Our inaugural POS Saturday episode is dedicated to the one of the biggest pieces of s**t in 20th century American history — Roy Cohen. Cohen’s influence on American politics and society from the 1950s to the 1980s was almost completely negative. Along with a handful of others, he is responsible for the toxic tone and behavior that has polluted recent American politics. Professor Philip Nash from Penn State explains why Roy Cohen’s our first Buzzkill POS!
Show Outline and Script
Born 1927. Dad a Judge in Dem NYC machine. Sharp; graduates Columbia Law age 20.
Family connections get him job with US Atty/SDNY. Helps prosecute communists. Big role in prosecuting Rosenbergs. They’re convicted, executed; he was probably guilty. BUT: Cohn helped pick judge and prosecutor; claimed judge chose death sentence on his recommendation; had this and other ex parte communications with judge. Highly improper: “guilty and framed.”
Then what does he do?
On J E Hoover’s recommendation, hired by J McCarthy. Big role in witch hunts, Lavender Scare, despite his own homosexuality (will forever oppose gay rights). Helps bring down McCarthy. Resigns.
Late 1950s until death, NYC private attorney. Connected. Clients include G Steinbrenner, Catholic Archdiocese of NYC, mobsters, Studio 54 owners, Rupert Murdoch, Donald Trump (whom Cohn tutored). Big in NYC social scene, even with some liberals.
What kind of a lawyer was he?
A fixer (D Trump recently: “Where’s my Roy Cohn?”). Wins by intimidation, aggression, counter-suits, favors, lies. Indicted and acquitted several times (jury tampering, perjury). Finally disbarred just months before his death of AIDS in 1986 at 59 y.o.
So, big picture?
Everything wrong with our Cold War politics, unequal justice system, and hypocritical celebrity culture rolled into one. Redeeming qualities? Maybe intelligence, loyalty. Otherwise a living tribute to the pursuit of power and dominance at all costs. A real POS. More later!