James Linville, long-time #2 to George Plimpton at the magazine-- who's been anything but forthcoming-- now assures the ULA that he will be responding publicly to the CIA Paris Review matter to a fuller extent than the vague statement he's already posted on this blog. We'll be delaying a follow-up Monday Report on the story until a week from next Monday, to give Linville every opportunity to present the lit establishment's side of the story.
It's curious that the many writers and editors who are usually so outspoken about such matters are saying nothing. Why is this? Where's the outrage?
No one is talking, just as the sheep of the literary world NEVER talk about controversial issues touching their own realm; such as, for instance, the CLMP thing; or the fact that in the early 90's billionaire Jean Stein (good friend of Mr. Plimpton's) was receiving NEA taxpayer money for her lit journal Grand Street, a matter undiscussed to this day.
One can speculate on the path those seeking to quiet this matter will take.
I'd guess they will try to isolate this story to simply Matthiessen; poor misguided Matthiessen; to put walls around him and otherwise prevent any connected threads being followed. They'll put enough pressure on those involved-- even the once-glorious New York Times-- to prevent them from looking further into this story.
Yet many questions remain.
What of Robert B. Silvers, editor and founder of New York Review of Books, who worked for Paris Review in Europe, and before that, for SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe)? If anyone knew if George Plimpton was working for the CIA, wouldn't it have been him? What has Mr. Silvers had to say?
What about the April 1965 conference of literary editors sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation, chaired by Reed Whittemore, good friend of then-CIA big shot James Angleton? Participants included Peter Caws, Victor Navasky, William Phillips, and George Plimpton himself. Was the CIA ever mentioned, I wonder?
What of the William Phillips publication Partisan Review, already long acknowledged as a CIA front, which had so many connections to so many writers, including some of the neo-cons who've recently mangled America's foreign policy? Is anyone asking questions about that? Yes? No? (From the mice of the literary world I hear echoing silence.)
What about The New Republic, cited by Carroll Quigley as an establishment mouthpiece from its beginning? Its publisher from 1968 to 1979, Robert J. Myers, had been a CIA agent for 12 years. (As they say, you could look it up.)
There's still the Jeane Kirkpatrick Heldref matter to pursue. Kirkpatrick and her husband Evron (former OSS agent) controlled the Helen Dwight Reid Foundation for many years, which in turn took over in 1982 the prestigious intellectual literary journal Critique.
Many of these threads lead to old boy George Plimpton, ex-Yalie adventurer, who may not have been CIA himself but certainly fits the profile. (His father, incidentally, was heavily involved in American foreign policy.)
What ABOUT George? What did he know, anyway?
We're asked to believe that Matthiessen's CIA involvement came to George as a total surprise. Maybe we'll be told that Plimpton never knew anything.
What do we believe?
Either George Plimpton was secretive and disingenuous for fifty years about the Paris Review's CIA roots. Or, he was a total idiot. I see no other choice.
No, sorry, the idea isn't to isolate this story, to squelch it to minimize damage to literary VIPs, but instead to follow the leads until we know the full and complete truth.