To comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable…

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Finley Peter Dunne, a reporter who cut a wide path during the golden age of “muckraker journalism” coined that phrase and my favorite variation of it was uttered by Gene Kelly in Stanley Kramer’s film on the Scopes Monkey trial, Inherit The Wind: “It’s the job of the newspaper to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” Over the years I had a plaque with that dictum hanging over my desk in various newsrooms starting with the Newport Daily News, in Newport, R.I. It was my hometown paper and I learned the trade there as a cub reporter working for $50.00 a week.

Years later, somewhat tarnished by age, the plaque was gaffer’s tapped to the wall in my office at ABC News where I’d graduated to telling stories on video. But whatever the medium, that phrase, as I see it, is a pretty concise description of the press’s duty. Like many journalists, who came up when newspapers were printed with real galleys and hot type, I’ve harbored the secret desire to own my own broadside — to be able to cover events without having to get my copy cleared through the slot desk. Somebody – maybe it was Ben Franklin himself — wrote that the only true freedom of the press belongs to those who own their own newspaper. But that dream was forever out of reach for me until now.

Today marks my first ever blog and the launch of my new website. My own “paper” with delivery to the world. Until now I’ve cut and pasted together something resembling a web presence via Apple’s now defunct program iWeb. But as I embark on new challenges as an investigative reporter, screenwriter, book publisher and non-fiction book author, I’ve finally moved into the New Millennium with a splendid new site (designed by Tom Morine of the It has the look and feel of a newspaper without the overhead. I can remake the front page in a couple of key strokes. Anybody who wants to read it can subscribe for free and not a single tree will fall to the newsprint monster. It’s my hope that in the days ahead – not every day for God’s sake – but a few times a week — to weigh in on my thoughts about the human condition. To do some reporting. To discuss the topics that have made up the body of my work in the last third of my career: the FBI’s counter-terrorism performance, the al Qaeda threat, organized crime, police corruption, presidential politics and whatever else feels like grist for the mill.

BURYING MY LEAD The news that I should have led with as I backed into this, is that today, my new company, Tenacity Media Books, is publishing in ebook (Kindle) and trade paperback, two beautiful new editions of the iconic true crime classic: Murder, Inc. The Story of The Syndicate by Burton B. Turkus and Sid Feder.  CLICK HERE for a link to the new Foreward I wrote for the book and CLICK HERE to examine some of the new “front matter” added by designer Walton Mendelson, including mug shots of the Murder, Inc. principals from “Lucky” Luciano to Bugsy Siegel, crime scene photos of some of the 1,000 Murder, Inc. victims and maps of Brooklyn to locate the axis of this “killing machine” that spanned the 1930’s and 1940’s. It was interdicted only by the courageous work of Assistant Brooklyn D.A. Burt Turkus.

The beautiful new cover is by Wells Moore, an extraordinary graphic designer whom I’m known since the 1970’s. CLICK HERE to buy it. As you’ll see from the forward, Deal With The Devil, due out next year from HarperCollins, picks up where Murder Inc. left off,. It documents the FBI’s 32 year association with Colombo family capo Gregory Scarpa Sr. who was himself known as “The Killing Machine” as well as “The Grim Reaper” and “Hannibal Lecter.” With more than 1,150 heretofore secret files from the Bureau documenting the FBI’s three decade run with Scarpa Sr., my hope is that Deal With The Devil will do for the half century from 1950 through the 1990’s what Murder Inc. did for the post Prohibition and War years –rip the covers off the secret world of organized crime.

The manuscript runs to more than 210,000 words and contains no less than 1,900 end notes of documentary annotation. The pub date is nearly a year from now: July 2nd, 2013. In the meantime, enjoy my little cyber newspaper.

12 Responses to To comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable…

  1. jim Reply

    June 19, 2012 at 1:59 am

    I worked in that Valachi suite at La Tuna

    I was there 8 years and did all the tec on everything there.

    When you go in the main lobby on the right is a steel door…… goes up to the apartment.

    It is used now to hide every controversial person they need to hide…….especially today.

    If you are looking for a high figure hid out there is where he will be.
    just a note

    • Peter Lance Reply

      June 20, 2012 at 2:16 pm

      Great insight Jim. Thanks for your comment.

  2. Roger Bryant Reply

    June 19, 2012 at 2:47 am

    Check out a guy name Bobby Gordon, a behind the scene person that new everybody but hardly anybody new him. He’s from the golden days of Las Vegas you know the 30’s to the 90’s. He has passed on by now I’m sure, but if you can find out anything about him, he would be a book all by himself. Everybody from Buggs’y Seagal and all the mob bosses. I think he was a front guy for the Mob. His Son Roger and a Daughter who I don’t remember her name are still alive. Good Luck

  3. Sheldon Kaplan Reply

    June 19, 2012 at 8:50 am

    I would like to be notified when the paperback edition of MURDER INC will be available for sale

  4. Thomas L Thomson Reply

    June 19, 2012 at 9:45 am

    This is the only way I could find to reach you. My schtick is re JFK, LBJ, FBI. At age 82 with an IQ over ten, one ses things others do not and will have notable experiences. I hope this blog has beaucoupe or no limits.

    LBJ had an underlng get the message to Bobby Kennedy to name him (LBJ) VP for JFK or he’d be sure his delegation wouldn’t go for JFK at Dem convention. Well, well! What does that tell you! LBJ knew JFK would be whacked. LBJ despised JFK. Why would one of, if not THE most powerful man in the world want to be VP to a man he loathed; a punk kid from a wealthy family in the East USA and LBJ with a huge ego.

    Garrison was right. Who had the most to gain from JFK’s death? Also, many other notables wanted JFK wacked. It wasn’t an assasination. It was a coupe.

    JFK made enemiies with the priviliged owners of the Fed by printing greebacks (Treasury dollars); the Rothchilds, Lehman Bros; Morgans, etc.) [2] JFK was going to end the oil-depletion tax allowance; [3] Bobby was raising anger with his civil-rights action in the south; [4]Bobby went after the mob; [5] JFK was about to pull out military advisors in Vietnam [angered producers of military supplies); [6] JFK had S. Nam President who favored US whacked; [7]JFK was going to tax stock dividends. The Fed gave the order and Richard Cain, former sniper & Chicago Sheriff, along with a sniper from Italy, pulled the triggers.

    Of course LBJ was there in the thick of it. Incidentally, LBJ was cousin to my father-in-law, who looked much like him (my wife then, Donna Jean Johnson, in Secret Service list, with my three sons as proof thereof; Randal, Scott, & Tracy.

    Every President who wanted to abolish the Fed, or Central Bank nunc pro tunc, was wacked or poisoned;
    McKinley, Garfield, Lincoln, Kennedy. Jackson said, when approached, “Over my dead body.”

    A dude name James Thomas asked me, when I worked at General Dynaics, Ft Worth, to fly his puddle-jumper from Belleville Texas to Ft. Worth. I did. He also told me he flew it non-stop 1,100 miles. Amazing. He also told me he knew an X-jarhead who had been in Russia was working in a local bookstore. Thomas told me that in MAY of ’63. According to the phony Warren Commission, Oswald didn’t start in the Dallas Bookstore noted in history [School Book Depository] until October.

    Thomas was 6′ tall, white, 180-200 lbs,with a very prnounced limp in one leg. He liked to say, “I have a fettish for farts.” I loath that word, much less like any aspect of it. Oh, he also had a well pock-marked facial complexion. Know him? Does he fit the description by another name?

    I put two rounds from a .357 S&W thru the plate glass windows of The American Opinion Library in Phoenix on 11-22-63, wrongly believing the Birchers wacked JFK. Did misdemeanor time. Would join them now if they still existed. Do they?
    I was .49 on an intoximeter. Got sober 41 years ago and been bone dry since.

    My major question: How did Thomas know Oswald was working a bookstore in the area, or know Oswald at all, if the WC claims it was in October. My guess! The WC was a cover-up, which is why all commissions are created, no? Also, Thomas might have been an FBI agent. Personally, I think FBI stands for “Fucking Bunch of Idiots.” I told them in May of ’63 Oswald was working in a local bookstore. Has reasons. Call me if curious: 858-344-8800 (cell).

    Keep up the Great Work.


  5. Bill Drohan Reply

    June 19, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    Hello Peter, I enjoyed hearing your voice on Coast To Coast after all these years. You have followed an interesting course judging from your publcations, and it shows that you retain the fire and intelligence that I remember. Although you do seem to have been hanging around with bad companions, I suppose that applies to me as well. Since the last time we met on the Boston College campus, I have spent a career in Army intelligence, and on the civilian side of the Intelligence Community. Now retired, I keep my hand in by teaching undergraduate intelligence students on-line. Nice body of work that you have, and the website photo looks very good. If you have the time, send me an e-mail and we can cover the “whatever happened to you” material. For many years we had similar interests, but different employers. Be well my friend.


    Bill Drohan
    De La Salle, 65

  6. l. foley Reply

    June 20, 2012 at 12:09 am

    I always enjoy listening to you on C2C. Last night you were great, so much new info. I espically enjoyed the Mario Puzo story. I can’t wait for 666, I ordered Murder Inc. last night. Keep up the good work.

  7. Cynthia Stewart Reply

    June 25, 2012 at 8:06 am

    Peter, brilliant!

  8. ralph f. cassitto Reply

    July 17, 2012 at 7:54 am

    Peter, Great to find you. I have read 1000 yrs and 911 was hoping you would have much more. I need to be informed when you are on coast to coast or other shows, can’t get enough. Just read a piece about 800 and it got me riled up again. How do we get the rest of the warren report that LBJ closed for 75 yrs opened? I figured you would be the guy to get that done. That of course was about JFK. Hope to sign up for your blog. Sincerely Ralph F, Cassitto.

  9. Mark S. Bacon Reply

    September 12, 2013 at 6:40 am

    Comfort the afflicted….Kelly’s line from Inherit the Wind–that I remember so well–was in part responsible for my setting out on a career in journalism many years ago: J-school, nights at school board meetings, days at the police station,looking at page proofs upside-down on turtles… those were the days.

    • Peter Lance Reply

      September 13, 2013 at 2:06 pm

      Mark, I have fond memories of my days as a cub reporter for “The Newport Daily News” where I learned to read upside-down when the police refused to give us the nightly blotter reports after a reporter for “The Providence Journal” and I filed stories on an act of police brutality at the Newport Jazz Festival. Whether that quote comes from Mencken or Finley Peter Dunne, it’s a great one: “to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable…”

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