Jewish Media Stranglehold? | The Nation


Jewish Media Stranglehold?

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Interestingly, it was Norman Lear, a member of the West Coast television contingent, who was most open to acknowledging the idea of Jewish influence on media. "I would certainly hope so and believe so," said the producer, who combines his passion for television production with liberal political activism. His All in the Family was the No. 1 television show in 1971, the year it debuted. It was an assault on conservative values, and Nixon was provoked by the show, Lear told me.

About the Author

Cliff Rothman
Cliff Rothman is a cultural reporter at large for the New York Times, Harpers Bazaar, GQ, Vanity Fair and The Nation.

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The inevitable controversy--presenting name-naming film director Elia Kazan with a Lifetime Achievement Award--has unfolded like an accident waiting to happen, aggravating the Academy of Motion

"On another piece of tape, Nixon talks about, 'Why do they make a fool of such a good man,' meaning Archie Bunker," Lear reports.

Did Graham's remarks suggest a bounty of similar anti-Semitic slurs in power corridors? Answers to this query fell on either side of a Jew-gentile divide. Jews like Kalb, Schorr and Garment believe that anti-Semitism was lurking back then in the corridors of power and still thrives in what Kalb describes as "the sort of private golf club--this clubby atmosphere where people are sitting around, taking off their sneakers and mumbling about Jews and media influence and power and control. I thought it then, and believe it continues today." His famous baritone was clenched as he spoke.

In contrast, gentrified gentiles like Otis Chandler and Ben Bradlee denied coming across anti-Semitism in their circles. "I don't think I was naïve, but I did not experience people talking that way," says former LA Times publisher Chandler, who in 1972 also ran Newsday and the Dallas Times Herald, and was on the board of the Associated Press. "Certainly not at my level, at the leadership level."

And the Boston-born Bradlee, who pegs himself as "WASP to the nth degree," says his parents "never talked like that. I mean, they were anti-Roosevelt, but they weren't anti-Semitic." After he arrived in Washington, "I never heard that kind of talk again."

"Ben Bradlee's been in much better locker rooms than I have," wisecracks USA Today political columnist Walter Shapiro, who was a speechwriter for President Jimmy Carter, and later a reporter for both Time and Newsweek.

Carl Bernstein, however, counters: "In 1972, there was probably less anti-Semitism [than at any time] in our history. In fact, there had been great admiration for the Israelis in the 1967 war. I don't think Billy Graham was typical of gentiles."

Yet many Jews I talked to still nurse wounds caused by the prejudice of those days. "In 1953 the New York Times decided not to hire me because I was Jewish," says Dan Schorr, who was wiretapped, burglarized and covertly investigated by Nixon's FBI. "Both Nixon and Graham shared a subsurface of a lot of anti-Semitism in this country. So when you hear them [on the tapes], you say, 'There it is!' They are speaking to each other, they are trying to outdo each other, how bigoted they are." Schorr adds, acidly: "Hooray for them."

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