Skip to comments.A personal remembrance of FReeper BKO (Barbara Olson) "let us never forget..."
Posted on 09/09/2011 12:49:05 PM PDT by ken5050
Among the victims on 9/11 was Barbara Olson, the beautiful and brilliant author and political commentator who perished when American Airlines flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. Many here will recall that she was an avid Freeper ( her screen handle was "bko" )...and many who are new to FR may not have known it. It was because of FR that I had the very good fortune to get to know Barbara..indeed, the week before she died we'd spoken on the phone, to talk about actually meeting in NYC for the first time later that month. She was an absolute delight, and I thought I'd like to briefly share with all of you a little bit about my experiences with her.
From being a nice bedroom community in the NYC suburbs...where the sidewalks were rolled up at 9PM....if there were in fact sidewalks, ( which mostly there weren't)..we now found ourselves about the 5th or 6th most popular media by-line location....Washington, London, Moscow, Los Angeles, Beijing, Chappaqua?
We had demonstrators in the streets. The parking lot of our local Grand Union was often filled with the satellite trucks of a dozen news organization. The USSS was everywhere. They actually rented a house that was a few hundred feet from my driveway to use as their HQ..so it was probably one of the safest streets in the country. For years after...we never bothered to lock the front door, let alone set the alarm system..Photographers would often climb up into the trees surrounding the "casa Clinton" and the local police would pull them down.
They'd bought the house to provide the backdrop, and photo-op for her upcoming race for the NY senate seat. The first year, Bill was still a sitting president, so when he came to town, everything just locked down from a security perspective. Our street was the "staging area" whenever the Clintons were in town. From where you'd never see a car parked in the street, now, I'd have to runt the gauntlet of 2-3 local police cars, several NY state police cruisers, a bunch of the big, black USSS war wagons, an ambulance, and often, for good measure, a firetruck. One morning Bill decided to drop into "The Little Store"..the local deli/coffee shop, for breakfast. The local cops were still getting the hang of all this, so they blocked off the street for a while. The net effect..about 400 people missed their train into NYC that morning.
OK..now on to Barbara...
Like many here, I'd discovered FR during the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal, via the link from Drudge. I lurked for a while, then signed up...posted an occasional article, commented on many. Made some nice FRiends..many still around. Went to the March4Justice ( where, oh where is Mr. Cigarman?)
So when I found out the Clintons were moving in, I mentioned it to a few friends, either on a thread, or via Freepmail. Needless to say, there was both a great deal of interest, and, well....let's say "commiseration."
After about a month, I decide to post my first vanity about the experience...I called it "Report from Chappaqua."
I was blown away..literally... totally astonished, by the response..IIRC correctly, I posted the first ever thread in the morning..that evening..when I went back on line, there were over 800 replies..
Admittedly, many were duplicative. Most could be divided into THREE categories:
1. offering sympathy and condolences
2. Advising me to move, and..
3. Telling me to lock up my daughters..
And there was that great photoshopped sign that I think Freeper "Register" did..the "Welcome to Chappaqua..home of registered sex offender Bill Clinton"
I don't have it anymore...it was several computers back..but if anyone does, please post it..
But most importantly, everyone LOVED the thread...I got lots of thanks, and encouragement..they wanted more...so So, I kept on doing it...probably at least 50 times over the next 3 years..I was blogging before I knew what a blog was..reporting on all the insider stuff about the Clintons...( and believe me, there was also a lot of stuff I couldn't post)
It was after the 3rd or so "Report" thread, that I got a FReepmail from "bko." Didn't recognize the handle...and there was no information at all on her home page... She complimented me on my articles, asked a few more questions, and later on, told me that she was a writer and offered some suggestions.
Barbara was regular on the cable networks all during the Clinton era, covering scandal after scandal..but especially the Lewinsky mess and the impeachment. In 1999, she wrote the best seller "Hell to Pay" about Hillary Clinton.
After she finally told me who she indeed was...boy, was I ever surprised... ( and she was pretty careful NOT to reveal her identity on FR in an overt way) we became regular correspondents..initially via Freepmail, later by our regular email accounts.
I'd say we emailed back and forth at least twice a week for over a year..I'd give her some juicy tidbits....which she would occasionally use on air, as well as lots more background stuff. I'd offer my opinion about her most recent TV stints. These were wide ranging emails...covered everything and anything...we both enjoyed the correspondence.
In mid 2001, two diverse events occured, though nearly simultaneously..an interesting convergence.
First, I discovered to my amazement the incredible power of the internet. Heading up to her senate run, Hillary had been the subject of several books, all of them, except for Barbara's "Hell to Pay" were laudatory puff pieces by liberal hacks. So one day, I'm in the Chappaqua Public Library....some of the books are displayed in the lobby..so I go to the card catalogue...and notice that there are about 5-10 copies of each of the several pro-Hillary books, but as for Barbara's book ( which had been a NY Times best seller)....there was nary a copy.
So I covered that in my next post on FR. Now..stay with me folks..
It turns out that one of the columnists at the Arkansas Domocrat-Gazette ( who'd covered the Clintons for years, and was not, shall we say, fans of theirs) had somehow come across my "Report from Chappaqua" pieces on FR. So, a few days later, in her column, she has a blurb that the Chappaqua Library doesn't own any copies of any books that are critical of Hillary. Two days later, this item gets picked up in one of the British papers. Two days later, it's in a column in the Washington Times, and the very next day, it's the lead item in the " Washington Grapevine" segment on Brit Humes' "Special Report" show on FOXNEWS. WOW...The world has indeed changed..The MSM can't control, can't shape, the news any more..
Second: Hillary really stepped in it big time. She'd worked hard to soften her image. But something happened that revealed yet again the imperious nature of the Clintons. From their home in Chappaqua, to Westchester Country Airport, it's at best a 30 minute ride..with a police escort and lights and sirens, you could do it in 15 minutes..Well, one day, for Hillary, returning home...even that was too much. After all, you get spoiled from 8 years on Marine One and Air Force One. So, landing at Westchester, she decides that she's gonna take a helicopter home.
Problem..there is NO helipad anywheres in town...we have lots of big, old-growth trees...it's a beautifully wooded area..but not many places to land a chopper. So she decides that they'll plop down on the town ballfield, which is right next to the train station, police department, and the middle school. Then the Secret Service drive onto the field, and take her home. Well, this scared the crap out of almost everyone..Was it an attack..were we being invaded.Did the helicopter CRASH? ( The irony is obvious....this was shortly before 9/11)...Could it have CRASHED on the school?...Moms waiting outside the school were panicked. This was a BIG story for several days..in all the NY media..tabloids and TV.....lousy PR for Hillary, and they worked overtime to bury it..and then, of course, we find out that the town Library censors what books they buy about Hillary. BIG OOPSIE. Barbara had a ball with it for several nights on the tube...I'd fed her some "man on the ground" comments from locals..
During this time..the spring and summer of 2001, Barbara was finishing up her latest, ( and sadly, her last...it was published postumously in Oct 2001 ) book "The Final Days: The Last, Desperate Abuses of Power by the Clinton Administration." ( Again..there's that recurring sense of irony in the title. She'd sent me some rough chapters, later some gallies. I enjoyed the chance for the advance read, and to comment.
For those who may not be aware, when a new book is poublished, especially one about current political figures and events, the author goes on the "circuit" to promote it...Talk radio, cable news shows..book signings around the country.
So, in the summer or 2001, I came up with the BRILLIANT idea of getting Barbara an "author's night" at..where else?..you guessed it..the Chappaqua Public Library. She just loved it..couldn't wait for it..Normally, libraries get local authors...books sell a few hundred or so copies..this, OTOH.. would have been BIG. Barbara had then come up with the idea of getting Sean Hannity to do his radio show that day from the Chappaqua Library. Barbara and Sean were very close friends, and well..as you all know...let's just say that he was never a BIG fan of the Clintons. I have no doubt that he'd have loved the idea...been eager to do it..and we'd have gotten lots more media attention...
I'd planned to talk to the Library head right after Labor day..to discuss the idea, the format, and some possible dates. The town is very Democrat, very liberal, they LOVE the Clintons...so I was anticipating some resistance..thought it might caused a little stink..but he liked the idea..thought it would be great for the Library..we were going to talk again in a week or so. I let Barbara know, and she was excited. She was going to be in NYC the following week, and we'd made tentative plans to finally meet in person...she said she'd take me to dinner...and see from her end, and her publisher's..what days might work for the "author's night."
And, alas, sadly..none of that ever came to pass.
The story of Flight 77 is well known. Barbara spoke with her husband shortly before her death. He has graciously revealed to the public many details of that last conversation. She was aware of what had happened in NYC, that she was most likely going to die. Fortunately she had the time, though brief, to come to peace with her life, and with God.
I regret that I never got to meet her in person, though I feel that I did get to know her fairly well through our correspondence, and a few phone calls.
She'd promised that when we met, she was going to bring several copies of "Hell to Pay" and autograph them for me...and of course, the same, later on, with the new book.
It would have been nice to have them now.
I hope I didn't bore anyone with this. I wanted to tell this little story...and the anniversary seemed like the right time.
If anyone wants to post some pics of Barbara, please do so.
If anyone is interested, ( though I can't imagine why, I think the old "Report from Chappaqua" threads may be still on the FR server..or not. Try SEARCH, I guess."
FYI..thought perhaps you’d enjoy this..something I wanted to write..
Wonderful piece. I remember and loved the Chappaqua reports. What is going on up there now?
One hundred proof Citizen Journalism. Very well done.
Loved her, him, not so much.
A truly wonderful and somewhat saddening story.
Thanks for taking the time to share this with the rest of us.
I was just a lurker then, but I well remember your threads......and the posts from BKO.
She is still missed.
Thanks for your story.
Thanks for the non-fiction stories - very informative and entertaining.
Thank you for posting that. How wonderful for you to have those memories. She is sorely missed.
Glad you posted this Ken, thanks!
Thanks for sharing these interesting personal remembrances.
Nice pic..thanks..she was the first, and possibly the best..blonde..(g)
Thank you for your story. I recall seeing her on Hannity during the Lewinsky scandal. She had a passion that is missed today for truth and honesty.
I am pinging our other Florida Freeper friends as I know they will not want to miss this heartwarming thread you wrote in remembrance of Barbara.
Thanks for posting this, she was a great lady and a great Freeper.
I remember your reports from Chappaqua, you had some very interesting firsthand information.
I remember browsing on FR on 9/11. Among all the terror related threads was one titled "Barbara Olsen Dead".
Did not connect the two immediately, thought it was a coincidence.
A beautiful lady....RIP, Barbara.
Thank you for sharing.
Thanks so much for posting this Ken. I have her book, “Hell To Pay” and I remember watching her on the old Bill Maher night time show. She was the ‘bright spot’.
When 9/11 happened I sat watching, in shock, like everyone else. It was when I heard that Barbara was on the plane that crashed into the Pentagon that I cried.
Back then, CNN was still ‘credible’ ...... even after Peter Arnett ....
/after PA went over to MSNBC, first indication that MSNBC is not up to snuff.
FrontPageMagazine.com |September 12, 2001
Posted on Wednesday, September 12, 2001 4:23:14 AM by VinnyTex
Thanks for sharing - we several great freepers that day...
bttt for later reading—thank you for posting this!
Wow.. I received Barbara’s book “Hell To Pay” as a gift not long after 9-11.. I did not know she was a FReeper..Thank you for sharing the bittersweet story of your friendship.. It is truly touching.. I wish you the best of luck in your new life! :)
IIRC..Maher left her seat empty for several weeks...good for him...but can’t believe he’d be decent enough to do something like that now..
Nice report, and thanks for posting it. BKO has been on my mind this week.
Do you ever have to deal with the Clintons any more? I don't even know if they still live there.
FreeRepublic Memorial Wall
and BKO tributes.
Great job. Tell Bill Hank said “hey” next time you see him.
What a wonderful story which needed telling! What a wonderful FRiend you were to a wonderful person.
Thanks for writing and posting this, Ken.
Your Reports from Chappaqua were on my required reading list.
I bought two copies of “Hell to Pay” and a copy of Barbara’s last book.
Glad you shared your personal experiences with “bko”.
Rest in Peace, Barbara.
[Maher left her seat empty for several weeks]
Yes, he sure did. I had forgotten about that. I liked her very much just from watching her on that show. She was ‘joyful’ and happy looking.
Barbara Olson Tribute - Tell Her Family Why You Loved Her.
One of many
Bobj: courtesy ping
omg, you just made me cry.
Thank you for your account, FRiend.
Thanks so much for posting this. It was wonderful to read. A great tribute.
Thank you for posting this. May God bless Barbara. I’ll never forget her, or any of the other victims of the TERRORISM that killed them.
Thanks for sharing.
Barbara Olson was the “face” for me of all that was happening on 9/11...I could finally let go and cry for all.
I had loved her on TV and read “Hell To Pay”.
Thank you for sharing your story, Ken..Beautifully told.
I miss her.
Thanks for writing this ....I only “knew” her on TV but she was always one of my favorites.
Knowing how she died in that plane will always haunt me.
Thanks...I’d copied hundreds of those..used to hand them out all around town..BTW...the Secret Service agents LOVED them
Another fascinating piece, my FRiend.
See my post 45..It was when I finally cried, too.
I felt like I had bricks piled on my chest but could not cry til I saw Barbara pictured on the screen.