The Press: Woltman v. McCarthy

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In their series on Joe McCarthy, the Scripps-Howard papers (TIME, July 19) stirred up an even bigger furor than they had expected. One of the first and bitterest attacks on the series by the World-Telegram and Sun's Reporter Frederick Woltman came from within the S-H family itself. Nackey Scripps Loeb, 30, heiress to part of the estate of Founder E. W. Scripps and wife of hot-tempered Manchester (N.H.) Union Leader Publisher William Loeb, wired S-H executives: "[Woltman's] smearing of Senator McCarthy [is] rotten, biased journalism, which would make my grandfather, E. W. Scripps . . . turn in his grave with disgust and shame." Added Mrs. Loeb and her husband in a telegram direct to Woltman: "We are ashamed of ever having known you."

Scripps-Howard's Boss Roy Howard stood his ground, answered calmly: "Mrs. Loeb has no connection, direct or indirect, with the management of the concern. She has just the same right to send a telegram as my cook or anyone else. As for Bill Loeb, he is still galled because he can't get his camel nose in this tent."

The Telly and 17 other S-H papers all over the U.S. were flooded with thousands of letters and phone calls. In the mail, blasts from McCarthy supporters outnumbered praise for the series by about five to one. But more than half the pro-McCarthy mail was anonymous, while virtually all the anti-McCarthy mail was signed. Said one S-H executive: "The crank mail usually outnumbers the sensible mail about five to one." Woltman, veteran anti-Communist reporter and never a member of the party or anything close to it, got letters addressed to "Comrade Woltman" and "Freddy Jewish Woltman"; he was denounced as everything from a "Communist agent" to "Freddy the Stink," and accused of writing the series only because of "pressure from his bosses" and "from the White House." Said Woltman: "Except for the attacks I've been subjected to over the years from the Communists, I've never seen anything more irrational and venomous."

Other papers also got into the act. Manhattan's tabloid Daily News called it "a five-spasm series," while such dailies as the Chattanooga Times hailed it for showing "up Senator McCarthy for the ruthless demagogue he is." Brooklyn's Roman Catholic Tablet expressed astonishment that Woltman, who has "earned widespread support as an anti-Communist writer," could abandon his "fairness, integrity and accuracy" and turn "hatchet man." The Pittsburgh Catholic, weekly newspaper of the Pittsburgh diocese, took an exactly opposite view, called the series a "study which the country needs and for which it has been waiting."