Black Listed

Black Listed

By

Leonard Zwelling

         I looked it up. On my cv.
It’s about the only entries I have on my cv
for the past few years.

I
have published 30 opinion pieces in the Houston
Chronicle
since 1997 and the vast majority have been in the past 6 years
since my return from DC. I lost my lab and my Vice Presidency even as I found
my voice. I have also had 11 Letters to the Editor published in the Chronicle in that time. I have also
published letters and opinion pieces in the Wall
Street Journal
and NY Times.

         I am not spouting these statistics to brag. I am listing the
numbers so that you can appreciate that I have had a pretty consistent record
of productivity as documented by my accepted articles in the only local daily
in the fourth biggest city in the US. But that was then.

         For the past 4 months or so, I cannot get arrested or catch
a cold at the Chronicle. Every piece
I send comes back in days or hours rejected. It doesn’t matter whether the
subject is politics, medicine or MD Anderson. REJECTED!

         What the heck happened? Have I lost my touch?

         I don’t think so. But I do believe that MD Anderson has
gained its touch and has touched the Chronicle
for a large number of full-page ads with one of the express provisos being that my material
does not reach the editorial page. Do I really believe that? Yes, I do.

         It used to take me weeks to get an answer from the editorial
staff about a submission. Now it is hours.

         In the past, when I asked what the editors were looking for,
I got answers and I even had lunch with a new editor to understand what she was
seeking so that I could focus my attention to align with the interests of the
paper. No more.

         I am out, blackballed and black listed.

         I fully expect that if anyone at the Chronicle or MD Anderson comments on this it will be a firm denial,
but as recently as April of this year, I wrote a letter to the Chronicle that was published supporting
the Chronicle’s position that the
leadership of MD Anderson needed changing. Now all of a sudden, similar
criticisms or even compliments (e.g., an op-ed piece in support of
immunotherapy) from me, can no longer find their way to the op-ed page.

         I do not believe this is coincidental nor unconnected with the
large ads MD Anderson is taking in the paper as recently as today (August 10,
2015).

        

When
I was a freshmen at Duke, the Sigma Nu fraternity was not interested in having
me as a member. This probably reflected their good taste. After all, my life,
like Woody Allen’s, is characterized by not wanting to join any club that would
have me as a member (original source: Groucho). The ZBT fraternity, the major
Jewish group on campus, the first to break the “color line” at Duke, and the
place where I really learned about rock and roll, sex and drugs, was more than
happy to take me in. I know when I am not wanted and when I am.

         We had a very successful book signing last week in a private
home in which my real friends showed up, even one of my ZBT brothers. There were some people from MD
Anderson there but I dare not name them for fear retribution will come to them
for fraternizing with me. My book will also be one of the featured ones at the
JCC Book Fair’s local and new authors evening on November 9 (please come). I
know who my friends are. I thought I had a few at the Chronicle. Silly me!

         One of the great appeals of Donald Trump to the average
voter is that his huge wealth makes him impervious to venality. Would we could
say that about the press or the other 16 candidates who inhabited TV land August 6.

         Cyndi Lauper was still right. “Money Changes Everything.”

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