News from the Mail Bag
On “Cornell Simpson,” Medford Evans, M. Stanton Evans, and the John Birch Society
On April 21, 2011, a little more than five years after I posted the information in question, I received the following email:
Dear Dr. Martin:
I am Mark LaRochelle, research assistant to M. Stanton Evans. You will find me listed in the acknowledgments for Evans' latest book, Blacklisted by History (Crown Forum, 2007).
At http://www.dcdave.com/intro.html, you write, "If you, dear reader, see anything on my site that you believe is incorrect, either in fact or interpretation, please e-mail me so we can set things right." Well, here goes:
I recently came across your piece, "Who Killed James Forrestal? Part 4" (http://www.dcdave.com/article5/060409.htm), and was surprised to read the footnote stating:
As I reported in March of 2005, former John Birch Society official, J. Bruce Campbell asserts that the name “Cornell Simpson” is a pseudonym. I had suspected as much because this “Simpson” is clearly a polished professional writer, but the name, to my knowledge, appears nowhere in any political writing except as the author of The Death of James Forrestal. Recently, an acquaintance in Washington with Birch Society contacts confirmed that “Cornell Simpson” was the name assumed in this instance by Medford Evans, the father of noted conservative, M. Stanton Evans."
I brought this statement to the attention of Mr. Evans. He informed me that he had no knowledge of this book, and that if his father had written it, it was news to him. He inquired whether I could furnish him a copy, which I did. Mr. Evans informed me today (April 21, 2011) that, after reading this volume, he is now convinced that it was not written by his father. He mentioned several reasons leading him to this conclusion:
1. In one place the author writes "data is." Mr. Evans remarked that his father was a PhD. in English (Yale '33), and always wrote "datum is" or "data are."
2. In another place the author mis-identifies Ben Mandel as having served on the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Senate Committee on Government Operations. Mr. Evans comments that his father knew Mandel well (as did Evans himself), and knew that he never served on this subcommittee, but rather served on the House Committee on Un-American Activities and the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Internal Security.
3. This book was published in 1966. Mr. Evans stated that at that time he was in frequent contact with his father, who always discussed the works he was writing with his son, who was then editor of the Indianapolis News and an author himself.
4. This book is published under an apparent pseudonym. Mr. Evans said his father always wrote under his own name and never used a pen-name; he observed that there is no evident reason why his father should have changed that practice had he written this book.
Mr. Evans inquired as to whether it might be possible for you to disclose the name of your "acquaintance in Washington with Birch Society contacts" who was the source of this claim, or to inquire as to his or her source for this claim.
Very truly yours,
I responded immediately, thanking Mr. LaRochelle and apologizing for not being able to furnish the name of the source of the information. The “acquaintance,” I told him, was only a passing acquaintance, whom I encountered at Sarah McClendon’s National Press Club study group when I gave a presentation on Forrestal’s death. All I could recall, I told Mr. LaRochelle, is that the man did not say that “Simpson” might be Medford Evans but that he was Medford Evans, and he sounded quite sure of his information. Members of that group, which I describe at the beginning of Part 6 of “America’s Dreyfus Affair,” seem like the sort who would have this kind of inside knowledge, and considering the other writings of Evans, it certainly seemed quite plausible that he had written the very sensitive Forrestal book using the “Cornell Simpson” pseudonym. Now, we see, some strong evidence has been presented that either there was a “Cornell Simpson” or that someone else used that nom de plume.
The questions surrounding Forrestal’s death aren’t affected in the slightest degree by this really quite minor matter, but we do want to have all our facts straight. I promised Mr. LaRochelle that I would try to get back in touch with the McClendon group, which still meets regularly, to see if I could track down the person who told me that “Simpson” was Evans. We shall duly report what, if anything, we find out.
April 22, 2011
I have emailed my contact at the McClendon study group (not the informant concerning Medford Evans), and so far have received no response. However, it also occurred to me to do what I should have done before I wrote that “Cornell Simpson” was the pen name for Medford Evans. I sent an email to the John Birch Society, which published The Death of James Forrestal under Simpson’s name and quickly struck gold.
Medford Evans’ book review
On April 25 an email arrived from Bonnie M. Gillis of the John Birch Society research department. Citing an April 1967 review article in the Birch Society magazine, American Opinion, she confirmed my original suspicion that “Cornell Simpson” was a pen name. “Nothing was revealed about the true identity of this individual, for reasons of personal safety,” she said, and then provided this quote from the review’s text:
Cornell Simpson for reasons best known to himself, disappeared. I could not blame him too much. He knew too much—as you will see for yourself—and the wrong people knew him. The only reason I can be so frank now is that I honestly haven't the slightest idea where he is today, or whether he is alive. It would be impossible to imagine a more devastating—or convincing—exposé than The Death of James Forrestal.
The writer of the review was none other than Medford Evans. So my informant had not been far wrong. The “Simpson” book and its subject were of such interest to the father of M. Stanton Evans that he wrote a glowing review of it. To the four pieces of evidence that the younger Evans supplied me we can now add one more that might be the clincher, that is, that Medford Evans said that he wasn’t “Cornell Simpson,” but that he knew who “Simpson” was.
I say that it “might be the clincher” because there is always the possibility that Medford Evans, like his son a Yale graduate, was not telling the truth. I could see already that while Ms. Gillis had provided me with the strongest evidence yet that Medford Evans was not “Cornell Simpson,” she had also undermined one of the younger Evans’ reasons why he wasn’t.
“This book was published in 1966,” we were reminded by the Evans book researcher, Mark LaRochelle. “Mr. Evans stated that at that time he was in frequent contact with his father, who always discussed the works he was writing with his son, who was then editor of the Indianapolis News and an author himself.”
Earlier in his email Mr. LaRochelle told us that the younger Evans had never even heard of this book, described by his father as “devastating” and “convincing” and about a topic so important and sensitive that the author, though protecting himself with a pen name, had still found it prudent to go into permanent hiding. The book is also right down the younger Evans’ research alley (more on that later). I suppose that it’s possible that the father never mentioned the book or its subject to his son, but it does strain credibility quite a bit.
Maybe one can find clues in the book review as to authorship. American Opinion is no longer published, and when it was, not many libraries carried it. The Birch Society will provide an electronic copy of the 8-page article for $20 or will mail it to you for $1 a page plus $4.95 for shipping and handling. I passed on that and got my copy at the Library of Congress. Here’s how it starts:
Cornell Simpson is not, of course, the author’s real name. Nobody would publish a book like this under his real name. I happen to know who the author is, and that makes me a bit nervous myself. I read this book five years ago, in manuscript. A friend of mine was going to raise the money to publish it (Western Islands was not then publishing new works) but “Cornell Simpson,” for reasons best known to himself, disappeared. I could not blame him too much. He knew too much—as you will see for yourself—and the wrong people knew him. The only reason I can be so frank now is that I honestly haven’t the slightest idea where he is today, or whether he is alive. It would be impossible to imagine a more devastating—or convincing—exposé than The Death of James Forrestal.
I was living in metropolitan Washington at the time of the defenestration of Forrestal. I remember being convinced immediately that he had not committed suicide—which was the official story—but had been murdered. My reason was simple, but for myself, conclusive. The first report I read, in the Washington Post, said that Forrestal’s body had been found on the hospital roof below the open sixteenth-story window of the tower, clad in pajamas and robe, with the bathrobe cord knotted about his neck. The theory was, said the Post, that he had hanged himself out the window, and then the cord had slipped from the radiator or whatever it was tied to inside the window.
I didn’t believe it. I believe that men hang themselves, or that they jump out sixteenth-story windows. But I don’t believe that they hang themselves out sixteenth-story windows.
On the other hand, it is no trouble at all to imagine a murderer in orderly’s habit garroting a man with his own bathrobe cord, then heaving him out the window—perhaps with semi-maniacal haste and strength on hearing or thinking he heard approaching footsteps.
Well, it made not the slightest difference what I thought. It still makes no difference. I could prove nothing—can prove nothing now. But there were others with similar suspicions, and one of those others—who here calls himself Cornell Simpson—decided to research the thing out to the end. He was an experienced researcher of the kind. In 1912 he would have been called a muckraker. He had written exposés for national magazines. He knew how to make contacts, he knew how to evaluate reports, he knew how to analyze.
But he had never tackled a thing like this before. I suppose that at the outset he had dreams of fame and fortune—as the man who proved that the first U.S. Secretary of Defense had been murdered! What a sensation! The book would be a smash hit for sure! A million copies—movie rights—the works! “Cornell Simpson” was—is, if he is still alive—a professional. He liked to make money. He thought he could make a mint if he came up with a good enough product.
He came up with a product that was virtually perfect—and suddenly realized that he would be lucky to escape with his life.
Evans continues in this vein throughout his long review, which is not so much a critique as it is a touting synopsis. The review, therefore, can be said to have virtually all of Simpson’s strengths and weaknesses when it comes to matters of substance. Particularly for the weaknesses, I would refer the reader to the section entitled “The First Ruddy?” in the initial installment of my series, “Who Killed James Forrestal?”
Careful readers of that section and the quoted beginning of the Evans review above will notice that Evans reinforces Simpson’s claim that the book he finally got published in 1966 was unchanged from the manuscript that he had finished many years previously when he says that he read the manuscript “five years ago.” He thus provides cover for Simpson having ignored completely the very influential book, James Forrestal, a Study of Personality, Politics, and Policy by California political science professor, Arnold A. Rogow. The Rogow book is full of claims about matters related to Forrestal’s death that are in direct contradiction to what Simpson writes. Most notably, Rogow wrote that Forrestal was witnessed copying something out of a book just before he died, presumably the Sophocles poem that the press used as a surrogate for a suicide note, and Simpson says that that would have been impossible. (We now know from the Willcutts Report that Simpson was right and Rogow was lying.)
Simpson’s book would have been ever so much stronger had he taken Rogow to task for his many inaccuracies and omissions, but he has this convenient excuse for not having done so:
The manuscript purposely has not been updated. It thus presents the story more nearly in the light of Forrestal’s time—and from the “close perspective” of the era that followed his destruction, when disastrous key policies launched in the Roosevelt and Truman administrations, although attacked, were still quite advanced.
That may be Simpson’s excuse for ignoring Rogow, but what could be the excuse of the reviewer of Simpson’s book? One would think that he had an obligation to bring matters up to date in the many pages permitted him by the Birch Society house magazine by resolving the contradictions between the two books. But Evans also ignores Rogow’s book. One can hardly escape the conclusion that his reason for doing so is the same as Simpson’s. Cornell Simpson, Medford Evans, and the John Birch Society would all have us believe that if Forrestal was murdered, it was certainly the work of the Communists. Rogow is dead accurate on one point, though, and neither Simpson, Evans, nor the Birch Society could begin to contradict him on that one. That is, that Forrestal was at least as much if not more hated and feared by the Zionists. Furthermore, they have had a similar assassination record as the Communists and their leverage over the Truman administration and the American press was and certainly is now much greater than that of the Communists. (One particularly ugly secret is that in many instances the Communists and the Zionists were the same people well up to the time of Forrestal’s death.)
Mr. LaRochelle’s email, with which we began this article, provides fresh circumstantial evidence that the story about the unchanged manuscript is simply a ruse, and it is a ruse in which Medford Evans participated. LaRochelle writes, “…the author mis-identifies Ben Mandel as having served on the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Senate Committee on Government Operations. Mr. Evans comments that his father knew Mandel well (as did Evans himself), and knew that he never served on this subcommittee, but rather served on the House Committee on Un-American Activities and the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Internal Security.”
To be sure it’s possible that Evans could have simply missed that error when he read the manuscript. One can assume, though, that, as is usually the case, the manuscript would have been shared—if, indeed, there was such a manuscript at the time—with a knowledgeable person like Medford Evans for the precise purpose of editorial review and fact checking. Easier to believe is that Evans participated in the ruse of the publication of the unchanged manuscript in order to sidestep the Zionist angle in Forrestal’s death that is inescapable in the Rogow treatment.
M. Stanton Evans and his book
Now let us address the statement by M. Stanton Evans to his research assistant that he had no knowledge of the Cornell Simpson book. I have now completed reading his powerful and persuasive 663-page opus, Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight against America’s Enemies. I can now confirm with some confidence that if he had been informed by what is in the Simpson book, he has certainly covered his tracks well. If it is really true that he knew nothing of the Simpson book, it is truly a shame.
Consider his quote on page 413 of McCarthy from the latter’s famous Senate floor speech in 1951 attacking General George C. Marshall:
What can be made of this unbroken series of decisions and actions contributing to the strategy of defeat? They cannot be attributed to incompetence. If Marshall were merely stupid, the laws of probability would dictate that part of his decisions would serve this country’s interest.
Compare that with this passage from page 53 of Simpson’s book, which we quote, sentence fragments and all, in “Who Killed James Forrestal?”
Soviet spy Alger Hiss, fair-haired boy of the State Department, who went to Yalta as Roosevelt's advisor and who was a chief planner of the present United Nations.
Harry Hopkins, Lauchlin Currie, David Niles, Michael Greenberg, Owen Lattimore, Philleo Nash and others identified in sworn testimony as pro-Communists [sic] or outright Russian spies operating through the White House, who for years secretly influenced United States presidents and shaped policy decisions to benefit the USSR.
With characters such as the above and countless more like them dictating U.S. government policy, it is little wonder that Forrestal often felt he was the only pro-American in a nest of Communists. In December 1945 [sic] he made a brilliantly simple indictment of the wholesale treason in Washington when he told the newly elected U.S. Senator Joseph R. McCarthy (R., Wis.): "Consistency never has been a mark of stupidity. If the diplomats who have mishandled our relations with Russia were merely stupid, they would occasionally make a mistake in our favor.”
It could not be more obvious that McCarthy was simply paraphrasing what he had been told by Forrestal and applying it specifically to Marshall.*
Evans, in perhaps the only part of his book in which he is strongly critical of McCarthy, would have us believe that that speech was really someone else’s work:
It was an open secret in the 1950s, and has been verified since,” He writes, “that the McCarthy speech was drafted by Forrest Davis, a prominent journalist of the era. Davis had prepared the manuscript as a writing of his own (it bears many earmarks of his style), but then gave it to McCarthy—who found in it the éclaircissement he was seeking. The thesis of the manuscript/speech was that Marshall, at every step along the way in World War II and the early post-war period, made choices that were not only wrong but served the ends of Moscow. The point was documented from the memoirs of key players in the events, a field of study well known to Davis.
That’s all the evidence he presents that Davis was the actual author of the speech except for an end note in which he says the “dead giveaway” is that the writer used the word “maledictions,” which he says was “a typical Davis word, atypical of McCarthy.”
Compare this with what we learn from Simpson on pp. 85-86:
When Senator Joseph R. McCarthy first came to Washington in December 1946, Navy Secretary Forrestal not only personally opened McCarthy’s eyes to the mass infiltration of Communists into our government, but actually named names. (See the senator’s book McCarthyism, The Fight for America, Devin-Adair, 1952.)
When asked by this writer if those individuals Forrestal had named as Communists or pro-Communists had included Marshall, and if so whether this had inspired his own devastating, thoroughly documented attack on Marshall from the Senate floor (published as the book America’s Retreat from Victory, Devin-Adair, 1952), Senator McCarthy replied, “The answer to both questions is yes. Forrestal told me he was convinced that General Marshall was one of the key figures in the United States in advancing Communist objectives.”
Forrest Davis might well have been the principal author of the speech on Marshall, but it certainly sounds like McCarthy had some important input into it.** The passage also reveals again the strong influence that the much more widely respected Forrestal had upon McCarthy and his campaign to root out subversives from the government. But James Forrestal turns up in Evans’ tome only in one place in an end note late in the book, credited only as the major influence behind the Truman Doctrine. One would think that Evans is going out of his way to deflect attention away from the man. Could it be because of our recent discoveries revealing that Forrestal was almost certainly murdered and that the Zionists, not the Communists, are the most likely suspects in the crime?
To that point, have another look at the list of names that Simpson calls either pro-Communist or Russian spies. Evans talks about all of them repeatedly, with one exception, and that man was the most powerful Truman White House holdover from Roosevelt, David Niles. Evans draws heavily upon The Venona Secrets, Exposing Soviet Espionage and America’s Traitors, by Herbert Romerstein and Eric Breindel, and they also have some highly incriminating information on Niles. One can read their three-paragraph passage in the section, “David Niles, the Communist,” in “Who Killed James Forrestal?” How could Evans leave all mention of Niles out of his book? Could it be because Niles was also the leading Zionist in the Truman White House?
The John Birch Society
Seventeen years after James Forrestal’s covered-up assassination, and three years after the publication of the Rogow cover-up book, the John Birch Society was concerned enough about it to publish Cornell Simpson’s book. A few months later they were still concerned enough about it to publish a glowing review of the book in their American Opinion magazine, written by the associate editor, Medford Evans.
That’s at least how it looks if you take everything on its face. Another possibility is that, contrary to what they tell us, the Cornell Simpson book was written as a reaction, indeed, as a supplement to the Rogow book. The reasoning behind it would be that there would still be lots of people who would never believe that Forrestal committed suicide. These people would need to be steered away from the actual culprits. Such a book was written by someone, or a group of “someones,” and the name “Cornell Simpson” was slapped on it. Who the actual author (or authors) was is really not very important. It might well have been Forrest Davis, for all we will ever likely know.
If the first interpretation of events is correct, the people at the Birch Society should be particularly excited about the recent discoveries that show beyond serious doubt that Forrestal was murdered. As I note in Appendix 2 of Part 2 of “Who Killed James Forrestal?” I sent the Birch Society a compact disc of the very revealing official investigation of the death, obtained by the author through the Freedom of Information Act in 2004. As I write in the appendix, “Larry Greenley, Director of Research for the John Birch Society responded positively on August 25, apologizing that my original e-mail had become buried in the volume of correspondence that they get. He concluded, however, ‘I can’t promise that we’ll publicize the Forrestal materials, or if we do, how much; that is up to the editorial staff and others.’ ”
Almost seven years have now passed and not a peep has come out of the New American, the current name of the Birch Society’s magazine. In the meantime they are publishing hot scoops like “Days Before His Death, JFK Asked CIA About UFOs.” They really make it hard for us to escape the conclusion that they have been in this misdirection business all along and that they are nothing but a “corral for conservatives” as erstwhile member J. Bruce Campbell has described them.
Whatever we might say about the Birch Society goes for Medford Evans because of his affiliation with them. But what can we say about his son, M. Stanton? Certainly his whiffing on James Forrestal and David Niles in his McCarthy book is not a good sign. Still, he had the excuse that he knew nothing about the Cornell Simpson book, although he certainly knew of McCarthy’s own writings about his personal debt to Forrestal concerning information on Communist infiltration of the government. As to the matter of Forrestal’s murder, we know that he knows about it now, because his attention has been called at least to Part 4 in my series. Will he write about it? He was born in 1934, and he’s running out of time. Don’t hold your breath waiting.
May 13, 2011
* We don’t have to guess about this, and neither would Evans have had to have done so to acknowledge the Forrestal provenance for the quote. We know that he has read McCarthy’s book, The Fight for America, and the following is from page seven of that book:
Many of [the Communist subversives’ names] I heard discussed for the first time by a man who was later to be hounded to his death by the Communists. I arrived in Washington in December, 1946, about two weeks before being sworn in as a senator. Three days later my administrative assistant and I received an invitation to have lunch with Jim Forrestal.
I have often wondered how the extremely busy Secretary of the Navy discovered that a freshman Senator had arrived in town and why he took so much time out to discuss the problems which were so deeply disturbing him. More than an equal number of times I have thanked God that he did.
Before meeting Jim Forrestal I thought we were losing to international Communism because of incompetence and stupidity on the part of our planners. I mentioned that to Forrestal. I shall forever remember his answer. He said, “McCarthy, consistency has never been a mark of stupidity. If they were merely stupid, they would occasionally make a mistake in our favor.” This phrase struck me so forcefully that I have often used it since.
** There might be a hidden reason why Evans and other Yale stalwarts and supposed McCarthy defenders William F. Buckley and L. Brent Bozell, Jr., whom Evans invokes, have jumped all over McCarthy for that Marshall speech. We might find here a key, as well, to McCarthy’s ultimate destruction. In the book version, America’s Retreat from Victory, The Story of George Catlett Marshall, in a section omitted from the June 14, 1951 speech, McCarthy, citing information found in George Morgenstern’s 1946 book, Pearl Harbor, claims that Marshall and others had knowledge of the impending December 7 attack as early as December 4, and they issued no warning to the garrison in Hawaii.
I do not profess to be an expert in the analysis of writing styles any more than I claim expertise in handwriting analysis, but after just having completed the outstanding 1970 book by Medford Evans, The Assassination of Joe McCarthy, I can say with complete confidence that I agree completely with M. Stanton Evans. His father did not write The Death of James Forrestal. His writing style is as different from that of “Cornell Simpson” as is the handwriting of the person who wrote the poem transcription that has been touted as Forrestal’s “suicide note.” Simpson writes clearly and logically as does the elder Evans, and like Evans he displays a wealth of inside-Washington political knowledge, but he is a sometimes ungrammatical, no-frills plodder as a writer. Evans, to the contrary, has such a command of the English language and has received such a good literary education that he can’t resist showing it off, almost to a fault. If they were automobiles, Simpson would be a Jeep; Evans would be a Ferrari.
Although I now agree completely with M. Stanton Evans that his father did not write The Death of James Forrestal, after having obtained my copy of The Assassination of Joe McCarthy with the original dust cover on it, I must say that I find it even harder than ever to believe that he had “no knowledge” of Simpson’s Forrestal book. Is it really the least bit credible that he would have remained ignorant all these years of a work that is touted on the very dust cover of his father’s book like this?
On May 22, 1949, James V. Forrestal catapulted to his death from a window on the sixteenth floor of the Bethesda Naval Hospital. His death was called a suicide. Cornell Simpson dissects each detail of the alleged Forrestal suicide and concludes that this was a clear case of murder. He then carefully establishes the motive, the method, and finally the murderer’s identity.
Surely, M. Stanton Evans knows all about that book. Furthermore, he is probably among the most likely people alive today who would know who it was that used the “Cornell Simpson” pen name. After all, Medford Evans says he, himself, knew the man well. Don’t you think that he would at the very least have told his like-minded journalist son who the man was?
August 13, 2011