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Vanity Fair Editor Alex Shoumatoff Arrested, Embarrassed at Bohemian Grove



Vanity Fair Editor Alex Shoumatoff Arrested, Embarrassed at Bohemian Grove



He Plans Hit Piece on Bohemian Club Tree Plans

Alex Shoumatoff, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair magazine, tried to sneak into the exclusive Bohemian Grove in Monte Rio, Calif., this week. He was hoping to get an inside look at the exclusive retreat of some of the world’s most prominent CEOs, business leaders and politicians. Of course, he stuck out like a seersucker suit at a funeral and was promptly handcuffed and arrested.

Most embarrassing for him: he was arrested by a part-time security guard whose day job is a plumber. One could say he was arrested at ‘plunger-point.’

Shoumatoff was attempting to sneak in to the 2,700 acre grove. Unfortunately, it’s hard to sneak in when you weight 375+ pounds and are prone to being arrogant and dropping names like dimes. Clearly, when captured, Shoumatoff couldn’t muster the right names to drop and he was detained, handcuffed and arrested by Sonoma County Sheriff’s Dept. for trespassing.

Why break in to an exclusive retreat that many consider far more important and powerful that the annual Davos get-together?

His goal was to write a hit piece on the exclusive club’s timber management plans. Shoumatoff must not have had a program for the Grove. The lecture by tree expert Ralph Osterling on the Club’s timber plan that Shoumatoff should have attended was held Saturday morning. Instead, he showed up late at night during the highly ritualized “Cremation of Care,” an operatic production that the entire Club turns out to see.

Shoumatoff and former Bohemian Club member Jock Hooper, were Harvard roommates. Hooper convinced his journalist friend to write a negative story on the Bohemian Club on its plan to harvest up to 1.5 percent of its forest as part of its fire prevent plans. However, Hooper has failed to make publicly known the fact that he, too, has a forest (isn’t it nice to be rich?) and the fact that he harvests 5 percent a year of its trees. Yet, he is against the Bohemian Club’s harvest management plan because it is too aggressive! If Shoumatoff had any cojones hidden under his ample belly, he would be turning on his friend and writing about Hooper’s hypocrisy, not the Club’s plans to prevent forest fires from destroying their old growth redwood trees--the same way Shoumatoff turned on his other friend, Bill Weld, the Governor of Massachusetts. But that is another story.

Shoumatoff should have disqualified himself from the story because of his long friendship with Hooper. Equally damning is the fact that he attempted to pretext his way past Grove security, as reported in the San Francisco Sentinel. Bias and deception by journalists gives all reporters a bad name. Shoumatoff should apologize to all journalists and the Bohemian Club for his actions, and, he should read the Society of Professional Journalists ethics for a refresher on his professional duties. If he had read the SPJ ethics page before starting on his ill fated venture, perhaps he never would have been arrested for pretending to be something that he is not.

Here is the background on the Bohemian Club NTMP forest management story:

It’s been called the “greatest men’s party on earth,” and several thousand of the most powerful, rich and famous corporate CEOS and business leaders in the world will encamp at the Bohemian Club’s Grove in Monte Rio.

The club is battling with a former disgruntled member, John “Jock” Hooper, a fourth-generation member of San Francisco’s exclusive Bohemian Club until he resigned in 2004 over how to manage the Club’s heavily forested 2,700 acres at the Bohemian Grove summer retreat that lasts from July 10 to July 27 this year.

Now four years later, Hooper is back with an axe to grind, working with his lawyers to oppose the Club’s application to the state of California for a non-industrial timber management plan, which allows landowners to manage their own timber harvests.

The Bohemian Club wants to manage its timber and harvest no more than 1.5 percent of its second growth trees to manage its Sonoma County forest which its members have encamped at for more than 100 years. Their goal is to reduce the possibility of forest fires and ensure the protection of the Grove’s beloved redwood trees from a catastrophic fire like others that have stuck and devastated California in recent years. No old growth redwood trees will be cut by the Club, according to their plan.

The plan is now before the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection which oversees the regulation of timber and forest management.

Hooper struck the first blows in the battle, but now the Club is striking back, saying the ultimate irony is that Hooper himself runs an aggressive logging operation on his commercial apple farm in Mendocino County.

The farm’s has been logging there since 1997 and last year removed 5 percent of the property’s standing conifer trees.

Bohemian Club officials say that rate is much higher than anything being proposed at the Bohemian Grove, which is only up to 1.5 percent a year on average—all of which will then be replanted with redwood tree seedlings.

Here is exact language from Hooper’s own website: http://www.oz-farm.com/forest.htm: “In 1997, we conducted our first logging operation under the authority of a state-approved Non-Industrial Timber Management Plan (NTMP). Our NTMP as well as the constraints imposed by an easement administered by Pacific Forest Trust permit us to cut timber at about half the rate the timber stand is growing so that the size and quality of the trees improve over time. In the fall of 2007, we completed our second Timber harvest, mostly in areas not harvested in 2007. We removed approximately 5% of the standing conifer inventory.”)

Furthermore, some serious tree experts including Professor Stephen Sillett – described as the world’s foremost authority on redwood trees – have written the State in support of the Bohemian Club’s plan—as well as the local Monte Rio Fire Chief Steve Baxman and other distinguished professors and tree experts. (Sillett is a rock star in the world of redwoods).

Still, Hooper has been running a relentless media campaign, even taking up a television crew in a helicopter for a flyover of the Grove. He’s even embroiled Vanity Fair magazine in a media ethics flap by trying to get contributing editor Alex Shoumatoff – a classmate of Hooper’s at Harvard – to weigh in. And if you see the pictures of Shoumatoff “weigh in” is the operative word. No wonder security caught this guy—he couldn’t run away from a jelly fish.

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