Sherman Skolnick discusses
"The Einsteins of Conspiracy Theory"
(Interview from July 18, 1995)
(Preliminary note: Mr. Skolnick's phone, due to bureaucratic
bungling, had recently been disconnected. When we spoke on the
evening of July 18th, his phone service had just been restored.)
CONSPIRACY NATION: Let me run this by you: this is my theory.
You've got this Einstein connection that, where you had been
taught by this protege of Einstein, at Spaulding High School.
And Einstein was a brilliant theorist...
SHERMAN SKOLNICK: Yeah. But he was hounded all his life, until
his death in 1956, by the FBI who thought he was some kind of
spy. It didn't come out, until years later, that they thought he
was subversive. He was... He invented things that... The
atomic bomb was used to, supposedly, terminate the war and save a
lot of American lives. Not everybody agrees 50 years later, but
the people at the time agreed. And he did a lot for this
CONSPIRACY NATION: Yeah. But see, what I'm sayin' is, the way
that Einstein -- because he had to theorize, because there was
just so much in the area of physics that was not accessible, that
he couldn't access...
SHERMAN SKOLNICK: I'm glad you brought up his name. Because
(not everybody's gonna agree with the next thing I say)... But
Michael Riconosciuto -- because I spent 4-and-a-half months
interviewing him in the federal jail in Chicago in the fall of
'92 -- I call him "Albert Einstein in jail". He is absolutely
brilliant. In finance, in computers: he's a wiz! A wizard.
CONSPIRACY NATION: Okay, but Ted Koppel, for example, he's
knocking "conspiracy theorists", this is my analogy: that you've
got, again you've got information that is unknown. Like with
Einstein, there was information unknown, so he had to theorize.
All right? And with these, what they call "conspiracy
theorists", they've got information that's unknown; the
government is not letting them access the information; so they've
got to be theorists! That's the only way... It's the same
thing, just like Einstein.
SHERMAN SKOLNICK: Yeah, we could be documentors if the
government will release the stuff! I mean, the government knows.
Doesn't... Isn't there an agency, a unit in the government, that
really knows, the bottom line, who killed John F. Kennedy, which
way the bullets really went in Dealey Plaza; who exactly was the
second gunman with Bobby Kennedy; and how exactly did this guy,
Raoul, frame James Earl Ray.
Somebody in the government would know. But what they do is,
they protect. So that, when the rest of us come along with
theories, they says, "You lie! You're a 'conspiracy crackpot'."
CONSPIRACY NATION: Yeah! And if they would release the
information, then we wouldn't need to theorize!
SHERMAN SKOLNICK: Yes. We're not allowed to see the real stuff.
CONSPIRACY NATION: Yeah. And I was just thinking in terms of,
you had been taught by Einstein's protege at Spaulding High
School, and I just kind of thought that there's an "Einstein
SHERMAN SKOLNICK: Yeah, but now that you've mentioned: what
happened is, his politics were "wrong". He taught for a
"crippled" childrens' high school, he taught for the jail. He
was a brilliant math teacher, but he had the "wrong" politics.
CONSPIRACY NATION: It's just an idea that occurred to me: that
you could be viewed as, like "The Einstein of Conspiracy
SHERMAN SKOLNICK: Yeah but the ultimate thing is, you want me to
create the "atomic bomb of conspiracies"?! [laughs]
There is an "atomic bomb of conspiracies": the mother of
all conspiracies, the one that's gonna "blow up" the White House!
Well.... I tell ya somethin': an early "Einstein of
conspiracies" was the late Danny Casolaro with his theory about
"The Octopus". Someday they're gonna prove it, just like
Einstein's theory of relativity, there's gonna be Casolaro's
theory of the mother of all conspiracies. He's gonna have a
formula how to work it, too!
The man was put in his grave by a vast conspiracy, made to
look like a suicide. And apparently [Vince] Foster, too!
And so now, Ted Koppel, who's apparently getting a CIA
subsidy instead of CBS, he wants to put us all down: we're all
"conspiracy peddlers". The thing is, us "conspiracy peddlers" I
don't think are getting well-off with it. Whereas these other
guys are trying to sell newspapers and TV ads putting the
conspiracy theorists down. And we could be conspiracy
documentors if the government will just let loose of the real
stuff! And turn off all the shredding machines.
CONSPIRACY NATION: Speaking of the "Einsteins of conspiracy
theory", you mentioned once Mae Brussell. Had you known her
SHERMAN SKOLNICK: Oh I knew her for a good 15 years. She was a
brilliant woman. And her great dream as she was dying (I was
among the last to interview her, while she was still coherent;
she was dying of uterus cancer.) And her dream was to use some
money that she inherited to set up a library for assassination
researchers. But her family (she's part of the Magnin department
store fortune), they wanted the money. And they weren't
interested in setting up any libraries in her honor. So all of
her records that she gathered, from the time of the death of
President Kennedy until she died in October of '88, are
languishing, I believe, in a garage someplace in Vancouver,
CONSPIRACY NATION: Yeah. That's sad.
SHERMAN SKOLNICK: Well... It's, you know what it is? It's not
as popular as the latest "gangsta rap" or whatever they call it.
Digging out the truth to the world is not always popular. It
became popular just briefly when the JFK movie came out. And
then some of these counter-conspiracies, that is, the put-down of
those that dig into things -- Chip Berlet and others -- came
along to harass and hound the rest of us as, what [Ted] Koppel I
understand is gonna call "a cottage industry". In other words,
we're busy in the secret basements of the world, investigating
The idea that there are no plots is itself a plot.
CONSPIRACY NATION: Yeah. That's what I was gonna say, that it
sounds like Koppel is getting paranoid.
SHERMAN SKOLNICK: Well anyone that makes $2.5 million a year and
drives in a limousine is not gonna believe that there are any
plots -- except those that are plotted by the ones that he works
The idea that a clever person can force a massive group of
liars to tell the truth is a wrong view of the world. You cannot
force big-time liars like the New York Times, the Washington
Post, and Time magazine and others to tell the truth. The top
brass of those magazines go to these secret society meetings and
don't report what went on there. And so why should anybody say,
"Well, we're clever. We're gonna force them to tell the truth."
You cannot force a massive liar to tell the truth. It is *not*
CONSPIRACY NATION: All right, but here is my theory, okay?
There's a point where everybody already knows the story. I mean,
as far as, say, Waco. All right? The mass media really tried to
dismiss that and to demonize the Branch Davidians. But the
public was so insistent and began producing their own videos and
telling about what happened there that it became... Everybody
already knew it already, anyway. And it became a point where...
SHERMAN SKOLNICK: Okay what would they do to the rest of us who
documented and detailed and demonized the media? What would they
do to us?
CONSPIRACY NATION: But see, what I'm sayin' is, that there comes
a point where everybody already knows the story anyway. So the
media, at that point, to "save face" is gonna have to tell what
it knows. Or offer a "limited hangout". And I can notice that
with the Branch Davidian massacre, that, at first, all they
showed was this one short clip of Koresh -- constantly. It was
as if that was the only clip that was available of him. And they
didn't mention any kind of alternative view. These were "crazed
cultists". And they put out that movie almost right away; it was
one of these made-for-TV movies. They really propagandized
against these people.
SHERMAN SKOLNICK: You should continue telling subscribers that
one of the most wonderful things in our time is Internet. That's
why the media is attacking it from all sides. Why? Because the
rest of us, when some big liar of the press, when we talk to 'em,
what is the one magic word that we whisper into their ear and
they go completely nuts? We whisper [whispers], "Internet!!"
And they go nuts! Why? Because, in effect, if we're really
loud-mouthed we can say, "The hell with you, Washington Post!
I'm puttin' this on Internet and people all over the world --
clever people, intellectuals -- are gonna know the truth and know
that you, Washington Post, are liars!"
And so all you've got to do is whisper [whispers],
And it's powerful. Because the Washington Post, on July
4th, referred to your category there, "Conspiracy Nation".
Listen. When an ant is able to make the elephant or horse move,
hey: that's Internet.
CONSPIRACY NATION: Yeah, well they're struggling to find ways to
shut things down. I mean, their way with, where it's just a
place filled with child pornographers and it's gotta be shut down
or whatever -- that hasn't worked I don't think.
SHERMAN SKOLNICK: What are you talkin' about? That the networks
are loaded with child pornographers??
CONSPIRACY NATION: Well in the newspapers, for awhile there it
SHERMAN SKOLNICK: Well we put on the air recently a cable TV
show about two terrorist organizations. Can you imagine which
two that we put on? They weren't Abu-Nidal and some other group.
They were the IRS and a group in Illinois, a state agency that
terrorizes sole practitioner lawyers, trying to chew 'em up. We
described them as "terrorist groups" [laughs].
The picture of their leaders should hang rightfully in the
One of the stories I did, which has been 20-some odd years
in the making was, the reasons why the CIA and other federal
agencies will not squelch the Chinese secret police that are
operating in the United States.
I told a short version of the story. Actually it would take
a good book to go into it. I happen to have been a long-time
friend, over a period of 20 years, to a retired "spook" who was
an expert on the Chinese secret police. He'd been a parachute
spy for the O.S.S. during the second war. And when he got back
here, in the '50s, they more or less put him to work, part time,
to track the Chinese secret police that the government, the U.S.
government, never did anything to stop them. In other words, the
Vietnam war came along, they didn't want to stop them -- for a
little-known reason: historically and traditionally China was a
long-time enemy of Vietnam. In fact when the Vietnam war ended,
they had a border conflict! Remember that?
CONSPIRACY NATION: No, no.
SHERMAN SKOLNICK: So the Chinese secret police are functioning.
Although a friend of one Chinese scientist called up and
bitterly berated me. I says, "Friend, what are you hollering
about? I'm not talking about your man. Why is your man telling
you to scream at me?"
Maybe he is with the secret police. I wasn't even thinking
about him at all! And he says, "Why do I..." I mentioned about
a sneaky scientist being the head of the Chinese secret police in
the United States. And somebody called up and says, "Will you
stop condemning my friend?" I says, "I wasn't even thinking
about your friend! Is your friend feeling guilty about
something, that he told you to heckle me?" I says, "The one I
was thinkin' about isn't your friend at all!" [laughs]
(But now that he mentioned him, I'm gonna put him on the
CONSPIRACY NATION: Is your phone workin' now? 5741, is that
SHERMAN SKOLNICK: Yeah, right. It is.
All political activists curse the phone company. I mean,
they're the great boogeyman of the world. And it's justified.
Because during the anti-war period, whenever there was a big
rally, they would try to stop the rally by sabotaging people's
phones. When you'd pick up the phone, you'd want to call
somebody. You says, "Hey, you goin' down to this peace rally?"
And all of a sudden, your phone is dead, your pal's phone is
dead. And then when you'd get to a pay phone, to call the phone
company, they said, "What?! I don't know what you're talkin'
Well how was it that all these guys that were organizing a
peace rally, that their phones all went dead about the same time?
Now that sounds beyond coincidence.
There was a movie about there was a vast conspiracy in the
world, and at the end of the movie it turned out to be the phone
company. "The President's Analyst" I think it was called. And
actually, the whole conspiracy was conducted from a phone booth!!
Maybe the movie was correct. [laughs]