The best luck that ever befell Drew Pearson and Robert S. Allen was getting discharged from their respective jobs as Washington correspondents. "Bob"' Allen lost his with the Christian Science Monitor three years ago because his boss discovered he was one of the anonymous authors of Washington Merry-Go-Round, best-selling volume of capital tittle-tattle (TIME, Sept. 21, 1931). A year later More Merry-Go-Round appeared, and the Baltimore Sun dropped Drew Pearson, its able newshawk at War and State Departments. Pearson, who had written a chapter in the book scorching Secretary of War Patrick Jay Hurley, later charged that thin-skinned Mr. Hurley had had a hand in his dismissal by the Sun.
Neither tall, sober Drew Pearson (son of Governor Paul Martin Pearson of the Virgin Islands) nor small, sinewy, red-headed Bob Allen suffered. Publicity endowed them with reputations as ferrets of inside news and chit-chat to be feared in high places. They remained members in good standing of Washington's Press family. In December 1932, this team made a deal with United Features Syndicate to supply a daily Washington Merry-Go-Round column, treating the day's news and news-behind-the-news in the irreverent manner of their books. From six newspapers the first month, their clientele had zoomed by last week to 27017 more than print the comic strip Tarzan. The Pearson & Allen incomes zoomed accordingly.
Meanwhile many a reader, noting the column's impudence toward public personages, wondered when Reporters Pearson & Allen would get into trouble. Last week brought the answer in the form of a $1,750,000 libel suit filed in Washington by General Douglas MacArthur, Chief of Staff, against Pearson & Allen and Hearst's Washington Times, which prints their column.
To his friends General MacArthur is a dashing officer of the best Army type; to his critics he is an overdressed, supersensitive, ambitious strutter. In appearance, the General is tall, trim, darkly handsome, the youngest (54) first-rank officer in the service, youngest Chief of Staff since the War. Touchy about his prestige, he went from annoyance to displeasure to red-hot anger as he read what Washington Merry-Go-Ronnd had to say about him. Last week, when he could stand it no longer, he cited in his suit seven alleged offenses against his reputation, and told the court what he read into them.
Charge No. 1
Merry-Go-Ronnd: Two months ago . . . General Douglas MacArthur, swaggering Chief of Staff, was riding high, wide and handsome.
General: Meaning that the plaintiff is a ridiculous military character.
Merry-Go-Ronnd: Now the situation is reversed. ... His four-year tour of duty as Chief of Staff comes to a close soon. Army custom specifies that this job should rotate. . . . MacArthur, however, feels that he should be an exception to this rule. I And he has been pulling every conceivable I wire to this end. Wire pulling is one of the General's greatest arts.
General: Meaning that . . . plaintiff is | guilty of conduct unbecoming an officer . . . and contemptuous in the eyes of all ranks in the Army.