Posner in Miami, Florida in March 2013.
May 20, 1954 |
San Francisco, California, U.S.
Gerald Posner (born May 20, 1954) is an American investigative journalist and author of several books, including Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK (1993) which explores the John F. Kennedy assassination, and Killing the Dream: James Earl Ray and the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. (1998). A plagiarism scandal, involving his articles and books, arose in 2010.
Early life and education
|Wikinews has related news: Interview with dismissed Ocean Drive columnist Trisha Posner|
Posner was born in San Francisco, the only child of Jerry and Gloria Posner, native San Franciscans. His father was a labor union official.
Posner was educated at St. Ignatius College Preparatory (1972), the University of California, Berkeley (1975), and Hastings Law School (1978). He worked for prominent law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore until 1980 when he went into private practice with a partner. John Martin of ABC News says "Gerald Posner is one of the most resourceful investigators I have encountered in thirty years of journalism." Garry Wills calls Posner "a superb investigative reporter," while John Balzar, reviewing one of his books in the Los Angeles Times, dubs him "a classic-style investigative journalist." Richard Bernstein, reviewing one of his books in the New York Times, lauded his "exhaustive research techniques".
When Posner was hired at Cravath at age 23, he was one of the youngest attorneys ever hired by them. A Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude graduate of the University of California at Berkeley (1975), he was an Honors Graduate of Hastings Law School (1978), where he served as the Associate Executive Editor for the Law Review. He left the law in 1986, when his first book, about Nazi Dr. Josef Mengele's life on the run, was published by McGraw Hill.
In his book Case Closed, Posner contended that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in the assassination of John F. Kennedy and Oswald's murderer, Jack Ruby, acted independently as well. Case Closed was a New York Times bestseller and a finalist for the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for History. It was also the subject of a double issue of U.S. News and World Report, and featured on programs such as ABC's 20/20, CBS Special Reports, and PBS's Frontline. The book was optioned for a television miniseries by David Wolper. In his subsequent autobiography (Producer: A Memoir), Wolper, the producer of 29 television movies, including the acclaimed miniseries Roots, cited his failure to get Case Closed made into a movie as one of two career disappointments.
In 1993, Posner testified before the Legislation and National Security Subcommittee of the United States House Committee on Government Operations about the findings in Case Closed. In 1998, the Assassination Records Review Board briefly referenced this testimony in discussing two unsuccessful attempts to acquire the interview notes of two physicians, James Humes and J. Thorton Boswell, that Posner said he possessed.
Case Closed drew widespread critical acclaim from the mainstream media; exceptions included The Economist, which said the book "does little more than smugly slant every piece of disputed evidence in favour of the lone-assassin theory — an approach exactly opposite to that of conspiracy writers, who follow every inference in the evidence to their own illogical conclusions". Case Closed also drew widespread criticism from academics involved in assassination research as well as from non-academic assassination researchers who contended that it contained factual inaccuracies. For example, historian David Wrone wrote that "massive numbers of factual errors suffuse the book". Vincent Bugliosi, whose own book Reclaiming History largely agrees with Posner's conclusions, accused Posner of "omissions and distortions" but also described Case Closed as "an impressive work".
Secrets of the Kingdom
In his 2005 book Secrets of the Kingdom: The Inside Story of the Secret Saudi-U.S. Connection, Posner provides an account of the "close" business and personal relationship between the House of Saud and the U.S. government, including discussions of "dirty bomb" technology and the financial and political maneuvering surrounding 9/11. Posner also asserts that the Saudis have built an elaborate doomsday scenario around their oil fields. The Saudis have denied this, and some skepticism has been expressed about the plausibility of Posner's account of such a scheme. According to Posner, he and his wife, Trisha, have been banned from entering Saudi Arabia as a result of this book.
Why America Slept
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Another 2003 book by Posner, Why America Slept, discusses the conspiracy of the Arab al-Qaeda terrorists who were responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks. In the book Posner claims that Prince Ahmed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud had ties to al-Qaeda and advance knowledge of the 9/11 attacks. This assertion was strongly denied by Prince Ahmed's family, who pointed out that he in fact loved America, spent time at his home there, and invested heavily in the American horse racing industry. Prince Ahmed, two other Saudi princes named by Posner, and the chief of the Pakistani Air Force, all died within days of each other, either from a blood clot after a simple operation, a car wreck involving only one vehicle, dehydration in the desert, or a sabotaged helicopter explosion. Three of the men were in their forties, and one in his twenties. In Why America Slept, Posner became the first journalist to reveal the details of an American interrogation against one of the highest ranking Al Qaeda suspects caught to date. Why America Slept reached No. 2 on the New York Times best-seller list.
This 2009 book explores the history of Miami Beach, with a particular focus on corruption, extravagance, and the drug trade. Some of the individuals interviewed by Posner for Miami Babylon have complained of severe misquoting and inaccuracies. Miami Babylon has been optioned for a television series.
Posner was a strong supporter of Al Gore for the 2000 presidential election, and wrote a Wall Street Journal editorial shortly after the 9/11 attacks reversing his opinion of George W. Bush. Later he changed his opinion again; in October 2006, in "An Open Letter to the President", published on The Huffington Post, he reverted to his original position that Bush was a bad president stifled by his stubbornness. He also wrote about investigative issues for The New York Times, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Talk, Newsweek, Time, the Miami Herald, and the Daily Telegraph. He was a regular contributor to NBC's Today Show, as well as other national shows on the History Channel, CNN, FOX News, and CBS. He was a frequent guest on MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann. A member of the National Advisory Board of the National Writers Union, Posner is also a member of the Authors Guild, International PEN, The Committee to Protect Journalists, and Phi Beta Kappa. He worked on all his projects with his wife Trisha Posner, who is also an author and artist. Posner was the Chief Investigative Reporter for The Daily Beast, until his dismissal due to plagiarism in 2010.
Posner is married to author and journalist Trisha Posner.
Plagiarism and alleged quote falsification
In 2010, Posner was the chief investigative reporter at the Daily Beast. Following the revelation that a number of Posner's stories for the Beast contained portions plagiarized from articles in other publications, Posner resigned from the Beast. According to Posner, the plagiarism was inadvertent and the result of the "compressed deadlines" of the Beast and confusing his assembled research with his own writing in the "master files" he assembled on each story. Allegations of plagiarism also surfaced concerning his latest book, Miami Babylon (October 2009). Posner said the Miami Babylon plagiarism occurred because of a new system of "trailing endnotes", because an individual he interviewed read one of the plagiarized sources and reiterated it during the interview, and because he mistook other people's writing for his own after scanning source documents into a computer database. The Miami New Times also found that Posner "seems to add, subtract, or misattribute quotes" and displayed a series of such "apparently altered or misattributed quotes". For all the examples shown, Posner cited a source article, where an examination of the source showed that the quote given in Posner's writing was either substantially altered (e.g. words added), never said by the subject, misattributed, or used out of context.
Posner subsequently hired attorney Mark Lane, threatening litigation against the Miami New Times on grounds of tortious interference (i.e. that its investigation and reporting of this case damaged Posner's business relationship with his publishers) and emotional distress. In a press release, Posner stated "Although I'm convinced Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated President Kennedy, I've always believed that had Mark Lane represented Oswald, he would have won an acquittal. That's why Mark Lane was the obvious choice as my own attorney." Soon thereafter, the Miami New Times published evidence of additional plagiarism from multiple sources in both Secrets of the Kingdom and Why America Slept. According to Poynter Institute senior scholar Roy Peter Clark, "This constitutes plagiarism by any definition I can think of....The capturing of someone else's material that is this extensive cannot, in my opinion, have been done accidentally." Evidence was also presented indicating that Posner had repeatedly "scrubbed" elements of the journalism scandal from his Wikipedia page. According to Posner, the media reports detailing his journalistic transgressions were actually the result of a "coordinated effort" to "discredit my book Miami Babylon" because of the book's "unvarnished and investigative history".
Harper Lee lawsuit
On May 3, 2013, Posner was named in a federal lawsuit brought by famed author Harper Lee in Manhattan. Lee claimed that Samuel Pinkus, her literary agent's son-in-law, tricked her into signing away her rights to To Kill a Mockingbird, directing the royalties to be paid into a corporation formed by Posner for that purpose.
Before he even filed an answer in the case, it was dismissed against Posner on September 5, 2013. The lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice, meaning that Lee cannot file the same claim against him. Posner told the Miami Herald that, "I have always maintained that not a single contention about me in the complaint was accurate. I was simply the wrong person named in the wrong lawsuit."  And to Law360, he said, "I am gratified the complaint was dismissed. There was never any basis for this lawsuit against me." 
- Mengele: The Complete Story (1986)
- Warlords of Crime: Chinese Secret Societies – The New Mafia (1988)
- Bio-Assassins (1989)
- Hitler's Children: Sons and Daughters of Leaders of the Third Reich Talk About Their Fathers and Themselves (1991) ISBN 978-0-394-58299-3
- Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK (1993) ISBN 978-0-679-41825-2
- Citizen Perot: His Life and Times (1996)
- Killing the Dream: James Earl Ray and the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. (1998) ISBN 978-0-375-50082-4
- Why America Slept: The Failure to Prevent 9/11 (2003) ISBN 978-0-375-50879-0
- Motown: Music, Money, Sex, and Power (Music of the Great Lakes) (2003) Random House ISBN 978-0-375-50062-6
- Secrets of the Kingdom: The Inside Story of the Saudi-U.S. Connection (2005) ISBN 978-1-4000-6291-1
- Miami Babylon: Crime, Wealth and Power – A Dispatch From the Beach (2009) ISBN 978-1-4165-7656-3
- Gerald Posner RESIGNS From Daily Beast Over Plagiarism Scandal by Danny Shea, The Huffington Post, February 11, 2010.
- 3 Lessons from Gerald Posner's Plagiarism Scandal by John Hudson, The Atlantic Wire, February 12, 2010
- Plagiarism Excuses. Taking—er, borrowing—a page out of the Gerald Posner playbook. by David Graham, Newsweek, February 11, 2010
- Amid book scandal, authors Gerald Posner and Frank Owen confront each other at Miami Beach Botanical Garden by Steve Rothaus, Miami Herald, April 2010
- Fun Plagiarism Scandal Becoming Funner Lawsuit and Conspiracy Scandal by Hamilton Nolan, Gawker, May 13, 2010
- "Review of Posner's ''Citizen Perot : His Life and Times'' in ''The Los Angeles Times''". Articles.latimes.com. August 11, 1996. Retrieved February 14, 2013.
- "Review of Posner's ''Killing the Dream: James Earl Ray and the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.'' in ''The New York Times''". Nytimes.com. April 22, 1998. Retrieved February 14, 2013.
- "The JFK Debate Gets 'Case Closed,' The Movie," Outlook: Science & Society, "U.S. News & World Report," November 1, 1993.
- Producer: A Memoir – David L. Wolper – Google Books. Books.google.com. Retrieved February 14, 2013.
- The effectiveness of Public Law 102-526, the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992: Hearing before the Legislation and National Security Subcommittee of the Committee on Government Operations, House of Representatives, One Hundred Third Congress, first session, November 17, 1993. Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office. 1994. p. 26. ISBN 0-16-043551-X.
- Assassination Records Review Board (September 30, 1998). "Chapter 7: Pursuit of Records and Information from Non-Federal Sources". Final Report of the Assassination Records Review Board (pdf). Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office. p. 134. Retrieved March 4, 2013.
- Kansas City Star, November 13, 2003: “Also notable from 1993 was a terrific three-hour documentary, ‘Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald?’ produced by the PBS series ‘Frontline.’ It will reair at 9 p.m. ET Thursday on KCPT, Channel 19. Using Gerald Posner as an expert witness—he had just written Case Closed, a meticulous brief for the lone-gunman view—‘Frontline’ picked apart all of the most plausible alternative scenarios for the killings of both Kennedy and Oswald.”
The Toronto Sun, February 22, 1994: “In fact, I think all conspiracy theories are blown out of the water by Posner's meticulous research and careful conclusions.”
Sydney Morning Herald, November 27, 1993: “PAINSTAKING re-examination of the greatest murder mystery of modern times: who killed JFK? It's no mystery concludes lawyer/journalist [Posner]: lone assassin Lee Harvey Oswald did it. And who would argue after reading this meticulous analysis, complete with graphics, illustrations and detailed appendices?”
Chicago Tribune, October 3, 1993: "Half of 'Case Closed' is a meticulous examination of Oswald's entire life, culminating in an almost day-by-day chronicle of his movements in the last two months before the assassination."
Newsday (New York), September 16, 1993: "Posner employs meticulous research to reach what counts as a novel conclusion: That, for all its flaws, the Warren Commission was right. Oswald killed JFK without help from anyone.”
Agence France Presse, November 21, 1993: “In the flurry of publications marking the 30th anniversary of Kennedy's death, one book, ‘Case Closed’ by journalist Gerald Posner, was singled out for its thorough and thoughtful treatment of the subject.”
Buffalo News (New York), October 24, 1993: “[P]osner has done an impressively thorough job with the ashes of a 30-year-old case."
The Miami Herald, October 10, 1993: "Richard Reeves' President Kennedy and Gerald Posner's Case Closed are rigorously thorough and finely crafted contributions to a confusing historical record."
Newsday (New York), September 16, 1993: "Its appeal lies both in its thorough, apparently even-handed research, and the fact that, following the publication in recent years of a near-constant stream of conspiracy books, 'Case Closed' may be the first by a respected author to argue persuasively for the Oswald-alone theory, a scenario most Americans dismissed years ago."
The Gazette (Montreal, Quebec), September 11, 1993: "The author is also thorough in his coverage of Oswald's Marine service and subsequent defection to the Soviet Union (information about which is scarce).”
Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL), September 18, 1993: "Posner's exact and thorough destruction of the conspiracy theorists gives you Oswald the man, not Oswald the brilliant secret agent or Oswald the hapless patsy."
Florida Today, April 24, 2000: "The industry standard belongs perhaps to lawyer-turned- investigative reporter Gerald Posner, whose meticulous Case Closed in 1993 was an immersion into assassination minutiae."
The Toronto Star, November 20, 1993: "Case Closed is not by any means a crackpot work but a thorough job with some pretensions to scholarship."
Chicago Tribune, Book Review, Jeffrey Toobin, September 12, 1993: "Unlike many of the 2,000 other books that have been written about the Kennedy assassination, Posner's 'Case Closed' is a resolutely sane piece of work. More importantly, 'Case Closed' is utterly convincing in its thesis, which seems, in light of all that has transpired over the past 30 years, almost revolutionary. His thesis is this: Lee Harvey Oswald killed Kennedy by himself…. I started ‘Case Closed’ as a skeptic—and slightly put off by the presumptuous title. To my mind historical truth is always a slippery thing. The chances of knowing for sure what happened in any event—much less one as murky as the Kennedy assassination—seem remote. But this fascinating and important book won me over. Case closed, indeed.”
Entertainment Weekly, Gene Lyons, September 24, 1993: “As thorough and incisive a job of reporting and critical thinking as you will ever read, Case Closed does more than buttress the much beleaguered Warren Commission's conclusion ….More than that, Posner's book is written in a penetrating, lucid style that makes it a joy to read. Even the footnotes, often briskly debunking one or another fanciful or imaginary scenario put forth by the conspiracy theorists, rarely fail to enthrall…. Case Closed is a work of genuine patriotism and a monument to the astringent power of reason. ‘A’”
US News & World Report, August 23, 1993: “He [Posner] sweeps away decades of polemical smoke, layer by layer, and builds an unshakable case against JFK's killer."
NYTBR (in the review of Norman Mailer's Oswald's Tale), April 30, 1995. "Gerald Posner's 'Case Closed' (1993), which argues with an awesome command of evidentiary detail that Oswald did it, period."
Dallas Morning News, June 22, 1997: "More than three decades after the Kennedy assassination, there still are Americans who wonder. Gerald Posner's masterful study of that case should have laid those doubts to rest for thinking readers…”
- The Economist, "The death of a president", October 9th 1993; cited in 2013 letter published by The Economist
- John M. Newman, The Baltimore Sun, September 22, 1993, Case Closed doesn't close the Oswald file
- David R. Wrone. "Review of Gerald Posner, Case Closed.", Journal of Southern History 6 (February 1995), pp. 186–188.
- Peter Dale Scott, "A Review of Gerald Posner, Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK, Deep Politics II: Essays on Oswald, Skokie, Illinois, Green Archives Publications, 1995.
- Harold Weisberg, Case Open: The Omissions, Distortions and Falsifications of Case Closed, NY, Carroll and Graf, 1994.
- Martin Shackelford, "Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK, by Gerald Posner: A Preliminary Critique," The Investigator, August–September 1993.
- Bugliosi, Vincent. Reclaiming History, Introduction, p. xxxviii
- With Friends Like These, by Thomas Lippman, Washington Post, May 29, 2005
- Miami Babylon backlash, backstabbing and bitchery by Lesley Abravanel, "Miami Herald", October 14, 2009.
- Plagiarist Gerald Posner Nabs TV Deal for Miami Babylon. Where's Our Check? by Tim Elfrink, "Miami New Times", May 27, 2010
- Gerald Posner’s Originality Pays Off by Hamilton Nolan, "Gawker", May 27, 2010
- I Was Wrong About Bush, The Wall Street Journal, 2001-09-25.
- "Trishaposner.com". Trishaposner.com. Retrieved September 19, 2010.
- The Posner Plagiarism Perplex, by Jack Shafer, Slate magazine, February 11, 2010.
- Bustos, Sergio R. "Gerald Posner resigns from Daily Beast amid plagiarism allegations". Miamiherald.com. Retrieved September 19, 2010.
- Shafer, Jack (February 5, 2010). "Plagiarism at the Daily Beast: Gerald Posner concedes lifting from the Miami Herald. – By Jack Shafer – Slate Magazine". Slate.com. Retrieved September 19, 2010.
- More Posner Plagiarism, by Jack Shafer, Slate magazine, February 8, 2010.
- Daily Beast lifts from Salon—again by Joan Walsh. April 1, 2010.
- Gerald Posner Plagiarized Several Passages in Miami Babylon, Author Says, by Tim Elfrink, Miami New Times, March 16, 2010.
- Gerald Posner plagiarized New Times, PBS, and many others, by Tim Elfrink, Miami New Times, March 30, 2010.
- Gerald Posner plagiarizes again, this time at book speed, by Tim Elfrink, Miami New Times, March 25, 2010.
- Posner Says He Failed to Source Material for Book, by Hillel Italie, ABC News, March 17, 2010.
- More Gerald Posner Plagiarism in Miami Babylon, From New Times, PBS, and Many Others, by Tim Elfrink, Miami New Times, March 30, 2010.
- Attorney Mark Lane Retained by Author Gerald Posner to Represent Him in Media Case, May 13, 2010.
- Gerald Posner Hires Rush to Judgment Author Mark Lane in Plagiarism Case, by Tim Elfrink, Miami New Times, May 13, 2010.
- Plagiarism Plagued Posner Hires Grassy Knoll Guru to Take On New Times, by Jessica Sick, "NBC Miami", May 13, 2010.
- Gerald Posner Plagiarized in Why America Slept and Secrets of the Kingdom, Research Shows, by Tim Elfrink, May 18, 2010.
- Posner Plagiarizes Again, by Tim Elfrink, May 20, 2010.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Gerald Posner.|
- Posner's Official website
- Posner's blog
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- Posner on Linkedin
- Posner's Huffington Post writings
- Posner's Daily Beast articles
- Interview of Gerald Posner for the podcast The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe.