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In the past election, American newspaper publishers achieved an unprecedented unanimity as to which presidential candidate they should sell to the public. The editorial furore was turned on, news stories were given the appropriate slant, and the methods by which to save the American way of life were duly impressed, without leaving much impression. The American people voted as they pleased, in opposition to their press; first, because they have long given up reading editorials, and second, because they have learned to be on their guard against publishers' slants.
This lack of agreement between the American people and its newspaper publishers has prompted Secretary Ickes into outright denial that there is such a thing as a free press in America. Mr. Ickes' verdict is too sweeping in that it generalizes from the editorial page, which has doubtless degenerated into a mouthpiece of the publisher banker-stockholder group and is therefore duly disregarded by the public. Mr. Ickes fails to do justice to the liberty with which columnists are allowed to vent their prejudices in papers of all political bues, and to the comparative soberness of news reports which would be objective by European standards.
Insofar as American publishers are not journalists only a few of them are they would help their cause greatly by keeping their noses in their business and leaving it up to their editors to take stand on political issues. This policy has been successfully followed by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch; it was traditional on some of the best papers of pre-Hitler Europe. It bolsters newspapermen's morale by giving them their say in the paper's policy, and rises the status of editorial writers from stooges to thinking human begins. However, it is likely to throw the publishers into the ghastly predicament of profiting from a cause in which they don't believe; and rather than betray their principles, they continue to have their Virginio Gaydas root for the losing candidate. The public goodnaturedly ignores their cataclysmic appeals and sticks undisturbed to Superman and the candidate of its own choosing.
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