The Press: The Man in the Middle

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Hearst Columnist George Sokolsky, 60, in the words of one of his friends, "can be called the high priest of militant U.S. anti-Communism." Last week the high priest became a key figure in the McCarthy v. the Army battle. The Army's Counselor John Adams testified that Columnist Sokolsky acted as a go-between who tried to make peace between McCarthy and the Army, and the terms were pretty much McCarthy's terms. Sokolsky, said Adams, proposed to him that if the Army gave Private G. David Schine some of the special treatment McCarthy and Roy Cohn wanted, then Sokolsky in return could assure Adams McCarthy would ease up his investigation of the Army.

Father Confessor. There is little doubt that Sokolsky, whose column is carried by an estimated 300 papers, has great influence with some members of the McCarthy committee and its staff. Sokolsky and McCarthy are old friends, dating back to around 1950 when McCarthy was a novice in the field of anti-Communism and sought advice from such "specialists" as Sokolsky. It was Sokolsky, his friends say, who brought Cohn and Schine to the attention of McCarthy and got them their jobs with the subcommittee. Ever since, Cohn has acknowledged his deep respect for Sokolsky, considers him a father-confessor available for consultation and advice. From Washington Cohn often phones Sokolsky in New York, and one newsman who admires both Sokolsky and McCarthy says, "Roy and Dave never made a move without consulting Sok."

Columnist Sokolsky became involved with Communism a long time ago. Born in Utica, N.Y., the son of a rabbi, he graduated from the Columbia School of Journalism and was so attracted by the Russian Revolution that he went to Russia in 1917 to see it firsthand. In Petrograd he got a job editing the English-language Russian Daily News. But after the Bolsheviks seized control from the Kerensky government, he quickly became disillusioned with the revolution and fled to China. There he worked for English-language newspapers, later became a special correspondent, whose reports appeared in U.S. and British dailies (e.g., St. Louis Post-Dispatch, London Daily Express). At the same time he was also paid by the Chinese government to develop its information service. Back in the U.S., in 1935 he began a column of political punditry in the New York Herald Tribune, switched to the Sun and later to the Hearst chain. While writing his column, he also did a weekly radio broadcast for the National Association of Manufacturers. In addition he toured the U.S., writing and making, peeches as an "industrial consultant." The Senate's La Follette Committee on Civil Liberties reported in 1938 that for his speaking engagements and other work he was paid nearly $40,000, through a publicity firm, by the N.A.M. and the Iron and Steel Institute.

Far Right. Sokolsky's friends have a higher regard for his knowledge of philosophy, history and art than for his expertness in politics. "George," says one of them, "is a decent, sentimental fellow, but I've always told him he is the biggest imbecile politically that I ever knew. He just should not butt into politics."

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