From Nushin Rashidian 7/9/13: I am hoping to reach Fred Gardner to verify an image I reference in my book manuscript. I can’t find the original archived, but his byline is on the image that is available. I’d like to know if this is a true Village Voice cover:  Was that the headline for your paraquat story? I appreciate your help. I’m fact-checking my first book.

Note to Nushin:  The graphic the Salem News ran is part of a poster the Voice used to print every week to plug their lead story on the newsstands of NewYork. The text on the poster would have been a much better headline than the one that an editor named Marianne Partridge imposed on my story. Or was it her assistant, Alan Weitz? All these years later I’d still like to wring their necks.   One or both of them turned the piece into an attack focused on Peter Bourne, Jimmy Carter’s drug-policy advisor. They accompanied it with big, unflattering pictures of Bourne. (I had provided them with photomicrographs showing lung damage.)Paraquat for Voice 2

As a freelancer I had no control over the final version of the article, let alone the headline. The hed the Voice ran on their front page —”This Man Could Stop Paraquat”— was NOT the point of my story and, as far as I knew, not the literal truth.  I respected Dr. Bourne and we had a few mutual friends.  I had interviewed him in connection with the Paraquat piece, and although I don’t think he played an admirable role, I doubt he had the power to give orders to the DEA. The Carter Administration had inherited the Paraquat spraying program from the Nixon-Ford Administration. They should have suspended operations while the experts assessed the health effects of Paraquat following human inhalation, but they didn’t. It’s very unlikely that Bourne made the call. I was mortified and powerless to set things straight with him. 

I did another Paraquat piece for a glossy magazine called New Times. Alex Cockburn advised, “They pay so little, how can one not look to place a piece in three or four outlets?” If a copy of the New Times piece turns up in my files I’ll scan and send.

Thanks for your efforts and good luck with your book.  Tod Mikuriya used to say “It wasn’t just marijuana that got prohibited, it was the truth about history.”


ps  I see that a woman named Mary King is with the Salem News, and that was the name of Peter Bourne’s wife… It couldn’t be… A common name, for sure. Just one of those little coincidences…