The Press and the Cold War
By James Aronson
Monthly Review Press
From Kirkus Reviews:
“Restive under the subtle and not-so-subtle censorship he experienced as a reporter at the New York Times and elsewhere, Aronson helped found the radical weekly National Guardian in 1948. No more content with the quality of American reportage now than then, he seeks to demonstrate here the degree to which the press “has abdicated its role of public service. . . and has become a voluntary arm of established power.”
By focusing his study on newspaper coverage of the Cold War, he is also able to criticize the rigidly anti-communist policies of the American establishment which the press has so compliantly seconded. After a brief review of the battle for a free press in America, Aronson discusses contemporary trends–the economic centralization of newspapers and enshrinement of the profit motive, the rise of the national news services and success of syndicates proffering everything from “canned” editorials to bland political cartoons–which have helped produce a press incapable of basic criticism of national policies. The remainder of the book elaborates upon “the journalistic Cold War against Communism,” singling out the slanted coverage of the Soviet Union’s post-World War II intentions, Henry Wallace’s Progressive Party campaign, the trial of the Rosenbergs, the Korean War, the Bay of Pigs affair, the Cuban missile crisis, and the intervention in Vietnam. A central part of the story is the contribution of the press to the making of Joe McCarthy and its cowardly scrambling when the newspaper industry itself came under attack by McCarthy and by Senator East-land’s Internal Security Subcommittee. Aronson and his National Guardian were directly involved in these confrontations and investigations so that his account, which is never really detached, becomes quite bitter in places. The New York Times, as top dog and Aronson’s former employer, comes in for a large share of the flak.
The study concludes with a discussion of possible reforms, underground ferment, and hopes for an alternative press. Though personal, polemical, and pointedly leftist in approach, Aronson’s presentation raises important points and merits public attention.”
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