September 28, 2015

1977. The Problem with the ABC News Division

How to Fix a Third Place News Broadcast
ABC Evening News anchors Harry Reasoner and Barbara Walters on set (photo by Ray Stubblebine, Associated Press) (source)

From The Washington Post, March 9, 1977. "Will Arledge Preside Over ABC News?" by Sander Vanocur, p. B1:

Will Arledge Preside Over ABC News?

By Sander Vanocur

The problem with the ABC Evening News is not primarily Barbara Walters. Nor is it Harry Reasoner. The problem with the ABC Evening News is ABC News.

There has been much speculation and gossip about how Reasoner and Walters get along—whether he will leave the show, whether she will leave the show, or whether he will remain in New York and she will move to Washington. It fills the pages of newspapers and magazines and completely obscures the problem, which is ABC News.

The nightly news programs of the three networks are the final distillation of the daily activities of their respective news departments. Imagine the programs in your mind as what comes out of the small end of a funnel into which a large amount of wine is being poured. That is how it looks at CBS and NBC.

But at ABC, the reverse is true. Priorities have been reversed. They pour their news input in through the narrow end and what comes out the large end of the funnel is a tiny trickle of wine served to us by two very famous wine stewards.

Whatever else Walters has or has not done, she has focused the attention of ABC management on this fact: The network simply has not given its news department both the money and the support that the network has lavished on its entertainment and sports departments.

CBS was dominant in the early days of radio news because William S. Paley gave Edward R. Murrow a blank check to go out and hire the best: Howard K. Smith, William Shirer, Charles Collingwood, Eric Sevareid, David Schoenbrun, Winston Burdett, Bill Downs. A tradition was started. When major events happened, people turned their radio dials to CBS.

In the middle 1950s, Robert E. Kintner took two men named Huntley and Brinkley and used them to build a news department. For the remainder of that decade and the first part of the next, NBC dominated television news as CBS News had earlier dominated radio.

I had the pleasure of working for Kintner during that period. If you were a reporter at NBC News during his reign, you were treated as one of fortune's children. If major events happened, you would go on the air immediately because Kintner ordered entertainment shows replaced with major breaking news stories. His reasoning was simple: When something important happened, people knew that they could see it first and see it best on NBC.

That tradition has never existed at ABC. For the past 15 years, under Elmer Lower and William Sheehan, two of the most decent men in journalism, ABC management has not given its news department the attention and prominence that Paley and Kintner gave at CBS and NBC. For that reason, people do not associate ABC with being a leader in the news.

The lesson that seems to have now been learned at ABC is that the hiring of a star from another network to join with another star on the evening news simply will not raise ratings. Huntley and Brinkley were a pairing made in heaven. But they dominated the news ratings, both the nightly news and at a convention, because they were supported by a strong news organization that had the full backing and support of top network management.

Now there is talk that ABC Television President Frederick S. Pierce, who recently added the ABC News division to his field of responsibility, is going to make some changes in the division's management. Current speculation centers on making ABC Sports President Roone Arledge head of ABC News.

Arledge is the man who gave ABC Sports its commanding position not by wasting his energy returning phone calls. In an interview with Playboy magazine last hear he hinted that he had some ideas about what was wrong with television news.

While not confessing to Playboy that in his heart he lusted after the presidency of ABC News, it was a tip-off to some people in the industry that Arledge was looking for a new challenge in television.

Running ABC News would be a challenge, another summit to scale. But Arledge would be foolish to entertain the prospect, if it is offered to him, without assurances from ABC management that they will give him the same kind of backing that Paley and Kintner gave their news departments.

That means he would be allowed to preempt ABC's incredibly successful entertainment programming to present a news special when a major news story develops—to not, on occasions like last year's Fourth of July, be so shamefully outclassed by CBS and NBC.

If he gets that kind of commitment, then, in time, he may be able to provide the galvanizing energy which ABC News so badly needs. Without it, ABC will continue to be a bad third and we will continue to spend our time writing gossipy little tidbits about Walters and Reasoner which will titillate readers but obscure the real problem.

September 23, 2015

1955. Ambassador Clare Boothe Luce on Italy

Italy's Political Woes
Bill Downs (right) meets with Italian Prime Minister Mario Scelba in 1955
TO: Ed Murrow, John Day, Jim Burke

FROM: Bill Downs, Rome

March 1, 1955

I just had a long talk with Ambassador Luce over the general situation in Italy. Speaking off the record (although I didn't see why), she seemed fairly optimistic and said that, since the passage of the Western European Union program by the Bundestag, there should be little trouble getting the program ratified by the Roman Senate. There are signs that the Togliatti boys will make some noise before the present debate is concluded, but she believes this will be for the benefit of Moscow and to get the party on the record in the public mind here. Mrs. Luce does not believe Togliatti will go all out on an issue which he knows in advance he has little chance of winning.

Italian political leaders in Premier Scelba's coalition government are back playing with their knives again. The right wing Liberal leaders deliberately brought up the agricultural law issue just the day Scelba and Martino returned from the London and Paris trips. The gambit apparently was to embarrass the Premier and grab the headlines from him. Foreign Minister Martino, who is a Liberal Party member, finally brought the dissidents into line but gained only a three month respite, when the issue will come up again. The Liberals, who include many wealthy landowners, want to modify the present law which prevents them from being able to discharge sharecroppers or tenant farmers and change the regulations to get people off their property after a set notice time. As you can see, it is a perfect issue for Communist propaganda.

Scelba and Martino will arrive in America about the 23rd of March. The exact itinerary is still being made up, but present plans call for a visit to Ottawa, then Washington, New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia. Scelba will return to Rome ahead of Martino, who is likely to extend his tour to San Francisco returning east via Texas. They want to go to Washington with ratification of WEU behind them, and the agenda of the formal talks with Eisenhower and Dulles will include the usual mutual defense and economic problems, with emphasis on increased trade and immigration. Incidentally, Mrs. Luce is leaving for the US on about March 18 ahead of the Scelba party. She's going to get an honorary degree from Georgetown University. I also am pressing for the exact dates on the Scelba-Martino itinerary with a view to getting Martino on some of our shows. Martino speaks fairly good English.

Mrs. Luce does not expect much that will cheer the West to come out of the Sicilian elections which will probably be held in June. The Communists and extreme left are expected to make further gains. The moderate and right wing political situation is complicated by splits in all parties, a proposed majority election law to replace P.R. which is being fought by the minor parties, a controversial issue over oil exploration and exploitation, and the usual personality battles for power. In other words, the Left is expected to make gains.

The Ambassadress continues to insist, however, that generally the Communists are losing some of their punch. She admits that she had little proof of this except scattered factory elections where the Red CGIL unions have lost votes. She admits that it may be all a farce to get US military contracts, "or it may be done with mirrors" but, she continued, "if I'm being fooled over this, I must say it's the way I want to be fooled." The biggest problem, she says, is to find a way to get the government off dead center. But even under the present "immobilissimo" government, things generally get slightly better from day to day. This progress by osmosis has already precipitated a split in the Communist leadership, and she says that if this somnambulant state of affairs can be continued, the West will stand to win in the long run.

The crisis period in Italian politics will come after the presidential election this summer. Depending on who gets the job—in the running are Martino, ex-Premier Pella, and possibly even Demochristian Party Secretary Fanfani—will depend on the men who will try to upset the Scelba government. Some gossip has it that Fanfani has been sitting back developing his own organization and will emerge with the power to give the country strong leadership of a New Deal kind. Another candidate being mentioned is Finance Minister Vanoni, the creator of the Vanoni Plan to give Italy full employment in the next ten years. Just about any man who emerges with personality enough to capture the imagination of the people can do the job. But not to be forgotten is Scelba himself, who seems to creep up on power or inherits it by default.

La Luce says that elections any time within the next two years would force a real polarization of the vote with both the right and the left gaining at the expense of the center. The Demochristians have no agreed program to present to the electorate and have little in the way of a positive record to point to as their past accomplishments.

In other words, politically things are normal here and we may have a government crisis in the summer, if not before.


Bill Downs

September 17, 2015

1954. The Life and Canonization of Pope Pius X

Pope Pius X's Canonization
Pope Pius XII in a papal sedia gestatoria presiding over the canonization ceremony of Pius X on May 29, 1954 (source)
From The Story of Our Time: Encyclopedia Yearbook 1955 (1955), pp. 56-58:
A New Saint is Proclaimed


CBS Radio Correspondent

It was "pope's weather" as more than a quarter of a million people began early to gather in St. Peter's Square in Vatican City. Pilgrims and cardinals, bishops and lowly parishioners from all over the world stood for hours in the bright sunshine on May 29, 1954, to witness and participate in a solemn but joyous act of Roman Catholic history. At sundown, for the first time in 242 years, a pope of the Church was raised to sainthood. By nightfall Giuseppe Sarto, the humble son of an Italian postman, was proclaimed Saint Pius X.

It was the second time in the history of the Roman Catholic Church that such a ceremony had been held outdoors. There was a greater audience at this canonization than ever before. Uncounted additional thousands witnessed the event as it was broadcast on the Italian television network, and the Vatican radio retransmitted the ceremonies in more than twenty languages to the world.

The canonization ritual, which usually takes about five hours, was streamlined and condensed in deference to the present Pope's health. During the winter, the seventy-eight-year-old pontiff had suffered a severe attack of gastritis which caused concern for his life. However, his voice and actions were firm, and he showed no signs of tiring as he went through the difficult and wearing ceremonial. The rites marked a high point of the Catholic Marian Year and were one of the most impressive events in the fifteen-year reign of Pius XII.

At no time in modern history has any pope had the opportunity to confer sainthood on a man who was his friend and benefactor. Eugenio Pacelli, as the present Pope was born, was a protégé of the sanctified "Papa Sarto." Pius X recognized the outstanding qualities of the studious Father Pacelli and in 1904, when Pacelli was only twenty-eight, made him a monsignor.

It was Pius X who ordered him to refuse the chair of Roman law at Catholic University in Washington, D. C., and it was he who launched him on his successful Vatican diplomatic career which is credited with being an important factor in Cardinal Pacelli's elevation to the papal throne during the difficult days of 1939.

Thus it came about that the pupil bestowed on his teacher the highest posthumous honor the Roman Catholic Church offers.

It is barely forty years since Giuseppe Sarto died. His friends speak of him not as a legend but as a remembered personality. They recall that money never mattered to him—a rare quality in a man who was born poor and who was raised on the meager salary of a Treviso postman. Sarto was interested in finances only as they affected his various churches. In fact, Cardinal Sarto had to borrow money for his railroad fare from Venice to Rome to attend the Consistory of the College of Cardinals that elected him to the papal throne in 1903.

Pius X was used to hard work. After his ordination to the priesthood in 1858, he spent seventeen years as a parish priest. He performed his parish duties, among the most difficult tasks in Catholicism, with enthusiasm and skill. He refused the bishopric of Treviso, but four years later accepted that of Mantua when Pope Leo XIII commanded him to do so. Although he was created a cardinal in 1893 and was made a patriarch of Venice, he never lost his interest in the day-to-day work of the parish priest. Cardinal Sarto believed that a successful churchman is one who knows and understands his people. As patriarch of Venice, he always kept his office door open, and he brought his open-door policy with him when he moved into the Vatican as Pope Pius X.

Churchmen remember his great humility. When it was announced that he had the two-thirds vote of the Consistory and was the new Pope, Sarto fainted. He reluctantly accepted the papal crown, in his words, "as I would accept the Cross."

During his reign Pius X condemned "modernism" and tightened many church regulations. He established a special commission, of which Eugenio Pacelli was secretary, to codify canon law. He was interested in church music and decreed that Gregorian chant should be used in church services. It was during his pontificate that children were permitted to make their First Communion upon reaching the age of reason (seven).

The tragedy of Pius X is that of the present Pius XII. Despite their unceasing efforts, both men have failed to bring peace to the world.

International tensions were increasing during the last years of his reign—1913-1914. It became clear to Pius X that war would soon tear the continent of Europe to pieces if something was not done. By this time the Pope had contracted a serious illness which was sapping his strength. He dramatically offered to sacrifice his life if it would but reconcile the nations. One of his last acts was to reject a request from the Emperor of Austria, shortly after World War I broke out, that he bless the Austrian cause. The pope replied caustically: "I do not bless war: I bless peace." He died, a heart-broken man, on August 20, 1914, just three weeks after the war began.

What is the significance behind the canonization of Pius X? Some Catholic authorities explain it this way.

The first saints of the Christian church were the martyrs who suffered persecution and death for their belief in a single, all-merciful God. The most illustrious of these martyrs was St. Peter, who is said to have been put to death at the very spot where St. Pius was canonized. It was through the veneration of these early saints that the practice grew for the faithful to seek their protection and intercession in matters of the spirit.

Over the centuries the qualifications for sainthood have become increasingly stringent. A saint is created only after a suit at law before a special court of cardinals called the Congregation of Rites. The reigning pope is, however, the supreme judge of the matter.

In the legal procedure, a postulator or solicitor presents the case for the candidate. He furnishes the proofs of his virtues, attempts to establish his reputation for sanctity and presents the evidence of the working of the miracles.

Another ecclesiastical lawyer, the "promoter of the Faith," or more popularly, "the devil's advocate," points out the weak points in the arguments.

Canon law requires that before a man can become a saint he must pass the test of beatification. This is a necessary step toward canonization. Pius X was beatified in June 1951. After beatification two major miracles must be attributed to the candidate.

Vatican officials issued a decree early in 1954 recognizing the validity of Pius X's two miracles.

The first was said to have occurred in Naples on the night of August 26, 1951. Francesco Belsani, a lawyer, offered prayers to the beatified Pius. According to the Vatican report, his doctors confirmed that a dangerous lung abscess that had afflicted the lawyer was cured immediately. Lawyer Belsani lived to see his benefactor sanctified.

The second miracle recognized by the Vatican occurred when a Sicilian nun, Maria Luisa Scorcia, was cured of a serious attack of meningitis on May 14, 1952, after praying to Blessed Pius for aid.

The Congregation of Rites and the Pope decided that Giuseppe Sarto had fulfilled all the rigid requirements for sainthood and would be canonized in May 1954.

Although the occasion was one of the greatest solemnity, the exuberance of the native Romans added something of a festive atmosphere to the proceedings. They cheered their favorite cardinals as they walked in the papal procession chanting the haunting litany of the saints. The crowd burst into a roar when Pius XII appeared, accompanied by the colorful Swiss guards and the nobles of the papal court. People dropped to their knees by the thousands when the Pope raised his hand in blessing as he was carried in the sedia gestatoria (portable throne) to St. Peter's throne.

For the 400,000,000 Catholics throughout the world, the meaning of the action and of the canonization goes far deeper than the mere performance of the ceremonies. Proclaiming sainthood for a man whose living memory is still fresh in the minds of his followers confirms the continuity of the Church, its miracles and mysteries which have kept the religion alive for two thousand years.

As an act of devotion and faith, the ceremonies were timed to restore confidence to the Catholic world in a society now being shaken and threatened with a philosophy that denies Catholic belief.

The certification of miracles attributed to St. Pius X is a gesture symbolizing the original miracle of Christ's birth and resurrection and a confirmation of the hope of peace for all mankind.

This, then, was the significance of the final gesture at the end of the ceremonies when the silken curtain was drawn aside revealing the new saint's picture affixed to the balcony over the door of the basilica. The cheers were loud and happy when the crowd saw St. Pius X wearing his new halo.

September 15, 2015

1940. Edward R. Murrow Reports the Dunkirk Evacuation

Edward R. Murrow Reports from London on the Evacuation of Dunkirk

Edward R. Murrow

CBS London

June 2, 1940

EDWARD R. MURROW: This is London. The Allied rearguard is still holding Dunkirk against increasing German pressure. Heavy German field guns are pounding the beaches, and efforts to remove more men are continuing.

According to Mr. Anthony Eden, more than four-fifths of the British Expeditionary Force has been evacuated. The Air Force claims at least 125 German planes shot down in the Dunkirk area during the last two days. Today's score has given us thirty-five Germans down and eight British fighters lost.

Yesterday I spent several hours at what may be tonight—or next week—Britain's first line of defense: an airfield on the southeast coast. German bases weren't more than ten minutes flying time away across that ditch that has protected Britain and conditioned the thinking of Britishers for centuries.

I talked with pilots as they came back from Dunkirk. They stripped off their life jackets, glanced at a few bullet holes in wings or fuselage, and as the ground crews swarmed over the aircraft refueling motors and guns we sat on the ground and talked. Out in the middle of the field the wreckage of a plane was being cleared up. It had crashed the night before; the pilot had been shot in the head, but it managed to get back to its field. The Royal Air Force prides itself on never walking out of a plane until it falls apart.

I can tell you what those boys told me. They were the cream of the youth of Britain. As we sat there, they were waiting to take off again. They talked of their own work, discussed the German air force with all the casualness of Sunday morning quarterbacks discussing yesterday's football game. There were no nerves, no profanity, and no heroics. There was no swagger about those boys in wrinkled and stained uniforms. The movies do that sort of thing much more dramatically than it is in real life.

They told me of the patrol from which they'd just returned. "Six Germans down. We lost two."

"What happened to Eric?" said one.

"Oh, I saw him come down right alongside one of our destroyers," replied another.

The Germans fight well in a crowd. They know how to use the sun, and if they surprise you it's uncomfortable. "If twenty or so of them catch five of us, we stay and fight," they said.

"Maybe that's why we got so many of them," added one boy with a grin.

They all told the same story about numbers. "Six of us go over," they said, "and we meet twelve Germans. If ten of us go, there are twenty Germans." But they were all anxious to go again. When the squadron took off, one of them remarked quite casually that they'd be back in time for tea.

About that time a boy of twenty drove up in a station wagon. He weighed about 115 pounds. He asked the squadron leader if he could have someone to fly him back to his own field. His voice was loud and flat. His uniform was torn; had obviously been wet. He wore a pair of brown tennis shoes three sizes too big. After he'd gone I asked one of the men who'd been talking with him, "What was the matter with him?"

All he replied: "He was shot down over Dunkirk on the first patrol this morning. He landed in the sea, swam to the beach, was bombed for a couple of hours, came home in a paddle steamer. His voice sounds like that because he can't hear himself. You get that way after you've been bombed a few hours," he said.

An air gunner with grease and powder marks on his cheek and neck walked in from his plane, unwound his scarf, had a smoke, and sat down to talk over things with his companions.

I return you now to Columbia in New York.

September 9, 2015

1951. Congressman Accuses Network Commentators of Payola

Radio Correspondents' Association Rejects Congressman's Criticism
"(L to R) Joseph Clark Baldwin, Henry Lee Munsen, William S. Hill, W. Sterling Cole, and Crown Prince Olav of Norway departing after a visit to King Haakon VII" in 1941 (Photo by Hans Wild/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

From The New York Daily News:

July 24, 1951

Washington, D. C., July 24.—Representative William S. Hill (R-Colo.)—incidentally a sound, Kansas-born agricultural expert now in his fifth term—brought up a highly important and interesting fact when he disclosed that the State Department had on its payroll a group of well-known radio political commentators.

As proof of our starry-eyed innocence, we had always believed that these distinguished broadcasters went to town telling the listening millions about Washington problems and domestic politics without the mental handicap of having cashed a check from an outfit which is the main target of the coming Presidential campaign. Probably a good many radio listeners shared our unsuspecting ignorance. Apparently Representative Hill did until a short time ago. Then he learned something and proceeded to pour some highly interesting facts into the Congressional Record.

Names 5 Network Commentators.

Hill told the House that radio political commentators Charles Collingwood, Eric Sevareid, Griffing Bancroft and William Downs of Columbia Broadcasting and Ben Grauer of NBC got a slice of the $443,926 paid last year by the State Department to its "free lance" radio commentators and writers.

This is doubly interesting because it comes on the heels of the disclosure last week by the Department of Justice that the British Information Services here and the British Broadcasting Corp., spent $1,543,338 last year and had on their broadcasting payrolls a distinguished list of Washington correspondents and political pundits.

Hill raises two important points. The first is why the State Department found it necessary to hire these commentators in the first place. The State Department in its current budget has asked $97,500,000 for its public affairs "information service"—the greater part of this tidy sum going for the Voice of America. The budget called for 9,883 paid employees—an increase of almost 100% over last year. Why, asks Hill, did the information service, with this huge payroll, find it necessary to buy in addition "free lances" in the writing and radio market. The State Department has asked $1,502,355 to spend on "free lance" material. Last year it paid out $443,926 to writers and broadcasters.

But the heart of the matter, of course, is that the State Department hired American political commentators and sent them checks while, at the same time, these same broadcasters were reporting to their radio audiences on political controversies—foreign and domestic—in which the State Department and in particular its chief, Dean Acheson, were battling for their political lives.

"In Highly Dubious Position."

Referring to Collingwood, who received $900; Downs, who got $100, and Bancroft and Sevareid, who received $50 each, Hill stated:

"In hiring these men, the State Department, to put it mildly, has placed itself in a highly dubious position. As political commentators they frequently have occasion to pass judgment and express opinions regarding the same State Department that is making cash payments to them.

"In this regard I should also mention that the Columbia Broadcasting System has the reputation of being, through its so-called news programs and commentaries, a strong supporter of the Truman Administration and of socialistic tendencies generally.

"The Columbia Broadcasting System has been well treated by the Truman Administration."

Grauer Gets Rough Handling.

Grauer, who received $680 from the State Department, was handled roughly on the House floor. Into the record went the accusation that Grauer's television commentaries during the United Nations sessions in New York "attracted considerable attention for seeming to go out of their way to present the Russian viewpoint in a favorable light."

Hill poured into the record the report of the findings of the House Un-American Activities Committee on Grauer: sponsor of  the Artists' Front to Win the War, cited as a Communist front; member of the Action Committee to Free Spain now, also cited as subversive; "especially active" in the Commie-front Independent Citizens' Committee of the Arts, Sciences and Professions and speaker at a dinner in honor of the radical sculptor Jo Davidson; delegate to the New York convention of the Commie-front Progressive Citizens of America and sponsor of the Win the Peace Conference in Washington in '46, a group also cited as subversive.

Sarcastically, Hill wound up:

"If the State Department persists in buying free-lance material from outside writers, the least it can do is to make sure of their background. . . . I hope that the newspapers and radio stations of the country, particularly the pious breast-beaters who shook with rage two years ago when some small-town Illinois newspapers and reporters received as little as $8 a week from the state government, will permit their blood pressure to rise regarding these State Department payments."

Published in the The News-Review, Roseburg, Oregon (typos and misspellings included):

October 29, 1951
WASHINGTON — The way has now been cleared for radio reporters in Washington to accept money from the Truman administration and still retain their privileges in the senate and house radio galleries.

On September 25 I noted in this space that four Columbia Broadcasting system reporters in Washington had received a total of $1,200 from the Voice of America. They were Charles Collingwood, Griffing Bancroft, William Downs and Eric Severeid. Ben Grauer, another CBS announcer, got an additional $680 from the Voice, but he is not stationed in Washington.

At the same time I pointed out that the rule of the Radio Correspondents association, which I personally wrote 12 years ago when the association was set up states:

"Radio correspondents shall further declare that they are not employed in any legislative or executive department or independent agency of the government.

I stated further that the chairman of the executive committee of the Radio Correspondents' association, Willard F. Shadel, also a CBS commentator, had not called the violations to the attention of the committee.

On this latter point I was in error. On August 1, 1951 Shadel did call a meeting of the executive committee and did raise the question. I quote from the minutes of the meeting:

"Willard F. Shadel raised the point about published stories criticizing the activities of four CBS correspondents accepting fees from the State department's Voice of America.

After some discussion, it was agreed unanimously that the four commentators were entitled under the rules of Congress to accept these fees, since the special work for the Voice of America is not, technically speaking, work in a government agency. But with the precedent established in years passed by the press galleries, it was agreed that a general letter be sent to active members of the association, informing them that hereafter, when they planned to engage in such work, that the galleries be notified in advance and that this notification be made public on the bulletin board."

The four CBS correspondents accredited to the radio gallery were paid by government checks for the work they did for the Voice of America. The Voice of America is an agency of the executive branch of the government operating under State department direction, on funds appropriated by Congress.

I fail to see where "technically speaking" the Voice of America job done by the CBS men is not "work in a government agency." If someone pays you for work performed, you are, by any standards of labor and management today, employed. You may view it up as extra work, part-time work, or off duty hours work, but it is employment if you are paid. And that is prohibited by radio gallery rules, and the executive committee meeting did not change those rules. That can be done only by a two-thirds vote of the entire membership.

Shadel felt he had been done a grave injustice, and pointed out that letters had been mailed to all gallery members apprising them of the executive committee action. There are two of us in my office accredited to the gallery, but neither of us ever saw the notification. I accept Shadel's suggestion that the letters arrived while we were abroad, and that they were thrown away before we returned. But the point is, had I seen the notice I would have protested just as I did last month.

Posting notices on the bulletin board stating that various correspondents are now getting paid by the government for services rendered simply compounds the violation. However, I compliment Shadel for taking action, which I erroneously reported he had failed to do. I urge him now to rescind that action and notify all radio gallery correspondents to comply with the rules or face expulsion.

The Voice of America is an agency of the executive department of the government, no matter how you slice it.

Letter to Eric Sevareid regarding the controversy:

To: Eric Sevareid

From: Willard F. Shadel

January 5, 1952

Dear Eric:

The Executive Committee of the Radio Correspondents' Association regrets the embarrassment to you and your three colleagues caused by published attacks on your recent broadcasts for the State Department's Voice of America program. The Committee discussed your specific complaint at its December 13th meeting.

The Committee believes that the apparently misinformed interpretation of your arrangements with the State Department, which received wide public distribution, might unjustly reflect against and inhibit other Association members who may undertake similar work.

Consequently, the Committee on December 13th unanimously reaffirmed its action of August 1, 1951, asserting that you and your colleagues were within the Association rules in accepting fees for your special work with the Voice of America. The resolution approved on that date reflects the Committee's belief that members acting as independent contractors with the Voice of America on special projects cannot be regarded, technically or in any other way, as Government employees performing services prohibited by Gallery regulations.

With best wishes, I am

Sincerely yours,

Willard F. Shadel, Chairman

Executive Committee

Radio Correspondents' Association

September 7, 2015

1954. Downs Writes Home from Rome

News from Abroad
Bill Downs (right) with his wife Roz at the Suez Canal in the mid-1950s

August 27, 1954

Dear Folks,

. . .

As you may have heard, there has been a big administrative shakeup in CBS News. What has happened is this. Radio and TV news has been put back together—which means I am officially head of both in my area now. Sig Mickelson has been appointed vice president to head the combined setup—[Wells "Ted"] Church is cut. He goes to Washington as a correspondent. Ed Morgan becomes head of the combined news operation and there are other top men for special events and special projects.

It's something we have been arguing for overseas for a long time because it is silly to compete within the company. It will mean more work and probably no more money, but it also means that I will not be excluded from television work by my radio contract. All in all, I think it's a good thing.

People are depressed over here by the failure of the Brussels conference and the French reticence to sign the European Army plan. No one knows what's next and if the Western Alliance breaks up it could mean trouble. Anyway, it looks like we will have the old German bugaboo to contend with which, added to the Russian threat, makes things frightening indeed. Maybe someone will think of something.

American prestige is at a new low these months with out lack of policy, our floundering in Congress and what many Europeans see as the beginning of a kind of fascism in the States. McCarthy and Co. are looked upon here as American Hitlers.

But despite the depressing news, the tourist business is at a new high and no one in Italy really seems worried.

. . .

John Adams and his wife were through the other day. He's on his way to Pakistan for consultation. I may get out there sometime this fall. However the difficulty is that there are simply no facilities for broadcasting.

Bill Dickinson and family are due here in December. He's on a long leave of absence and has the whole shebang touring Europe. After that they plan to move back to Philadelphia, where he'll take on some sort of editor's job on the Bulletin. Also George Wellde, who you met in Washington, has moved back to Europe and now is working for the President's escapee program in Frankfurt, Germany. We hope to get up to see him sometime soon.

That's about all the news. The summer seems to have gone too fast and it's hard to believe that we have been here for more than 8 months already. Probably will stay another couple of years the way things look. Anyway, let us know what's going on. The Kansas political situation looks interesting. What's going to happen to the Congress in November?

Give our best to everyone.



September 4, 2015

Ernest Hemingway's World War II Essays

Hemingway's Articles in Collier's Magazine
"American writer Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) traveling with US soldiers, in his capacity as a war correspondent, on their way to Normandy for the D-Day landings, 1944" (Central Press/Getty Images) (source)
Ernest Hemingway wrote for Collier's magazine as a war correspondent starting in 1944. His articles tell of his experiences in Europe during that time, from D-Day to the liberation of Paris.
"Voyage to Victory," July 22, 1944.

"London Fights the Robots," August 19, 1944.

"Battle for Paris," September 30, 1944.

"How We Came to Paris," October 7, 1944.

"The G.I. and the General," November 4, 1944.

"War in the Siegfried Line," November 18, 1944.

"The Sling and the Pebble," March 1946 (published in the Free World).

1948. Politics and the Black Market in West Germany

The Western Stand
The Berlin airlift in 1948 (photo by Walter Sanders of Life magazine)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

July 30, 1948: The Airlift

We who have lived in Berlin during these past months of crisis have a special feeling about the airlift, and the Anglo-American announcement that it is to be cut to skeleton size beginning next Monday leaves us all a little sentimental.

Berliners have developed the same affection for the air-bridge that kept them alive last winter as, say, San Franciscans have about their cable cars, or New Yorkers have about the old elevateds.

However, there isn't a man flying in Operation Vittles who isn't glad that the show is over. The glamour, if there was any, in making the routine flight twice daily two hours up the corridor and two hours back, disappears after a couple of weeks.

And the American and British taxpayer should be happy. Someone figured out that it cost about $250 a ton to deliver coal and other supplies into Berlin.

The Big Four foreign ministers should also be pleased. For once it would appear that we have achieved a working agreement under the modus vivendi plan arrived at in Paris last May. Diplomatically, the posture is to keep the fingers crossed. That's the reason that the announcement retiring Operation Vittles specifies that "a reduced force of US and British air force planes will remain immediately available in Germany and that each air force will maintain installations sufficient to ensure that the airlift can, if necessary, resume operation at any time and thereafter be built up to full scale."

Beginning Monday, the skeleton airlift assignment is 5,400 tons of supplies for the month of August. In other words, for the entire month the troop carrier groups will fly in what would normally be considered a bad day on the airlift. This means that during August an average of eighteen planes a day will fly the corridors. In September, this will be reduced to about twelve planes daily, and in October the average daily flights will involve only seven planes.

This exercise is just to keep the air force's hand in, in case the Russians change their mind about blockading Berlin.

So it would appear that we may have a quiet summer in the East-West Cold War. If there is going to be more pressure, the experts here don't expect it until fall.

But we are going to miss the airlift. The steady drone of planes overhead spoke louder than the combined propaganda organizations of the Politburo, the Cominform, the German Communists, and the Kremlin itself in assuring that the Democracies meant it when they declared they would not be shoved out of Berlin or any place else they had a right to be.

However, there are genuine fears here in Berlin that the restricted operation of the airlift marks the first retreat of the Western allies from this city, one hundred miles inside the Soviet zone. These pessimists are not without logic. They point to the reorganization now underway under High Commissioner John J. McCloy. This reorganization calls for the moving of military and civilian personnel from Berlin to the Frankfurt area, leaving only two hundred persons to conduct the quadripartite offices here. When these retreat rumors started spreading, Mr. McCloy issued a special statement this week saying that he intended to maintain two offices, one on American zonal headquarters in Frankfurt and one in Berlin. But the uneasiness among the people, who during the blockade defied the Soviet military administration and their German Communist stooges, still continues to grow.

The fact that the airlift is to be put on a standby basis is not going to help dispel these fears.

At the height of the blockade last winter it was reported that the Communist strategy was to cause such suffering and discomfort under the blockade of West Berlin that the population would become desperate and restive. Then deliberate rioting would be provoked and the Soviet military government could move in troops on the excuse of preserving law and order in their zone.

Withdrawing large numbers of Americans from Berlin has given rise to the fear that the German Communists may become more bold; that political kidnappings will increase; that we may allow the democratic two-thirds of the city to fall into Communist hands by default.

There has been no announcement as to just how many security troops the American, British, and French commandants intend to keep here. But I am told that there has been no change in policy, and that the fifty-nine lives and millions of man-hours of effort expended in these past thirteen months in the airlift would mean nothing if we retreated from our stand in Berlin at this time.

As a matter of fact, the Democracies are so committed morally in Berlin that any immediate policy change is unthinkable. The effect on Western Europe as a whole could be disastrous. The East-West struggle in Berlin has become a capsule symbol of the parallel conflict throughout the world.

But the fact remains—and every West Berliner knows this—that if in the future the United States of America wants to change its policy regarding the dangerous and expensive position in Berlin, it will be much easier and can be done with much less loss of face if only a small establishment is withdrawn than if the main headquarters is in this exposed position.

So the Anglo-American airlift is ending its current mission to supply by air a population of two and a half million persons under blockade. This mission succeeded, and now comes time for summary. Who has won what?

There is confusion in trying to add up the plus and the minus that has evolved from Operation Vittles. There are no absolute victories to be won in a cold war alone.

In terms of power, it is probably true that the past year's East-West struggle in Germany has been a standoff. But it is also true that the Soviet Union and its German Communist sympathizers have taken an ideological and spiritual lacing. And no one should underestimate the importance of the moral victory that the Western stand has achieved.

The fact remains, however, that materially the American, British, and French sectors of Berlin stand substantially where they were a year ago when the Russians imposed their blockade. The cost of maintaining this stand through the blockade. The cost of maintaining this stand through the blockade has been in the hundreds of millions of dollars, but we are still here and doing business.

The Russian blockade policy has been defeated this time, but nothing material has been won. The Communists have not diverted from their goal to control the former German capital.

Berlin's Black Market

The Kurfürstendamm, the main shopping district in the British Sector, is the center of Berlin's black market. It still is the Fifth Avenue of this bedraggled city; a spot that specializes in sin and cynicism that has almost become a trademark of German morality. Today's Kurfürstendamm is as inevitable in postwar Germany as spots after measles.

There are Kurfürstendamms in Frankfurt in Bonn, in the Ruhr city of Düsseldorf and the Soviet zone cities of Leipzig and Dresden. At these centers one can buy American cigarettes, Russian caviar, Italian silk stockings, Parisian perfumes, narcotics from the Middle East, and women.

The symbols of the black marketeer in Germany have changed from the bedraggled little men with the knowing looks and the briefcases. Today the black marketeer is a well dressed man wearing a modified zoot suit. He has a wide brimmed hat with a bright band, and this summer his uniform calls for dark glasses. Dark glasses have become a symbol of illicit living here in Berlin.

In the difficult give-and-take of the ordinary German caught between the struggle of East and West, every person is in the black market one way or the other.

The man with twenty pounds of coffee thinks himself better off than his neighbor who works on the railroad. He may be able to parlay the coffee into something substantial, and if he does, he can buy dark glasses. With a railroad job, who knows when you have to strike.

It is not that every German makes his living dealing illegally. But the Horatio Algers of this defeated country are to be found on the Kurfürstendamms. The trade is for food and drink and housing and clothing and profit and power. People think not in terms of security but in terms of opportunism.

And that is the political pattern of Germany too.

The Political Situation

At the present moment, the major political parties in Western Germany are conducting their campaigns for the first free general election in this nation since Hitler came to power in 1933. An estimated 17.5 million people are eligible to vote, but from the size of the crowds attending the so-called mass rallies of the political parties, observers are predicting that they will be surprised if half the electorate turns out on election day August 14th.

People are staying away from politics in droves. One of the reasons is that the German people have lost faith in elections as such. They had elections under the Weimar government and Hitler emerged. Many of the same men who ran Weimar are now heading up politics of the new West German state.

The British-licensed newspaper, Die Welt, conducted the other day a pre-election poll of some three thousand persons. The results are interesting. According to this poll, only six percent of the people favor the formation of the West German government as the sole government of Germany. The rest look on it only as an interim movement until a united Germany can be achieved. The amazingly high number of twenty-two percent of the people oppose taking the step.

The newspaper concludes that the present politicians thus must deal with the enduring resentment of the population. To the question, "What do you think of the Bonn constitution?" the reply from those sampled was uniform: "Who asked these people to form a constitution for us?"

The unfortunate fact is that, after sixteen years of dictatorship, the ordinary German is politically immature. The country has reached back to the days of the Weimar government for its leadership towards democracy. And this leadership—men like Adenauer, Schumacher, and Erhard—demand this traditional authoritarian control of their parties.

Although women have the right to vote and run for office, in only one province only three women were nominated as candidates, although there were sixty-five offices open.

The newspaper poll asked for suggestions as to people they would like to see in the West German government. Among the names mentioned were Pastor Niemöller, Otto Strasser, and General Clay.

However, whatever its shortcomings might be, the fact that Western Germany is staging an election at all is an important step towards the kind of Germany we want to see.

American political experts are of the opinion that the first government of the new Federal Republic of Germany will be a coalition of the right-wing parties. The Socialists, who have been the most vigorous and vocal in attacking everything from communism to the Occupation Powers, are expected to be the biggest single party in the parliament.

However the right-wing Christian Democrats, Christian Socialists, and Liberal Democrats are expected to team up against the Socialists. And then the horse-trading will begin as to what party will get the presidency and who will get the chancellorship.

The new federal diet is expected to hold its first session on September 5th or 6th.

In this current campaign, the Communist Party has been suspiciously quiet. Their opponents believe that Max Reimann, Western Germany's leading party leader, is holding his fire until the last moment. During the final days of the campaign, the Communists are said to have plans for a thousand rallies in Western Germany, but mostly they will concentrate on the industrial Ruhr area and in the big cities of Hamburg and Bremen.

One of the paradoxes of the present political situation in Germany is that on the major of issues of occupation, the right, left, and center are in agreement. All parties, including the Communists, want a unified Germany and blame East-West differences for the present split. All of them oppose occupation as a policy, although the anticommunist parties want the Western Powers to stick around as long as the Soviet Union is in Germany. All parties oppose the Ruhr statute, which gives the Western Powers international control of that area. And all parties, including the Communists, are bitterly attacking our dismantling program originally designed to destroy German war industry.

Thus, in backing the new Federal Republic of Germany, we are backing a state that will oppose our basic policies in this country. As I said, it is a paradoxical situation, but opposition is the paradox of democracy. And that is what we are betting on in the new Germany.

It is too early to say whether or not the government now emerging in Western Germany will be democratic. It is now democratic in form, but this form of government depends more on the spirit than the mechanics of operation.

The unanimous opposition to Western occupation policies from all segments of West German political parties is ample evidence of the intense nationalism existing in the Germans.

The nervousness over Berlin and the possibility that the Democracies might abandon her is evidence of German distrust of American, British, and French motives. The differences of the policies of the conquerors also has made the German a political cynic.

In the final analysis, it is not going to be America, Britain, or France which will decide the fate of the Federal Republic of Germany. It will be the German himself—the man who goes to the polls.

The elections next month are by way of being the first lesson of a great educational campaign in democracy. The ordinary Germany must be convinced that his vote has meaning and importance.

And part of this faith that he must learn must come from the Democracies.

The stand of the Western Powers in Berlin is a prime example of the kind of political morality that convinces the German that democracy can stand up against the totalitarian pressure that enmeshed him under Nazism and threatens him now under communism. The Western Powers must not erase the lesson of the airlift nor let its spirit die.

This is Bill Downs in Berlin. Now back to CBS in New York.

September 3, 2015

1939. Edward R. Murrow Announces Britain's Declaration of War

Britain and Germany at War

Edward R. Murrow

CBS London

September 3, 1939

At nine o'clock this morning London Time, it was announced that a two hour ultimatum had been delivered to Germany; that at the end of that time, hostilities must cease or Germany and Britain would be at war.

At 11:15 the Prime Minister spoke to the nation. He stated that no reply had been received to the ultimatum, and that Britain and Germany were at war.

Shortly after the Prime Minister's speech, the air raid sirens went off...and it wasn't a pleasant sound.