|David Steinberg and Brian Williams|
Being Brian Williams before Brian Williams is no achievement at all.
I really hope there is a reference out there that I missed, since this is such a cosmic bummer. It's like finding out Mickey Mantle corked his bat. In this case, Sammy Sosa is a better comparison.@david_steinberg there are two comedians on the complete Nixon enemies list, neither is you. https://t.co/PQWB6waCwP— Austrian Anarchy (@AustrianAnarchy) August 24, 2016
Comedian and Director David Steinberg has been falsely claiming, since at least 2002, to have been on the infamous Nixon's Enemies List. That is the slang term for two similar lists, three if you count the list of McGovern staff and contributors:
- The official name the first list, with just 20 named is A list of President of the United States Richard Nixon’s major political opponents compiled by Charles Colson, written by George T. Bell.
- The second is known as the Master list of Nixon's political opponents.
- The other "second" list is the List of McGovern Staff Members and Campaign Contributors
David Steinberg even made the claim again in his 2013 documentary Quality Balls, and somehow he got 'reporter' Marc Ambinder to add that he was the only comedian on the list. Bill Cosby and Dick Gregory might disagree, they are comedians who are actually on that list (the second version).
He is not on it. He was never on it. He is not on any version of it and never has been.
Steinberg's false claim is not even original, he is following in the hallowed footsteps of L. Ron Hubbard and the Church of Scientology. It seems that humorous sermons are not their only point of coincidence.
Steinberg claims it as a badge of honor, his greatest achievement. With actual achievements in directing episodes of Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Golden Girls, why bother making up something like being on the Nixon list? What is it with that damn Nixon's Enemies List that turns the cream of Hollywood into sniveling, slimy fabricators, even when they are off stage?
This list, both the original and the expanded versions, have been published, and published, and published some more. Daniel Schorr read the list on the air on CBS news, and discovered his own name was on it (#17). That was in 1973, and the New York Times published both of the lists shortly thereafter. They are in the Congressional Record too. This was decades before Steinberg figuratively erased someone else and penciled in his own name.
In the 2002 interview, with the First Amendment Center, no less, he claimed that his (unnamed) cousin the lawyer found out for him that he was on the list. He also claimed to be number twenty on the list. Actually, that would be Mary McGrory. If that was Steinberg's birth name, I take all of this back.
John Norris, a biographer of McGrory, has weighed in on the topic.
To be fair, there is more than one list known as "Nixon's Enemies List." The other one is longer, organized into categories. The Wikipedia compilation is not the only version, there are several others like this one (second list on the page). The Watertown Daily Times, and others, printed the copy UPI transmitted (PDF), on June 28, 1973 (PNG copy below too). Unless Steinberg performed as Representative John Conyers, he is not #20 over there either. He does not appear anywhere on that list. Maybe David Steinberg just doesn't know many people who read much?Hey @david_steinberg why would u say you were #20 on Nixon's Enemies List? Mary McGrory earned that fair and square. pic.twitter.com/YHYXkrEyKi— John H Norris (@john_h_norris) August 25, 2016
Even in 2002, if you were incapable of web searching, you could look it up for yourself in a library or just ask a librarian. Maybe David's cousin the lawyer just made it up to make him feel good? Possibly, but ...
In 2002 he claimed that Tony Ulasewicz was on TV during the Watergate hearings, testifying about "dirty tricks," and two FBI agents who had followed him around on tour were sitting behind Ulasewicz.
In Steinberg's later versions of the tale, Ulasewicz was replaced with Donald Segretti. I haven't found any video archives of his appearance before the Watergate committee. He may have appeared on television and it would be nice to see if the people "sitting behind him" (in other versions, they are "standing behind him") are the same ones as in the Ulasewicz clip. At this point, one cannot be sure that the people behind Ulasewicz are FBI either. Not sure if that was the only switcheroo, but it would not surprise me if there were more versions.
One would think that over a decade later, when Steinberg was preparing his documentary, that someone would have fact-checked this. Beyond that, it would have been nice if anybody who interviewed him had bothered to look and see if this claim was true.
Of course, I can forgive Gilbert Gottfried for not calling Steinberg on this one. Gilbert is just a very, very funny guy. Vanity Fair is a whole different story.
Now, a blast from the past from the late, great, Dick West, writer of "The Lighter Side" column:
David, why couldn't you be a good honest boy, like David Brenner or Jerry Seinfeld?
PS, the Steinberg story of Nixon's henchmen heckling his shows keeps changing too. A simple Privacy Act Request to the FBI (not Dan Rather), by Steinberg could get him all of the reports of all of the agents who attended his shows on official business. If any of that happened at all.
If that is too much trouble, Mr. Steinberg can just sign a form authorizing me, or anybody else to do it, since he the subject of those reports and is still a living person.
h/t to the delightful Jesse Walker for the Scientology link
Below, the other pages of the 'Nixon' list and cover memo, via Wikimedia. Followed by the bigger list, via Fulton History.
The longer, more developed list:
|PDF version at Fulton History|