In the August 24 issue, Voice contributor Sol Stern also counterattacked. he accused Cockburn and Ridgeway of playing games with casualty figures. “How wondrous it is,” he chided, “to behold someone who, in Cockburn’s case, has publicly thrilled to the march of revolutionary warfare in Latin America and who defended the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, but who is now suddenly posturing as a Quaker.” Stern contended that Cockburn and Ridgeway used “whatever atrocity stories they can get, no matter what the source,” and charged them with ignoring acts of Arab warfare and terrorism and with relying on the statements of extreme left- and right-wing Israelis as examples of mainstream Israeli thinking. Stern’s attack on Cockburn was based on Cockburn’s performance; he had no way of knowing that on the very day that served as the issue date of the Voice, the Institute of Arab Studies had made out a check to Cockburn for $10,010 — $10,000 for a fellowship and $10 in wire charges.
Nobody had any means of knowing this unless Cockburn or the Institute chose to tell somebody. Not a word of the payment appeared in the Voice — not in August, not in September, when Cockburn returned from a five-week vacation, not ever. When Cockburn reappeared in print, in the issue of September 21, 1982, he noted, “As I lurked amid the August boscage of southern Vermont and subsequently lolled in the ancestral message in Southern Ireland, word came of assault and calumny upon my person.” Cockburn relishes being attacked in print, for it enables him to answer in kind, and so he was of again for another full season of invective. Cockburn has to reticence about making himself the center of attention in his own writings, and though word of his $10,000 fellowship must also have come during his lurking and lolling, he did not see fit to comment upon it, even as he continued writing about Israel and the Middle East.
Which is odd, given his assumed role as the ever vigilant watchdog of American journalism. He holds fellow journalists to high standards, and in so doing, he has worried publicly about conflicts of interest and the appearance thereof.
In the September 27, 1983, issue of the Voice, he reported on the infighting at the Pacifica Foundation, which operates five listener-supported radio stations. The stations traditionally had been free of corporate advertising, and, therefore, more independent than commercial stations. Cockburn noted that the foundation was considering accepting money from corporations or other foundations, a possibility that disturbed him greatly. He worried that the stations would crusade less and strive more for “a safe module of ‘balance’ and statesmanlike caution on all contentious issues, hand on heart and heart in Herb Schmertz’s pocket.”
Schmertz is a media manipulator for Mobil. Last week, Cockburn insisted to the Phoenix that accepting a grant from the Institute of Arab Studies was quote different from accepting one from Mobil.