Wednesday, March 02, 2005

"New York Times" and a machine gun

"Like the Presidency, the paper has had to pay the price of eminence. It bears the traditional scars of journalism -- Winston Churchill's American grandfather, an early stockholder, for example, defended the office with a primitive machine gun during the draft riots of 1863, and a recent letter to the editor bore the piquant address, "Left-Wing Department, Un-American Fluoridation Director." Being the Times, however, it has acquired enemies more august than plug-uglies and crackpots. As a world newspaper it has been threatened by potentates, dictators, and offended governments, including its own. James "Scotty" Reston attracted the professional interest of the FBI after he was slipped the Dumbarton Oaks documents, and twice Times men have been haled before Senate committees -- in 1915, on the charge that they had been bought by British gold, and in 1956 when Senator Eastland hunted Reds on the staff. More recently, of course, it was on the receiving end of the Nixon administration's big guns. Under fire the Times is serene. Its attitude toward traducers is reflected in a note Arthur Hays Sulzburger, Och's son-in-law and the publisher between 1935 and 1961, wrote to himself before testifying at a hearing. "Keep calm," it read. "Smile; don't be smart." In "Controversy And Other Essays in Journalism 1950-1975" - William Manchester in the "Americana" section "The New York Times" pp. 273-4. Little, Brown and Company, Boston, Toronto, 1976.

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