Jon Wiener is host and producer of “Start Making Sense,” The Nation’s weekly podcast. His most recent book is Set the Night on Fire: L.A. in the Sixties, co-authored by Mike Davis. He’s also the author of Conspiracy in the Streets: The Trial of the Chicago Seven. He’s an emeritus professor of US history at UC Irvine. 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 also 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.
The new documentary "The U.S. vs. John Lennon," now playing nationwide, tells the story of Lennon's transformation from loveable moptop to anti-war activist, and recounts the facts about Nixon's campaign to deport him in 1972 in an effort to silence him as a voice of the peace movement.
In the film, Walter Cronkite explains that J. Edgar Hoover "had a different conception of democracy" from the rest of us; George McGovern talks about losing the 1972 election to Nixon; Sixties veterans Angela Davis, Bobby Seale, John Sinclair and Tariq Ali recall their movement days; and G. Gordon Liddy happily explains the Nixon point of view: Lennon was "a high profile figure, so his activities were being monitored."
Those "activities" â€“ planning a concert tour that would combine rock music with antiwar organizing and voter registration for the 1972 election â€“ were stopped cold by Nixon's deportation order; but more than 30 years later, in the 2004 election, another group of rock stars finally did exactly what Lennon had been thinking about doing.
At a Democratic Party fundraiser hosted by Arianna Huffington in Los Angeles recently, Howard Dean and Barbara Boxer laid out strategy for the upcoming Congressional races, with lots of strong talk about retaking the House next fall -- and, on Dean's part, one stunning silence: Iraq.
The occasion was a fundraiser for a Democrat hoping to win a special House election next month in a Republican district in northern San Diego county. The former incumbent, "Duke" Cunningham, dubbed "the poster boy of Congressional corruption," pled guilty to several felony counts of bribery and resigned. The special election will be held on April 11, and the Democrats are putting impressive resources into electing Francine Busby, a school board member campaigning as an ethics-in-government candidate. She lost to Cunningham in 2004.
The presence at Arianna's house of the Democratic National Chairman, a senator, and three members of Congress underscored the importance Democrats attach to this campaign. Taking over a Republican district in this special election, they argue, would set the tone for the Congressional races to come in the fall.