The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Monday, March 14, 2005

USG/media shenanigans in the Good Old Days

From Drew Pearson and Robert S Allen's 1931 Washington Merry-Go-Round (p331):
Another feature of the touted "liberalization" of White House press relations [by President Herbert Hoover] was the institution of twice-daily meetings between the reporters and a secretary. The purpose of this contact was to afford the correspondents a daily tie-up with the Executive, particularly on local matters.

Here again, the reporters discovered that the system was being used chiefly to beguile and lull them.

They found that deliberately or because he did not know and was trying to cover up the facts, the secretary repeatedly misled on important details. As a result of this slick policy these daily conferences soon fell into disrepute.

And (p340):
The Mexican Bolshevik hegemony story...accused Mexico of harboring Communist designs. It gave no authority for this information, other than vague references to reliable sources of information. Coming at a time when, due to the stupidity and bungling of Coolidge and Kellogg, the relations between the United States and Mexico were at the breaking point, the story created a tremendous sensation.

It might conceivably have precipitated a crisis had it not been disclosed just where the absolutely false story had come from , and the vicious purpose which had prompted it.

Robert E Olds, Under-Secretary of State to Secretary Kellogg, conceived the story and tried to peddle it to the Washington press. He did so for the deliberate purpose of giving the United States the excuse for high-handed tactics with Mexico. The story was wholly without foundation and when Olds refused to let himself or the State Department be used as authority, all the press associations with the exception of the Associated Press refused to handle it.

The Associated Press carried the story, suppressing the facts as to the source but giving it the atmosphere and substance of weighty authority.

No quite la même chose, but interesting for a compare and contrast with the current regime, I think.

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