It's that time of year.
With the annual meeting of the Bilderberg group just a month away, my Google News feed for the get-together is popping like a bag of Orville Redenbacher's in the microwave. According to Bilderberg sleuths, the exclusive group of about 120 powerful and influential business leaders, academics, politicians, billionaires, and journalists will gather this year, from May 14 to May 17, at the Astir Palace hotel in Vouliagmeni, Greece, for their confidential meetings.
Bilderberg specialist Jim Tucker recently chatted with radio host Alex Jones about how the Bilderbergers deserve the highest scrutiny. For the past five decades, says Tucker, the organization's "regular agenda" has been "evolving the United Nations into a world government, which to some extent it is now." Tucker speculates that the Bilderbergers may have created the current economic crisis "for their own selfish purposes" and are now consolidating their gains to expand their world-gov schemes.
In years past, Bilderberg critics have rightly complained about the no-news shroud over the group's meetings. The mainstream press generally does ignore the assembly of prominent world citizens. Last year, when the group and its invitees descended on a luxury hotel in the Washington Post's backyard of Chantilly, Va., such A-listers as Henry Kissinger, Ben S. Bernanke, David Rockefeller, Vin Weber, Henry Kravis, Robert B. Zoellick, Donald Graham, Vernon Jordan, and Charlie Rose, as well as world notables, reportedly attended. Yet the newspaper published nothing about the event, even in the wake of a June 5, 2008, Bilderberg release alerting papers to the conference.
According to Nexis, only three major outlets ran pieces about the 2008 session in close proximity to the event—Slate, Wonkette, and Raw Story, with several smaller blogs also turning out commentary and reports. (Wonkette's funniest contribution: a YouTube video titled "Several People Protest Bilderberg.") Even though my piece didn't marginalize Bilderberg's critics, as many pieces do, I still earned their derision. One writer denounced my piece as "bunk," filled with "naivety," and declared that my work was inherently suspect because I would never bite the Bilderberg hands that have fed me. (The hands being those of Microsoft, which founded Slate in 1996, and Donald Graham, whose Washington Post Co. has owned it since 2005.)
The Bilderberg news blackout—if that's what you want to call it—has its defenders. It's difficult, though not impossible, to cover an invitation-only event that imposes Chatham House-type rules on its participants. Bilderberg doesn't get a complete bye from the press, either, as I wrote last year, with regular articles about its alleged nefarious aims popping into print routinely. But mentions are not what the critics want. They want—if you'll allow me the vanity of quoting myself—"confirmation of their theories that the group operates in a sinister, behind-the-scenes fashion to exploit the powerless and throttle liberty." Any other coverage is regarded as sock-puppetry.
The press treatment of the Bilderberg meeting may change if a mid-March piece in Politico by Kenneth P. Vogel, "Bilderbergers Excite Conspiracists," gains a little more currency. Vogel treads the line between citing Bilderberg critics and quoting—anonymously, of course—an attendee of the 2004 session, who said that the ideologies of such Bilderbergers as Henry Kissinger, Richard Perle, Richard Holbrooke, and Jim Johnson is too diverse for them ever to agree to conspire on anything. Then, undermining this nonconspiracy view, the anonymous source observed the near impossibility of naming a Bilderberg-free Cabinet: "You'd be hard pressed to find an administration that hasn't reached into those ranks into the last 20, 30, 40 years."
The major point of the Politico piece was to note that the Obama administration teems with Bilderbergers. In an April 3 piece, Vogel kept the Bilderberg ball in the air, referencing yet another Bilderberg attendee in the Obama White House. Judging from the seaside location of this year's Bilderberg meeting, if Vogel is intent on crashing the event, he should watch the opening reel of Goldfinger—and pack a waterproof tuxedo and scuba gear.
Does Bilderberg have a Twitter account? If so, would it be paranoid to ask that they not follow me? Send e-mail, as usual, to email@example.com. (E-mail may be quoted by name in "The Fray," Slate's readers' forum; in a future article; or elsewhere unless the writer stipulates otherwise. Permanent disclosure: Slate is owned by the Washington Post Co.)