How the L.A. Times Helped the FBI Destroy Jean Seberg

In an op-ed in today’s L.A. Times, former Times writer Allan M. Jalon tells the story of how the FBI used the Los Angeles Times to destroy politically active actress Jean Seberg. According to Jalon, J. Edgar Hoover planted the rumor with a Times gossip columnist that the father of the baby Seberg was pregnant with at the time was a Black Panther:

The item made clear that Miss A was the actress Jean Seberg, who starred as the heroine of Otto Preminger’s Saint Joan and became internationally known for her role in Jean-Luc Godard’s classic film Breathless. Haber’s item claimed that the father of the baby Seberg carried at the time was not her husband, French novelist-diplomat Romain Gary, but an official with the Black Panthers.

Documents from the time show that the smear had been concocted by then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and agents in his Los Angeles bureau to punish Seberg for her political views. Soon after the item appeared, Seberg lost the baby after a premature delivery. At the baby’s funeral, the 31-year-old actress had the casket opened to show the baby was white and the gossip started by the Times was false.

About Steve Rendall

Senior Media Analyst and Co-producer of CounterSpin Steve Rendall is FAIR's senior analyst. He is co-host of CounterSpin, FAIR's national radio show. His work has received awards from Project Censored, and has won the praise of noted journalists such as Les Payne, Molly Ivins and Garry Wills. He is co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error (The New Press, 1995, New York City). Rendall has appeared on dozens of national television and radio shows, including appearances on CNN, C-SPAN, CNBC, MTV and Fox Morning News. He was the subject of a profile in the New York Times (5/19/96), and has been quoted on issues of media and politics in publications such as the Chicago Tribune, Washington Post and New York Times. Rendall contributed stories to the International Herald Tribune from France, Spain and North Africa; worked as a freelance writer in San Francisco; and worked as an archivist collecting historical material on the Spanish Civil War and the volunteers who fought in it. Rendall studied philosophy and chemistry at San Francisco State University, the College of Notre Dame and UC Berkeley.