MAY 5, 1960
MACOMB, Ill.—I have just received a reprint of an editorial published in a Jersey City, N.J., newspaper about a year ago. It points to a situation that I think has not been given sufficient consideration by the public and that is the fact that in great areas of our country the information available to most people often comes through a newspaper that is one of a chain under one management. Thus, large areas of our country have no possibility of hearing two sides of a question. The editorial policy, which projects the thinking of the owners, will often follow one particular line, and this is slowly extending itself to radio stations in the area where the newspapers have influence and to magazines which they control.
The last paragraph of this editorial reads: "Mussolini and Hitler got control of people through first subsidizing the free press. Fascism or Hitlerism or some new `ism' born of the same craving for dictatorial power could someday capture the minds of the people and set up a dictatorship easier than most people think."
The editorial also points out that "when a newspaper trust gets a monopoly of public opinion in a wide area, it is not likely that its representative in Congress who wants to be re-elected will dare lead a fight for the people to limit these chains. That is probably the greatest threat to our freedom implicit in these newspaper chains.
"Where there is no opposition press, they can thwart the reelection of any Congressman who would dare to make an issue to the sinister and insidious threat to American freedom that these giant trusts represent."
This is a situation dealing with the right of the people to know both sides of a question and to be free in their thinking. This perhaps is more serious than we have really thought and perhaps we should be having a good look at thought control through all mass media in this country.
Before I forget I want to tell you that I had the good fortune last Saturday evening to hear Leonard Bernstein conduct in a program of "Music for the Ballet." The Tchaikovsky "Nutcracker Suite" and the Copland "Western Ballet Dancing" I had heard quite recently and seen danced at New York City Center. But I had not heard Beethoven's "The Creatures of Prometheus" nor Debussy's "Games".
I enjoyed the evening, though it was not as fine a concert as some of those we have had the pleasure of attending during the winter.
From year to year I look forward to my subscription nights and one of the reasons I am delighted that Carnegie Hall will be preserved is that I hope the New York Philharmonic will continue giving concerts there. Of course, it may move to the new Lincoln Center, but I would hope it would stay in its old surroundings where people have enjoyed hearing it for so long.