @ 6:14 am | Reply

  19. All you have to do to understand the narcissistic liberal mindset is to read the titles of some of the articles today on Slate; “How Can I Take an Ethical Vacation and Still Have a Good Time”, “The Joy of Celebrating a Godless Christmas”. Ron, reject these people. Are people like this gonna defend Israel, or really care about the troops or even have the common sense to defend themselves? They are spoiled, trivial, materialistic, naive, petty, guiltridden, moronic, navelgazing jerks. The Ron Rosenbaum that Bryan and I celebrate is antithetical to them

    Comment by charlie finch — December 29, 2009 @ 8:01 am | Reply

  20. Ron intellectually lives in a small box, all he can do is look in not out.

    Comment by Jim — December 29, 2009 @ 8:07 am | Reply

  21. TMZ is a wart on the ass that is the MSM.

    Comment by Chris R — December 29, 2009 @ 8:19 am | Reply

  22. “… rather than sticking to what you do best.”

    Sure, but Bush is no longer President, and undermining national security is couterproductive with Democrats in charge of everything.

    Comment by sherlock — December 29, 2009 @ 8:50 am | Reply

  23. I didn’t catch Ron’s expose’ on the Climate Hoax . Perhaps I missed it .
    The blinders Ron seems to have on apparently only shade his left eye.

    Comment by WRJonas — December 29, 2009 @ 9:06 am | Reply

  24. As a 50-something who remembers sneaking looks at Dad’s Playboys in the 60’s I DID have an eery feeling of deja vu yesterday on seeing that ‘previously unpublished’ picture. Even though, as a Republican, I wanted to believe. For one thing, if all that had been going on in public with all those incredibly buxom babes there surely would have been more than one picture! Sometimes deja vu isn’t just a mental short circuit.

    Comment by J Reece — December 29, 2009 @ 9:18 am | Reply

  25. thank you Charlie for your wise advice. will do.

    Comment by bryan — December 29, 2009 @ 9:19 am | Reply

  26. Thanks, Bryan

    Comment by charlie finch — December 29, 2009 @ 9:29 am | Reply

  27. Not to sound too prophetic, but I wondered about that photo as soon as I saw it. There was a lot about it that was too perfect for a snapshot– the girl in a perfect midair jump pose, the way everything including “JFK”‘s face was reasonably clear and well-lit. There were just a number of hallmarks of professionalism (not least– where was it taken from? Had to be another boat. So Kennedy is hanging out on TWO boats, unconcerned about the guy with the nice camera on the other one?) I wasn’t a bit surprised that it turned out to be from a professional shoot.

    Comment by Mike G — December 29, 2009 @ 11:45 am | Reply

  28. WOW, How about Dem Rep and Yale alumna Sheila Jackson Lee attacking the Nigerian community in Houston, drawing a connection to Fort Hood and calling for new means of behavior modification to identify rich kid terrorists? Definitely Rosenbaumable Material! Yes, we need to go out and find things for Ron to post on, Rosenbaumability means no more Coffee, Dave Barry and TMZ!!

    Comment by charlie finch — December 29, 2009 @ 3:18 pm | Reply

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