The exposures of the French press by Boris Souvarine in "I'Humanite" of Paris, reviewed in the current issue of "The Nation", are most startling and farreaching. Souvarine spent two years in Russia, examining the files of the old Czarist Minister of Finance; he returned with the sensational information, based on official documents and correspondence, that since 1904 the French press had been systematically bribed and subsidized by the Imperial government.
The chief purpose in this wholesale bribery--which included scores of the most influential papers,--and extended in many cases to individuals,--seems to have been at first the floating of Russian bond issues in France to put down the first Russian revolution and to carry on the Russo-Japanese war, and later, to build up the Franco-Russian alliance. Due to the power of the journals billions of francs were invested by the French public in Czarist securities.
But one of the most surprising revelations is that the French Government itself not only countenanced but encouraged these subsidies. Magazine writers, financial editors, managing editors, feature writers,--all kinds of people on papers from the semi-official "Temps" to the familiar "Vie Parisienne" received their shares. In the one year, 1905, Russia spent 3,796,861 francs on the Paris press.
Incredible as all this appears, it is even harder to believe that the "London Times" and "The London Daily Telegraph" were influenced by the Czar's gold to some extent. And what strikes still closer home is the implication that American journalists, dazzled by a ribbon of the Legion of Honor, or covetous of the decoration, send back to America only such news as is pleasing to the French Government. If this is true, nothing could be more unfortunate; nothing could more endanger future Franco-American harmony.