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49. Driving Newspapers Out Of Business (1921)

49. Driving Newspapers Out Of Business (1921)

One of the oft-repeated purposes of the newspaper is to act as a public watchdog against government and corporate indiscretion. This has often put the newspaper at odds with public figures. In 1921, John Hylan, angry at newspaper’s coverage of his administration, made it clear that it might be better if newspapers were cut off at the ankles – he even illustrates a method to do this.

“A suggestion that the only good news-papers are the dead ones was made by Mayor Hylan yesterday at a luncheon of the Associated Men’s and Boys’ Apparel Industries, at the Waldorf-Astoria . . .”

‘I’d like to suggest that if some of you business men would stop advertising for the next six months, many of these newspapers would have to go out of business, and they would then stop this continual knocking and conform more to decent business methods.’ The Mayor made a defense of his administration, and maintained that there had been no ‘crime wave.’ He assured the dealers in men’s and boys’ apparel that they could invite their parent association to this city with every assurance that it would be ‘absolutely sale’ for the delegates to bring with them their wives and daughters

What makes this story interesting is that Hylan, a Tammany Hall “alumni,” ended up in his position as Mayor in a large part because of the support of a newspaper man, William Randolph Hearst. Hylan was characterized by The New Yorker (Feb 1925) as a “Champion of the People versus the Interests.” The description goes onto say that Satan was behind the Interests, but William Randolph Hearst was behind Hylan, “and that evened things up.”

Speaking of Tammany Hall, starting at about 7:30, this video will teach you about one of the Halls most infamous alumni, “Boss” Tweed.

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