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Bob-o-Rama

The white-bread Forbes list.
And who stole ABC-TV's brain?

By Bob Harris

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY if I told you that while Nelson Mandela was still in prison, there was a meeting of the 400 richest people in South Africa--and 399 of them were white? (The only black, an entertainer who had straightened her hair and changed her accent to become more acceptable to the white majority, was just barely rich enough to afford entry into the group.)

You'd nod sadly and consider it an obvious sign of how bad South African racism was, right?

Well, suppose for a second it wasn't South Africa--it's Canada, right now! And 399 out of the 400 richest people in Canada are white.

You're probably thinking, wow, I thought they were a lot more enlightened than that in Canada. Oh, but wait. Canada didn't do the whole slave and Civil War thing like we did; they have a higher percentage of whites to start with. But still, 399 out of 400. Sounds as though the hockey rink isn't exactly level.

OK. Now here's the real truth: It's not South Africa, and it's not Canada.

Forbes magazine has released its list of the 400 richest people in America. And every single one is white. Every single one. Except Oprah Winfrey, who is so far down the list that Bill Gates makes her entire net worth every 10 days.

Without Oprah, the big money on the Forbes list is 100 percent Caucasoid. Even including Oprah's millions--I did the math--the biggest fortunes in America are still more than 99.9 percent white.

Personally, I think the editors should recheck their numbers. I mean, racism is a thing of the past, isn't it? After all, Steve Forbes says so all the time.

SO ONE OF MY WRITER FRIENDS calls me last summer with a major scoop. Off the record. He's all excited because he's working with Pulitzer Prize-winner Seymour Hersh on a big story for Sy's new book. And ABC is spending major dollars preparing a big TV special on their findings. It's all very hush-hush, so I couldn't talk or write about it at the time, but it's big.

See, there's a guy in New York who says he found some papers after his dad passed away. Dad was a big-deal lawyer, and the papers are supposed to be a contract in which JFK paid Marilyn Monroe a whole bunch of hush money so she'd keep her mouth shut about their supposed affair.

This is the big blockbuster: JFK had sex. Possibly with Marilyn. And maybe he paid her off.

This is what a Pulitzer Prize winner is doing with himself these days? I mean, no disrespect here--Seymour Hersh is Da Man, OK?, after winning acclaim for his Vietnam War coverage for the New York Times--but Al Gore's having a Buddhist toga party in the Executive Office, and the dean of American journalism is going through 35-year-old bedsheets.

Well, as of last week, it turns out that the JFK papers just might be forgeries. So ABC tries to cover its keister and look all journalistic by wheeling on its source and making him look as bad as possible. Classy move.

ABC got suspicious because the typewriter technology that created the papers doesn't match the dates on the contract. Aha! Good going, Sherlock. Let me again ask the same obvious questions I thought of, in five seconds, six months ago:

Why, exactly, would Jack and Marilyn put something they both wanted to keep secret in writing? And why, exactly, would they put a shady, secret, possibly illegal bribe in the form of a legal contract? What's the point?

If Jack doesn't come up with the cash, Marilyn needs a legal agreement before spilling the beans? On the other hand, if Marilyn talks and hurts Jack's career, he's then gonna destroy himself completely by suing her in open court for the payoff money?

Hello? Is there anyone left in TV news with even a slice of a brain?

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From the Oct. 9-15, 1997 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.

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