It’s Lazy Friday and I already posted the weekly Lazy Friday Playlist yesterday so I’m going to post another lazy but cool item today, about one of my greatest accomplishments in journalism, for which I was mysteriously not awarded a Pulitzer Prize: unearthing the pictures above of Henry Kissinger fishing for and eating his own boogers.
The year was 1972 — November 13, 1992 to be more specific. I was living in Rio de Janeiro working for the Associated Press and went downstairs from my apartment in Botafogo to get my coffee and bread, when I passed the news stand and saw those shocking images on the front page of Jornal do Brasil newspaper.
The discreet accompanying caption read: “Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1973, the ex- all powerful secretary of state Henry Kissinger said yesterday that Brazil will be able to enter the NAFTA agreement only in two to three years.” (Kissinger was visiting Brazil at the time.)
Kissinger’s law firm subsequently sent a letter to Jornal do Brasil saying he would file a lawsuit for damages if the newspaper did not immediately cease and desist from selling the photos. To its credit Jornal do Brasil refused to cave in to Kissinger’s threat and the former secretary of state backed down, and presumably continued to eat his own boogers for decades to come, though no photographic evidence has emerged to confirm that.
The whole thing is absurd. Here is the man who was photographed eating lobster with General Augusto Pinochet, a man who oversaw the murder of thousands of Chileans after taking power in a coup sponsored by Kissinger’s ex-boss, Richard Nixon, and happily chowing down duck with the rulers of China. Yet it was only these images which Kissinger sought to keep under lock and key.
Anyway, when I later founded CounterPunch, the great Alexander Cockburn, who joined a bit later, and I thought that it would be great fun to run the photographs and so we did, with a red banner across the top saying, “Parental warning: Obscene Kissinger pix inside.”
Then I got the Washington Post gossip column to run one of the pictures — the before, not the after shot — a few days later. At the time Katherine Graham was still the publisher and it was clear that the reporters who posted the item had heard from her because a few days later they ran a kiss-ass Kissinger item.
We got a legal threat from Kissinger too, but more or less ignored it. And the only other fallout of the the Boogergate incident was that the IRS was reviewing CounterPunch‘s tax exempt status at the time and I got a letter asking how publishing the pictures was part of our tax-exempt mission.
I wrote back to the IRS something flimsy about free speech and the guy who reviewed the application must of had a sense of humor because he approved our application at some subsequent point in the future.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
OK, unless something unforeseen happens I’m done posting for today and probably the weekend, so do have a good one and see you soon.