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The Freedom Forum

Confidential Magazine

Any reading of the recent drama caused by AMI CEO David (Johnson) Pecker should be called ‘business as usual,’ but I highlight Time Magazine’s March 11, 1957 article Gutterdammerung about the so-called “King of Leer,” Robert Harrison, the publisher of the National Enquirer of the 1950s, Confidential Magazine, the grandpappy of ‘catch and kill,’ yellow journalism and what passes today as the ‘gossip’ business. Jeff Bezos’ recent dick pics aside, the entry of the Russians, UAE and Saudi Arabia into what we might call ‘American culture’ is a trend that is currently being reversed with vigor — and when you mess with the bull, you get the horns (Gavin de Becker on line one). This I know because I tried to cancel my Amazon Prime subscription. Don’t even try it, folks. It’s just too good of a deal. Just don’t make me ‘subscribe and save’ for razor blades, Uncle Jeff, please? Anyhow, Donald Trump has been ‘in the room’ for ALL of this recent shit (believe you me) and speaking of being in the room, as Trump leered over his desk as Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal were paid off with six-figure sums, in this equation, one of two suppositions is true: either Donald Trump is being extorted, or Donald Trump is extorting. That is a fucking fact. Let’s start with Michael Cohen.

Michael Cohen was instructed on the law at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan and Cooley may be the worst law school in America, however another awful law school, The Whittier Law School in Costa Mesa, California is probably worse. Whittier had the lowest bar exam passing rate of any California law school in the July, 2016 exam. It’s also the school where conscience-free attorney Keith Davidson studied the law before continuing his legal education by shaking down celebrities such as Paris Hilton, Hulk Hogan and possibly our president Donald J. Trump. These glossaters were, for the most part, doing the dirty work for clients who used these men’s extensive ‘knowledge’ of the law to circumscribe the very essence of it. As in the world of finance, where tax attorneys and constitutional law scholars work diligently to weasel out of the requirements of all those niggling laws that lawmakers are creating all the time, the seemly world inhabited by most lawyers is, of course, a punch line.

As the history books reveal, the last president who dealt with such sordid details was a Democrat (!) by the name of Grover Cleveland, president number(s) 22 & 24 and the only president in American history to serve two non-consecutive terms in office. Salacious stories of wealthy, drunken, basically ‘gang-rape’ parties held up in upstate New York trickled down to the big city when Cleveland was running for president, where the famous refrain, “Ma, ma, where’s my Pa?” was sung at the top of the lungs of fresh-faced Republicans, catapulted into the White House after saving our nation during the Civil War. And here we thought that it was Roger Stone and Paul Manafort that brought us all this crap? Back in the old days, however, the ugly appearance that Cleveland had fathered an illegitimate child was low on the voter scale in those particularly corruptible times (imagine) and after all, Cleveland was a bachelor when the deed was done. Democrats howled “Off to the White House, ha, ha, ha” to finish the taunting refrain as Cleveland quickly married a well-born shill of a first lady and begrudgingly accepted his illegit kid into the fold, while committing the real mother to a mental institution. I looked for it, but I have no evidence that Cleveland used a pseudonym, so I say with some confidence that Donald John Trump is one of the few American Presidents to employ a pseudonym, for purposes other than writing books. And even then.

Trump’s first (known) pseudonym, ‘John Barron’ was used by Trump when he used to call up the Daily News or the Post with a tip, like when he dropped the red-hot item that The Donald wouldn’t be purchasing the Cleveland Indians back in the 1980’s. You don’t say? In the 1990’s, simply trying to get a word in edgewise against Ivana Trump in his contentious (first) divorce battle, Trump employed the pseudonym ‘John Miller’ for that ‘NYPD touch’ when he dropped dimes on her money-grubbing ways. The last known pseudonym that Donald Trump used is (was?) ‘David Dennison,’ yet the most effective pseudonym used by Donald Trump is probably Rudolph Giuliani, currently in Trump’s doghouse because he did exactly what he was told. In dishing idiotic tidbits that Trump hopes will help shape the impeachment debate (beyond Trump’s TOTALLY inappropriate and illegal Tweets), Rudy was Trump’s ‘limited hangout’ purveyor for all things Mueller Investigation. It was Rudy, after all, who dropped the item that Trump actually reimbursed Michael Cohen (more than double) for the Stormy Daniels’ payoff. And Trump (via Rudy) dropped another tidbit to the gossip mongers at Fox News that Trump was in the room when AMI’s David (Johnson) Pecker cut the deal with the Trump Organization to ‘catch and kill’ stories that didn’t put the orange one in the most favorable light.

Remember when Rudy said that $130,000 – $150,000 is what you pay for stories that aren’t true and that the big bucks don’t come unless you’ve really got the goods? The crumbling Giuliani (bringing shame upon Italians worldwide) had been slowly unveiling this strategy he knew well from his time as prosecutor in New York City against some of the most powerful, mobbed-up characters in American history. Opposite lawyers such as Bruce Cutler, looking and sounding like the clients they were defending, Giuliani knows well that Trump is duly fucked and he took the (unpaid) role of an ‘unregistered lobbyist’ for our wannabe dictator of a president. Giuliani is an endless fountain of suppositions and what-ifs, such as “over my dead body” followed quickly by “but, I might be dead!” The crew around Trump (Giuliani, Miller, The Devos Duo, Mulvaney, etc. ) looks like something out of the aliens in Men in Black and it wouldn’t surprise me if Robert Mueller was actually Agent Z in some secret, government agency charged with rounding up and deporting these mutant aliens back to where they came from. In his latest check-cashing scheme, Giuliani gives us that ‘smoke-filled room’ logic:

But at that point, these were the only two that were asking for money. And the amount of money is consistent with harassment, not truth. I have been involved in cases like this. When it’s true and you have the kind of money the president had, it’s a $1 million settlement. When it’s not true, when it’s a harassment settlement and it’s not true, you give them $130,000, $150,000. They went away for so little money that it indicates their case was very, very weak.

Rudy adds with a shiv, “And look, Stormy Daniels now has to pay the president legal fees. I mean, it’s — this is ridiculous.” Putting aside the fact that you supposedly can get 150 large for simply lying about an affair with a rich celebrity, make sure to catch my exclusive, personal story of torrid sex and a ‘love child’ with the celebrity model Giselle Bundschen. I risk being sued for libel to bring to you these sordid details, so Tom (Brady), to prevent further embarrassment to you and your family, please make the check payable to: John Underhill (my pseudonym). Rudy would see right through my obvious ruse because I’ll only pull down a measly 150 grand, but if I really had a love child with Giselle, I’d be getting more like $1.6 million dollars in quarterly payments of $200,000 over eight years. That’s exactly what Playboy Playmate Shera Bechard agreed to, so if Rudy’s right, she’s really got the goods on… Republican ‘venture capitalist’ and lobbyist Elliott Broidy. But wait, Mr. Broidy isn’t a celebrity! Yes, he’s rich (and fat) — but no celebrity — and when details of the confidential settlement were leaked by Stormy Daniels’ attorney/Horatio Alger-character Michael Avenatti, another man was revealed as a middle-man in the back room deals, Keith Davidson, currently ‘cooperating’ with the Mueller Investigation.

Rudy says there were only two payments, but no, there were three payments Michael Cohen had made during the election cycle (this we found out after his office was raided) and as we remember, the first payment made was to our national hero Stormy Daniels. The second payment went to the cute Karen McDougal. The third payment, for a measly $30,000, was made to some slimy doorman at Trump Tower (who passed a lie detector test) who claimed that Trump had fathered a child and was paying off the mother. Ronan Farrow unearthed this little item in his reports and recently on CNN appearing with Anderson Cooper (looking fabulous), as he winked into the camera and gently reminded us all that the doorman, while still an uncorroborated source, is still out there. This is before Ronan revealed that AMI tried to extort him as well. Giuliani would tell us that because the doorman only got $30,000 that only proves that he’s a stupid liar who only got a mere thirty thousand dollars because his boast is laughable, and in this equation, I actually agree with Rudy as this guy is clearly a sleazeball, but it reminds me of what an old family friend (and homicide detective) once told me, just because a woman is a prostitute doesn’t mean she doesn’t have 20/20 vision. The other name on contracts written by Trump’s (personal) attorney Michael Cohen, the third such contract signed by Dennison, a pseudonym for exactly who here? Turns out that Playboy Playmate, Shera Bechard, who has the legal contract with David Dennison to pay her more annually than I make, over the next six years, and the money for that payment is being paid for by one Elliott Broidy. When CNN caught up with Davidson (not Dennison!) for a sit down interview, he said that he was contacted by Michael Cohen who encouraged him to reveal what he knew about his clients and their agreements. He said that Cohen argued that the women had waived attorney-client privilege by going public with their stories, saying that “He [Cohen] suggested that it would be appropriate for me to go out into the media and spill my guts.” How (in)convenient.

In the same way that David Pecker and AMI extort celebrities today, Robert Harrison and a man named Fred Otash (more later) refined the process way back in the 1950’s and the petty extortion rackets, trading in career-ending smear complete with grainy pictures and video, paid off big time. Those who started the business could only dream of the legitimacy of an entire ‘gossip’ industry that we have today, now catering to all types of vice that we all ‘want to know’ about. We want to know, for example, that our president slept with a porn star while the first lady was pregnant with the third in line to the throne. We also ‘want to know’ that another president got a blowjob in the Oval Office from an intern wearing her new blue dress. Another president banged Marilyn Monroe. Other presidents got along far too well with their ‘secretaries.’ We all ‘want to know’ that the Governor of Virginia wore a KKK mask and blackface in his yearbook and that Jeff Bezos cheated on his wife and took pictures of his Johnson. So what else will AMI or TMZ reveal? Inquiring minds want to know!

With this here blog, I open myself up to libel, blackmail and extortion and for that reason I retain the esteemed law firm of Dewey, Cheetham & Howe, the off-white shoe, boutique firm perched high above Harvard Square, representing The Newes and the Car Talk guy that’s still alive. Actually, Car Talk is still offering their puzzlers and any manner of ridiculous car questions answered hilariously, but it just isn’t quite the same without the great Tom Magliozzi (may Tom idle his 8-cylinder engine in peace, drifting into the high-speed lane of heaven in 2014). Ray’s still alive and as funny as ever, so is it so hard to call and say hello every once in a while? Click & Clack are still plugging away and you can catch their latest show at (a production of the Tappet Brothers LLC, d/b/a Dewey, Cheetham and Howe.) I’ve been sued once in my life and I won the case, so just sayin’ you better bring the heavy hitters if you get into the face of the mighty Newes From America. Once I hired a plumber to fix my radiator and when he showed up, he looked at the puffing relic for thirty seconds and said he couldn’t fix it and left. A week later I get a bill for $160 for the ‘consultation’ and I called him up and consulted him to speak with my attorney if he ever expects a penny from me, ‘cause “I wasn’t paying him a dime.” He sued me in small claims court and I showed up for the case wearing a nasty Joseph Abboud suit with my Jerry Garcia power tie and it was like an episode from Boston Legal and I was Denny Crane. Case dismissed. Whiskey drunk.

So here we have two Boston boys: one a lawyer and the other a cop, one found fame in the ugly and unseemly underbelly of LA’s ‘Chinatown,’ the 1974 film, directed by Roman Polanski stands as one of the greatest Film Noir masterpieces ever made and in Jack Nicholson’s character ‘Jake,’ he gumshoes the evil from John Huston’s towering CEO Noah Cross, practically dripping with evil as he seethes that “under the right circumstances, people are capable of anything. ” Jake’s moral and professional failure to protect his real client, shot between the eyes by the willfully-ignorant cops in the pocket of the billionaire water baron, it all came down to the nihilism of, “Forget about it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.” Polanski’s inspiration for the character was Fred Otash, this legendary private eye and ex-LA police officer with a knack for being at the most salacious and disturbing cases of the 1940’s and 50’s emanating from the ‘City of Angels.’ From the ‘Black Dahlia case,’ (real name Elizabeth Short, another Boston-gone-to-LA wannabe, only to be cut in half and dumped in the gutter); to the drug overdose death of Marilyn Monroe herself, Otash was on the other end of the receiver, the man at the scene with his notebook in hand and a dime to drop at the nearest phone booth in the other. After graduating from Methuen High School, just North of Boston, Otash left his working-class family and headed to the land of opportunity in the 40’s, for Los Angeles (then as now) was chock full of stars and fame, as well as rampant corruption and crime. Otash was an inspiration for novelist Elmore Leonard in LA Confidential, securing Otash’s place as the model for almost every hard-boiled PI since Raymond Chandler’s ubiquitous Philip Marlowe and Dalshiell Hammett’s Sam Spade.

Fred Otash’s side hustle was working for Robert Harrison, the publisher of Confidential Magazine where the stories contained within the pages came with a wink and a nod, revealing liaisons with white and black celebrities, gay celebrities, drug-addicted celebrities, you-name-it celebrities in compromising positions, yet the vice was all never overtly said, just hinted strongly at and almost every single piece of innuendo that ended up in the pages of Confidential Magazine turned out to be true. Publisher Harrison had hit upon a winning strategy when his early porno mags, saddled by obscenity restrictions (pre-free love 60’s), shifted his business model to the petty extortion racket that folks such as The Dirty, TMZ and The National Enquirer jack to this day. Harrison was a genius for providing what people actually wanted to read about and in a little over a year, his scandal rag would reveal the truth behind the lies of the glittering, fake Hollywood put forward by the studios. Outselling Time Magazine and all of the rest of the top mags of the day, Confidential’s circulation in the mid-1950’s hit 4.6 million and you can read all about the man behind the magazine in critic Neal Gabler’s excellent piece in Vanity Fair and it’s a must read in today’s news cycle:

Confidential had changed the tenor and the purview of celebrity journalism and inspired dozens of imitators: Dynamite, Exposed, Fame, Hush-Hush, Inside Story, The Lowdown, On the Q.T., Private Lives, Tip Off, Top Secret, Uncensored, and its own sister publication, Whisper. In 1955 these scandal magazines accounted for 15 million copies per month, making Confidential arguably the most influential publication in the country.

Robert Harrison relied on PI’s like Otash and his Hollywood Research Investigation company to dig up dirt (matched with a trio of white-shoe law firms to vet each and every article printed in Confidential for libel liability) and Harrison never overruled his attorneys as far as anyone can tell, and there wasn’t a single story that ever appeared in Confidential Magazine that wasn’t 100% true, before they were put out of business in 1957 in one of the biggest and most sensational trials in Hollywood history. The industry that Harrison spawned, however, has had no such dedication to the facts, yet this early gossip, the original ‘King of Leer’ according to Time, when compared to today’s cast of scandal-mongers, looks practically presidential by comparison.

Brockton, Massachusetts, just South of Boston, is another ‘working class’ town, (very much like Methuen) and in that way it’s similar to many Northeast industrial towns — their heydays in the bygone era of timber and manufacturing. Most Bostonians take pride that the great boxer Rocky Marciano, with John L. Sullivan, Muhammad Ali and Jack Johnson as the only fighters in the ring to be rightfully called ‘The Greatest,’ hailed from the gritty streets of Brockton, along with another champion, Middleweight ‘Marvelous’ Marvin Hagler. Keith Davidson grew up in a large, Irish Catholic family back in Brockton and he remembered chasing after hometown hero, Marvin Hagler, while the champ was training on the streets, just like the Philly kids in the movie Rocky. Before he became an attorney (and business associate of Michael Cohen), Keith went to Boston College, as any smart Irish boy from the Boston area must. There’s a time-honored, well worn path to power among the Irish elite in Boston: the so-called ‘triple eagle.’ Not a ‘double albatross’ like in golf or anything, as any BC alum will tell you a ‘double eagle’ is anyone who graduated from Boston College High School and Boston College, (aka the Hibernian Harvard on Chestnut Hill). Those with a little wit, a lot of luck and around $350,000 may enter the club with the ‘triples,’ after they complete BC High, Boston College and BC Law. I think a triple eagle can come from any of the graduate schools at BC, however the only triple eagles that I’ve ever met were lawyers. Keith Davidson, having attended public school, never had a shot a triple and after his sub-par turn at college, BC Law was out of the question. So without a double eagle’s plumage to preen in Beantown, Keith Davidson cut bait and relocated to LA, where he went on to get his law degree from the previously mentioned, terrible Whittier Law School of Costa Mesa, California.

Keith Davidson, in addition to shaking down president Trump, was also probably shaking down Elliott Broidy, who has himself accused Qatari hackers of leaking his emails to the scandal-thirsty media, leading to the publication of damaging stories that increased scrutiny of his access to Trump. He accused a Qatari national, working at the U.N. of being behind the leak, “designed to punish his new clients, the United Arab Emirates (at the expense of Qatar) and a federal judge in California this past August granted Qatar’s request to have the case dismissed,” however Broidy isn’t giving up (and Qatar has denied any involvement in the hacks) where a particular U.N. employee for the Embassy of Qatar has the protection of diplomatic immunity, so yeah, they probably did it. Should make for some interesting reading this summer and THIS inquiring mind WANTS TO KNOW!

I also really want to know a lot more about Shera Bechard as well, don’t you? I mean look at her. She’s got a French-Canadian/Ukrainian thing going on that obviously caught the eye of Hugh Hefner (after his public humiliation as a jilted groom back in 2012) and Shera provided the perfect rebound for ‘Ol Hef, the original Playboy himself. Like Hefner, (once a gifted cartoonist) you can call me a big fan of Shera Bechard. Born and raised in a little mining town called Kapuskasing, Ontario, she moved over to Toronto at the age of 18 to pursue a modeling career and before her brief affair with THE Playboy, Miss Bechard’s previous claim to fame was her role as a mute Russian stripper in the 2009 ‘thriller’ Sweet Karma. Now just because this (bad) film is all about Russians and strippers and revenge — and just because the word ‘karma’ is right up there in the title — doesn’t mean that Shera Bechard (even though she looks STRIKINGLY like Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka) is Donald Trump’s ‘Peggy Peterson’ to his ‘David Dennison.’ Look it up. Yet this brilliant and as of yet unproven theory comes from Philadelphia Inquirer (not Enquirer!) journalist Will Bunch as well as another good take on the mystery by law professor Paul Campos, basically surmising that Donald Trump, not Elliott Broidy, was the real David Dennison of this particular hush payment agreement written up by Keith Davidson and Michael Cohen.

After Hef dumped Bechard (and after a November, 2012 Playmate of the Month spread), Shera (named for the cartoon character She-Ra, I shit you not), cast about for her next role, apparently ending up with the big, fat Elliott Broidy, who apparently impregnated her. Ugh… Anyway, I put that (way) out of my mind as I continue being a fan of her oeuvre and I want to know everything possible about her, however her Twitter account is private. That’s no way to treat us fans, even though she gave us a little of her mind there on her profile — telling us that she’s boycotting China. Her favorite TV shows were Curb Your Enthusiasm and all the BBC Nature series, so it’s easy to see why I’m a big fan, isn’t it? She has good taste for a 10, yet she is really an enigma, with favorite movies as extreme as Blue Velvet to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Bad Lieutenant (the original with Harvey Keitel, of course) Gangs of New York to Elf. Her favorite musicians back then were Death Cab for Cutie, Shania Twain, Travis Tritt and Roy Orbison. She studied ‘perfumery’ in Paris and by 2020, she had hoped to be running her own perfume line and after that she wanted to run a bed and breakfast in Costa Rica. No vegan, she liked a “nice, thick organic steak,” according to her website. While on Hef’s arm it became an item in the gossips that Bechard, a French-Canadian by all measures (36-24-36 comes to mind) had been working in America for years, wait for it… illegally. Her immigration status, though not being from a ‘shitty’ country, was murky at best yet she miraculously obtained a sought-after O-1 visa (an O-1 visa allows individuals of ‘extraordinary ability’ to enter to the United States for up to three years, which may be extended). In the ongoing border wall/immigration debate, I say that even though there’s no cap on the number of O-1s that the U.S. government awards each year (about 12,280 were approved back in 2011 when Shera entered U.S. politics), I wonder how many French-Canadian 10’s have been approved for the coveted O-1 visa since then? Not enough for me, I’ll tell you, and not enough for our President, Donald J. Trump I’ll have you know.

Note to my attorneys at DC&H: the check is in the mail.

John Underhill
February 10, 2019

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