Rep. Reece Ties Into New York Times

Westbrook Pegler

Shreveport Times/January 10, 1955

Carroll Reece, of Tennessee, the chairman of the House committee which exposed inequities practiced by tax-exempt foundations in the guise of philanthropy, has called the New York Times every fighting word in the book of an honorable journalist The Times, apparently, doesn’t disagree because it published Reece’s accusations against itself without a word one way or the other.

I believe I was the first one in national practice to call the turn on our journalism, noting a tendency of publications with great influence on popular thought to emulate the press of Germany under Hitler and of Italy under Mussolini.

Some of the very papers which sniffled about that Joe McCarthy was going to impose “conformity” have been practicing with grotesque results the very evils which they profess to abhor.

I have not enough space to publish in full a letter which Reece sent the Times and the Times published but will quote and paraphrase a document which certainly must be taken up at the next consistory of our editorial nabobs failing which it will lie on the table shining like the classical mackerel in the moonlight and giving on emanations. They may not be their brother’s keepers, but if the good name of journalism has any value to them, they will have to admit that the issue exists and meet it.

Reece began with an insulting but reasonable remark that on past performances he could not expect the Times to tell the public the truth about the reasons why the hearings were concluded.

“I address myself chiefly,” he said, “to the canard which your paper has been spreading that I terminated the hearings to prevent the foundations from having their day in court. You have given the public the false impression that I refused to let witnesses favorable to the foundations give testimony and closed the hearings before they could present their case.”

He accused the Times of suppressing the fact that Congressman Wayne Hays, a Democrat planted on the committee for that purpose, behaved so badly that it was impossible to continue, although witnesses from foundations were present and waiting to be heard.

I will here state that two persons connected with the committee allege that Hays boasted that “the White House” asked him to discredit the investigation for the benefit of the foundations.

Reece wrote that “as far as I know the Times never told the public that two professors had written bitter complaints against the inexcusable treatment” of witnesses by Hays.

One of these professors, Kenneth Colgrove. wrote that he doubted that the entire history of congressional inquiries would “show more unfair or cowardly attack on a witness” than Hays’ abuse of Aaron Sargent, of San Francisco.

The other, A. H. Hobbs, wrote that Hays created an “atmosphere of fear among competent persons who might otherwise question the omniscience of the directors of these foundations.

The Times of course, had been beefing and bellering that Joe McCarthy was putting fine, upstanding patriots in fear of nameless horrors. The Times, apparently, got afraid to tell the truth about Hays’ conduct.

“If you will scan your own reports,” Reece said, “you will find constant adulation of Hays as a sort of knight in shining armor, allegedly preventing a majority of the committee from perpetrating an injustice on the public and the foundations.

“As far as your paper was concerned, the public was not made aware that Hays interrupted witnesses beyond all reason; that in one session of 185 minutes he interrupted 246 times; that his interruptions were very often on extraneous matters and not designed to elicit the truth; that they were so violent that orderly testimony was virtually impossible; that they were intemperate and in purposeful disregard of the rules of the House; that he vilified the staff and fellow congressmen and publicly accused me of lying and being a coward and a congressman of duplicity and cowardice.”

Hays went out of his way, said Reece, to “cast aspersions on the character and record of a Catholic nun” and referred to witnesses as “crackpots, dredged up by the staff.”

“Your frequently expressed concern with the conduct of congressional investigations does not carry much conviction in the face of your failure to protest against Hays’ unconscionable conduct and in the light of your failure to inform the public that his actions prevented the continuance of orderly hearings.”

Reece could have said the same of many other papers but he challenged the bull of the woods when he called on Arthur Hays Sulzberger to step outside. Well, I was right five years ago and they are proving my case for me day after day.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s