JFK’s murdered mistress: Insider’s book alleges CIA role

On CIA matters, The Solomon Scandals is fiction—not about what happened, but what could have happened. To this day we still don’t know the full story of why a U.S. senator held a secret stake in a CIA-occupied building in Arlington, VA, that the agency leased by way of the scandal-ridden General Services Administration. What has been established over the years is […]

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Odd omission: Charles E. Smith family missing from Washingtonian list of movers and shakers

The Charles E. Smith family built the giant Crystal City complex near Ronald Reagan National Airport and donated hundreds of millions to good causes, most of them probably in and near Washington. Names from the family went on the Charles E. Smith Athletic Center at George Washington University, the Robert H. Smith School of Business […]

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The Solomon Scandals novel vs. online gossip about Skyline Towers and the intel community

The Solomon Scandals is a novel, but two actual events helped inspire it and are the topics of online gossip today—several decades later: —The deadly Skyline Towers building collapse in Northern Virginia, where 14 workers died and dozens were injured. —The late Sen. Abraham Ribicoff’s secret and illegal investment in a CIA-occuped building in Arlington. […]

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The decline—and future promise—of investigative journalism

The Solomon Scandals, my D.C. newspaper novel, is solidly rooted in Washington and suburbs. But could future Jonathan Stones break explosive Washington stories without even leaving hometowns in the hinterlands? That’s one of the intriguing concepts in a video accompanying Investigative Shortfall—Mary Walton’s generally downbeat article in the American Journalism Review’s September issue. The video […]

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A tale of two obituaries—plus wisdom from J.Y. Smith, first official editor of the W. Post obit desk

You regulars already know my complaint. For whatever the reason, Washington philanthropist Robert H. Smith enjoyed a free ride from the Post’s usually stellar obituary desk as well as from the editorial page. His family’s paid obit at Legacy.com was rather redundant. Ahead I’ll compare the Smith encomia with a more balanced write-up of Indianapolis […]

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Robert H. Smith death editorial—and the need for the Washington Post to tell the whole story

Robert H. Smith, philanthropist and Crystal City developer, gets another paean today from the Washington Post—this time an editorial, which follows an obituary of more than 1,100 words. The Post appropriately notes Smith’s donations of “hundreds of millions of dollars to universities, the arts, historic sites and civic activities.” Given his significance, then, perhaps the […]

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Robert H. Smith dead: Son of the builder who helped inspire the Solomon character

Update, 2:05 p.m., Dec. 31, 2009: Just-posted commentary on the Washington Post’s less-than-complete obit of Robert Smith. – D.R. Robert H. Smith, a Washington philanthropist and developer, died yesterday, and the Washington Business Journal already has run his obituary, with another coming shortly from the Washington Post. He will be most remembered for the Crystal […]

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From Bob Dylan to D.C.’s white-collar crooks: U.K. music site’s 3,000-word Q&A with David Rothman

Pennyblackmusic, a U.K. music site, has just posted a 3,000-word Q&A with David Rothman. Here’s the start. Can Bob Dylan fit into a Washington novel? Actually yes, if you go by ‘The Solomon Scandals’ (Twilight Times Books). Investigative reporter Jon Stone loves to swap ‘Dylan albums and pulpy old spy novels’ with a friend. Stone’s […]

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The Jonathan Stone-David Rothman Q. & A.

Jonathan Stone, the reporter in The Solomon Scandals, grilled me for this Q. & A.—uncut. Last updated April 10, 2024. STONE: Why’s Scandals copyrighted in your name? It’s my newspaper memoir. ROTHMAN: Er, faux memoir. Without me, you wouldn’t even have been born…or have worked for the Washington Telegram…or have struggled to avert an IRS-CIA […]

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Budd Schulberg, ‘What Makes Sammy Run?’ and ‘The Solomon Scandals’

Originally posted on Aug. 6, 2009. Moved back to play up basics of The Solomon Scandals. – D.R. RIP, Budd Schulberg. I hated to see the Washington Post obit blog remind us you’d outlived your fame. Of course, I was glad you reached 95, but I wish the media and the public hadn’t been so […]

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The IRS as fodder for David Foster Wallace and me

In my little overview of D.C. fiction, I quoted Jeffrey Charis-Carlson, a specialist in this area: "It takes a great novel to make bureaucracy interesting." But how about writing about individual bureaucrats? That’s what I did with the love interest of Jonathan Stone, my reporter protagonist in The Solomon Scandals. Margo Danielson is a young […]

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The trash factor: A big reason why newspapers are in trouble? And how can they cope with it?

Despite the dark humor in my Washington newspaper novel, The Solomon Scandals is also an exercise in nostalgia—taking us back to the oft-glamorous heyday of big dailies. Why are newspapers struggling today, by contrast? No small reason is The Trash Factor, which I’ll get to. That’s trash as in trash room, not trash as in […]

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