reporter actually writes a straight story.
I ihink there have been instances in
which thi- does not occur.
Mr. Buckley posed an interesting
question a moment ago. Hi' said lhat
he confined his reading largely to the
newspapers in New York. There' heip-
I'ciis tee he- enilv one' Democratic newspaper in New York. The others tin'
Herald-Tribune, which is of course the
organ of the financial community of
Wall Street, is solidly Republican; the
Sew York Times, which is a citadel of
conservative respectability and jusl the
Veui York Post, which manages lo
flaunt it- own banner rather gallantly, I
Would say, aueiinst lhe concert of these'
BURT: Let's take a case from last year
that was more widely reported than prob-
°bly anything else — the case of the McCarthy hearings; the issue of McCarthy himself. Mr. Lewis, do you think that the report-
"ig was objective?
Lewis: I think it was about as had as
anything I have ever seen. I attended
lines,, hearings; I covered litem personally. Then I read ihe press associa'
'ion reports; I read the Washington Post
lhe next morning, and you'd hi' -in-
Prised hill I wasn'l there at eill! The
Jl'iii" lhat was reported the' nexl morn-
'"g hail no resemblance whatsoever in
>»ha| Went ee||
Iii i ki El : Tel like- in comment upon
""iff Hamilton Combs running in the
fescue .ef th,' New York Times
Combs: I don'l really believe il really
feeds mv support.
Buckley: i th. bul it's going to after
1 in tin
I doubt that!
he notion that the Neiv
a citadel ol triumphant
"pnservatism in this countr) is one of
'"' greal illusions of our time, 'ihe .\eie
'"'/. limes i- composed thai is to say,
*0se columns of the Vea York Times
!';|l arc written b) people who touch
"" controversial issues b) a pack of
''''''I'-. These are people who turn like
'"'"'leieel madmen een anybod) «ho has
'' good ee.enl iii sa) for McCarthy—on
?"ybody win, insists thai we are not in
'"'' li\ ing in a reign of terror. These
'"'' 'he people who are responsible for
' "' intellectual .sellout of Chiang Kai-
* lek nl (ihina through the hook ri'\ iew
action. 'I hese are the' people w ho are
'"'iniiLisi tin' mosl sen a,,,, in journalistic
'."■'les iii th,' world, and the fact lhal
•■'iMiis: I Ih.
'"'/. Times i-
■•ave em antique,
'."'"'at is no reason whatever win wc
"'"'"Id absolve Ihei
Combs: Thai'- ..ne of thi
"""!-'- I've heard of in nn lil.
BURT; Professor Hodges, do you agree
"l,h Mr. Buckley?
. Hodces: N,,. because Mr, Buckley's
?rensics eiic eelwens on the extreme
8"', and I don'l think we're getting
'"' objective judgment hen' al all. I do
believe, in deference lei Mr. Lewis, thai
Id rather have three wire services reporting a story, saying the thing their
way. Obviously there is color. I think
that vou were talking aboul something
which is unrealistic because everybody
is reporting from lhe little' sector of
whal they see', including vou. Mr. Lewis,
and lhal is one of lhe reasons 1 listen to
you, and I know whal vou represent
LEWISi Anil if the Professor wants to
talk in degrees yes, I would agree with
him thai I would prefer lo take lhe three
press associations, boil them together,
and gel the answer out of them.
We have dissected lhe .Xetr ) ml.
Times and the' Xete )',,,-/,■ l',,si. T.< t me'
contribute, if you please, the Washington Post, which is perhaps the mosl
important of them all because tin-, insular as governmenl is concerned, is the
newspaper that all of the' people who
make decisions and opinions in governmenl read for the information thai they
have during their workday. This is ail
they have noes thai lhe Post has bought
out thc Times-Herald.
Mtci that consolidation look place I
made il my business lo make a scientific
study of the Iron! page, lln- main
stories, on ihe // ashington Post, and six
and a half oul of lhe eight lop heads em
thai newspaper over a period of the firsl
si\ months were written In trained
seals, nol hy press associations. This
tends in build your poinl lhat the press
el-se.e ieil ions—
Covins: ion mean these reporters are
staff men on the paper?
Lewis: I mean trained seeds!
BURT: Mr. Lewis and Mr. Buckley have
said that stories written last year on the
McCarthy issue were highly distorted. Mr.
Combs, is it your opinion that they were not
Combs: I would like' to sav ihis: Iii
complete honest] I think some' of the
stories were badly out of balance; I
agree with that. I!nt I also suggest thai
each person who followed that on television -ene what he- wanted lo sec. and
each person emerged with an entirely
different conclusion excepl for the independents who unanimously decided
Lewis: Unfortunately, however, it s
impossible for you lo see' a sentence
wilh "no" left out of ii. It's impossible
to completely distort and to reverse the
meaning of a sentence eiml say, "ihis is
a poinl of view. Now. George Combs,
Com ns: Oh. no. no. I don't for one
moment, and I saw some' biased reporting. I edsee saw some extraordinarily
biased reporting on the pro-McCarthy
Buckley : Where?
Lewis: I would like to know where.
Combs: I am not picking lights with
newspapers. I did nol gel Ihis old this
fasl as the result of fighting newspapers.
Hick 1.1:7 : Or 1 ionmiunisls.
I'd I! I'M NEWS, April, 1955
BURT: Are news stories deliberately
slanted to fit a newspaper's editorial policy?
Lewis: In the ins.' of the // ashington
Post, which I have just mentioned, then
isn't lhe slightest question in lhe world
aboul llieil fact. And they an slanted
not by orders from lhe edilorial department alone, they an' slanted hv lhe
mental atmosphere, the' mental climate
of lhe individual who is hired on tee
the staff in the beginning.
Bucklei i I'd like to pay Mr. Combs
ei compliment very sincerely. Mr. Combs
doesn't realize lln- extent in which In
and people' of his thinking nm this
country. The victory that has been won
hy Mr. Combs ami by the liberals in
this country has been so complete lhal
people' who want a genuine difference
of opinion between lhe Republican party
and the Democratic party arc simply
laughed off as extreme right-wingers.
Hodges: Mr. Lewis. | ihink it's very
important that you emphasized lhal
when there weis no news competition in
\\ ashington you gol one poinl of view.
We don I care what the poinl of view is
for the moment, hui lhat- important.
Levi is: With that I agree. Ii would be
just as hud il ii were' monopolized
the other wa).
HoDCES: 'I es, and there's another
factor which 1 think wc ought to emphasize radio and TV introduce ;t greater
variety. They do break down ihis "one
town and one paper situation which is
rather typical now eel the I oiled State's.
Combs: And very dangerous.
Hodces: Vnd I ihink wc should see
thai as a possible corrective. Now vou
disagree with me, as I understand il.
because I still ihink that human beings
are always going to slant. My formula
is that the more news lhat moves across
lhe desk lhe better off we- are—if the
i-ditot ial se-tiip is on ils feet.
LEWIS: I think that's fine', hui from
a practical standpoint there ate' hugs in
it. Number one. the man mi lhe edilorial elcsk is dependent upon the information that come' across tiled elcsk.
If ei majority of the we,iking press eit
lhe level of tin' press table and the committee hearing is hy and large prejudiced, then the total information freim
which the editor can draw is in itself
hieisi'd and slanted.
Combs: That is unrealistic because he
has several sources of information.
Lewis: Unrealistic? I'm- been in this
business for thirty years.
CflMIIS: Well. Fulton, see have 1.
Lewis: Did you ever sii on an editorial desk'.-' I have'.
Covins: I've' not -at ten an edit..rial
desk, hut I've w I'iltcn a leel eef I'eepv feel
lhal editorial elcsk. Mr. Lew is.
LEVI is: So have 1.
I aivins: The average editor is nol a
dunce. He isn't blindfolded. Ih' heis a
number of sources of information, nol
only his own representatives. Therefore.
(Continued on Page III