The Bird takes flight this week and drops a colossal load on the Goldwater family for censoring the Goldwater papers at the Arizona Historical Foundation. Less than a week after my cover story "Goldwater Uncut," C.C., Barry, Jr. and Michael Goldwater asked AHF's Board of Directors to seal all letters between patriarch Senator Barry Goldwater and his family, even though the Senator willed the papers to the Foundation and left no restrictions on them. They did this because they were deeply embarrassed by the story, specifically the section where their money-grubbing and pettiness was discussed, drawing as it did on the very letters they wanted sealed. The AHF essentially tabled the matter, and it will be taken up again at the beginning of January. But for the time being, no one can look at these letters at the Foundation's ASU repository.
Or so the Goldwaters thought. See, while researching the story, I paid for copies of most of the juiciest stuff from Goldwater's family correspondence. A few of those docs are now online in the New Times' brand spankin' own Goldwater File! Take a look and you'll see for yourselves why the Goldwaters are so hot to make sure these letters are verboten.
In one, Goldy states that he has "paid out of my private funds, since Christmas, a little over $70,000 to my children." In another, he offers Barry, Jr. $20K to help him out. The mooching was incessant and lasted many years. Goldy pulls his hair out in one letter, complaining that "I don't know how in hell I can keep my children from spending money they don't have, and money I don't have, unless I can somehow shoot all of them." Daughter Joanne begs pop to break his mother's trust so she can get her hands on the loot. There are letters to granddaughter C.C. in her previous incarnation as "Cynthia Ross," chastising her over her various nutty schemes to capitalize on her grandsire's good name. And there's weepy correspondence from Barry, Jr. over his time in rehab up in Wickenburg.
This is but a handful of what I copied. There's much more I have in my possession, and much more I plan to add to the NT's online Goldwater File. It's ironic, of course, that I would not have taken this step had the Goldwater clan not stepped in to censor the Senator's papers. Moreover, C.C.'s whitewash of her own family in the HBO doc Mr. Conservative: Goldwater on Goldwater made all of this an issue, where it had not been before.
Interestingly, the first time I spoke to C.C., she told me HBO had asked her to detail the skeletons in her family's closet, but she came up almost empty-handed on that score. She obviously didn't look very hard. The "scandalous" items she does mention, her mom's abortion, etc., are glossed over. Regarding that very abortion, biographer Robert Alan Goldberg asserts in his bio of the Senator that "Although abortion was illegal in the United States unless the mother's life was threatened, Barry made arrangements for the procedure." The fact the Senator arranged for his daughter's abortion back in the day is not mentioned in the documentary. Why not? That's an explosive revelation, but C.C. couldn't bring herself to go there.
Barry, Jr.'s drug problems are also passed over in C.C.'s doc, though BGII was investigated over the issue while his dad was still in the Senate. Goldwater, Sr. even admitted to a reporter that BGII had told him he had done coke and weed, but the Senator pooh-poohed the whole thing because, he said, his son had just indulged in yay and pot, he didn't sell it. All of this is part of the public record. It's extant in published stories. The letters on file at the AHF go into more detail, but censoring them will not cleanse the record or history of the peccadilloes of Goldwater's kids and grandkids.
C.C.'s finally made a name for herself on the corpse of her dead grandfather. But I imagine the fame will be short-lived. She's not a journalist or a real documentary filmmaker. She's a dilettante, albeit one in her 40s. She had no business involving herself in something of this seriousness because she didn't have the stomach for uncovering her family's sometimes lurid past. In a phone call to me the Wednesday night the "Goldwater Uncut" article hit the web, C.C. took particular offense at the fact that I had critiqued her stab at crafting a documentary, and that I compared it negatively to Bill McCune's more professional (despite his lack of funds) effort. She decried my depictions of Goldwater family money-grubbing, but she could not assail their truthfulness. Indeed, the Goldwaters' move to seal the documents is the ultimate testimony that I got it right. Otherwise, why would they want these letters hidden from public view?
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