Ramparts Magazine

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Ramparts Magazine (1962-1975) was "slick, printed on heavy, shiny stock with classy graphics that looked good on a Danish Modern coffee table. Ramparts was the only New Left magazine that could penetrate middle-class households. 'It was a huge innovation,' says Peter Collier, editor from 1969 to 1972. 'It expressed radical left values in a way mainstream people could understand.'

"While other left-wing publications were being printed on toilet paper and passed from hand to hand, Ramparts was a glossy that blared from newsstands with scoop after scoop that became front-page news in The New York Times.

"The magazine started modestly in 1962 as a Catholic literary quarterly in San Francisco founded by wealthy convert Ed Keating. It soon veered into politics, questioning the church's support of the corrupt South Vietnamese regime. In 1963, Keating hired Warren Hinckle, a Catholic school alumnus and journalism wunderkind from the San Francisco Chronicle who recruited left-wing journalist Robert Scheer. 'With Hinckle's flair and fundraising ability and Scheer's being an ideologic new leftist, it became the biggest magazine on the left,' says David Horowitz, who succeeded Hinckle in 1969. The little quarterly with 5,000 subscribers morphed into a brash monthly with a circulation of 400,000.

"More a journalist than a politico, Hinckle liked to live and work large, spending lavishly on editors, fact-checkers, investigations and art. He was no slouch with T&E, either. 'They traveled first-class and wore suits, while the left wing was very working class,' says Horowitz. But Hinckle brought editorial audacity to the publication. 'He had the vision that the country was ready for a magazine of the New Left, which was coming of age at this time, that would convey those ideas but would be a splashy four-color mass market magazine,' says Collier.

"In addition to opposing the war, Ramparts unearthed the first conspiracy theory about the Kennedy assassination, and in 1966 revealed that the CIA had been backing the National Student Organization as part of its Cold War initiatives. 'That wouldn't raise an eyebrow today,' says Collier, 'but then, it was a bombshell: the notion that the CIA could infiltrate a nonpartisan organization was shocking.' Ramparts also detailed how the CIA used University of Michigan academics to train South Vietnamese in covert police methods, published Che Guevara's diaries with an introduction by Fidel Castro and ran the prison diaries of Eldridge Cleaver (later republished as Soul on Ice). The magazine championed the Black Panthers and midwifed radical chic -- introducing Hollywood and New York glitterati to street-fighting radicals.

"The icons of the left wrote for Ramparts, including Susan Sontag, Noam Chomsky, Seymour Hersh, James Ridgeway, Pete Hamill, Abbie Hoffman, and Stanley Scheinbaum. Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner got his start there, as did Mother Jones founder Adam Hochschild.

"But the till was empty by 1969. While Horowitz blames Hinckle's big spending, Hinckle says the magazine's pro-Palestinian stand and involvement with the Panthers alienated advertisers and investors. He says that Ramparts owed $2 million when he started and $6 million when he left six years later. 'It was money well burnt!' he says. ' Ramparts was the only magazine that tried to apply left-wing opinion to the American marketplace, and people forget what that means.'

"Horowitz and Collier revived the magazine, slashing its $200,000 monthly budget to $60,000 and its staff from 50 to 15. Under this egalitarian regime, everyone drew the same salary and names were listed in alphabetical order on the masthead. 'It was utter chaos,' recalls Horowitz. 'We laid off half the staff every six weeks to collect unemployment.'"

Source: Pam Black, "Ramparts (1962-1975) published in Folio, April 1, 2004.


"This magazine has reported in the past the story of Martin Peretz, who used inherited wealth to found Ramparts magazine. It became the voice of the 'new left' of the 1960s. Everything was fair game for Ramparts except Israel, to which Peretz had a 'passionate attachment.'

"A showdown came after Peretz ordered an article critical of Israel pulled out of an upcoming edition. Since Ramparts was conducted as a sort of journalistic commune, the staff voted to publish the article over the publisher's objections. Peretz reacted by selling Ramparts and buying The New Republic, an old and respected liberal magazine."

Source: "The New Republic: Israel's 'Most Articulate Friend in the U.S. Media'" by Nathan Jones, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, January 1994.


"[Desmond] FitzGerald was feeling intense pressure that winter and spring, from the outside as well as within the agency. A new wave of press stories threatened to expose the agency's long reach and further undermine its image. In February 1967, Ramparts magazine, a left-wing publication, revealed that the CIA had secretly funded the National Student Association as a front group in the battle to win the allegiance of young student leaders from Marxist- and KGB-controlled fronts. The American press picked up the trail and ran a large number of stories exposing the agency's various ties to foundations, think tanks, labor unions, and universities. The CIA's whole system of anticommunist fronts in Europe, Asia, and South America was essentially blown.

"When, in January 1967, FitzGerald first heard that Ramparts was about to break the story, his initial response was to run a covert operation against the left-wing magazine. That winter he ordered Edgar Applewhite to try to discredit the Ramparts editors any way he could. 'I had all sorts of dirty tricks to hurt their circulation and financing,' said Applewhite. 'The people running Ramparts were vulnerable to blackmail. We had awful things in mind, some of which we carried off, though Ramparts fell of its own accord. We were not the least inhibited by the fact that the CIA had no internal security role in the United States.' When Applewhite returned to brief FitzGerald on his dirty tricks (which he declined to describe twenty-five years later), the clandestine chief was bemused. 'Eddie,' he said, 'you have a spot of blood on your pinafore.'"

Source: From The Very Best Men: Four Who Dared -- The Early Years of the CIA by Evan Thomas (New York: Simon & Schuster Touchstone Edition, 1996), pp. 329-30.


"When Ramparts magazine published material that the Phone Company felt was detrimental to its well-being, it employed blackmail, threats, and coercion to halt publication. Bell & Co. succeeded."

Source: "Excerpts from: The Phone Book" by J. Edward Hyde.


"Horowitz became an editor of the prestigious Ramparts magazine, literary flagship of the American student Left in the sixties." [1]


"The phone rings and a guy in my office says, 'it's David Horowitz.' I haven't spoken to David Horowitz since the end of the '60s, when we both worked at Ramparts. Since then, with another former Ramparts editor, Peter Collier, this little creep has written a series of best-selling portraits of ruling class families--The Rockefellers, The Fords, The Kennedys--and boasted in print about voting for Ronald Reagan. Horowitz and Collier say they once believed fervently in left causes and institutions (from the Soviet Union to the Black Panther Party), and when they discovered these institutions to be corrupt and murderous they had to denounce them and come out for the other side.

There are many flaws in this 'logic.' For openers, there aren't just two sides in this world (the fake left and the cruel right). And sure it's demoralizing to learn that the party that supposedly stands for equality is run by opportunists and actually stands for privilege. But that wouldn't lead a real radical to endorse the all-out pursuit of privilege. It should lead you to call for a movement that's serious about establishing equality. Horowitz and Collier were never radicals for a minute. Their goal was and is personal success. It's no coincidence that they were 'left' in the '60s and 'right' in the '80s.

Source: Viet Nam Generation Journal Online - Volume 3, Number 3(November 1991) - - "Hollywood Confidential" by Fred Gardner

Books

  • Peter Richardson, Bomb In Every Issue: How the Short, Unruly Life of Ramparts Magazine Changed America (The New Press, 2009). Review Excerpt An adapted chapter will be published in California History.
  • Eve Pell We Used to Own the Bronx: Memoirs of a Former Debutante (State University of New York, 2009). reivew
  • Warren Hinckle, If You Have a Lemon, Make Lemonade: An Essential Memoir of a Lunatic Decade (G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1974).
  • David Horowitz, Radical Son: A Generational Odyssey (Free Press, 1997).

1966

Directors

De. De Jersey Grut]], G. M. Feigen, Robert Fraser, Alan Gabriel, Carlton C. Goodlett, Howard Gossage, Warren Hinkle III, Louis Honig, Joseph Ippolito, Edward M. Keating, Henry Marchman, Frederick C. Mitchell, Marcus Raskin

June 1968

=Senior Editors

Consulting Editors

October 1969

Directors

May 1970

Editorial Board

Directors

Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch articles

References