Radio: The Sensitive Commentator

For a radio-TV commentator doing one 15-minute spot a week, white-polled Walter Winchell, 58, seemed to be doing all right. He had been with the same network for 25 years;* he was getting as much as $16,000 a broadcast, and the American Broadcasting Co. had given him a lifetime contract, guaranteeing him a minimum of $1,000 a week, whether he broadcast or not. ABC also insured Gossipist Winchell for $1,000,000 against libel suits; even if he lost a suit, he would not have to pay.

For Winchell, it was not enough. The insurance did not seem to protect him from punitive damages,...

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