Rome News-Tribune/March 3, 1954
I have just had some repartee with Herbert Bayard Swope which measures the sincerity of one of those who yowl against “McCarthyism.” Herbert was editor of the old New York World. He sets forth in his biographical lumber in Who’s Who that the World, in his regime, got three Pulitzer awards. A more delicate soul might have added that the Pulitzers owned the paper.
Herbert is all gall, divided into three parts, Herbert, Bayard and Swope. He was, therefore, in his time, a great police reporter. Thanks to the same quality, he been a great reporter ever since. Much of his later years, he has fluttered around Bernie Baruch and the horse-tracks and in and out of the Roosevelt-Truman layouts in painless sinecures which made for the sort of publicity that can be distilled into high income and low-octane celebrity.
A few years ago, I had occasion to ask Herbie whether he was B. M. B.’s press agent. He boggled audibly on the phone, for he has learned to forget that he once covered police headquarters and was a social pal of the late Arnold Rothstein. Herbert said, “Well, I certainly never was in B. M. B.’s fee, if that is what you mean.” I said, “Sure, that is what I mean: you like to eat, don’t you?” He then assured me, somewhat loftily, I thought, that the idea of charging a fee for advising the adviser of presidents was spiritually repugnant. Knowing that Hugh Johnson had served a regular hitch spooking for Bernie and smoothing out his ideas, I was more or less throwed by Herbert’s plover’s-egg attitude toward a familiar and lucrative offshoot of the trade of journalism. Another time I asked if he were press agent for a rich dram-seller with massive delusions of eternal wisdom and a willingness to shoot the works promoting a reputation. Herbie nearly strangled.
Again, the term “press agent” horrified him. “I am,” he said, with a show of patience for old time’s sake, “a policy consultant.”
That time it was my turn to fall out of the chair. And when, a few days later I related this to Carl Byoir, who is Mr. Public Relations himself, Carl grinned with his crinkly eyes and said, “It makes the same difference.”
Now here is the theme of today’s message.
A few days ago the “officers” of “Freedom House’ voted “unanimously’ to begin a “study” aimed at one-man congressional committees and the abuse of witnesses and others who might be denied a chance to face positive charges and confront their accusers. In other words, this self-appointed Band of Hope with official “headquarters” in a gritty hutch of committees, associations and all such insubstantial socio-political fungi, were fomenting a meaningless reproof of Joe McCarthy and two-cents worth of publicity for themselves. Herbert Bayard Swope was one of these high minded heroes of the mimeo-handout, but the piece didn’t say he personally went to “Freedom House.” I would blame him little, if not. Because once, for my sins, I had to prowl this dismal lamasery to corner and confront President Eisenhower’s off-Moscow communist political agent in the union rackets of Western Europe, the bashful Irving Brown.
I finally cornered him only to learn that the cat had got this vicious gut-letter’s tongue. For choice I would rather frequent the old Canal Street subway station than “Freedom House.”
I now swift bethought me of a book about Heywood Broun that Swope endorsed in 1949 which lauded Brown as the sum of all the virtues and blasted me as the devil of a good man’s life. The writer was one Dale Kramer. When I say the author was red, I rely on Howard Rushmore, who had the great courage to quit the party and fight it in the open. Rushmore says he sat in Communist parleys with Kramer years ago and I say Kramer wrote for the New Masses when it was a recognized organ of the party.
As to Broun’s own record, two witnesses swore that he was a party member while he still had time to confront and confound them and I say he wrote his mature opinion that the Soviet regime was the greatest effort even made for human betterment.
I was mentioned many times in this Kramer book. All his statements about me were false and abusive and to this day I have never met my accused nor did he ever call me on the phone to inquire whether any of his lies had any foundation in fact.
Swope now says he knew nothing about Kramer when he endorsed his book. He had “barely met him” then and hasn’t met him since, and he probably didn’t even read the book which he so feelingly endorsed. He thought he must only have scanned the pages for he did not notice that I was even mentioned. He impales himself on another spike when he admits he didn’t know the book said the World fired Broun for an abusive article in the Nation about the Irish and the Catholic church.
Broun had written, Kramer said, that the Irish were the “crybabies of the Western World” and that “there was not a single New York editor who did not live in mortal terror of the Catholic church.”
That is the ethical standard of one great gust in the storm of moral indignation against “McCarthyism.”
Call the next Swope!
(Source: Google News, https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=BJbdYPG6LGMC&dat=19540304&printsec=frontpage&hl=en)