302
Views
0
CrossRef citations to date
0
Altmetric
Articles

When the New York Times Liked Ike: The Newspaper’s Controversial Presidential Endorsements of 1952 and 1956

Pages 118-141 | Received 29 Nov 2021, Accepted 10 Jan 2022, Published online: 25 Apr 2022

Abstract

The New York Times has only endorsed presidential candidates during party primaries—interfering in intra-party politics—twice in its history: once, in January 2016, coming out for John Kasich for the nomination that would go to Donald Trump, and the other, in January 1952, endorsing Dwight Eisenhower over his main Republican rival, Robert Taft. Understanding the exceptionalism of the 1952 election sheds light on the unusually close relationships between top members of the New York Times and the military, as well as reveals tensions within the Times over editorial decisions that the news team feared undermined its coverage. This paper uses archival collections of the New York Times—in addition to papers from several other personal and institutional archival collections—to demonstrate how important decisions were made, as well as contested, on the ground.

Introduction

On the night of September 24, 1956, Arthur Hays Sulzberger, the publisher of the New York Times, returned to his office on the fourteenth floor of the West 43rd Street building and learned that President Dwight Eisenhower had tried to reach him at home earlier in the evening.Footnote1 With only five weeks until the presidential election, the Times had yet to endorse a candidate.Footnote2 The publisher knew that Eisenhower would wonder why. After all, in January 1952, Sulzberger had been willing to break the Times’ tradition of not interfering in intra-party politics when he backed Eisenhower against the isolationist Senator Robert Taft prior to the Republican primaries. The publisher and the editor of the editorial page—the two men responsible for major editorial decisions at the newspaper—had never endorsed a candidate prior to the party’s nominating convention, nor, after 1952, would they again until 2016, when they supported John Kasich for the Republican nomination that eventually went to Donald Trump.Footnote3 The editorial endorsing Eisenhower pledged support for the general regardless of who became the Democratic nominee. (It would be the former governor of Illinois, Adlai Stevenson.) What was so special in 1952 about the man Sulzberger affectionately called “General Ike,” and why, in the fall of 1956, did Sulzberger hesitate in lending his support?

Understanding the exceptionalism of the 1952 election sheds light on the unusually close relationships between top members of the New York Times and the military, as well as reveals tensions within the Times over editorial decisions that the news team believed undermined its coverage.Footnote4 While the close relationships between the elite of the military and the media have long been theorized and are hardly surprising, the details of how those relationships played out on the ground often are.Footnote5 The archival collections of the New York Times—in addition to papers from several other personal and institutional archival collections—demonstrate how controversial these decisions were within the Times and how dependent they were on the preferences of the publisher, rather than on institutional traditions or organizational structures.Footnote6

This article is a narrative history of a decision that stands out in the archives as an anomaly for the Times. That is, the election of 1952 is immediately apparent to a researcher as controversial, with a note in the files indicating “Readers’ mail [regarding election year editorials] is filed in the same folder with other papers except for 1952 and 1940, where the quantity of material made this inadvisable.”Footnote7 In both years, Sulzberger made choices that readers felt were inconsistent with what they expected from the Times. In 1940, the newspaper endorsed the pro-business Republican Wendell Willkie over the incumbent Franklin Roosevelt. In 1952, during the Korean War—a time of public debate on the US global mission of intervention—the paper endorsed Eisenhower over Stevenson. Eight years of the Eisenhower administration would then have major implications for international affairs as the US built up military strength, institutionalized covert operations, and laid out its foreign affairs doctrines in this early period of the Cold War.

Studies of presidential campaign coverage have often focused on textual analysis of news articles or sought to establish a connection between political endorsements and voting patterns.Footnote8 We do not yet have a good idea of the decision-making process behind the political endorsements of the New York Times, which has long been recognized in the fields of history, political communication, and media studies as the most influential newspaper in the US.Footnote9 The news industry of the mid-twentieth century also believed in the power of the Times, evident in a 1950 Time magazine cover story about the newspaper claiming that “the Times has long since become the most influential paper in the nation, and since the U.S. became the No. 1 democratic power it has become the most influential in the world.”Footnote10 With the opening of the internal archives of the New York Times to public research in the years since 2007, historians have had unprecedented access to archival documents that can explain so much about this newspaper, which shapes elite understanding as well as dictates news agendas for other newspapers.Footnote11 More than influencing individual voters, the New York Times influenced politicians, policymakers, and other highly placed “official” actors to whom, rightly or wrongly, they represented the voice of moderate liberalism in the US. The voice of the editorial page, however, should not be thought of as the voice of an institution but of individuals whose personal relationships and experiences shaped their opinions. The lack of bylines on editorials can create the illusion of a voice of a newspaper when, in reality, that “institutional voice” sometimes comprised just one or two powerful men.

This article provides a brief history of the Times’ presidential endorsement process prior to 1952 before establishing the connection between the Times and the military and then analyzing the circumstances around the Eisenhower endorsement to convey just how unusual and controversial they were at the time.

The New York Times’ Presidential Endorsements Prior to 1952

In the past, the Times’ leadership had supported both Republicans and Democrats for president, valuing their political independence and not wanting the newspaper to seem to be in the pocket of either party. In 1896, Adolph Ochs, Sulzberger’s father-in-law, had bought the struggling New York Times and developed it into an influential, politically independent paper.Footnote12 Ochs believed his newspaper team should endorse the presidential candidates who were best, as they saw it, for the country—not who would win, or would even be good for the newspaper business. Because of that lofty mission, the editorial board often came out for Democrats who lost: in 1920, James M. Cox; in 1924, John W. Davis; and in 1928, Alfred E. Smith. The Times then supported the victorious Franklin Roosevelt in 1932 and 1936 but abandoned the president in favor of Willkie in 1940 because of a change in editorial leadership.

Upon Ochs’ death in 1935, Sulzberger became publisher and, in 1938, he appointed his own editor of the editorial page, Charles Merz.Footnote13 Merz had been at the New Republic before and after World War I and was well-known within publishing circles for a 1920 analysis of the New York Times’ coverage of the Russian Revolution that he wrote with Walter Lippmann. Their report, which ran as a special edition of the New Republic entitled “A Test of the News,” found that the Times’ coverage of the Bolsheviks had been inaccurate and subjective. Reporters and editors had failed to interrogate their own biases against the Bolsheviks, as well as the biases of their sources.Footnote14 Newspapers in this era were striving for an ideal of objectivity, and the Times had failed.Footnote15 Almost two decades later, in 1938, Sulzberger’s choice of Merz to lead the Times’ editorial board signaled that critical thinking about journalism would be welcome at the newspaper.

However, Sulzberger and Merz also signaled a change in political direction in 1940 when they endorsed a Republican for president, which the Times had not done since William Howard Taft in 1908. Politically, Merz and Sulzberger believed that, in seeking a third term, Roosevelt was overstepping his power as president. Personally, reflecting on Willkie in a 1971 oral history interview, Merz made it clear how important a connection with the candidate was to the endorsement process. “Of course he bloomed all of a sudden, remember, in the late stages of the pre-convention campaign,” Merz said. “I had met him only a few times before that, but we became very close friends. He was a most attractive and winning fellow, a high sense of good humor, great player of games—loved all kinds of games.”Footnote16 Merz reminisced about playing Chinese checkers with Willkie, who often stayed at Merz’s apartment until two o’clock in the morning. On several occasions, the Sulzbergers hosted Willkie and the Merzes together at their country home, Hillandale, which sprawled across the New York-Connecticut border. Willkie was their kind of fellow. In 1944, the newspaper endorsed Roosevelt once again, since the country was at war.Footnote17 However, the two men had made clear to their staff, to readers, and to politicians, that Democrats could no longer take for granted the support of the country’s “newspaper of record,” as the Times had been calling itself since 1925.Footnote18

The Times’ “Tin Soldier”

As World War II began in Europe, Sulzberger considered himself to be at the vanguard of American internationalists—responsible for rallying US public opinion behind the Allies.Footnote19 In October 1939, he wrote a memo for his files that he labeled “strictly personal,” ruminating on his role and the role of his newspaper. “I am beginning to get a clearer view of the part I have to play in the present conflict, and with that clarification comes a lifting of the spirit,” he wrote. “Believing, as I do, that ideology plays an important role in this war I was, up to now, conscious of a sense of guilt at not contributing more toward its prosecution.”Footnote20 Sulzberger believed his newspaper shaped public opinion, and by the 1930s, the Times was, indeed, one of the most influential papers in the nation, if not the world. The Times supported policies that aided the Allies, such as lend-lease for Britain, and helped ready public opinion for the declaration of war in 1941.

Sulzberger had been rejected from military service because of a coronary attack, so he created a wartime role for himself through work with the Red Cross.Footnote21 He gained permission from the White House to travel overseas as long as he technically did so in his capacity as a member of the Red Cross’s central committee and not as a publisher. He clearly could not separate himself from his role at the New York Times, and he always took a young Timesman, as they referred to themselves, with him as an assistant.Footnote22 Wearing the khaki uniform of a combat correspondent and embodying a military ethos, Sulzberger toured military bases on multiple lengthy trips. He agreed not ever to write publicly what he learned or saw on those trips. Rather than writing for the public, he wrote for the military, sending reports to men in the government, including to General Eisenhower, who was then commander of American forces in Britain and the man who had arranged Sulzberger’s visits to bases on one of his trips.Footnote23

Sulzberger’s second in command at the Times—the general manager and vice president, running the business side of the newspaper—was his wife’s cousin, Julius Ochs Adler, known in the office as “the colonel” from his position in the Army Reserves and service in World War I. During WWII, Adler was given a command with the 6th Infantry Division in the South Pacific, where he served from September 1941 to November 1944, when poor health necessitated a return to his job at the Times, now as “the general.” He considered his work at the Times as much a service to the nation as his military service. As he wrote in a personal letter to General Douglas MacArthur the month before officially reverting to inactive status, “After carefully weighing the pros and cons of a desk assignment versus my former duties here at the Times, I concluded that I might be of more service to my country in the latter capacity during the concluding phases of the war and the manifold problems of peace that even now exist.”Footnote24 Even though Adler likely had personal reasons for preferring his life in New York City to an army desk job, that impression of his job at the Times as one in which he could serve the nation—through shaping public opinion—was central to his conception of himself and of the newspaper. He continued his close association with the Army as president of the 77th Division Association from 1945 to 1946; chairman of an Armed Forces Advisory Committee on Civilian Components, appointed by the Secretary of the Army, in January 1949; and president of the Senior Reserve Commanders Association Army of the United States from 1949 to 1951.Footnote25

Military service was, of course, common for reporters and editors during WWII. At the Times alone, those who went through the revolving door between government and newspapers included, among many others, A.H. Raskin, the top labor reporter for many years and later an editorial writer, who served as a consultant to the National Security Training Commission during and after the war and was the first director of the new Defense Department’s Division of Industrial Relations; Russell Baker, a White House reporter when he joined the Times in 1954, who had served in the Naval Air Force; John B. Oakes, on the Times’ editorial board after the war, becoming its head in 1961, who worked in the Office of Strategic Services, the predecessor to the Central Intelligence Agency; Jack Raymond, a Pentagon reporter, who served in the Army as a reporter for Stars and Stripes; William “Atomic Bill” Laurence, the science writer who famously worked for the War Department during its atomic testing; Thomas Hamilton, the first United Nations reporter, who was a lieutenant in the Navy; James B. “Scotty” Reston, a diplomatic reporter and the longtime chief of the Washington bureau, who was “borrowed” by the Office of War Information (OWI) for a few months to help set up its London bureau; and Wallace Carroll, the Washington news director in the 1950s, who was also at OWI in London, directing their psychological warfare programs, about which he would continue to consult well into the Eisenhower administration.Footnote26 The military reporter Drew Middleton received a Navy Certificate of Merit for his wartime coverage in 1945, and in 1947, was granted both the Order of the British Empire, Military Division, and the US Medal of Freedom.Footnote27

In a 1990 speech in London honoring the recently deceased Middleton, Arthur Ochs “Punch” Sulzberger, the former publisher’s son and successor, remarked, “Drew joined the staff of the New York Times in 1942. It wasn’t long after, that a deep bond of affection grew between him and my father, who was then publisher of the New York Times. The tie was not surprising, for both men were deeply patriotic and both shared an enormous admiration for the military.”Footnote28 That bald admission, fifty years and several wars later, may have sounded like it did not keep with the Times’ often stated goal of objectivity. However, the military was an exception.

The Times prided itself on its independence from government, but independence was not necessarily desirable in a time of war. This tension during WWII created frequent arguments among reporters, editors, and the publisher about the propriety of government interference in press operations that continued into the postwar years.Footnote29 After the war, the Times supported universal military training (UMT, or UMST), with Adler as its chief advocate. He noted in a memo that “over thirty-five years I had devoted my life as an extracurricular activity to the promotion of UMST legislation.”Footnote30 Both the editorial and news departments were keenly aware and sometimes resentful of Adler’s support for the policy. An editor in Washington, Luther Huston, who coordinated with the national desk in New York, sent complaints to the home office about interference from “the fourteenth floor”—a metonym for the Times’ management, whose offices were on the top floor of their imposing Times Square building.

One night in February 1951, Huston submitted seventeen stories from the DC bureau, one about universal military training. “I looked upon page 1 this morning and gasped,” Huston wrote to his colleague in New York, with his typical dramatic flair. “If there ever has been, in the sixteen years I’ve worked in Washington, a story that was completely worn threadbare, it is the so-called manpower, or draft bill hearings, which are currently winding up on Capitol Hill.” Huston claimed that of all the stories he sent, this was the only one that did not deserve front-page consideration. It had only been placed on the front page, he charged, “because the guy who picked it for that play had both eyes on the 14th floor and neither one on news values.”Footnote31

On another occasion, Huston defended the DC bureau against management’s complaints that it was not adequately covering the defense budget. “I hope our old tin soldier is satisfied now—it was printed once yesterday and twice today so by now he should know it has been in the paper,” Huston wrote. “If I get many more like this one I’m going to stick to the farm, where there is not quite so much horse shit but it has more straw in it. Disgustedly yours, Luther.”Footnote32 Around the same time, Adler was meeting with top men in the military, including Eisenhower, to discuss UMT. In fact, Ike’s support for a universal draft would be one of the reasons the Times gave him its endorsement several months later.Footnote33

Huston was not alone in his skepticism of the Times’ close relationship to members of the military, as we will see further below. Even the managing editor, E.L. “Jimmy” James, seemed fed up with the fourteenth floor when he wrote to Sulzberger that they should not have to loan their East Asia correspondent to General George C. Marshall in 1946. “I don’t like this at all,” he wrote. “The war is over and we certainly did enough for the Government while the war was on.”Footnote34 Sulzberger prevailed, and the reporter served his tour of duty.

The Times Likes Ike

Sulzberger kept in touch with Eisenhower after the war, especially when, in 1948, the General became president of Columbia University, of which Sulzberger was a trustee. Calls for Ike to move into the political arena had been growing since the mid-1940s, and by the early 1950s, some of those voices emanated from the Times.Footnote35 In Washington, Arthur Krock, the bureau chief from 1932 to 1953, especially admired Eisenhower. Krock met with him just after he took leave from Columbia to be the head of Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Paris, tasked with overseeing the newly established North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). After this “very small confidential meeting today at luncheon” with the general and Washington reporters in January 1951, Krock sent a memo to the managing editor in New York summarizing the key points. Most of his write-up involved Cold War defense strategy in Western Europe, China, and Korea, though Krock ended his memo by writing of Ike, “He captivated all present and many said: ‘This is the man who should be President and must be.’”Footnote36 The managing editor then forwarded the memo to Sulzberger, who sent it to Merz, so that both the news and editorial sides of the paper now knew that “many” influential writers in Washington liked General Ike for the top civilian position.

In Paris, Eisenhower grew closer to Cyrus L. Sulzberger, Arthur’s nephew and the Times’ chief European correspondent. Although Cyrus Sulzberger considered himself a “fairly leftish Democrat,” his friendship and admiration for Eisenhower comes across clearly in his diaries and articles.Footnote37 Along with their mutual friend and Ike’s second in command, General Alfred Gruenther, the two men saw each other several times a week for lunch, golf, or bridge. During a typical weekend in September 1951, they played bridge for three hours on Saturday and another seven hours Sunday.Footnote38 Sulzberger sometimes showed his articles to Gruenther or Eisenhower before publication, an unorthodox newspaper practice except in the case of sensitive military secrets, which these generals likely were not sharing.

On one occasion, Sulzberger took an article draft to Gruenther’s home, where he drank a scotch while the general edited his piece, because, as he put it in his diary, “I certainly did not wish to jeopardize my own friendship with General Ike.”Footnote39 These men did not think they were practicing censorship but working toward a common cause of global peace. In fact, the editing favors were mutual: Gruenther asked Sulzberger to provide comments on Eisenhower’s first annual report to the standing group of NATO and then went over the comments with a colonel at SHAPE headquarters to ensure they would be incorporated.Footnote40

A subsequent article was headlined, “Gruenther Is Favored for Eisenhower’s Job,” which, in fact, turned out not to be true.Footnote41 That job went to Matthew Ridgway, and Sulzberger’s prediction that it would go to Gruenther is a minor illustration of the subjectivity in putatively straight news reporting. As Merz and Lippmann had put it in 1920 in “A Test of the News,” it was “a case of seeing not what was, but what men wished to see.”Footnote42 These men wished to see their friends in positions of power.

The home office knew of Sulzberger’s friendship. After one meeting with Ike in the spring of 1951, Cyrus wrote to his uncle Arthur to tell him about the “long and fascinating luncheon” they had and mentioned that Eisenhower “first wants to clear” the story he was writing about the meeting.Footnote43 Censorship was not even the central subject of Cyrus’s letter but merely a side note. “The point of this letter,” he wrote, “is that the General asked me to please send you his very warmest regards. He speaks of you with great affection. I had dinner two nights ago with General Gruenther who told me that Eisenhower considers you one of his really closest friends.”Footnote44 Gruenther, Eisenhower, and Sulzberger were all flattering Uncle Arthur, whom they knew would soon be making the newspaper’s important quadrennial decision on a presidential endorsement.

Prior to the 1952 election, the main concern among internationalists like Sulzberger, as well as other internationally minded publishers—including Henry Luce of Time magazine and Philip Graham of the Washington Post—was that the Republican Party might nominate the isolationist senator Robert Taft (“Mr. Republican”) instead of Eisenhower. “We saw in Taft a menace to all we hold dear,” Arthur Sulzberger wrote to Gruenther on the day before the election.Footnote45 Merz and Sulzberger believed that the nation could not risk a Taft nomination for president and that the Times editorial page could prevent it by endorsing Eisenhower before the Republican primaries. In doing so, Sulzberger was “taking on a kingmaker role that Adolph [Ochs] never would have assumed and certainly never sanctioned,” write Susan E. Tifft and Alex S. Jones, biographers of the Ochs-Sulzberger family.Footnote46

On January 7, 1952, the Times ran its editorial titled “Eisenhower,” calling on the general to publicly declare his candidacy. “This widespread faith in General Eisenhower’s fitness to be President is deeply sincere and wholly spontaneous,” the editorial read, though in reality, their support had been long building.Footnote47 The editorial criticized the right-wing Republicans who might endanger the country, and—without even knowing who would be the Democratic nominee in ten months—ended with the remarkable statement that, “If Dwight Eisenhower should be nominated by the Republican party as its candidate for President, we shall support him enthusiastically.”Footnote48 Eisenhower had not yet returned to the US to campaign when the Times then wrote another editorial, “To the Republican Voters of New Hampshire,” before a primary that Eisenhower then won.Footnote49 That summer, Eisenhower officially resigned his post at SHAPE to run for president. Before the July convention in Chicago, the Times continued its pressure on the Republican Party, running a three-part series with the headline “Mr. Taft Can’t Win.”Footnote50

The editorial support created credibility problems for the news team and was controversial at the time. Krock, along with his successor in the Washington bureau, Reston, also preferred Eisenhower to Taft. However, they thought that their own editorial board had put them in a difficult position, casting doubt on the credibility of the news columns. Around Washington—both “inside and outside the Bureau,” as Krock put it in a plaintive memo—they fielded criticism of the Times’ handling of news about Eisenhower.Footnote51 For instance, Krock believed that management had buried news of an anti-Eisenhower speech given by MacArthur. “So I think the criticism is just and pass this on also because we must not give even small substance to the charge that we are handling anti-Eisenhower news slightingly,” Krock wrote to Turner Catledge, who had been managing editor for just five months. Catledge wrote back, “I agree, in large measure, with the critics.”Footnote52 Although Catledge agreed, he felt the pressure of being in New York, with Arthur Sulzberger just a few floors above him, more than the pressure to pursue “objectivity.”Footnote53

Krock also worried that Cyrus Sulzberger was putting the newspaper’s reputation at risk. He pleaded with the managing editor not to assign Cyrus to cover Eisenhower at the convention. “First, the assignment belongs to the staff in the United States,” Krock wrote. “Second, Eisenhower should be searchingly and objectively reported, and that will not be done by Cy, who is a hero-worshipper of the General.” Instead, he argued, Scotty Reston should be given the assignment so they could get “the kind of reporting we should have, particularly in view of our editorial endorsement of Eisenhower weeks ago.”Footnote54 The managing editor compromised: the news team divided coverage among several reporters, including Reston, and Cyrus Sulzberger still had two bylines during the convention.

On the night that Ike won the Republican nomination, Cyrus Sulzberger was not only in Chicago, but in the general’s hotel suite at the Blackstone Hotel, friendly enough with the Eisenhowers that he went into the bedroom to give a “victory kiss” to Mamie, who was confined there because of “neuritis” but wearing a pink bed jacket to receive visitors.Footnote55 By contrast, on the night of the Democratic nomination, which Cy watched on television from a hospital bed in New York City, he wrote in his diary, “I must say I am fascinated by this boom for Stevenson and the assurances from everybody that he is an exceptionally intelligent, able and strong man. I used to know Adlai a few years ago, and I thought he was a weak sister, rather naive.” In a perfect encapsulation of the feelings of his uncle and ultimately the New York Times itself, Cy wrote, “As a party, I like the Democrats; but as a man, I like Ike.”Footnote56

Sulzberger would go on to have approximately 800 bylines in the Times during the Eisenhower administration, not only as the chief foreign correspondent in Europe but also as the director of the Times’ Foreign Service, which exerted influence over foreign news coverage worldwide. His “Foreign Affairs” column was syndicated in one hundred and seventy-eight additional newspapers in the US through the New York Times’ news service. Readers were never privy to his friendship with Eisenhower.

During the general election, Ike seemed to lean politically rightward, meeting in September with Taft, who then announced the two men only had “degrees of difference” in foreign policy.Footnote57 He began to lose some of his initial appeal for Democrats who had broken rank to support him. In early October, Eisenhower chose not to voice support for General George C. Marshall in a stump speech, as initially planned, for fear of insulting the fear-mongering Joseph McCarthy, who had impugned Marshall and many others, in the senator’s home state of Wisconsin.Footnote58 The Times’ political reporter William H. Lawrence broke the story on the front page the next day, writing, “General Eisenhower did bow to the Wisconsin Senator’s urging and eliminate from his Milwaukee speech tonight a defense of his old friend and chief, General of the Army George C. Marshall, who has been one of Senator McCarthy’s targets.”Footnote59 What Lawrence did not report was that the author of the deleted portion of text was Arthur Sulzberger.Footnote60

Sulzberger had been so outraged when he first learned—from reading his own newspaper—that Eisenhower planned even to share a dais with McCarthy that he sent a telegram to Ike’s chief of staff, Sherman Adams:

If the story in todays times is correct that the general is to speak from the same platform as Mccarthy, I am really in despair. They say that a straw can break a Camels back but this is no straw. My fear is that it will be like a ton of bricks coming right down on my friends head.Footnote61

Sulzberger advised the campaign to cancel the event. Not only did Ike not cancel, but he also endorsed McCarthy for Senate. Sulzberger continued sending often dire telegrams to the campaign train. Because of the Times’ and especially Sulzberger’s waning faith in Ike, the renewed endorsement that the newspaper printed on October 26 included nearly an entire column of criticism. There was so much negativity that when the piece transitioned from reproach to faint praise, the editorial included the line: “So much for the disappointments brought to us by our own candidate.”Footnote62

This lukewarm editorial support fueled rumors that the Times was considering recanting its endorsement, creating a deluge of hopeful mail and phone calls at 229 West Forty-Third Street. In total, fifteen thousand readers wrote to the Times asking them to support Stevenson.Footnote63 The toll these complaints began to take on the editorial staff were clear, and on the day before the election Sulzberger wrote to Merz acknowledging the hardship. “It seems foolish to put into words the appreciation that I feel for the conduct of the editorial page during the past difficult period,” the publisher wrote. “Thank goodness we haven’t lost the knack of playing together, making puzzles together, talking together, drinking together, and thinking together! That, my friend, is the way to run a newspaper.”Footnote64 Their personal relationship was essential. Sulzberger also wrote a letter to Catledge to let him know how proud he was of the news columns during the election: “Bitter as many of the letters have been about our editorial position, practically none questioned the integrity of our news presentation.”Footnote65 On receiving that note, Catledge would have been thinking of his exchanges with the Washington bureau that contradicted his boss’s optimistic characterization.

Sulzberger also wrote a letter to Gruenther that day, rehashing some of the points in the editorial, including criticism of Eisenhower for having endorsed the right-wing Republicans running for office. “We came out for Ike, as you know, because we were tired of the old administration despite its many good points, and you at NATO must realize them. … And then Ike made what seems to me to be the paramount blunder—he endorsed all who ran on the same ticket and brother, he has some lulus!” From his perch on the fourteenth floor of a building being inundated by pro-Stevenson messages, the general’s chances of winning appeared slim. “I haven’t said this to a soul over here,” Sulzberger wrote, “but I’m afraid Ike is going to be beaten despite the enormous head start he possessed.”Footnote66

Sulzberger was wrong. On election day, Ike swept with 55.2 percent of the popular vote, compared to Stevenson’s 44.3 percent, and won the electoral college 442 to 89. The popular perception—of other publications and of the so-called man in the street—was that the Times had been instrumental in Eisenhower’s victory. Over a year later, Scotty Reston was riding home in a taxi in DC when the driver mentioned that Eisenhower had been a “political accident.” When Reston asked him why, he responded, “He was put into the White House by Arthur Hays Sulzberger of The New York Times,” and that, “of course, Eisenhower just has to do what Sulzberger says.” This amused Reston so much that he then wrote up the incident in a letter to Sulzberger and joked about the president having to do whatever the publisher said: “Why don’t you let me in on these things?”Footnote67

President Eisenhower and the Press Corps

Reston, who became the Times’ Washington bureau chief in 1953, gave a speech at Syracuse University a week before Eisenhower’s inauguration. After acknowledging that it was “somewhat impertinent” to give a talk called “The Eisenhower Administration and the Press” when there was not yet an administration, he said: “There is, however, a very interesting situation developing between Eisenhower and the press, and I think perhaps I had better try to address myself to it in two different parts—one, the relationship between Eisenhower and the publishers, which seems to be very happy indeed, and the other the relationship between Eisenhower and the reporters which is not so happy.”Footnote68 From the beginning of his administration, Eisenhower did not conceal his disdain for reporters, who likened themselves to foot soldiers in the general’s eyes.Footnote69

The relationship did not improve after the inauguration, and press conferences with the president were especially unsatisfying for reporters. In June 1954, Sulzberger asked Reston to write up a memo outlining a conversation they had just had about “the President’s public relations in general, and his press conference in particular.” The foremost problem, Reston told his boss, was that Eisenhower “seems remote,” both from foreign policy, especially regarding Indochina, and domestic policy, particularly when it came to McCarthy.Footnote70 Second, he noted that in addition to seeming distant, the president then “makes the situation seem even worse than it is by having his photograph taken almost every day with some casual visitor. Accordingly, the President not only fails to dominate the front page, but he is seen almost daily on the inside pages in some ceremonial role, accepting gifts or pinning medals on the brightest student west of the Mississippi, or something of the sort.”Footnote71

Sulzberger thought he should work through the White House to improve coverage, rather than offend his news editors by trying to work through them. The news team likely had lingering resentment over the problems of credibility Sulzberger had created for them during the election. So, Sulzberger shared Reston’s memo with the White House press secretary, James C. Hagerty, who had worked at the New York Times from 1934 to 1943 and was the son of their longtime chief New York political correspondent, James A. Hagerty. Two weeks after sending Reston’s note, Sulzberger followed up with Hagerty, writing: “Dear Jim: Just a line to tell you that today’s New York Times is the kind of paper I like to see. The word ‘Eisenhower’ led two of the stories and two others said, ‘President.’ I admit that this was after a news conference but, as I told you the other day, I think he could do it more often if he tried.”Footnote72

Hagerty and his team meanwhile were devising a way to circumvent reporters with the advent of televised press conferences.Footnote73 Eisenhower could speak directly to the people, the administration believed, unmediated by difficult reporters. Further, the administration, and not news agencies, had control over the footage, which they edited before releasing to broadcast networks. Hagerty framed the matter in his diary as one of control: “To hell with slanted reporters. We’ll go directly to the people who can hear exactly what President said without reading warped and slanted stories.”Footnote74 The filming of conferences created even more tension with reporters, who rightly believed they were losing power.

The consensus in the Washington press corps was that the Eisenhower administration was keeping information from the American people, and at the same time giving the illusion of information through filmed press conferences. In 1955, in part because of press complaints that the Eisenhower White House was suppressing the news, the Democrat-led House of Representatives appointed a subcommittee, chaired by US Rep. John E. Moss, to investigate complaints.Footnote75

The press conferences seemed to have made the problem of transparency worse. In one of his nightly CBS radio commentaries, Eric Sevareid called the press conferences the “most intimate glimpse into the mind of the Administration; and yet—though this may be only one person’s impression—one comes away, time after time, with the queer feeling that this isn’t it; that we are not really getting and therefore, not really passing on to the people, the real story, the full story of where the country is in this moment of history and where it is heading.”Footnote76 This was hardly one person’s impression; Sevareid, Reston, and other Washington reporters were often critical of the president in print and discussed their disappointment publicly and privately, especially as Eisenhower continued deferring to the right wing of his party, embodied by vice president Nixon, on both foreign and domestic issues. They also had seen Nixon secretly prepare for a power grab when the president had a heart attack and did not trust the man already known as “tricky Dicky.”Footnote77

The Case against Richard Nixon

Sulzberger was not as eager to endorse Eisenhower in the 1956 election. The chief of staff, Sherman Adams, whom Sulzberger had badgered so frequently by telegram in the previous campaign, invited him to the White House during the summer of 1956, but Sulzberger demurred. “I’d rather wait until after the election is over before showing up in Washington,” he wrote.Footnote78 When the president personally telephoned him, as he did in late September, Sulzberger could not say no. After receiving the message that Eisenhower had called on that night in September 1956, Sulzberger decided it was too late to call the president back. When he returned the call from his office the next morning, the president said warily, “I called you at your home, Arthur, because I wanted to talk with you privately.”Footnote79 Sulzberger assured the president he could speak freely, and when the publisher later circulated his notes from the conversation to a small group of Times associates, he numbered the copies so they could be accounted for.

Given Sulzberger’s personal support for Eisenhower and the Times’ early-and-often endorsements in 1952, Eisenhower was understandably nervous that five weeks before the 1956 election, his friend was silent. “Some of my friends in New York have told me that you are having a hard time making up your mind about whom to support this year,” Eisenhower said, according to Sulzberger’s memo.Footnote80 “Now you and I have been friends for many years and nothing you do will in any way interfere with that but I didn’t want to leave any stone unturned—.” Sulzberger interrupted to assure the president that his “doubts are not about you but about the fellow who’s on the ticket with you,” referring to Nixon, who hailed from the same conservative, anti-communist wing of the Republican Party that spawned the reactionary McCarthy. The press especially despised Nixon, “just another McCarthy with table manners,” as one Washington commentator put it in his diary.Footnote81

A few days before Sulzberger’s phone call with the president, his cousin-in-law, Johnny Oakes—who was then an editorial writer at the Times and would be Merz’s successor as editor of the editorial page—had written a ten-page memo criticizing the vice president. In “The Case Against Richard Nixon,” Oakes outlined what he believed were Nixon’s four main deficits: “1. His voting record, 2. His political techniques, 3. His political associates, 4. His character.” In short, the man had no redeeming qualities. Oakes ended his memorandum with a pleading query to Sulzberger: “The question comes down to this: Is this the kind of man whom one wants to see directly in line for the Presidency of the United States?”Footnote82 Eisenhower’s poor health made the question especially pointed.

When Sulzberger alluded to Nixon on the phone, Eisenhower merely responded, “True. I’d love to talk that over with you. I don’t understand why he isn’t better liked. Could you come down?” Sulzberger said he would come to DC anytime the president wanted. His reaction was very different to a simultaneous request, made by the Stevenson campaign and facilitated by Oakes, for him to meet the governor for a drink when the candidate was planning to be in New York City. As Sulzberger’s assistant wrote on the memo, “AHS is NOT eager to do this and we should hedge if the question arises.”Footnote83 Eisenhower said, “How about tomorrow?” and offered a choice of luncheon, just the two of them, or dinner with their wives. Sulzberger accepted an invitation for lunch, since, as he noted in his memo, “I couldn’t trust my wife in that atmosphere (she’s rather violently pro-Stevenson).” His wife, Iphigene, of course, was the daughter of Adolph Ochs, the woman who would have been running the Times and choosing its candidates were it not for her sex. Sulzberger often joked that he only had his position by virtue of “being sensible enough to marry the boss’s daughter,” but this did not seem to have affected his thought process on who should have a say in the Times’ political endorsements.Footnote84

The next day, Sulzberger went to the East Gate of the White House “so as to keep the meeting off the record.” He and the president were served a light meal that reflected the fact that both men had suffered heart attacks—they later would compare the boxes of nitroglycerine tablets they kept in their pockets—vermicelli soup, sliced steak, string beans, spinach, grilled tomato, and melon for dessert. After dwelling so much on Eisenhower’s heart attack in his write-up of the lunch, Sulzberger was quick to add for his critical staff that, “Mr. Eisenhower looked the picture of health and showed no signs of weariness after his trip to and from Peoria last night.” Regarding the staff’s main concern, Nixon, Sulzberger recounted, “I said that I thought isolationism was quiescent in this country but not dead and that, if our chief allies did something that gravely offended us, it would take a very strong man in the White House to prevent our turning away from the world”—implying that man should not be Nixon. “He did not argue this point and seemed to agree.” “Altogether,” Sulzberger concluded, “the visit was a ten strike so far as I’m concerned, and it may have been one from his point of view as well. … As you can see, we got along very well and we also left everything but friendship up in the air.”Footnote85

The question that had been left in the air did not remain so for long. The New York Times would again endorse Eisenhower, but Oakes was allowed to write a long section of the editorial praising Stevenson. Sulzberger was still so pleased with the endorsement that in his personal birthday message to Eisenhower on October 11, he puckishly wrote, “Some time during the next week, I will be sending you a slight birthday gift.”Footnote86 The president did not understand Sulzberger’s meaning, thinking he had sent a physical package to the White House: “I’ll be guessing about the present—but since I shall be in the West a good part of the week, I thank you in advance.”Footnote87 When the editorial ran, Sulzberger made sure Eisenhower understood: “Thank you for your nice note of October fourteenth in which you refer to the present that I expected to send you this week. I did it this morning and hope you saw it on the editorial page of the Times.”Footnote88

The editorial endorsing Eisenhower for president in 1956 was titled “The Choice of a Candidate,” divided into two sections, “The Stevenson Campaign” and “The Eisenhower Record.” After somewhat patronizingly remarking that Stevenson was the strongest candidate the Democrats could have picked, Merz addressed the Times’ biggest disagreement with Stevenson and, not surprisingly, it had to do with the military: “We do, however, disagree sharply with Mr. Stevenson’s position on the Selective Service Act and we regret his willingness to encourage American parents and their sons to believe that ‘in the not far distant future’ we can dispense with this presumably unpopular but nevertheless indispensable instrument of American defense.”Footnote89 Julius Adler had died the prior year, but his push for universal military training was still important to the top brass at the Times.

The editorial first ran on a Tuesday and was reprinted in the Sunday edition, which had a wider readership. The public did not react by flooding Forty-Third Street with letters and phone calls, as they had done in 1952. Even the most passionate Stevenson supporters realized it was a twice-lost cause. Stevenson himself may have been holding out hope for an endorsement. He wrote to Sulzberger saying that while he was “disappointed, of course,” he also wanted to extend his gratitude for the Times’ treatment of his campaign. In a post-script he referenced the one issue about which he had most wanted to speak with Sulzberger: the draft. “Some day I hope to have a talk with you about clinging to the draft in its present form as a suitable base for a modern defense establishment!” Stevenson wrote.Footnote90 Eisenhower won re-election with a larger victory than four years earlier, this time with 57.4 percent of the popular vote to Stevenson’s 42 percent, and 457 electoral college votes to 73.

Conclusions

Many readers were surprised when the Times switched back to the Democrats in 1960, endorsing John F. Kennedy, especially after they had endorsed his opponent, Richard Nixon, twice before for vice president. Those readers had not been privy to memos like the one Oakes wrote decrying the man he had found to be, upon first meeting him in early 1952, “A cool and calculating politician, obviously an able man, without a trace of emotionalism and perhaps not too much principle.”Footnote91 By contrast, Kennedy developed relationships with men on the Times in a way Nixon never had—more like Eisenhower in his sociability. Most importantly, his father, Joseph P. Kennedy, was so close with Arthur Krock that there were rumors—likely untrue—as recently as the 1990s, that Krock was literally on the elder Kennedy’s payroll.Footnote92 The close relationships and personalities remained important, as did individual preferences of the Times’ leadership, which was shifting to the next generation and back to the Democratic Party. In 1961, Orvil Dryfoos, Sulzberger’s son-in-law, would officially take over as publisher, and the more leftist Oakes would step into the editorship of the editorial page.

About halfway through the 1960 general campaign, Kennedy had visited the Times building specifically to ask for the newspaper’s endorsement, having seen how influential it had been in the two previous elections. The candidate had a “rather long” meeting with Sulzberger and Merz. “And the three of us talked,” recalled Merz, “not really about The Times’s support, but some of Kennedy’s hopes and ambitions and what he would like to do, and so on. Of course, a very winning and charming fellow.”Footnote93

At one point Sulzberger asked the young man, “Do you think you’re going to be elected?”

“I will be elected, I think, if I can carry New York.”

“Will you carry New York?”

The candidate gave the only appropriate response to the publisher of the postwar New York Times: “What are you going to do?”Footnote94

Kennedy, like candidates before him, needed to flatter the leadership of the Times, but he also expressed something true about the power of the Times’ editorial page: that it was influential among influential people. When asked in a 1962 oral history interview what percentage of Times readers consulted the editorial page, Oakes replied that they had no way of knowing and had long ago given up formal surveys. But he continued, “I do know that the page is read, though, by people we would like to have read it, that is, by people who are leaders in opinion and thought in this country. That’s the great satisfaction, rather than the numbers.”Footnote95 It is clear that the press acts as an important institutional player in politics and government and that the Times leads that field.Footnote96 The individual choices that go into the most important decisions the editorial board makes every four years is therefore a rich site on which to excavate the relationships between, as well as the tensions among, the power elite.

The endorsement of Eisenhower, a popular war hero and fairly centrist Republican, may not seem that surprising to modern observers. But the way in which the Times broke tradition to do it and the problems that the primary endorsement caused for the news staff give a glimpse into a consequential decision-making process that was more controversial at the time than it might first appear. The publisher’s voice trumped all others, including his own wife’s, and the newspaper made an effort to publicly obscure the importance of that one voice—keeping the White House meeting a secret, for instance—to give the illusion of a joint decision of the editorial board.

Additional information

Funding

The present research was financially supported by the Eisenhower Foundation and Princeton University.

Notes on contributors

Kathryn J. McGarr

Kathryn J. McGarr is an assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her forthcoming book, City of Newsmen: Public Lies and Professional Secrets in Cold War Washington (University of Chicago Press, 2022), is a history of foreign policy reporters in Washington, DC, from World War II through the early Cold War period.

Notes

1 Notes, Arthur Hays Sulzberger (hereafter AHS), September 26, 1956, box 22, folder 11, Arthur Hays Sulzberger Papers, New York Times Company Records, New York Public Library (hereafter NYPL).

2 Scholars have established that political endorsements by media outlets can serve as cues for voters, who may otherwise not have the information to evaluate candidates. For a review of the literature on political cues, see Cheryl Boudreau, “The Persuasion Effects of Political Endorsements,” in Bernard Grofman, Elizabeth Suhay, and Alexander H. Trechsel eds., Oxford Handbook of Electoral Persuasion (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018). For a review of the literature on the effects of newspaper political endorsements on voters, see Stephen Ansolabehere, Rebecca Lessem, and James M. Snyder, Jr., “The Orientation of Newspaper Endorsements in U.S. Elections, 1940–2002,” Quarterly Journal of Political Science 1, no. 4 (2006): 393–404, note 2.

3 The Editorial Board, “A Chance to Reset the Republican Race,” New York Times, January 30, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/31/opinion/sunday/a-chance-to-reset-the-republican-race.html.

4 Conservative support for Eisenhower varied dramatically, both before and after his election, but the Robert Taft wing generally supported his candidacy after September 1952 and having Nixon as vice president meant a connection at the time with the anti-communist, conservative wing of the party. See Michael Bowen, The Roots of Modern Conservatism: Dewey, Taft, and the Battle for the Soul of the Republican Party (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011), 153–200.

5 Sociologist C. Wright Mills presented such connections between the elite of the press and the elite of the military in The Power Elite (New York: Oxford University Press, 1956).

6 Daniel Chomsky has used the Turner Catledge papers to demonstrate the influence of Arthur Hays Sulzberger on news coverage in the 1956–1962 period. Daniel Chomsky, “An Interested Reader: Measuring Ownership Control at the New York Times,” Critical Studies in Media Communication 23, no. 1 (March 2006): 1–18.

7 Arthur H. Sulzberger Papers, Finding Aid, NYPL, 124, https://archives.nypl.org/mss/17782. I have not been able to conduct a quantitative analysis of the letters to determine the percentage that were good or bad. The implication in surrounding material suggests that the paper received more negative mail than was typical in only these two years, and that this is what made the numbers stand out.

8 For textual analysis of campaign coverage, see, William L. Benoit, Katharina Hemmer, and Kevin Stein, “New York Times’ Coverage of Presidential Campaigns,” Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly 8, no. 2 (Summer 2005): 356–376; Wayne P. Steger, “Comparing News and Editorial Coverage of the 1996 Presidential Nominating Campaign, Presidential Studies Quarterly 29, no. 1 (Mar. 1999): 40–64. For an empirical analysis of the New York Times’ Democratic partisanship in news coverage from 1946 to 1997 see Ricardo Puglisi, “Being the New York Times: The Political Behaviour of a Newspaper,” The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis and Policy 11, no. 1 (2011): article 20. On the relationship between news and the electorate, see Thomas E. Patterson, The Mass Media Election: How Americans Choose Their President (New York: Praeger, 1989); Thomas E. Patterson, Out of Order (New York: Knopf, 1993); Doris A. Graber, Mass Media and American Politics, 7th ed. (Washington: Congressional Quarterly, 2006); Kathleen Hall Jamieson and Paul Waldman, The Press Effect: Politicians, Journalists, and the Stories That Shape the Political World (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003).

9 Many scholars have noted the importance of the Times among elites and within the news industry. Herbert Gans wrote in a 2004 edition of Deciding What’s News that, “The New York Times remains the news industry’s final authority on what stories are suitable.” Herbert Gans, Deciding What’s News: A Study of CBS Evening News, NCB Nightly News, Newsweek and Time (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 2004), xviii.

10 “Without Fear or Favor,” Time, July 8, 1950.

11 Recent works that rely on these archives include Kevin Lerner, “Abe Rosenthal’s Project X: The Editorial Process Leading to the Publication of the Pentagon Papers,” Media Nation, Bruce Schulman and Julian Zelizer, eds. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017), 144–159; Matthew Pressman, On Press: The Liberal Values That Shaped the News (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2018). This is not to say that journalists and scholars could not previously access these papers, with permission, as did Susan E. Tifft and Alex S. Jones in their seminal work on the Ochs-Sulzberger family, The Trust: The Private and Powerful Family Behind The New York Times (New York: Little, Brown, 1999).

12 For an account of Ochs’ leadership, see Tifft and Jones, The Trust, 5–162; Andrew Porwancher, “Objectivity’s Prophet: Adolph S. Ochs and the New York Times, 1896–1935,” Journalism History 36, no. 4 (Winter 2011): 186–195.

13 Sulzberger had wanted to appoint his own editor of the editorial page immediately but initially “felt inhibited about naming his own man.” Tifft and Jones, The Trust, 174.

14 Walter Lippmann and Charles Merz, “A Test of the News,” The New Republic 23, no. 296 (August 4, 1920), supplement.

15 On the rise of objectivity, see, for example, Michael Schudson, Discovering the News: A Social History of American Newspapers (New York: Basic Books, 1978); David T.Z. Mindich, Just the Facts: How “Objectivity” Came to Define American Journalism (New York: New York University Press, 1998); Richard L. Kaplan, Politics and the American Press: The Rise of Objectivity, 1865–1920 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002).

16 Charles Merz interview by Frank Bailinson, March 11, 1971, 91, box 8, folder 6, New York Times Oral History Collection, NYPL.

17 Charles Merz interview by Frank Bailinson, March 18, 1971, 161, box 8, folder 6, New York Times Oral History Collection, NYPL.

18 First used in a series of advertisements for the newspaper appearing in its own pages, beginning February 12, 1925, 4.

19 On US media’s support for World War II and especially radio’s role in Americans’ changing opinion, see Richard W. Steele, “The Great Debate: Roosevelt, the Media, and the Coming of the War, 1940–1941,” The Journal of American History 71, no. 1 (June 1984): 69–92; Susan J. Douglas, Listening In: Radio and the American Imagination (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2004), 161–198.

20 Memo, AHS, October 25, 1939, box 274, folder 9, Sulzberger Papers.

21 Tifft and Jones, The Trust, 196.

22 See travel diary, box 150, folder “Russian Trip, June-July, 1943,” James B. Reston Papers, University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign); “Visit to Pacific,” box 3, series IA, Turner Catledge Papers, Mississippi State University (Starkville).

23 AHS to Dwight Eisenhower, August 20, 1942, box 274, folder 8, Sulzberger Papers.

24 Julius Ochs Adler to Douglas MacArthur, October 4, 1944, box 1, folder 20, Adler Papers.

25 Bio, box 8, folder 2, Adler Papers.

26 Biographical data from the following sources: A.H. Raskin interview by Frank Bailinson, December 6, 1976, box 10, folder 2, page 146, New York Times Oral History Collection; John B. Oakes interview by Kenneth Leish, February 17, 1961, vol 1., page 22, Columbia University Oral History Collection; Wallace Carroll to Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., June 23, 1950, box P-11, folder “Wallace Carroll,” Papers of Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Private Files, John F. Kennedy Library; Memo, Wallace Carroll to Robert Blum, March 26, 1953, box 58, folder “Nat’l Security Council, 1952–55,” Reston Papers. On William Laurence, see Beverly Ann Deepe Keever, “Top Secret: Censoring the First Rough Drafts of Atomic-Bomb History,” Media History 14, no. 2 (2008): 185–204; Alex Wellerstein, Restricted Data: The History of Nuclear Secrecy in the United States (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2021); Vincent Kiernan, Atomic Bill: A Journalist’s Dangerous Ambition in the Shadow of the Bomb (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, forthcoming 2022).

27 “Army to Release All Data on War,” New York Times, November 19, 1947.

28 Speech, Punch Sulzberger, March 21, 1990, box 15, folder 4, General Files, New York Times Co. Records.

29 Some typical wartime discussions can be found in: Raymond McCaw to Luther Huston, November 13, 1941, box 125, folder 5, Sulzberger Papers; AHS to Arthur Krock, December 9, 1941, box 125, folder 5, Sulzberger Papers; Hanson Baldwin to E.L. James, October 12, 1942, box 125, folder 4, Sulzberger Papers. For more, see Michael S. Sweeney, Secrets of Victory: The Office of Censorship and the American Press and Radio in World War II (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2001); George H. Roeder, The Censored War: American Visual Experience During World War II (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1993).

30 Memo, Julius Ochs Adler, May 23, 1951, box 1, folder 20, Adler Papers.

31 Memo, Luther Huston to Ernest [unknown], February 6, 1951, box 7, folder 5, National Desk Records, New York Times Co. Records, NYPL.

32 Memo, Luther Huston to Ray O’Neill, January 17, 1951, box 7, folder 5, National Desk Records.

33 Memo, Julius Ochs Adler, February 6, 1951, box 22, folder 12, Sulzberger Papers.

34 E.L. James to Arthur H. Sulzberger, May 13, 1946, box 21, folder 12, Sulzberger Papers.

35 On Eisenhower and the 1952 election, see William Pickett, Eisenhower Decides to Run: Presidential Politics and Cold War Strategy (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2000); Gary Donaldson, When America Liked Ike: How Moderates Won the 1952 Presidential Election and Reshaped American Politics (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2017).

36 Arthur Krock to E.L. James, January 5, 1951, Book II, 234–235, Arthur Krock Papers, Mudd Manuscript Library, Princeton University; Memo series, box 22, folder 12, Sulzberger Papers.

37 C.L. Sulzberger, A Long Row of Candles: Memoirs and Diaries, 1934–1954 (Toronto: The Macmillan Company, 1969), 750.

38 Sulzberger, A Long Row of Candles, 670.

39 Sulzberger, A Long Row of Candles, 715.

40 Sulzberger, A Long Row of Candles, 733.

41 C.L. Sulzberger, “Gruenther is Favored for Eisenhower’s Job,” New York Times, March 30, 1952.

42 Lippmann and Merz, “A Test of the News.”

43 Cyrus Sulzberger to AHS, March 6, 1951, box 29, folder 25, Sulzberger Papers.

44 Sulzberger to AHS, March 6, 1951, Sulzberger Papers.

45 AHS to Alfred Gruenther, “The Day before Election, 1952,” box 29, folder 25, Sulzberger Papers.

46 Tifft and Jones, The Trust, 258.

47 “Eisenhower,” New York Times, January 7, 1952.

48 “Eisenhower.”

49 “To the Republican Voters of New Hampshire,” New York Times, February 13, 1952. On coverage of the 1952 New Hampshire primary, see William E. Casey, Jr., “The Press and the 1952 New Hampshire Primary: A Perception of Significance,” Journalism History 5, no. 4 (Winter 1978): 115–123.

50 “Mr. Taft Can’t Win,” New York Times, July 1–3, 1952.

51 Arthur Krock to Turner Catledge, May 16, 1952, box 16, folder “Washington Bureau 1952,” Series IIA, Catledge Papers.

52 Turner Catledge to Arthur Krock, May 19, 1952, box 16, folder “Washington Bureau 1952,” Series IIA, Catledge Papers.

53 See also Chomsky, “An Interested Reader.”

54 Arthur Krock to Turner Catledge, April 11, 1952, box 13, folder “Krock, Arthur 1952,” Series IIA, Catledge Papers.

55 Sulzberger, A Long Row of Candles, 772.

56 Sulzberger, A Long Row of Candles, 775–776.

57 Quoted in Bowen, The Roots of Modern Conservatism, 159.

58 McCarthyism and the press have been explored at length, mostly relating to political and domestic coverage of the senator. See Edwin Bayley, Joe McCarthy and the Press (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1981); Edward Alwood, Dark Days in the Newsroom: McCarthyism Aimed at the Press (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2007); Christopher M. Elias, Gossip Men: J. Edgar Hoover, Joe McCarthy, Roy Cohn, and the Politics of Insinuation (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2021); Richard M. Fried, A Genius for Confusion: Joseph R. McCarthy (New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2022).

59 W.H. Lawrence, “Eisenhower Scores President on Reds; Supports M’Carthy,” New York Times, October 4, 1952.

60 Tom Wicker, Dwight D. Eisenhower (New York: Times Books Henry Holt and Co., 2002), 15.

61 Telegram, AHS to Sherman Adams, General Eisenhower’s special train, Wheeling, West Virginia, September 24, 1952, box 1, folder 11, Sulzberger Papers.

62 “A Choice Reaffirmed,” New York Times, October 23 and 26, 1952.

63 Tifft and Jones, The Trust, 262.

64 AHS to Charles Merz, November 3, 1952, box 50, folder 3, Sulzberger Papers.

65 AHS to Turner Catledge, November 3, 1952, box 7, folder “Sulzberger, Arthur Hays, 1952,” series IIC, Catledge Papers.

66 AHS to Alfred Gruenther, “The Day before Election, 1952,” box 29, folder 25, Sulzberger Papers.

67 James Reston to AHS, January 9, 1954, box 53, folder 28, Sulzberger Papers.

68 “The Eisenhower Administration and the Press,” January 13–14, 1953, box 100, folder “New York State Publishers Association,” Reston Papers.

69 See, for instance, Harrison Evans Salisbury interview by David Berliner, October 6, 1972, and William Howard Lawrence interview by John Luter, September 7, 1967, Eisenhower Administration Project, Columbia University Oral History Collection.

70 See Julie B. Lane, “Positioning for Battle: The Ideological Struggle over Senator Joseph McCarthy and the American Establishment,” American Journalism 33, no.1 (winter 2016): 61–85.

71 James B. Reston to AHS, June 21, 1954, box 50, folder “Confidential Memos,” Reston Papers.

72 AHS to James C. Hagerty, July 8, 1954, box 22, folder 12, Sulzberger Papers.

73 See Craig Allen, Eisenhower and the Mass Media: Peace, Prosperity and Prime-Time TV (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1993).

74 Robert H. Ferrell, ed., The Diary of James C. Hagerty: Eisenhower in Mid-Course, 1954–1955 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1983).

75 See Michael Schudson, The Rise of the Right to Know: Politics and the Culture of Transparency (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2015), 37–50.

76 Script, May 4, 1956, box II: 40, folder Radio Commentaries, 1953–59, Eric Sevareid Papers, Manuscripts Division, Library of Congress.

77 Arthur Krock to AHS, September 26, 1955, box 22, folder 22, Sulzberger Papers. The nickname “Tricky Dicky” appears several times in the diaries of Robert Allen: January 11, 1955; September 20, 1955; and October 5, 1955, box 23, Robert S. Allen Papers, Wisconsin Historical Society (Madison, WI), and was the precursor to the “Tricky Dick” of Nixon’s presidency.

78 AHS to Sherman Adams, August 6, 1956, box 1, folder 6, Sulzberger Papers.

79 Note from AHS to Arthur Krock, September 27, 1956, box 22, folder 11, Sulzberger Papers.

80 AHS, notes, September 26, 1956.

81 Robert S. Allen, Diary, December 24, 1952, box 23, Allen Papers.

82 John B. Oakes, “The Case Against Richard Nixon,” September 18, 1956, box 53, folder 28, Sulzberger Papers.

83 Memo, AHS to Orvil E. Dryfoos, September 4, 1956, box 71, folder 16, Sulzberger Papers. Emphasis in original text.

84 Quoted in “Orvil E. Dryfoos Dies at 50,” New York Times, May 26, 1963, 91.

85 AHS, notes, September 26, 1956.

86 AHS to Eisenhower, October 11, 1956, box 22, folder 11, Sulzberger Papers.

87 Eisenhower to AHS, October 14, 1956, box 22, folder 11, Sulzberger Papers.

88 AHS to Eisenhower, October 16, 1956, box 22, folder 11, Sulzberger Papers.

89 “The Choice of a Candidate,” New York Times, October 16, 1956.

90 Adlai Stevenson to AHS October 16, 1956, box 6, folder “Stevenson, Adlai 1949–1964,” Series IIC, Catledge Papers.

91 Quoted in John B. Oakes, “The Case Against Richard Nixon,” September 18, 1956, box 53, folder 28, Sulzberger Papers. Oakes was quoting a note he had written to himself in February 1952.

92 Richard Harwood, “A Reporter On the Take?” New York Times, April 24, 1993; James Sayler, “Arthur Krock Was Not ‘On the Take’” New York Times, June 3, 1993.

93 Charles Merz interview by Frank Bailinson, March 23, 1971, 205, box 8, folder 7, New York Times Oral History Collection, NYPL.

94 Charles Merz interview by Bailinson, March 23, 1971.

95 John B. Oakes interview by Kenneth Leish, February 17, 1961, and January 23, 1962, “Reminiscences of John Bertram Oakes,” Columbia University Oral History Collection.

96 See Timothy E. Cook, Governing with the News: The News Media as a Political Institution (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998).

Reprints and Corporate Permissions

Please note: Selecting permissions does not provide access to the full text of the article, please see our help page How do I view content?

To request a reprint or corporate permissions for this article, please click on the relevant link below:

Academic Permissions

Please note: Selecting permissions does not provide access to the full text of the article, please see our help page How do I view content?

Obtain permissions instantly via Rightslink by clicking on the button below:

If you are unable to obtain permissions via Rightslink, please complete and submit this Permissions form. For more information, please visit our Permissions help page.