“Fake News” 1942: President Roosevelt and the Chicago Tribune

Today’s post is written by Dr. Greg Bradsher, Senior Archivist at the National Archives at College Park

During the first months of 1942, two individuals in the Office of Facts and Figures, within the Office for Emergency Management of the Executive Office of the President, drew up lists of newspapers critical of the Roosevelt Administration.[1] At the top of one list was The Chicago Tribune. On the other list appeared an entry identified simply as McCormick-Patterson. The latter was reference to cousins, Robert R. McCormick and Joseph Patterson, the publishers of The Chicago Tribune and the New York Daily News, respectively.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt did not need the lists to know the main media critics of his Administration.[2] McCormick, once Roosevelt took office in 1933, became his most vocal critic. In reviewing a biography of McCormick, David M. Kennedy wrote:

His detestation of the New Deal was bottomless. McCormick became the largest single contributor to Alfred Landon, Roosevelt’s Republican opponent, in the 1936 Presidential election. As the campaign began, The Tribune headlined: ”Only 97 days left to save your country!” — a warning that McCormick ordered Tribune switchboard operators to repeat, with appropriate countdown as election day approached, to every incoming caller. ”Mr. Roosevelt is a Communist,” McCormick editorialized, an opinion he never saw any reason to qualify.

Kennedy added:

The New Deal might have been an abomination, but Roosevelt’s intensifying effort to pursue an internationalist foreign policy was anathema. As the world crisis deepened in the late 1930’s, and Roosevelt sought ways to put American influence onto the scales on the side of the democracies, McCormick stepped forward as the most outspoken of isolationists. The United States had nothing at stake in the looming European conflict, McCormick thundered…The miserable failure of that great departure from the ancient American principle of isolationism starkly warned against any further dalliance with internationalist policies. Along with Cousin Joseph Patterson’s Daily News and cousin Cissy Patterson’s Washington Times-Herald, McCormick’s Tribune formed a major platform for those isolationist preachments. Henry Luce called the cousins the Three Furies of Isolation. Roosevelt called them the McCormick-Patterson Axis.[3]

Two days after Pearl Harbor, in a Fireside Chat, President Roosevelt said:

To all newspapers and radio stations—all those who reach the eyes and ears of the American people—I say this: You have a most grave responsibility to the Nation now and for the duration of this war.

If you feel that your Government is not disclosing enough of the truth, you have every right to say so. But—in the absence of all the facts, as revealed by official sources—you have no right in the ethics of patriotism to deal out unconfirmed reports in such a way as to make people believe that they are gospel truth. [4]

Franklin D. Roosevelt having a fireside chat in Washington, D.C
Franklin D. Roosevelt having a fireside chat in Washington, D.C (NAID 196760)

In the wake of Pearl Harbor, critics of Roosevelt and his Administration did not cease their criticisms. McCormick and the Pattersons regularly denounced Roosevelt’s handling of the war.[5] Roosevelt was never one to sit still for criticism. For six months after Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt, convinced that McCormick’s papers, as well as those of William Randolph Hearst, were printing pro-German and pro-fascist sentiment, ordered the Justice Department to analyze the content of their editorials and news articles. The department found criticism of Roosevelt in their editorials and news articles, but no propaganda.[6] The heads of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Office of Facts and Figures subjected these publishers and their newspapers to microscopic investigation for Nazi connections, but found none and had to abandon their efforts. [7]

Poster Appreciate America Do Your Share
Appreciate America Do Your Share (NAID 513872)

On February 10, Representative Raymond S. McKeough (D-ll) denounced an editorial appearing in The Chicago Tribune, and charged the publisher of the paper, Robert R. McCormick, with treason. McKeough read into the House record the editorial and said the editorial constituted an inferential attack upon President Roosevelt. He added: “In any other place, under these circumstances, the Tribune editorial would have no proper place in the high field and splendid service the newspapers of our country are rendering; but now that we are at war I challenge Colonel McCormick’s patriotism, and I say that that language, at this time, makes him subject, at least to thinking people, as being guilty of treason and I so charge him.”[8]

At a Press Conference on February 17, a reporter asked Roosevelt that “there are persistent reports that [Navy] Secretary Knox’s report on Pearl Harbor did not tell all” and asked the President to comment. Responding, Roosevelt answered “What do you want him to do, disclose all the military information they saw out there?” The reporter said “No, sir. Reports that are going round have been printed that the losses were greater than he indicated.”

Responding to that comment, Roosevelt said:

Well, I don’t know what epithet you can use for the kind of report that you are referring to—I don’t mean Secretary Knox’s report—the kind you are referring to. (Spelling out): R-o-t is the best word for it. And there are an awful lot of reports going around town.

I don’t know who it was asked that question. I wish he would look at the [Washington] Star cartoon this evening. It will be a very good thing if it is circulated around this country.

The millstone that Uncle Sam is holding carries out the thought in Mr. Winston Churchill’s speech, that ‘Whoever is guilty of bringing about the crime of disunity, of him let it be said that it were better that a millstone were hung about his neck and that he were cast into the sea.’

And over in the corner of the room is a poor little fellow called John Q. Public, and there is another figure, what might be called an example of people that you see more frequently in Washington than in any other community in the country.

And he is saying, ‘The British want to fight to the last American.’

‘Why help the Russians? They will turn on us later.’

‘We ought to pull out of the Far East. We can’t win here—can’t win there.’

Well, I think the cartoon is a pretty good one, and it is especially applicable to Washington, D.C.—people that you see and hear around here. Washington is the worst rumor factory, and therefore the source of more lies that are spoken and printed throughout the United States than any other community. Now let that sink home about Washington. And you can prove it very easily.[9]

At his Fireside Chat on February 23, Roosevelt told his radio audience:

Those Americans who believed that we could live under the illusion of isolationism wanted the American eagle to imitate the tactics of the ostrich. Now, many of those same people, afraid that we may be sticking our necks out, want our national bird to be turned into a turtle. But we prefer to retain the eagle as it is–flying high and striking hard. I know that I speak for the mass of the American people when I say that we reject the turtle policy and will continue increasingly the policy of carrying the war to the enemy in distant lands and distant waters–as far away as possible from our own home grounds.

Then, the President said:

The consequences of the attack on Pearl Harbor–serious as they were- have been wildly exaggerated in other ways. And these exaggerations come originally from Axis propagandists; but they have been repeated, I regret to say, by Americans in and out of public life.

You and I have the utmost contempt for Americans who, since Pearl Harbor, have whispered or announced “off the record” that there was no longer any Pacific Fleet–that the fleet was all sunk or destroyed on December 7–that more than a thousand of our planes were destroyed on the ground. They have suggested slyly that the Government has withheld the truth about casualties–that eleven or twelve thousand men were killed at Pearl Harbor instead of the figures as officially announced. They have even served the enemy propagandists by spreading the incredible story that shiploads of bodies of our honored American dead were about to arrive in New York Harbor to be put into a common grave.

Almost every Axis broadcast–Berlin, Rome, Tokyo–directly quotes Americans who, by speech or in the press, make damnable misstatements such as these.

The American people realize that in many cases details of military operations cannot be disclosed until we are absolutely certain that the announcement will not give to the enemy military information which he does not already possess.

Your Government has unmistakable confidence in your ability to hear the worst, without flinching or losing heart. You must, in turn, have complete confidence that your Government is keeping nothing from you except information that will help the enemy in his attempt to destroy us. In a democracy there is always a solemn pact of truth between Government and the people; but there must also always be a full use of discretion and that word “discretion” applies to the critics of Government, as well.

This is war. The American people want to know, and will be told, the general trend of how the war is going. But they do not wish to help the enemy any more than our fighting forces do; and they will pay little attention to the rumor-mongers and the poison peddlers in our midst. [10]

On March 18, Roosevelt wrote Prime Minister Winston Churchill:

Neither one of us is much plagued by the news stories which, on the whole, are not so bad. But literally we are both menaced by the so-called interpretative comment by a handful or two of gentlemen who cannot get politics out of their heads in the worst crisis, who have little background and less knowledge, and who undertake to lead public opinion on that basis.

My own press-the worst of it-the McCormick-Patterson people, the Hearst papers, and the Scripps-Howard chain-are persistently magnifying relatively unimportant domestic matters and subtly suggesting that the American role is to defend Hawaii, our east and west coasts, do the turtle act, and wait until somebody attacks our home shores. Curiously enough these survivors of isolationism are not attacking me personally except to reiterate that I am dreadfully over-burdened, or that I am my own strategist, operating without benefit of military or naval advice. It is the same old story. You are familiar with it. [11]

On the evening of March 19, in New York, Archibald MacLeish, Librarian of Congress and Director of the Office of Facts and Figures, in a speech attacked “diversionists” and “defeatists,” who, he charged, cared more for their private hatreds than for their country. He said: “The enemy is the American partisan who would win his partisan victories at any cost of suffering or defeat to his own country-the newspaper publisher to whom treason itself is not detestable if by treason he can injure those he hates…”  He added:

The man who attempts, through his ownership of a powerful newspaper, to dictate the opinions of millions of Americans-the man who employs all the tricks and dodges of a paid propaganda to undermine the peoples’ confidence in their leader in a war, to infect their minds with suspicion of their desperately needed allies, to break their will to fight, is the enemy, not of the government of this people, but of its people-and, most of all, the people he deceives the most: his readers.

MacLeish predicted that the attempt of these men to pass themselves off as merely political opponents of officers of the government would fail. “I think,” he said, “the people of this country recognize their enemies and will confront them. I think the will of the American people will hold in spite of lies, in spite of hate, in spite of treason.” [12]

At the meeting of the American Society of Newspaper Editors on April 17, MacLeish said that he strongly opposed any suppression by the Government of publications of a divisive and defeatist nature which, while staying inside the law, gave aid and comfort to the enemy. “The defeatists and diversionists,” he said, “who strike from that ambiguous and doubtful shadow where freedom of expression darkens into treason, cannot be hunted out by the police without the risk of injury to rights that must on no account be injured.” MacLeish, said that the editors need to police their own profession against war born danger of treason in its own ranks and among its own members. While paying tribute to the majority of the press, which he said was strengthening wartime morale, he denounced the “minority elements” actively engaged in influencing public opinion “in directions which lead not to victory in that war but to defeat.” [13]

On April 20, at the annual lunch of The Associated Press, attended by six hundred editors and publishers, MacLeish said that the press as a whole needed to “police” the minority of its own members who are engaged in defeatist propaganda. He denounced this minority as those who “practice openly and without rebuke a journalistic policy calculated to induce the surrender of American opinion without a blow-a journalist policy calculated to destroy the American determination to fight this war through to a final and victorious conclusion.” [14]

Mrs. Anne O’Hare McCormick [no relation to Robert McCormick], member of the editorial staff of The New York Times, a Pulitzer Prize winner, and friend of the President, on April 23, at the annual dinner of the Bureau of Advertising of the American Newspaper Publishers Association, said:

You have heard a good deal this week about the obligations of the press to the government in wartime. There is no dispute about that. It is a prime obligation, and I think it can be claimed that with exceptions American newspapers have not only supported the war effort but have prepared public opinion for war and the demands of war….

Granted, then, that the press has an obligation to the wartime government. Has not the government a certain obligation to the wartime press? Washington, we all know, is the chief source of war news. It has power to issue, delay or withhold information regarding not only the military but the political operations that the war strategy dictates. It can maintain complete silence even after the event, as in the case of the recent bombing of Japan, and we are all delighted to be kept guessing if the enemy is thereby rendered uncertain and confused. Censorship if such news at the source is a war imperative, accepted whole-heatedly by responsible editors, most of whom are so anxious to cooperate that they would gladly supplement official censorship with self-censorship if they were trusted with the broad directives that govern war policy.

Actually the press could help the government much more than it does, particularly in the field of political warfare, if it were told more. In his address the other day Archibald MacLeish forewarned the press that it must be prepared to fight an Axis peace offensive. Now that is a proper directive, and an assignment the press can be counted on to carry out. Such storm signals of what to expect, combined with a lot more off-the-record explanations of the reasons why one course is followed instead of another, why certain facts are withheld, would go far to prevent the misleading sometimes dangerous guesswork the policy-makers deplore.

Unquestionably the press has a duty to build up confidence in the government in a crisis as grave as this. But the government has a duty, too, or at least a very strong interest, in maintaining public confidence in the press….

Much more serious is the tendency in some official circles to discredit the press as a medium of information-not this offending newspaper or that but the press as the press. To infer, as is too often done in Washington, that ‘newspaper story’ is a synonym for unreliability is not merely to cast doubt on the accuracy of the press but on all published reports, including those of government itself, and thus to undermine confidence in the vey process by which democracy works. Debate based on information is so vital to this process, even in wartime, that it should be kept alive by artificial respiration if for any reason it dies down.

Now of course the press has to justify its freedom. On its great estate it has poachers, trouble-makers, a few saboteurs and fifth columnists, quite a number of people it would be better off without, for one reason or another. It can and should try to induce every paper to live up to some Hippocratic standard; but I wonder whether government would like it if the press or any other great public enterprise really took over the power to police itself. As to the suggestion that otherwise it might be policed by the government, I have seen that alternative at work [Hitler and Mussolini] and it is as fatal for government as for the press.

What is a free press, anyway, but the breathing apparatus of the democratic body. When free government goes, the free press goes with it. But it is equally true that when a free press goes, free government goes too. They are as inseparable as Siamese twins and they live or die together.

The truth is that the press has to work with the government because this is our war; we are the freedom for which it is fought. And the government has to work with the press for the same reason-because the press is as necessary to victory as the flow of production. Industry supplies the guns, but we supply the spark and the force of public opinion that keeps them flowing and firing. There’s no room, no reason, above all, no time, for anything but team-work. [15]

During his April 28 Fireside Chat, Roosevelt stated:

This great war effort must be carried through to its victorious conclusion by the indomitable will and determination of the people as one great whole.

It must not be impeded by the faint of heart.

It must not be impeded by those who put their own selfish interests above the interests of the Nation.

It must not be impeded by those who pervert honest criticism into falsification of fact.

It must not be impeded by self-styled experts either in economics or military problems who know neither true figures nor geography itself.

It must not be impeded by a few bogus patriots who use the sacred freedom of the press to echo the sentiments of the propagandists in Tokyo and Berlin.

And, above all, it shall not be imperiled by the handful of noisy traitors- betrayers of America, betrayers of Christianity itself—would-be dictators who in their hearts and souls have yielded to Hitlerism and would have this Republic do likewise. [16]

Roosevelt probably had McCormick and his cousins in mind when he made his fireside chat. He disliked the Patterson brother and sister as much as he did McCormick. [17] Roosevelt often talked of Cissy Patterson’s “Subversive mind.” [18] In a conversation with Attorney General Francis Biddle on April 22, Roosevelt attacked the “subversive mind of Cissy Patterson.” He asked Biddle to make sure he “put a surveillance on her and on Col. [Joseph Patterson]”, but Biddle assured the president that such surveillance was already being done. In May Roosevelt warned Biddle that the “tie in between the attitude of these papers [the Chicago Tribune, the New York Daily News, and the Washington Times-Herald] and the Rome-Berlin broadcasts” was “something far greater than mere coincidence.” [19]

A month later, Senator Joseph F. Guffey (D-Pa) told the Senate on June 11, that Congress should not tolerate press criticism of that type which he charged “evidences a design to undermine public confidence in representative government.” He told his colleagues he believed there was a “blind, unreasoning, bitter opposition to the President and the majority in Congress” which had been fostered by many columnists and commentators.” “Congress has demonstrated over the past ten years that it can take criticism,” he declared. “It has taken plenty. But it will not, and it should not, tolerate criticism intended to destroy the prestige of the legislative process in time of war.” The elements in the press which Guffey criticized, he said are “dangerous only because they are unwittingly the tools of deadly forces which they could not be expected to understand.” Guffey said “They are bad little boys playing with dynamite. And what they need is not repressive legislation but a trip to the woodshed.” Guffey said that much of the opposition to the President and a majority of Congress was “consistently isolationist” up to the moment of Pearl Harbor. Guffey said that many isolationists were “playing the Axis game, perhaps not consciously but simply because their patriotism has been obscured by their undying hatred of the Administration and its policies both foreign and domestic. A fine example is the case of Col. ‘Bertie’ McCormick of the Chicago Tribune.” [20]

Archibald MacLeish, in a speech in Chicago on June 17, said “A free man’s right to cuss his government is a right which must be guarded as closely in the practice as in the possession…and it is for that reason that men who value freedom are so jealous of it.” “They realize,” he said “that a Bertie McCormick or a whole family of Bertie McCormicks, who abused the free man’s right by pumping out a vast and costly propaganda aimed to persuade the people to hate and fear their government and their President, are violating the basic decencies of a free man’s world. The people of this country know all about criticism. They know all about Bertie McCormick, too. And they know where the one ends and the other begins.”  He added that:

Criticism in a free man’s country is made on certain assumptions, one of which is the assumption that the government belongs to the people and is at all times subject to the people’s correction and criticism such as a man gives, and should give, those who represent him and undertake to act on his behalf.

Criticism of the government made upon that basis is proper criticism, no matter how abusive.

MacLeish assailed that type of criticism which attempted to create the idea that the government is something outside the people or opposed to the people, something that the people should fear and hate. Abuse of that kind, he said, is harmful propaganda, “no less harmful because it is untrue.” He said that:

The picture of Washington, and it is a picture found not only in the propaganda press but in the newspapers devoted to news as well, the picture of Washington as another nation, almost a foreign power, fixed upon our shores to wage a kind of bureaucratic war upon our people, is a picture which would be fantastic if it were not so frequently presented. [21]

In the House of Representatives on August 10, Congressman Holland assailed The Chicago Tribune, The New York Daily News, and The Washington Times-Herald, as members of the “vermin press” which was preaching “defeatism among our civilians and mutiny among our soldiers.” Holland said that “The New York Daily News and The Washington Times-Herald and their Middle Western brother in sedition, The Chicago Tribune, belong in the same category.” [22] That same day, in the Senate, Senator Charles Wayland Brooks (R-Il) said the attack on the Tribune was “vicious, malicious and constant.” He noted that he spoke not just of the Tribune, because the method that was being “used to intimidate, coerce or control any legitimate newspaper” could be not done to just one, but could “be done to all.” Brooks noted that MacLeish in speeches before the American Society of Newspaper editors and before the annual meeting of the Associated Press, had “made a bitter attack on newspapers which had been critical of the inefficient control of the war.” [23]

At the end of August, The New York Times observed:

The Roosevelt Administration does not like The Chicago Tribune, which was isolationist before Pearl Harbor, and since Pearl Harbor has been for winning the war as fast as may be, but has refused to yes-yes every move the Administration makes in its thus far not too successful efforts to win the war. It may be conceded that for its part The Chicago Tribune has felt some dislike for the Roosevelt Administration. [24]

On September 12, McCormick told a WGN Radio Station audience, the men who provided for freedom of the press in the Bill of Rights “used language broad enough to include any effort that could ever be made to limit the freedom of utterance.” He said “Freedom of the press is simply the right of any one to print or have printed whatever he wants without interference by the government.”[25]

Poster "Freedom of Speech" by Norman Rockwell
“Freedom of Speech” by Norman Rockwell (NAID 513536)

During his October 1 Press Conference, Roosevelt said that there were three situations in Washington D.C. that were “not good.” One was the press,

which doesn’t seem to know the country, and like the Congressman is very apt to think in the local terms of the papers that they represent, giving out sententious views—perfectly honest views, which are nevertheless sententious—because of the fact that they don’t know. That’s the radio too, the radio announcers. Not all—of course not. Not all of the news stories by any means. Most of them, I would say, are straight news stories. But there is an unfortunate minority of news stories which just “ain’t” so. They just are not based on fact. And more than that, they tell people in the country things that are not in existence. Some of them are honestly written. Some of them are written for other reasons, which perhaps we need not go into. They represent a minority, but at present they are doing infinite harm to the country. The greatest offense of course is among the commentators, and the columnists, in both the press and the radio. . . .

A reporter responded: “Mr. President, I am not quite clear in my mind. What is the complaint about the press?” Roosevelt answered: “I think it’s very simple. I am saying that about certain elements in press and radio that are hurting the war effort. And we all know. I don’t have to particularize on it at all. You people know even better than I do who the fellows are, who the owners of the papers are. You know far better than I do. . .” [26]

Roosevelt, besides complaining about McCormick and The Chicago Tribune, frequently harassed them, by having agencies not give them equal treatment and trying to indict them for violating the Espionage Act of 1917.[27]  “Roosevelt’s efforts to punish and silence such opponents as Col. Robert McCormick of the Chicago Tribune and the Patterson newspaper family,” according to two authors, “were many and relentless.” [28]

After learning that McCormick intended publishing an edition of his newspaper in the United Kingdom, Roosevelt wrote Churchill on October 6 that “[John] Winant [United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom] tells me that the Chicago Tribune has applied to Bracken [Brendan Bracken, British Minister of Information] for license to publish a daily paper in England primarily for the use of our troops. Earnestly hope that this application will not be approved.” Roosevelt added that:

The fact is that it should be turned down on the ground that the Chicago Tribune prints lies and deliberate misrepresentations in lieu of news.

Application can be rejected if you agree on the ground that the United States Government proposes to print a daily through an agency approved by you or a daily paper published by our army or the troops themselves, such as ‘The Stars and Stripes’ in Paris in 1918. I do not believe, therefore, that the application should be turned down on the lack of paper.

You will readily see that I do not trust the Chicago Tribune further than you can throw a bull by the tail but I do think we need a paper of our own for the soldiers in England. [29]

Churchill responded the next day:

…Bracken tells me that when he heard of the Chicago Tribune’s proposal he told some of the American correspondents that the Ministry of Information would not allow McCormick to publish any paper in England on the ground that the Chicago Tribune had done everything in its power to injure the cause of the United Nations. No official application for facilities has yet been made. When it is, McCormick will be told that no opportunity will be given to him to reproduce in England the lies and misrepresentations which are the staple of the Chicago Tribune’s editorial policy.

Bracken told Eisenhower yesterday that every possible facility will be given to the American Army if it will produce a daily paper for the American troops. [30]

The Stars and Stripes began publication as a weekly on December 9, 1942. As for The Chicago Tribune, it and two other American newspapers, early in 1944, received facilities in London for the distribution of their weekly overseas editions to American troops in the European Theater of Operations.[31]

The Year 1942 marked neither the beginning nor the ending of a contentious relationship between the Presidents of the United States and the Press. From John Adams to the present, presidents and the press have been engaged in often bitter battles involving policies and other issues. Some would argue this is a healthy situation in a democracy. The story of President Roosevelt and The Chicago Tribune is a good reminder of Thomas Jefferson’s words: “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.” January 28, 1786. [32]


[1] File: Press Studies-Correspondence and Reports 1942, Alphabetical Subject Files, 1941-1943, Entry NC148 3D (NAID 629969), Office of Facts and Figures, Office for Emergency Management, Executive Office of the President, Records of the Office of war Information, Record Group 208.

[2] For an account of Roosevelt’s newspaper reading habits, information about the press supplied to him, his opinions regarding the press, and those publishers and editors he continued as enemies see Graham J. White, FDR and the Press (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1979). For the information Roosevelt received in 1941 and 1942 from the Division of Press Intelligence of the Office of Government Reports see ibid. pp. 84-90 and Mordecai Lee, The First Presidential Communications Agency: FDR’s Office of Government Reports (Albany, State University of New York Press, 2005), pp. 93-94.

[3] David M. Kennedy, “Whatever It Is, I’m Against It,” The New York Times, July 13, 1997, p. 8.

[4] Fireside Chat, December 9, 1941, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=16056.

[5] Burton W. Folsom, Jr. and Anita Folsom, FDR Goes to War: How Expanded Executive Power, Spiraling National Debt, and Restricted Civil Liberties Shaped Wartime America (New York, London, Toronto, Sydney, New Delhi: Threshold Editions, 2011), pp. 214, 216; Arthur Krock, “In the Nation: The Guam Incident as a Future Guide,” The New York Times, February 5, 1942, p. 20.

[6] Jeremy Duda, If This Be Treason: The American Rogues and Rebels Who Walked the Line Between Dissent and Betrayal (Guilford, Connecticut: LP, An Imprint of Globe Pequot, 2017), p. 189; Betty Houchin Winfield, FDR and the News Media (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), p. 179

[7] Folsom, Jr. and Folsom, FDR Goes to War: How Expanded Executive Power, Spiraling National Debt, and Restricted Civil Liberties Shaped Wartime America, p. 217.

[8] Associated Press, “Denounces An Editorial,, McKeough, In House, charges Col. McCormick With Treason,” The New York Times, February 11, 1942, p. 14.

[9] Excerpts from the Press Conference, February 17, 1942, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=16223 .

[10] Fireside Chat, February 23, 1942 http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=16224 .

[11] Francis L. Lowenheim, Harold D. Langley, Manfred Jonas, eds., Roosevelt and Churchill: Their Secret Wartime Correspondence (New York: Saturday Review Press/E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc., 1975), pp. 194-195.

[12] “MacLeish Assails ‘Defeatists’ in U.S. As Chief Enemies,” The New York Times, March 20, 1942, p. 1.

[13]  “Press Freedom,” The Washington Post, April 18, 1942, p. 10; “Allies Lead in Production Nelson Says; MacLeish Urges U.S. Press to Police Itself at Editors’ Meeting,” The Washington Post, April 18, 1942, p. 1.

[14] “MacLeish Calls on Publishers To Fight Nazi ‘Peace Offensive,” The New York Times, April 21, 1942, p. 1.

[15] Anne O’Hare McCormick, “Role of the Free Press in This War for Freedom,” The New York Times, April 26, 1942, p. E9.

[16] Fireside Chat. April 28, 1942  http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=16252.

[17] Folsom, Jr. and Folsom, FDR Goes to War: How Expanded Executive Power, Spiraling National Debt, and Restricted Civil Liberties Shaped Wartime America, p. 216.

[18] Betty Houchin Winfield, FDR and the News Media (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), p. 179; Duda, If This Be Treason: The American Rogues and Rebels Who Walked the Line Between Dissent and Betrayal, p. 190.

[19] Folsom, Jr. and Folsom, FDR Goes to War: How Expanded Executive Power, Spiraling National Debt, and Restricted Civil Liberties Shaped Wartime America, p. 216.

[20] Associated Press, “Guffey Urges Congress Spank Critics Who Play Axis’ Game,” The Washington Post, August 11, 1942, p. 34.

[21] “M’Leish Defends Critics of Leaders,” The New York Times, June 12, 1942, p. 12.

[22] “Tribune is Upheld, Scored in Congress’” The New York Times, August 11, 1942, p. 17.

[23] Associated Press, “Sen. Brooks Cries ‘Smear!,’” The Washington Post, August 11, 1942, p. 9.

[24] “Editorial Comment on Suit Against AP,” The New York Times, August 30, 1942, p. 42.

[25] Associated Press, “McCormick Declares Free Press Secure,” The New York Times, September 13, 1942, p. 39.

[26] Excerpts from the Press Conference, October 1, 1942, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=16307.

[27] Duda, If This Be Treason: The American Rogues and Rebels Who Walked the Line Between Dissent and Betrayal, p. 189; Folsom, Jr. and Folsom, FDR Goes to War: How Expanded Executive Power, Spiraling National Debt, and Restricted Civil Liberties Shaped Wartime America, p. 215.

[28] Folsom, Jr. and Folsom, FDR Goes to War: How Expanded Executive Power, Spiraling National Debt, and Restricted Civil Liberties Shaped Wartime America, p. xi.

[29] Lowenheim, Langley, Jonas, eds., Roosevelt and Churchill: Their Secret Wartime Correspondence, p. 257.

[30] Lowenheim, Langley, Jonas, eds., Roosevelt and Churchill: Their Secret Wartime Correspondence, p. 258.

[31] “3 U.S. Papers Get British Facilities,” The New York Times, February 21, 1944, p. 17. Later in 1944 the Australian Customs Minister refused McCormick permission to publish an edition of The Chicago Tribune in Australia for United States troops. No reason was given for the rejection.  Perhaps it was because of a Tribune editorial earlier in 1944, criticizing Australia’s military effort, which the Australian Army Minister felt was deeply offensive. Associated Press, “Australia Ban Publication of Chicago Tribune There,” The New York Times, June 3, 1944, p. 5; Associated Press, “Australia Annoyed at Criticism in U.S.,” The New York Times, March 16, 1944, p. 9.

[32] Letter from Thomas Jefferson to James Currie, 28 January 1786 (Founders Online)

2 thoughts on ““Fake News” 1942: President Roosevelt and the Chicago Tribune

  1. Yet another fascinating post, Greg! I had no idea that there was such tension between FDR and the media! Especially interesting given that the press didn’t cover his disability or affairs…

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