The Press: Behind Closed Doors

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By his own reckoning, New York Post Editor James A. Wechsler proudly admits that "I have probably written as many harsh words about [Senator Joe McCarthy] as has any editor in America." McCarthy heatedly returns the compliment. Ever since the New Dealing Post (est. circ. 420,000) two years ago ran a 17-part series titled "Smear, Inc.—The One-Man Mob of Joe McCarthy," McCarthy has damned the paper, along with other "leftwing smear sheets," for following "the Communist Party line, right down to the last period." McCarthy, in chorus with Columnist Walter Winchell, has also repeatedly denounced Editor Wechsler, lumping him together with other "phony former Communists." Actually Wechsler, a top official of the Young Communist League at Columbia University, quit the Communists 15 years ago, has since been a vocal antiCommunist. Joe McCarthy's attacks did not shut up Wechsler or the Post. Fortnight ago McCarthy opened a new line of attack.

He brought Wechsler up before his Senate investigating subcommittee, "not as a newspaperman," said McCarthy, "but as an author" of books that have turned up on the shelves of U.S. information libraries abroad. In the stormy secret hearing, Wechsler never found out what books McCarthy objected to, although Senator McCarthy later told newsmen that it was one book, Wechsler's biography of John L. Lewis, Labor Baron. "If that is so," wrote Wechsler in the Post last week, "it "may explain why I was not questioned in any detail on that point, for the book includes a lengthy chapter critically describing the destructive operations of the Communists within the C.I.O."

"Did You Write That?" When McCarthy began to question him about his own political past, Wechsler produced a statement issued last year by the Central Committee of the Communist Party. It denounced Wechsler for helping wreck the Communist effort to get out a big party vote in the 1952 elections. "The exhibit." wrote Wechsler. "seemed devastatingly conclusive . . . 'Did you write that statement?' [McCarthy] asked ... In what I will always recall as one of the most preposterous moments of my life, I thereupon solemnly denied under oath that I was the author of a Communist statement denouncing myself!"

McCarthy also asked Wechsler whether the Post had ever written editorials praising Senator Jenner. "I was happy to acknowledge." said Wechsler, "that ... I had never caught myself praising Jenner —the man whose major public distinction is that, like Joe McCarthy, he has questioned the patriotism of George C. Marshall. I similarly acknowledged . . . that I could not recall writing a single editorial tribute to Congressman Velde." At one point Wechsler pointed out that the committee itself has a research director who is an ex-Communist. Reporter Howard Rushmore, on leave from the New York Journal-American. Washington's Democratic Senator Henry M. Jackson, the only other committee member present, "made it plain," said Wechsler, "that McCarthy had neglected to inform him that there was an ex-Communist on the prosecution side of the table."

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