All notes filed under:

Omission

A reasonable person might say there’s something “important” we’re leaving out.

005 00:01:21 Dialogue: “Brinkley had a diploma”
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Timecode: 00:01:21

Dialogue: “Brinkley had a diploma”

“On May 7, 1915, the Eclectic Medical University of Kansas City presented him with a certificate signed by its president, Dr. Date R. Alexander. To become an alumnus of E.M.U. (later described in court proceedings as ‘vague, obliging and long defunct’) cost Brinkley one hundred dollars and got him licensed in eight states” (Brock, 25). …

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“On May 7, 1915, the Eclectic Medical University of Kansas City presented him with a certificate signed by its president, Dr. Date R. Alexander. To become an alumnus of E.M.U. (later described in court proceedings as ‘vague, obliging and long defunct’) cost Brinkley one hundred dollars and got him licensed in eight states” (Brock, 25). So: yes, he had this diploma (and a number of other diplomas and accreditations), but it doesn’t mean what you might think it means.

On a separate note, the narrator claims here that he received this diploma in 1917, and then married Minnie, and then moved to Milford all in the same year. This is not chronologically accurate; we’re compressing these events (and leaving a lot out) for flow and clarity.

007 00:01:26 Dialogue: “He married a pretty young woman”

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Dialogue: “He married a pretty young woman”

All true (they married August 23, 1913), but actually this was his second marriage. His first marriage was to Sally Wike on January 27, 1907. According to Wood, Brinkley met Sally Wike at the funeral for his Aunt Sally. Since Aunt Sally died on December 25, 1906, that would make their courtship pretty brief: about …

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All true (they married August 23, 1913), but actually this was his second marriage. His first marriage was to Sally Wike on January 27, 1907. According to Wood, Brinkley met Sally Wike at the funeral for his Aunt Sally. Since Aunt Sally died on December 25, 1906, that would make their courtship pretty brief: about one month. Again according to Wood, this marriage produced three daughters and ended when Sally left him.

Incidentally, Minnie and John also married after an exceptionally brief courtship (four days).

010 00:01:51 Image: [interjection at this point in the story]

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Image: [interjection at this point in the story]

Funny story. Before they came to Milford, the Brinkleys settled in Fulton, Kansas, where Brinkley was mayor (!?). This tidbit is often dropped into the story by sources as it’s no big deal and requires no further detail or explanation. We don’t know if it’s true.

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Funny story. Before they came to Milford, the Brinkleys settled in Fulton, Kansas, where Brinkley was mayor (!?). This tidbit is often dropped into the story by sources as it’s no big deal and requires no further detail or explanation. We don’t know if it’s true.

011 00:01:58 Dialogue: “A farmer named Stittsworth”
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Dialogue: “A farmer named Stittsworth”

This is the origin story of the goat gland procedure, as told by Brinkley and repeated ever since. Portions of this story and photos of Stittsworth and his son Billy appeared in newspapers all over the country as early as 1920. The Stittsworths also “starred” in and often appeared in person with a promotional film …

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This is the origin story of the goat gland procedure, as told by Brinkley and repeated ever since. Portions of this story and photos of Stittsworth and his son Billy appeared in newspapers all over the country as early as 1920. The Stittsworths also “starred” in and often appeared in person with a promotional film made in 1922 or 1923. However, there are many reasons to not believe this version of the story.

Here are some of them:

(1) Bill Stittsworth’s son said that he and his father were on Brinkley’s payroll until 1942. This is strange, because Brinkley stopped doing the goat gland surgeries in 1933 and thus had no reason to pay someone to promote it after that point. Logic suggests they were being paid not to tell everyone that this was all made up. Perhaps the younger Stittsworth lied, or remembered wrong; but the Stittsworths appeared in many photographs from 1919-on, and in person in 1923 with the promotional film, so it makes sense that they would have been paid for this. Interestingly, it doesn’t seem that Stittsworth was mentioned by full name in the advertising or public relations efforts. We did find one article referring to him as “Uncle Billy, one of the village patriarchs.”

(2) This story, with photos of the world’s first “goat gland baby” (Billy Stittsworth) only began appearing in newspapers after Brinkley hired H.R. Mosnat, an ad man. Mosnat’s efforts (better classified as pioneering public relations than advertising) included placing this “news item” in papers all over the country.

(3) The story was highly inconsistent; Brinkley sometimes claimed that he had been doing experiments with “xenotransplantation” for many years by this point and was eager to try it out on a human; sometimes it was Stittsworth’s idea and he tried to say no, etc.

(4) The story is ridiculous.

012 00:03:18 Dialogue: [interjection at this point in the story]

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Dialogue: [interjection at this point in the story]

A reasonable person might think that we should include the following background information somewhere in the course of this film, probably pretty close to the front… Since the late 1800s, good scientists, bad scientists and charlatans had been experimenting with and/or selling the transplantation of testicles as a means to “rejuvenate” old, sick or impotent …

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A reasonable person might think that we should include the following background information somewhere in the course of this film, probably pretty close to the front…

Since the late 1800s, good scientists, bad scientists and charlatans had been experimenting with and/or selling the transplantation of testicles as a means to “rejuvenate” old, sick or impotent people. They were trying all kinds of stuff that would take too long to get into here. Suffice it to say that people like Charles-Édouard Brown-Séquard, Eugene Steinach, Harry Lydston, and Serge Voronoff were certainly important influences on Brinkley. Brinkley himself cited the work of these “pioneers” in his own writing, especially Lydston who he admired greatly.

Brinkley and Voronoff specifically had quite a rivalry going. It is unclear from newspaper records which of them was the first to successfully transplant the testicles of animals into humans (or say they had). Voronoff used monkey glands, and Brinkley goat glands. Voronoff was at least as famous as Brinkley, at least in Europe. Brinkley denigated him at every opportunity.

Glands and hormones were hot stuff back then. For example, Dr. Frederick Banting discovered insulin in 1921; two years later, he was awarded the Nobel Prize. So while our film essentially makes it seems as if Brinkley all alone had this brilliant idea, he was really riding a wave. Like all good quacks, Brinkley took something real from the scientific zeitgeist, distorted it, and sold it to a public primed to believe him in part because they had been hearing about some of the same ideas in the papers.

A lot of the things we say or imply Brinkley “invented” he didn’t exactly invent, is our point. Which isn’t to say he wasn’t a genius, or an early pioneer of many things. It’s just that the “Great Man” theory of history really falls apart when you’ve done enough research.

020 00:04:24 Image: The Life of a Man book
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Image: The Life of a Man book

This is a real book, and sure, it’s a biography. However, there are many reasons to doubt its veracity. It was a work-for-hire: Brinkley paid the author, Clement Wood to write it. It appears that Brinkley basically dictated its contents. Wood was a well-known hack said to “churn out manuscripts nearly on demand” and to …

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This is a real book, and sure, it’s a biography. However, there are many reasons to doubt its veracity. It was a work-for-hire: Brinkley paid the author, Clement Wood to write it. It appears that Brinkley basically dictated its contents. Wood was a well-known hack said to “churn out manuscripts nearly on demand” and to write “at the pace of 80,000 words in 30 days” (not the best pace for careful research and fact-checking). Brinkley used it as a promotional tool, giving it away for free to fans and supporters. Finally, it contains many verifiably false statements.

Is NUTS! really “based on” this book? Not exactly. Some of it is taken directly from its pages, but it’s perhaps more honest to say that we are using The Life of a Man like Brinkley himself used it: as a source of apparent authority. Like Brinkley, we will also use other sources of apparent authority (patient testimonials, “expert interviews”, newspaper articles, etc.) not found in the pages of The Life of A Man.

Clement Wood wrote some other biographies-for-hire, including one for Brinkley’s contemporary in quackery and questionable practices in radio broadcasting Norman Baker with the awesome title Throttle: A Fact Story About Norman Baker (how did Brinkley get stuck with The Life of a Man?). Wood’s list of published works is astonishingly diverse and poor in quality. One of his books, Flesh And Other Stories, published in 1929, was the subject of an important obscenity trial. Wood was a one-time lawyer turned teacher turned Greenwich Village hipster who supposedly hosted orgies as a means of satisfying the sexual needs of his beautiful wife Gloria Goddard; he himself was said to be impotent. He is a fascinating person that we did a lot of unnecessary research on, and his Wikipedia page deserves much more attention.

039 00:06:33 Image: Hospital

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Image: Hospital

This drawing is based on photos of Brinkley’s second hospital in Milford, which he built sometime in the 1920s. The first one, which would be more accurate to this moment in time, looks too much like a house and not enough like a hospital. Also, that first hospital was called the Brinkley-Jones Hospital (Jones being …

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This drawing is based on photos of Brinkley’s second hospital in Milford, which he built sometime in the 1920s. The first one, which would be more accurate to this moment in time, looks too much like a house and not enough like a hospital. Also, that first hospital was called the Brinkley-Jones Hospital (Jones being the name of one of Minnie’s relatives, who apparently co-invested in the place), and we didn’t want to confuse things with that title.

054 00:07:54 Image: [interjection at this point in the story]

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Image: [interjection at this point in the story]

The fact is that Brinkley’s miracle procedure wasn’t just one, static procedure, as we present it in the film; he changed what he was doing (or claimed to be doing) quite a lot over the years. It would take far more than a few footnotes to explain this… Sometimes he sliced up the goat balls …

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The fact is that Brinkley’s miracle procedure wasn’t just one, static procedure, as we present it in the film; he changed what he was doing (or claimed to be doing) quite a lot over the years. It would take far more than a few footnotes to explain this…

Sometimes he sliced up the goat balls and put a thin layer under the skin; sometimes he put the goat balls in the lower intestine; sometimes he said they were true transplantations (as in, they “lived on” in the human body); sometimes he said he’d never said that, and on and on. He was “experimenting as he went along,” to be generous. We suspect that after a while, Brinkley probably just made an incision and sewed it up immediately, having only pretended to put the goat testicle in there. It would have worked just as well. Also, in his advertising he didn’t emphasize impotence at all; impotence, which he usually euphemized as “sexual weakness” or “childless homes,” was just one of the many diseases and ailments he claimed to be able to cure with the goat glands, ranging from insanity to sluggish temperaments to diabetes to hardening of the arteries.

We’re simplifying here to keep things tidy, and because at this point in the story we don’t want to let on that Brinkley’s cure was sold as a miracle cure-all (that makes it a little too obvious that it was fraudulent).

064 00:08:42 Dialogue: “America’s fourth radio station”
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Dialogue: “America’s fourth radio station”

At least one source indicates that KFKB was the fourth “commercial” radio station, but the source that author Lee cites is Shruben, and when we went back to Shruben to fact-check this we didn’t find that claim anywhere in the cited article. So we didn’t make this up, but we also don’t have great substatiation. …

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At least one source indicates that KFKB was the fourth “commercial” radio station, but the source that author Lee cites is Shruben, and when we went back to Shruben to fact-check this we didn’t find that claim anywhere in the cited article. So we didn’t make this up, but we also don’t have great substatiation.

In any case, assuming it’s true, we still left out the “commercial” part because (1) it’s overly complicated and we don’t really know what it means; and (2) we’re not emphasizing what a self-serving action this was. We want to keep the focus on “innovator/pioneer” here.

080 00:11:32 Image: The Life of a Man

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Image: The Life of a Man

This is a real book, and sure, it’s a biography. However, there are many reasons to doubt its veracity. It was a work-for-hire: Brinkley paid the author, Clement Wood, $5000 to write it. It appears that Brinkley basically dictated its contents. Wood was a well-known hack said to “churn out manuscripts nearly on demand” and …

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This is a real book, and sure, it’s a biography. However, there are many reasons to doubt its veracity. It was a work-for-hire: Brinkley paid the author, Clement Wood, $5000 to write it. It appears that Brinkley basically dictated its contents. Wood was a well-known hack said to “churn out manuscripts nearly on demand” and to write “at the pace of 80,000 words in 30 days” (not the best pace for careful research and fact-checking). Brinkley used it as a promotional tool, giving it away for free to fans and supporters. Finally, it contains many verifiably false statements.

Is NUTS! really “based on” this book? Not exactly. Some of it is taken directly from its pages, but it’s perhaps more honest to say that we are using The Life of a Man like Brinkley himself used it: as a source of apparent authority. Like Brinkley, we will also use other sources of apparent authority (patient testimonials, “expert interviews”, newspaper articles, etc.) not found in the pages of The Life of A Man.

090 00:12:37 Image: Flashbacks to earlier scenes
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Image: Flashbacks to earlier scenes

This is the origin story of the goat gland procedure, as told by Brinkley and repeated ever since. Portions of this story and photos of Stittsworth and his son Billy appeared in newspapers all over the country as early as 1920. The Stittsworths also “starred” in and often appeared in person with a promotional film …

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This is the origin story of the goat gland procedure, as told by Brinkley and repeated ever since. Portions of this story and photos of Stittsworth and his son Billy appeared in newspapers all over the country as early as 1920. The Stittsworths also “starred” in and often appeared in person with a promotional film made in 1922 or 1923. However, there are many reasons to not believe this version of the story. Here are some of them:

(1) Bill Stittsworth’s son said that he and his father were on Brinkley’s payroll until 1942. This is strange, because Brinkley stopped doing the goat gland surgeries in 1933 and thus had no reason to pay someone to promote it after that point. Logic suggests they were being paid not to tell everyone that this was all made up. Perhaps the younger Stittsworth lied, or remembered wrong; but the Stittsworths appeared in many photographs from 1919-on, and in person in 1923 with the promotional film, so it makes sense that they would have been paid for this. Interestingly, it doesn’t seem that Stittsworth was mentioned by full name in the advertising or public relations efforts. We did find one article referring to him as “Uncle Billy, one of the village patriarchs.”

(2) This story, with photos of the world’s first “goat gland baby” (Billy Stittsworth) only began appearing in newspapers after Brinkley hired H.R. Mosnat, an ad man. Mosnat’s efforts (better classified as pioneering public relations than advertising) included placing this “news item” in papers all over the country.

(3) The story was highly inconsistent; Brinkley sometimes claimed that he had been doing experiments with “xenotransplantation” for many years by this point and was eager to try it out on a human; sometimes it was Stittsworth’s idea and he tried to say no, etc.

(4) The story is ridiculous.

 

091 00:12:41 Image: Baby boy and Minnie

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Image: Baby boy and Minnie

In other happy news, the Brinkleys were pulling in over $1 million a year during this period (1928-1930). We’re not mentioning this because we don’t want you thinking about how much money he’s making right now. We want you thinking about his accomplishments and success, yes; but not exactly in financial terms.

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In other happy news, the Brinkleys were pulling in over $1 million a year during this period (1928-1930). We’re not mentioning this because we don’t want you thinking about how much money he’s making right now. We want you thinking about his accomplishments and success, yes; but not exactly in financial terms.

098 00:14:24 Dialogue: “A blatant quack”

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Dialogue: “A blatant quack”

Fishbein’s words throughout this section are paraphrased from his actual writing. Here is the first time we bring the word “quack” into this film. It’s worth taking a second to define it. We like Stephen Barret’s definition of quackery as “anything involving overpromotion in the field of health. This definition would include questionable ideas as …

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Fishbein’s words throughout this section are paraphrased from his actual writing.

Here is the first time we bring the word “quack” into this film. It’s worth taking a second to define it. We like Stephen Barret’s definition of quackery as “anything involving overpromotion in the field of health. This definition would include questionable ideas as well as questionable products and services, regardless of the sincerity of their promoters. In line with this definition, the word ‘fraud’ would be reserved only for situations in which deliberate deception is involved. Unproven methods are not necessarily quackery. Those consistent with established scientific concepts may be considered experimental. Legitimate researchers and practitioners do not promote unproven procedures in the marketplace but engage in responsible, properly-designed studies. Methods not compatible with established scientific concepts should be classified as nonsensical or disproven rather than experimental. Methods that sound scientific but are nonsensical can also be classified as pseudoscientific. Folk medicine, even when known to be erroneous, is not generally considered quackery so long as it is not done for gain. Thus, self-treatment, family home treatment, neighborly medical advice, and the noncommercial activities of folk healers should not be labeled as quackery. However, folk medicine and quackery are closely connected because folk medicine often provides a basis for commercial exploitation. For example, herbs long gathered for personal use have been packaged and promoted by modern entrepreneurs, and practitioners who once served their neighbors voluntarily or for gratuities may market themselves outside their traditional communities. All things considered, I find it most useful to define quackery as the promotion of unsubstantiated methods that lack a scientifically plausible rationale. Promotion usually involves a profit motive. Unsubstantiated means either unproven or disproven. Implausible means that it either clashes with well-established facts or makes so little sense that it is not worth testing.”

We have already established Brinkley as the hero of this story and are trying to keep you identifying with him as such. So we’re doing a lot of manipulative things to make you think that he is not a quack, and to ensure that even if you already know that Brinkley is a quack, at this point you may think he is at least not a fraud (maybe he’s just a bit of a weirdo who believes this stuff works.) Later, we will make it as clear as possible that we think he is both a quack and a fraud.

Conversely, we are now introducing Morris Fishbein as Brinkley’s nemesis. So we’re doing what we can to make him as unappealing and unreasonable as possible. Later, we will make it clear that Fishbein was hardly perfect, but when it comes to Brinkley he was entirely correct.

112 00:16:24 Image: Newspaper headline

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Image: Newspaper headline

The American Medical Association indeed asked the FRC to investigate Brinkley – as did many others, including fans who were simply annoyed that his broadcast was “jumping signals” to override other stations whose programming they enjoyed. We’re leaving that out here for what should be obvious reasons in the context of this scene.

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The American Medical Association indeed asked the FRC to investigate Brinkley – as did many others, including fans who were simply annoyed that his broadcast was “jumping signals” to override other stations whose programming they enjoyed. We’re leaving that out here for what should be obvious reasons in the context of this scene.

118 00:17:10 Dialogue: “Because of Fishbein’s campaign”

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Dialogue: “Because of Fishbein’s campaign”

Basically true, but to call it “Fishbein’s campaign” is somewhat of a distortion. Yes, Fishbein worked hard to take Brinkley down starting in 1928, but he was hardly the sole mastermind we kind of make him out to be. Many others had an interest in “attacking” Brinkley, notably the “Kansas City Star.” The “Star” ran …

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Basically true, but to call it “Fishbein’s campaign” is somewhat of a distortion. Yes, Fishbein worked hard to take Brinkley down starting in 1928, but he was hardly the sole mastermind we kind of make him out to be. Many others had an interest in “attacking” Brinkley, notably the “Kansas City Star.” The “Star” ran many negative stories about Brinkley beginning in 1930, either because they wanted to educate the public about what a fraud he was or because their own radio station, WDAF, was nowhere near as successful as Brinkley’s KFKB, or perhaps it was a combination of both motives. Newspaper columnist William Allen White wrote many anti-Brinkley editorials in the Emporia Gazette, describing his supporters as a “great seething moronic underworld” that could be taught to read and write, but not to think.

And that’s only a couple of examples of the many persons and institutions that came after Brinkley over his long career.

Regardless, for the sake of simplicity and to create a tighter narrative with a clearer hero/villain structure, we will continue to imply throughout the film that all the bad things that happen to Brinkley come largely because of a personal vendetta undertaken by Fishbein, a powerful and connected person.

122 00:18:40 Dialogue: “Alternative medicine”

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Dialogue: “Alternative medicine”

This term “alternative practitioners” is not historically accurate, but it’s more legible to a contemporary audience than “irregular doctors.” (That’s what they called alternative practitioners back then!)

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This term “alternative practitioners” is not historically accurate, but it’s more legible to a contemporary audience than “irregular doctors.” (That’s what they called alternative practitioners back then!)

123 00:18:54 Dialogue: “Is only in an experimental stage”

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Dialogue: “Is only in an experimental stage”

We borrowed the lines, “Of course gland transplantation is only in an experimental stage – for some people…” from The Life of A Man (254). The point is that this guy is right: gland transplantation was only in an experimental stage, and was soon abandoned as totally ineffective (see note 12 on omitted background on the era of …

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We borrowed the lines, “Of course gland transplantation is only in an experimental stage – for some people…” from The Life of A Man (254). The point is that this guy is right: gland transplantation was only in an experimental stage, and was soon abandoned as totally ineffective (see note 12 on omitted background on the era of experimental gland transplantation).

128 00:21:54 Dialogue: “That’s enough!”

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Dialogue: “That’s enough!”

A pretty major omission: in addition to testimony provided Brinkley’s happy patients, this hearing featured days of testimony from both very unhappy patients and a slew of medical experts who skewered, mocked and insulted Brinkley and his goat gland procedure. He really looked pretty bad at this hearing, but we’re leaving all that out.

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A pretty major omission: in addition to testimony provided Brinkley’s happy patients, this hearing featured days of testimony from both very unhappy patients and a slew of medical experts who skewered, mocked and insulted Brinkley and his goat gland procedure. He really looked pretty bad at this hearing, but we’re leaving all that out.

129 00:21:58 Dialogue: “The hearing adjourned”

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Dialogue: “The hearing adjourned”

Actually the hearing concluded with the board members agreeing to come and watch Brinkley perform his goat gland surgery. Which they did. We couldn’t make that scene work here narratively, which is too bad, because it was quite something! It opens Pope Brock’s excellent book Charlatan, which you all should read.

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Actually the hearing concluded with the board members agreeing to come and watch Brinkley perform his goat gland surgery. Which they did. We couldn’t make that scene work here narratively, which is too bad, because it was quite something! It opens Pope Brock’s excellent book Charlatan, which you all should read.

133 00:22:22 Dialogue: “Pornography”

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Dialogue: “Pornography”

Brinkley faced three charges: KFKB had deviated from its assigned wave length; he was broadcasting obscene and indecent things; and his answers to listeners to his Medical Question Box were “inimical to the public interest.” We are reenacting this hearing as if the FRC were just snobs who didn’t like country music or hated the …

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Brinkley faced three charges: KFKB had deviated from its assigned wave length; he was broadcasting obscene and indecent things; and his answers to listeners to his Medical Question Box were “inimical to the public interest.” We are reenacting this hearing as if the FRC were just snobs who didn’t like country music or hated the First Amendment. While these issues were certainly at play, it was most of all the advisability and safety of Medical Question Box (which we’re leaving out completely) that was at issue at the hearing. Prescribing medicines for people over the air was seen as a pretty bad thing to do.

134 00:22:32 Image: Brinkley supporters

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Image: Brinkley supporters

According to Brock, about thirty Brinkley supporters took the stand, but mostly they talked about was how much they loved Medical Question Box.

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According to Brock, about thirty Brinkley supporters took the stand, but mostly they talked about was how much they loved Medical Question Box.

138 00:23:51 Dialogue: “They revoked both”

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Dialogue: “They revoked both”

It’s more accurate to say that the FRC declined to renew his radio license. The FRC decision was made on Friday the 13th(!) of June 1930. The vote was 3-2. Also, Brinkley appealed both of these decisions and the appeals process went on for a few more months, but we’re leaving all that our for …

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It’s more accurate to say that the FRC declined to renew his radio license. The FRC decision was made on Friday the 13th(!) of June 1930. The vote was 3-2. Also, Brinkley appealed both of these decisions and the appeals process went on for a few more months, but we’re leaving all that our for brevity since his appeals failed anyway.

140 00:24:53 Image: Milford all boarded up

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Image: Milford all boarded up

Brinkley actually continued to maintain his hospital in Milford until 1933 (he couldn’t perform surgeries himself, but other surgeons in his employ could).

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Brinkley actually continued to maintain his hospital in Milford until 1933 (he couldn’t perform surgeries himself, but other surgeons in his employ could).

147 00:27:14 Image: [interjection at this point in the story]

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Image: [interjection at this point in the story]

Various stories exist about exactly when and how Brinkley came to this decision.

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Various stories exist about exactly when and how Brinkley came to this decision.

150 00:27:28 Image: [interjection at this point in the story]

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Image: [interjection at this point in the story]

Brinkley actually ran for Kansas Governor three times, in 1930, 1932 and 1934. Some of the details of this sequence are “borrowed” from the other two gubernatorial races, which we left out of the film for narrative flow.

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Brinkley actually ran for Kansas Governor three times, in 1930, 1932 and 1934. Some of the details of this sequence are “borrowed” from the other two gubernatorial races, which we left out of the film for narrative flow.

159 00:28:27 Dialogue: “Put on shows featuring the stars of KFKB”

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Dialogue: “Put on shows featuring the stars of KFKB”

True. Also there is an omission here: although the FRC had revoked KFKB’s broadcasting license, Brinkley appealed to the U.S. Appeals Court and was given a temporary stay. He used KFKB to great advantage during this campaign.

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True.

Also there is an omission here: although the FRC had revoked KFKB’s broadcasting license, Brinkley appealed to the U.S. Appeals Court and was given a temporary stay. He used KFKB to great advantage during this campaign.

162 00:29:05 Dialogue: “The motto of our fair state”

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Dialogue: “The motto of our fair state”

Brinkley never said this, as far as we know, but we like to imagine he might have. The Kansas state motto is so great! Incidentally, something pretty cool we’re leaving out that he did say is when he compared his suffering to that of Jesus. By now we hope it’s obvious why we left that …

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Brinkley never said this, as far as we know, but we like to imagine he might have. The Kansas state motto is so great!

Incidentally, something pretty cool we’re leaving out that he did say is when he compared his suffering to that of Jesus. By now we hope it’s obvious why we left that out.

182 00:35:02 Dialogue: “Somehow the idea came along”
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Dialogue: “Somehow the idea came along”

There was already one “border blaster” station (XED, which began broadcasting on November 9, 1930, with a regular schedule from 6:00 PM to midnight) when Brinkley “somehow” got the idea. Brinkley announced he would open his own in January 1931. We’re leaving that out because we’re continuing to feed the implication that he alone invented …

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There was already one “border blaster” station (XED, which began broadcasting on November 9, 1930, with a regular schedule from 6:00 PM to midnight) when Brinkley “somehow” got the idea. Brinkley announced he would open his own in January 1931. We’re leaving that out because we’re continuing to feed the implication that he alone invented all these wonderful ideas.

183 00:35:20 Image: Visa

Timecode: 00:35:20

Image: Visa

This is a reproduction of his real visa. But here’s an interesting omission: The citizenry of Milford were none too pleased with Brinkley’s decampment. It didn’t help that he took nearly all his employees with him, along with “every stick of furniture, all the equipment, every chandelier and sconce Brinkley had been able to rip …

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This is a reproduction of his real visa. But here’s an interesting omission:

The citizenry of Milford were none too pleased with Brinkley’s decampment. It didn’t help that he took nearly all his employees with him, along with “every stick of furniture, all the equipment, every chandelier and sconce Brinkley had been able to rip out before bringing in the wrecking ball. The only thing he left behind was a massive pile of debris” (Brock, 193).

“Enraged citizens, whom the local newspaper described as ‘almost thunderstruck’ over this development, chiseled Brinkley’s name out of the cornerstone of his building and painted his huge campaign billboard at the edge of town yellow. Their feelings were further inflamed when John later bulldozed his buildings for tax purposes . . . His departure would leave Milford ‘hardly more than a memory'” (Lee, 168).

(Also see note 207 on related chronological distortions around Brinkley’s move to Texas/Mexico.)

189 00:36:12 Dialogue: “His new station XERA”

Timecode: 00:36:12

Dialogue: “His new station XERA”

Not sure where we got the number 17 from; most sources indicate that the signal reached 15 or “at least 15” countries outside of the U.S. We were pretty close, though! Also, the station began broadcasting in October 1931 was called XER (not XERA). XER was closed by Mexican authorities in February 1934 and then …

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Not sure where we got the number 17 from; most sources indicate that the signal reached 15 or “at least 15” countries outside of the U.S. We were pretty close, though!

Also, the station began broadcasting in October 1931 was called XER (not XERA). XER was closed by Mexican authorities in February 1934 and then re-opened as XERA late in 1935. For a time, Brinkley also had another radio station in Mexico called XEPN which he renamed XEAW. But to keep things simple, we are sticking with XERA.

207 00:38:38 Image: Newspaper clipping, “Remote Control”

Timecode: 00:38:38

Image: Newspaper clipping, “Remote Control”

This is another example of compressing time: Brinkley maintained a home in Milford for quite some time after he built XER. (If you look at the photo caption here, it references Kansas.) He also kept the Brinkley Hospital in Milford open, letting other people run the operations and surgery, while he built things up down …

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This is another example of compressing time: Brinkley maintained a home in Milford for quite some time after he built XER. (If you look at the photo caption here, it references Kansas.) He also kept the Brinkley Hospital in Milford open, letting other people run the operations and surgery, while he built things up down south. It wasn’t until late in 1933 that he finally left Milford for good, bringing over 30 employees with him, setting up the new Brinkley Hospital at the Roswell Hotel and buying this massive estate in Del Rio.

This “remote control” setup, which was just a fancy phone line, actually allowed him to broadcast from Kansas to Mexico! (Also see note 183 on how the citizens of Milford felt about Brinkley’s abandonment of their town!)

214 00:40:00 Dialogue: “Pressured Congress”

Timecode: 00:40:00

Dialogue: “Pressured Congress”

We don’t know that this bill was passed because the FRC “pressured Congress.” Certainly the FRC was involved; but most likely, it was a confluence of events and incentives.

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We don’t know that this bill was passed because the FRC “pressured Congress.” Certainly the FRC was involved; but most likely, it was a confluence of events and incentives.

229 00:45:38 Image: Map of Arkansas

Timecode: 00:45:38

Image: Map of Arkansas

It’s more likely that Brinkley moved to Arkansas because of competition in Del Rio. And then later, in March of 1938, Brinkley left Del Rio for good.

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It’s more likely that Brinkley moved to Arkansas because of competition in Del Rio. And then later, in March of 1938, Brinkley left Del Rio for good.

245 00:49:24 Image: Newspaper headline

Timecode: 00:49:24

Image: Newspaper headline

We created this headline in Photoshop. None of the real ones were this clear. But Brinkley indeed sued Fishbein for libel, asserting that he was owed $250,000 in damages. By the way, by 1939 Brinkley had already sued Fishbein, the Kansas City Star, the AMA and many others quite a number of times, which we’ve …

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We created this headline in Photoshop. None of the real ones were this clear. But Brinkley indeed sued Fishbein for libel, asserting that he was owed $250,000 in damages.

By the way, by 1939 Brinkley had already sued Fishbein, the Kansas City Star, the AMA and many others quite a number of times, which we’ve left out of the film.

258 00:52:18 Dialogue: “Well, the doctor makes an incision”

Timecode: 00:52:18

Dialogue: “Well, the doctor makes an incision”

The fact is that Brinkley’s miracle procedure wasn’t just one, static procedure, as we present it in the film; he changed what he was doing (or claimed to be doing) quite a lot over the years. It would take far more than a few footnotes to explain this… Sometimes he sliced up the goat balls …

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The fact is that Brinkley’s miracle procedure wasn’t just one, static procedure, as we present it in the film; he changed what he was doing (or claimed to be doing) quite a lot over the years. It would take far more than a few footnotes to explain this…

Sometimes he sliced up the goat balls and put a thin layer under the skin; sometimes he put the goat balls in the lower intestine; sometimes he said they were true transplantations (as in, they “lived on” in the human body); sometimes he said he’d never said that, and on and on. He was “experimenting as he went along,” to be generous. We suspect that after a while, Brinkley probably just made an incision and sewed it up immediately, having only pretended to put the goat testicle in there. It would have worked just as well. Also, in his advertising he didn’t emphasize impotence at all; impotence, which he usually euphemized as “sexual weakness” or “childless homes,” was just one of the many diseases and ailments he claimed to be able to cure with the goat glands, ranging from insanity to sluggish temperaments to diabetes to hardening of the arteries.

Earlier (see note 54), we simplified this issue to make it not too obvious that he was a quack; now we’re simplifying just to keep it simple!

298 01:11:09 Image: Newspaper clipping, “Ex Patients”

Timecode: 01:11:09

Image: Newspaper clipping, “Ex Patients”

The headlines in this sequence are real, but they are from malpractice suits from earlier in Brinkley’s career. So all of this is true, but with an omission: Brinkley had been sued many times previously for malpractice; usually he got out of it or quietly settled out of court. But after the Fishbein libel case …

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The headlines in this sequence are real, but they are from malpractice suits from earlier in Brinkley’s career. So all of this is true, but with an omission: Brinkley had been sued many times previously for malpractice; usually he got out of it or quietly settled out of court. But after the Fishbein libel case legally branded him a quack and a charlatan, the malpractice suits – adding up to more than $3 million in damages – multiplied rapidly. In 1940 alone, a dozen suits were brought against him.