In Tehran, the morning after the banquet at the Russian Embassy the President said: I want you to do something for me, Elliott. Go find Pat Hurley, and tell him to get to work drawing up a draft memorandum guaranteeing Iran‘s independence. . . I wish I had more men like Pat, on whom I could depend. The men in the state Department, those career diplomats . . .half the time I can‘t tell whether I should believe them or not (pp. 192-193).
At the second Cairo Conference the President told his son:
That Pat Hurley. . . He did a good job. If anybody can straighten out the mess of internal Chinese politics, he‘s the man. . . Men like Pat Hurley are invaluable. Why? Because they‘re loyal. I can give him assignments that I‘d never give a man in the State Department because I can depend on him. . . Any number of times the men in the State Department have tried to conceal messages to me, delay them, hold them up somehow, just because some of those career diplomats aren‘t in accord with what they know I think (pp. 204-205).
The above passages not only throw light on the enormity of the offense against America of preventing the testimony of General Hurley, but give on the Department of State a testimony that cannot be regarded as other than expert.
(d) With the passing of the years, government censorship has become so much more intensive that it was a principal topic of the American Society of Newspaper Editors at its meeting (April 21, 1951) in Washington. Here is an excerpt (The Evening Star, Washington, April 21, 1951) from the report of the Committee on Freedom of Information:
Most Federal offices are showing exceptional zeal in creating rules, regulations, directives, classifications and policies which serve to hide, color or channel news. . .
We editors have been assuming that no one would dispute this premise: That when the people rule, they have a right to know all their Government does. This committee finds appalling evidence that the guiding credo in Washington is becoming just the opposite: That it is dangerous and unwise to let information about Government leak out in any unprocessed form.
In spite of this protest, President Truman on September 25, 1951, extended government censorship drastically by vesting in other government agencies the authority and obligation to classify information as Top Secret, ―Secret, and Confidential a right and a responsibility previously enjoyed only, or principally, by the departments of State and Defense. Again the American Society of Newspaper Editors made a protest (AP, September 25, 1951).
The President assured the public that no actual censorship would be the outcome of his executive order. To anyone familiar with the use of Secret and Confidential not for security but for playing safe with a long or not fully understood document, or for suppressing information, the new order cannot, however, appear as other than a possible beginning of drastic government-wide censorship.
The day after the President‘s executive order, Some 250 members of the Associated Press Managing Editors Association voiced their fears and their determination to fight against the tightening down of news barriers (AP, Sept. 1, 1951). Kent Cooper, executive director of the Associated Press, and a well-known champion of the freedom of the press, said: I‘m really alarmed by what is being done to cover up mistakes in public office.
The reaction, after the censorship order was several weeks old, was thus summarized by U.S. News and World. Report (October 19,1951): Newspaper men and others deeply fear that this authority may be broadened in application, used to cover up administrative blunders and errors of policy, to conceal scandals now coming to light, or to hide any information unfavorable to the administration, especially as the presidential campaign draws near.
It is to be hoped that the newspapers of the country will keep the issue alive in the minds of the American people. (It is to be hoped also that they will take cancerted action to deal with censorship imposed by some of their advertisers. See pp. 90-93.)
(e) During World War II, the Congress of the United States was the victim of censorship to almost as great a degree as the general public. By virtue of his official position, the author was sent by his superiors to brief members of the Congress about to go abroad, and he also interviewed them on their return from strategic areas. He found them, including some Northern Democrats, restive at the darkness of censorship and indignant at the extension of UNRRA without any full knowledge of its significance. With regard to secret data, the Congress was really in an awkward position.
Because several Senators and Representatives, including members of the most sensitive committees, were indiscreet talkers and because of the possibility that some, like the Canadian Members of Parliament, Fred Rose (Rosenberg), might be subversive, the Congress could make no demands for full details on secret matters. The alternative was the twilight in which patriotic Senators and Representatives had to work and vote.
Alarmed by the threat of Communism, however, the Congress has made investigations and published a number of pamphlets and books (Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, Washington 25, D.C.) intended to acquaint the American people with the danger to this country from Communists in general as well as from those imbedded in the departments and agencies of the government. It is suggested that you write to your own Congressman or to one of your Senators for an up-to-date list of these publications. is actually entitled 100 Things You Should Know About Communism and Government.
How pathetic and how appalling that a patriotic Congress, denied precise facts even as the people are denied them, has to resort to such a means to stir the public into a demand for the cleanup of the executive branch of our government!
Censorship, however, has by no means been a monopoly of the administration. Before, during, and since World War II, amid ever-increasing shouts about the freedom of the press, one of the tightest censorships in history has been applied by non-government power to the opinion-controlling media of the United States. A few examples follow under (a) newspapers, (b) motion pictures, and (c) books. These examples are merely samples and in no case are to be considered a coverage of the field. The subject of the chapter is concluded by observations on three other subjects (d, e, f) pertinent to the question of censorship.
(a) Newspaper censorship of news is applied to some extent in the selection, rejection, and condensation of factual AP, UP,INS, and other dispatches. Such practices cannot be given blanket condemnation, for most newspapers receive from the agencies far more copy than they can publish; a choice is inevitably hurried; and selection on the basis of personal and institutional preferences is legitimate, provided there is no blackout of important news. The occasional use of condensation to obscure the point of a news story is, however, to be vigorously condemned.
Still worse is a deliberate news slanting, which is accomplished by the editing, somewhere between fact and print, of such dispatches as are printed. During World War II the author at one time had under his supervision seven War Department Teletype machines and was astounded to learn that dispatches of the news agencies were sometimes re-worded to conform to the policy or the presumed policy of a newspaper, or to the presumed attitude of readers or advertisers, or possibly to the prejudices of the individual journalist who did the re-wording!
Thus, when Field Marshall von Mackensen died, a Teletype dispatch described him as the son of a tenant farmer. This expression, presumably contrary to the accepted New York doctrine that Germany was undemocratic, became in one great New York morning paper son of a minor landholder and in another it became son of a wealthy estate agent. It is not here implied that the principal owners of these papers knew of this or similar instances. The changed dispatches, however, show the power of the unofficial censor even when his infiltration is into minor positions.
The matter of securing a substantially different meaning by changing a word or a phrase was, so far as the author knows, first brought to the attention of the general public late in 1951 when a zealous propagandist substituted world for nation in Lincoln‘s Gettysburg Address! The revamping of Lincoln‘s great words that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom would have made him a one worlder, except for the fact that some Americans knew the Gettysburg Address by heart! Their protests not only revealed the deception in this particular instance, but brought into daylight a new form of falsification that is very hard to detect, except, of course, when the falsifiers tamper with something as well known as the Gettysburg Address!
Occasionally during World War II the abuse of rewriting dispatches was habitual. One foreign correspondent told the author that the correspondent‘s paper, a liberal sheet which was a darling of our government, virtually threw away his dispatches, and wrote what they wished and signed his name to it. Be it said to this man‘s credit that he resigned in protest.
Sometimes the censorship is effected not by those who handle news items, but by the writer. Thus the known or presumed attitude of his paper or its clientele may lead a correspondent to send dispatches designed, irrespective of truth, to please the recipients. This practice, with especial emphasis on dispatches from West Germany, was more than once noted by the newsletter, Human Events (1710 Rhode Island Avenue, N W., Washington 6, D.C.) during the year 1950.
See the issue of December 20, 1950, which contains an analysis of the dim-out in the United States on the German reaction to the naming of General Eisenhower, the first implementer of the Morgenthau Plan, as Supreme Commander of our new venture in Europe.
In the early summer of 1951, the American public was treated to a nation-wide example of the form of distortion or falsification in certain sections of the press and by certain radio commentators.
This was the presentation as fact of the individual columnist‘s or commentator‘s thesis that General MacArthur wanted war, or wanted World War III, or something of the sort—a thesis based on the General‘s request for the use of Nationalist Chinese troops as allies and for the removal of the blindfold which prevented his even reconnoitering, much less bombing, the trans-Yalu forces of the enemy armies, vastly more numerous than his own (see Chapter VI, d, Below), who were killing his men. The presentation of such a thesis is a writer‘s privilege, which should not be denied him, but it should be labeled as a viewpoint and not as a fact.
One powerful means of effecting censorship in the United States was mentioned as early as 1938 by William Allen White, nationally known owner and editor of the Emporia (Kansas) Gazette, in a speech at the University of Pennsylvania. These are his words:
The new menace to the freedom of the press, a menace to this country vastly more acute than the menace from government, may come through the pressure not of one group of advertisers, but a wide sector of advertisers. Newspaper advertising is now placed somewhat, if not largely, through nationwide advertising agencies. As advisers the advertising agencies may exercise unbelievably powerful pressure upon newspapers. (Quoted from Beaty‘s Image of Life, Thomas Nelson and Sons, New York, 1940).
Details of the pressure of advertisers on newspaper publishers rarely reach the public. An exception came in January, 1946, when the local advertising manager of the Washington Times-Herald wrote in his paper as follows: Under the guise of speaking of his State Department career in combination with a preview of FM and Television Broadcasting, Mr. Ira A. Hirschmann today, at a meeting of the Advertising Club of Washington at the Statler Hotel, asked the Jewish merchants to completely boycott the Times-Herald and the New York Daily News.
It is interesting to note that Mrs. Eleanor M. Patterson, the owner of the Times-Herald, published the following statement I have only this comment to make:
This attack actually has nothing to do with racial or religious matters. It is merely a small part of a planned, deliberate Communist attempt to divide and destroy the United States of America.
She refused to yield to pressure, and before long those who had withdrawn their advertisements asked that the contracts be renewed. The outcome prompts the question: May the advertiser not need the periodical more than the periodical needs the advertiser?
(b) Propaganda attitudes and activities in the United States motion picture output cannot be adequately discussed here. The field is vast and the product, the film, cannot, like the files of newspapers or shelves of books, be consulted readily at an investigator‘s convenience. Some idea of the power of organized unofficial censorship may be gained, however, from the vicissitudes of one film which has engaged the public interest because it is based on a long-recognized classic by the most popular novelist of the English-speaking world.
As originally produced, the J. Arthur Rank motion picture, Oliver Twist, was said to be faithful to the text of the Dickens novel of that name. The picture was shown in Britain without recorded disorder, but when it reached Berlin, the Jews and police fought with clubs, rocks and fire-hoses around the Karbel theater in Berlin‘s British sector. The door of the theater was smashed by Jewish demonstrators who five times broke through police cordon established around playhouse.
These things happened although not once in the picture. . . was Fagin called a Jew, Needless to say, the Jews prevailed over the Berlin police and the British authorities, and the exhibitors ceased showing the film (all quotes from the article, ―Fagin in Berlin Provokes a Riot. Life, March 7, 1949, pp. 38-39).