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Jon Wiener

Contributing Editor

Jon Wiener teaches US history at UC Irvine. His most recent book is How We Forgot the Cold War: A Historical Journey across America. He sued the FBI under the Freedom of Information Act for its files on John Lennon. With the help of the ACLU of Southern California, Wiener v. FBI went all the way to the Supreme Court before the FBI settled in 1997. That story is told in Wiener’s book, Gimme Some Truth: The John Lennon FBI Files; some of the pages of the Lennon FBI file are posted here. The story is also told in the documentary, “The U.S. Versus John Lennon,” released in 2006.  His work has also appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the New Republic, and the Los Angeles Times. It has been translated into Japanese, German, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Danish and Italian.

Wiener hosts a weekly afternoon drive-time interview show on KPFK 90.7 FM in Los Angeles His guests have included Gail Collins, Jane Mayer, Joan Didion, Gore Vidal, Barbara Ehrenreich, Frank Rich, Seymour Hersh, Amos Oz, Mike Davis, Elmore Leonard, John Dean, Julian Bond, Al Franken, and Terry Gross.

Jon Wiener was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and attended Central High School there. He has a B.A. from Princeton and a Ph.D. from Harvard, where he began working as a writer in the late sixties for the underground paper The Old Mole. He lives in Los Angeles.


  • October 2, 2007

    Clarence Thomas and Rupert Murdoch

    The long-awaited publication of Clarence Thomas's memoir, "My Grandfather's Son," out Monday, makes you wonder: how come none of the presidential candidates have said a word about the Supreme Court in any of their debates? Three sitting justices are expected to resign in the next four years--and they're all on the liberal side: John Paul Stevens, David Souter, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

    The publication facts behind Thomas's book ought to be discussed by all the candidates: he received an advance of $1.5 million in 2003 from HarperCollins, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch. If you thought the Court dealt with any issues of relevance to Murdoch, you might call it a conflict of interest for Thomas to accept that payment--far more than any sitting justice ever received from any single source. At least you might mention the fabled "appearance of impropriety." You might call the $1.5 million a thank-you gift from Murdoch for services rendered. You might even wonder if it might be a subtle suggestion to other justices who will be ruling on Murdoch-related issues in the future.

    Of course Thomas could avoid that "appearance of impropriety" by recusing himself for the rest of his career from any case raising issues concerning Murdoch, Fox, the First Amendment, copyright law, libel, or any other issues in media or communications law. That would give him a lot of time off.

    Jon Wiener

  • September 28, 2007

    John Dean: From Nixon to Bush to Giuliani

    John Dean knows something about White House abuse of power. He wrote a bestseller in 2004 on the Bush White House called "Worse Than Watergate." In a recent interview I asked him what he thinks of that title now. Now, he replied, a book comparing Bush and Nixon would have to be called "Much, Much Worse."

    "Look at the so-called Watergate abuses of power," he said. "Nobody died. Nobody was tortured. Millions of Americans were not subject to electronic surveillance of their communications. We're playing now in a whole different league."

    And how does Bush compare with the Republicans seeking to succeed him? "If a Rudy Giuliani were to be elected," Dean said, "he would go even farther than Cheney and Bush in their worst moments."

    Jon Wiener

  • August 25, 2007

    Iraq: “Worst Day Since Vietnam” for Hawaii

    The death of 14 army soldiers in a helicopter crash in northern Iraq on August 23 included ten stationed in Hawaii, making that Hawaii's "worst day . . . since the Vietnam War" – that's what the Honolulu Advertiser declared in a page one banner headline and story.

    Like much of America, I'm on vacation in late August. For me, it's Hanalei on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, where my plan was to snorkel a different North Shore beach every day, stop for a shave ice afterwards, eat local fish, and stay far away from the news. But the Iraq war is inescapable, even in this idyllic escape. At the Big Save in Hanalei, past the taro fields, there's a big display of Spam and another of cheap flip-flops, but the newspaper headline about the "Worst Day" was hard to miss.

    The Vietnam-Iraq parallel is a familiar one in debates among pundits and politicians over the war's rationale and future, but the explicit comparison of daily battlefield deaths in Iraq and Vietnam in a local newspaper appears to be something new.

    Jon Wiener

  • August 8, 2007

    Letters

    ALTERNATIVE VERSIONS

    Los Angeles

    Jon Wiener and Our Readers

  • Campaigns and Elections August 3, 2007

    Al Franken’s Rising Fortunes

    It's early in the game, but his bid to unseat Minnesota Republican Senator Norm Coleman is gaining strength.

    Jon Wiener

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  • Election 2008 July 30, 2007

    President Rudy

    How much worse a president would Rudy Giuliani be than George W. Bush? Author Kevin Baker counts the ways.

    Jon Wiener

  • End of an Era at the LA Weekly

    The Rupert Murdoch effect: The progressive LA Weekly has gone from a well-reported newspaper to a flashy tabloid with "gotcha" articles.

    Jon Wiener

  • June 4, 2007

    The Six-Day War, 40 Years Later

    Israel went to war 40 years ago this week more because of "psychological weakness" than because of a genuine strategic threat--that's the conclusion of Tom Segev, one of Israel's leading historians, and author of the new book 1967: Israel, the War, and the Year that Transformed the Middle East. June 5 is the 40th anniversary of the beginning of Israel's Six-Day war, when the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza began. I spoke with Tom Segev on the phone in Jerusalem on Monday.

    Jon Wiener

  • May 31, 2007

    A Day in the Life: Sgt. Pepper Turns 40

    Four decades later, much of the thrill is gone from The Beatles' magnum opus. Except for one song.

    Jon Wiener

  • May 23, 2007

    Letters

    SOME RED, BUT TRUE BLUE

    Bozeman, Mont.

    Jon Wiener and Our Readers