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Oh boy. From Northeastern University the National Information Network presents issue and inquiry. Which is half the trouble you know an unknown Millionaire was a very bitter man. He wants to be no one he wants to be a very big important fellow. And you find his vindictiveness and his willingness to trample on people is very very much alive in the political world if he can get someplace. This week on issue an inquiry Jimmy Breslin a nationally known journalist with The New York magazine. This week's program monopoly Jimmy Breslin on the media. Here is your host Joseph arbiter. We're going to talk here the beginning of this program with journalist Jimmy Breslin
about the mass media because the mass media is something that Mr. Breslin came in contact with quite a bit in his race with Norman Mailer for mayor of New York. Television One big factor in the mass media the high cost of television the rich man's media. It has been called in the opinion of some commentators politics because of television has become a rich man's game and a rich man's game all of you need television to win in politics. Jimi would you go along with that kind of assessment. Of course it's a rich man's game because the enormous amount of money to buy that television time. And then you've got to take an ad the newspaper to tell people who watches you on television watching commercials on television or your program whatever you're putting on. And then the newspapers write stories about how much the candidates are spending on the campaign what most of the money is being spent in the newspapers and on television. Television should be free and it should be allotted to any candidate and no candidate should get any more. Should he be allowed to buy any more. That would end these are true these commercials are
reprehensible business of trying to package a political campaign into 30 second and 1 minute spots that they run like this selling Excedrin. Jim you commented on this same point in your speech last night at Boston University. Now with your permission I'd like to pause at this point of the program to let the audience hear a portion of that speech which you gave last evening. Jimmy Breslin. We thought it was the only way we can campaign anymore. And television crossed like hell which is one of the graces of the American political system. There is no way you're ever going to have anybody but a rich man running for office. The main vision is repetition. That's how you get it with commercials which segment number ninety five 11 times and you get a headache. I read you say can be excitement by the way the New Yorker the Rockefellers the Rockefeller 22 times in the day like it's
anything straight and try and try anything with them and then the people they're out and vote that way they figure I think is one of them our processes of ever seen and then the island here and in the newspapers is the high cost of 10 of the campaign the newspapers in a tragic thousand dollars so you can put an ad in the paper to say see yourself in time to see the television tonight and the commercial as the two places the newspapers and television places which you think will have some responsibility to see the proper candidates are prepping for the public. They don't they're not for the money. I think of you have a system some radio television which is run by young people not by these newspaper owners which get ahead with these stations television MEST give time to candidates free time. And I have some process whereby a candidate then cannot buy any time so that you can't run his commercials he must just take what everybody gets and lose it and use it
unrealistic the baits that these stage things with. And now here's a question for me to read. What about this repetition this constant bombardment of the American mind with television political commercials repetition is the key to all television you saw through repetition so they sell they sell Nixon through repeating the commercials 50 times we're going to have a new secretary of state. That's why they should run for me say that if somebody is a 50 times the level of believe it. I mean that the fact that that commercial promise is the new secretary of state will cure all ills. Korea never let tax gunboats any more this will never happen everything's going to be good. Same way the Excedrin commercial it's going to cure your headache you'll cure a brain tumor according to what I mean is there something about the repetitious constant bombardment use of television if you want ticks that shakes TV dangerous you said about hundreds of miles tomorrow.
It's criminal that shouldn't be allowed. The fact that it is allowed shows the stupidity and the insanity of the political structure in this country. Why am our law reprehensible. Because you're manipulating people on a very important matter. I wonder if we could talk about a broader house specked of television TV and the mass media in general glossy magazines the high circulation newspapers have come in for quite a bit of criticism recently I gue made it popular but people were taking shots at Huntley Brinkley and Walter Cronkite long before I go people say that electronic journalists wield too much power. Jimmy you explored the same danger of concentrated influence in that speech which you gave last evening at Boston University. I'd like to pause a second time at this point in the program and let our audience hear a second portion of that speech. Jimmy Breslin. After a lot of work we found that about the newspaper was eminently correct except I mean we've been screaming about them in the times
that I'm the right man for the new year and I go back and say he's a jerk and write it. After the coverage was very bad. I mean you read the rest of. The Newsweek magazine the Washington Post in a major television station in Washington and the undue influence of the New York Times. I think what he should have gotten in the Scripps-Howard paper the afternoon paper and the television station Republicans in New York City we have the Chicago Tribune Corporation and the Channel 11 which is the home of the one minute news report.
30 seconds of which is rather miserable. I mean Channel 11 should be taken away from the question. Most of the power in American journalism the main power in the news gathering in the country. The main spots to worry about is the Associated Press and the United Press International. They account for most of the news coverage in the world in this country. The United Press International is run by Scripps Howard to narrow Midwestern dominated a thinking organization that pays nobody any money and you get the very best service out of them and very shaky stories. The other one the Associated Press is dominated mainly by small newspaper owners which would mean the Midwest it reads like Iowa. So what's wrong with Lost. That's one of the 50 states. Yes except I don't like its journalism too much. It all comes from Butte
Montana seems to be the headquarters Associated Press. Well as a Sioux City Iowa the place I wouldn't mind it so much of it came from Davenport it's a river town as Lakshman in those towns but it comes out with this blend. Terrible atrocious stuff. And that's what dominates the news Walter Cronkite reads it faithfully every night. I wish Walter Cronkite would say something rather than read that stuff. Huntley and Brinkley go with it. The New York Times even goes with it everybody goes with it. So I would worry more about the Midwest influence in the news gathering business than I would about the Northeast influence. I'm sure CBS News would protest that they gather their own material without the aid of the US so that's why there are so many teletypes in the CBS News headquarters I mean what I kin they do rip the AP and go with it every time. Or you all do it let's take a look at cbs nbc Cronkite and Huntley-Brinkley program. How much influence do you feel that these men and their producer directors behind the
scene have with the American public. They have them and nobody ever said they didn't. So therefore the answer to that is they get more run get more. Run there was a primetime run News at 10 o'clock at night is that it a done deal or always show run crowd run in an hour. Why run a half hour run in an hour and I let him say something and put somebody else on there to say something from another viewpoint get more rather than less. Don't try to weed everything out of it make it AP or UPI Walter Cronkite knows UPI used to write for them again moron. Much more. Increasingly around the country there are fewer and fewer daily newspapers that used to be a time when you had three four five and six major newspapers in every major city in the country. Number of dailies are decreasing You used to be with the New York Tribune but you're not with them any longer because they're not alive any longer what about monopoly power in the print journalism section of the mass media has to be broken up of most monopoly power goes more in the print. But it goes both ways I don't think CBS should be allowed on such a large network. I
think NBC should be allowed on such a large network. I don't think the Scripps-Howard people should be allowed to own the morning an afternoon paper in Cincinnati and a big television station. Nor do I think that Kay Graham should own Newsweek magazine the Washington Post and a major television station in Washington. It's very bad and I think the Boston Herald traveler should on WHDH. I don't think that's good and I think that's good for the community of The Detroit News shouldn't on the local NBC channel and I think it's bad. It's almost as bad as the ownership of the independent stations the ownership of independent television stations around the country is an inordinate number of Coca-Cola bottlers own the stations or auto dealers through political connections they get the channels. I don't ever mention that I was on a station New Haven Connecticut had one half hour a public service programming week. You ask them and you find out it's owned by triangle publications walked around and was the ambassador to the Court of St. James which
is London. He's Nixon's man so of course they would never say anything about that. You know we asked the same question about monopoly in the mass media of a social commentator by the name of Margaret Mead a few months ago now oddly enough she was much more optimistic than you she says in comparison with the days when Thomas Paine was turning out those pamphlets in the war 1776 for independence when you had just a few people dominating a few printing presses on the eastern seaboard in comparison with those days. You have a huge number of diversified sources of independent mass media opinion and that they balance each other out they cancel each other out. There is a possibility for the infusion of new ideas and the picture isn't half as bleak as you paint it and vice president Spiro Agnew would paint it apparently you'd go along with him in some regard. Here we go along go along with him very much so. I think it is dangerous. It's strange about these papers that she says oh good she turned with Thomas Paine and these people ran in ahead of the major problem this country ever had to face. There is still a race
problem. I mean it's a big problem that's the biggest problem we face. And when you read the media any time get a black there's anything. Tries to organize would do anything to to break this situation up a further and self the mass media is almost 100 percent against and there's only a few voices crying out and they get snuffed pretty good. No I know he's very good at all around the country it's abominable and yet some social commentators believe that the civil rights movement never would have gotten started without the mass media taking those pictures of Bull Connor's yet so much I went on here that was fine when I was in the south. But you find they don't want to they don't want to get into it when it gets into their own backyards. WASHINGTON POST gets very nervous about all of a sudden New York Times gets very nervous about it when the school teaches a threat now a lot of people get very nervous about it all over someone it's in their backyards. There's very few places doing good journalism today. I was a Hopkins magazine Esquire magazine and New York magazine and The Village Voice.
Are newspapers good at criticizing important people know where your weekday newspaper publishes tend to laugh very loudly at Richman's jokes there is a lack of balance and as I would your sign like a logic to me. How should I think the number one crime in this country is being poor. Yeah that's a felony. Jimmy let's take a look at your style as a writer. You display a great deal of empathy a great deal of humanity for people on the fringes of society your characters the Marvin the torch an arsonist Jimmy the booster penny so there you have it that's in between characters I mean that it's a little levity in most of my work in the newspapers was done with much more substantial stuff than that that was just a change of pace style the characters but I would say that wrote much more many many more reviews of copy about the civil rights movement or about assassinations that I had but that about Thomas and nominate such a law that they are the ones that would stick because they were away they were so removed and so unique from the daily flow of news that they'd be remembered
longer. So many of these people have one thing in common though they're urban people or city people because they live in the city I live there and I never met a gangster It was a farmer you can really get inside the souls of city people and you empathize with them but. You seem to be a little bit more caustic with the suburb people the suburban neighbors why so hard on them. I lived in the suburbs and I made a habit mistake one part of my life. I'm successfully able to blot it out of my mind except the moment occasions like this and there for a couple of years and Baldwin Long Island Nassau County which is a suburb of the city New York it was incredible was incredible experience. The guy across the street used to sweep his lawn with a broom. How do you like that. Beyond Belief possessions they were nuts. So I put a big sign up on the lawn telling them all don't bother me leave me alone I put the names up I don't want to talk to them anymore. And then how they get along with your kids not I wouldn't talk to my kids they
wouldn't talk to anybody they thought we were the Olgas and I loved it. That made it better. And the woman across the street turned into a real estate agent just to sell our house so we could move she went and took a course and became a real estate agent. What she had we wanted to move you know to facilitate the move. We started out in this part of the conversation talking about your style. You don't have a lot of high falutin theories in your writing your stories sort of sneak up on people. You have a way of describing things without hitting people over the head with a statement. How did you happen to hit upon this style this approach. Would you agree that that is a rough description of your approach. I try and let people describe themselves in print rather than you describing them. You try and by their own words and actions their own appearances at certain times you tell it that way to tell it through an incident something happened to make the situation prove itself don't you just say it. But how do you develop anything you go to
work and a long time of work as much as you can to get something going and you still keep working on it. Here I was developing something. You've got an ability to capture emotions during a time when some literature critics feel that journalism has lost the ability to get the human element down on paper you don't find many Damon Runyon anymore no more. Mark Twains but you do get a Jimmy Breslin from time to time. Am I accurate. Is there a dearth of writers who can really compel the reader to read read read never put down the column of the rows was it with the right as the concrete. You know I mean you mention Runyon you ever took the clips of Runyon's column in the newspaper over a long period of time you'd be awfully awfully disappointed. Twain was a genius. Twain as you know when they were onion Ring Lardner magnificent but over the long haul you're going to get very few compelling writers at any time. Pegler was the best. Probably he might have been the best of them all. His view point I life was wacky but it was the way he could write was
magnificent. What about recent trends in literature the new morality free love homosexuality how does this strike you. Well I don't know whatever reads good as I write but you know broad judgments are hard when Emma reads good. If it's true if it makes sense then it's all right. It doesn't make sense. It's not always very hard to make broad general things you know like a story like this is I don't know let me read it and then we'll see. That's the best way. You were once described as having said that you like to be able to curl up with a book that doesn't feature some homo sexual. I'm making broad grandiose comments about the world in between describing his sleeping maids or something and I must have been mad at some fag that week. Maybe sometimes I'd like to read one of those Yeah. That's according to the day. Whenever the story is you've got to read it but there was a little time though I think particularly around the time that Twiggy came in that was like the homosexuals revenge on America I thought and it was just getting too much tat and I said hey you know enough is enough with
us now to start to force it on me and I'm not quite ready for that. You know we talk about this ability you have to write about the little people the anonymous souls that live in cities and yet you run with Norman Mailer for the mayor of New York and you become pretty much of a culture hero to the sophisticated student sophisticated student on college campuses around the country and the anonymous average people in cities there's quite a distance between those two groups. How do you pull it off of this following among two widely diverse groups of people. I got to look at who's buying the book then I can tell what kind of a following I have. So I got a book out now and that's the acid test if you're following who buys and who doesn't. And I like to see what areas it's selling and what a course a book is made to sell in certain places. It's a book about the Mafia The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight. So therefore Viking Press which is a very fine old publishing house published Steinbeck all those years. It's got this book out and that
salesman came in a little dazed and said Gee I never remember a novel selling in Youngstown Ohio like this before. You know Youngstown is where they kept blowing each other's cars up for a while. The guys were having a feud there. And then he said Steubenville Ohio is very big. Well there was more gangsters to put square block in Steubenville than any place on I thought so I may feel road in Cleveland it's a sellout. I topped a Bible on Mayfield Road in Cleveland with the book. It's great. You find that when you go to visit a place here in Boston do you find that the mass media sends ahead of you and the image which once you get to a local area you feel that people have certain expectations about Jimmy Breslin supposed to act a little pigeonhole it got you put into it. Yeah well the thing is that when I was younger in the biz I was they used to drink it off a lot when I was starting out in those papers I used to take as good as anybody ever lived. They had this thing
you know it is drug all the time. Well I mean you can't be drunk like this I like I have for example I never take even a glass of beer before I work before I do anything I don't drink because it doesn't help me. You have to read it. Usually I do. But like I want to. Kansas State University in Manhattan Kansas. And those two guys from the Wichita paper driven all the way across the state just to get drunk with me and that I took it as a personal insult when I didn't sit down with a bottle with them and you're blind I say hey I gotta get up and make a speech I can't get Steph and I were met they thought it was a bad thing. I've come in the US than a lot of times in a long everybody's ready he's going to get dry will have a big party they can't wait. So as a result I've had to lug up guys here with me they can drink pretty good fats. Thomas I brought him up a couple of times Bob Allen classic drinker and he gets stored and they love it they get blind drunk and there are a mess. Stand in for me everybody then vaguely remembers that I was there to sort of figure out gots to go away with my reputation intact.
Whatever you know of your reputation you wouldn't have a reputation as a drinker as a funny mouse unless you got in it myself. Sure yeah you frustrate yourself but projected it again we've all used to be very bad when I was around as a sports writer when I first started in the newspapers I was very bad with whiskey. I was very bad with checks I was made of with a checkbook. I'd write a check for any amount and give it to anybody I didn't care and I'd borrow money and never pay back though the classic route on the newspaper business in projecting this image of you as a drinker though do you feel that the mass media has used you at all and making a sort of a culture hero. I don't I don't know what that is now I don't think so. They missed you they abuse this during the campaign they didn't understand what we were saying they wouldn't listen to a serious thought. You get along with the New York intellectual elite of a liberal I don't know it's not the actual I don't know what's an intellectually elite. The editors of the persuasive journals the New York Review of Books point Horowitz there's a group of people in the world and they're all they review each other's books
and they don't take you anywhere I mean I know some people in the biz has been in the business 20 is I even know people on the New York Review of Books pretty well. Jason Epstein wife people like Dappy Murray Kempton is on the New York Review of Books when the finest friends I have one of best friends I've got but beyond that. People are right in them I don't know who they are too smart for me that they went to the west wind mainly. Well there was a time in the early 1960s when the country seemed to be rather convinced that it was necessary to get smarter people in the government to get intellectuals and the government this is one of the things that JFK brought into government and this was supposed to be the breath of fresh air that he brought to government to them rather was a product of the thinking of McGeorge Bundy. Robert McNamara Walter Rostow all of finest and brightest the most brilliant minds in the world. It is not the product of a Richard Jay Daley or a Robert F. Wagner or some other Simi clubhouse Democrat who through just cut
his wrists. No don't get him to a mess like Viet Nam your bloody election. He would know that the intellectuals. Well at that time into a thing called surgical bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong as McGeorge Bundy about at some time he thought it was wonderful he wrote long memos about how great it was. We could buy oil tanks and not kill women and children. I mean feller was never in a fist fight this life and he was plotting a war. Love it. That's the geniuses. So I mean we should question our geniuses too. Well the Bundy's the McNamara's the neurons are intellectuals. They are highly intellectual fellow he went to bed at night and saw a Chinese running across the ceiling. We now find out near the end of the program Jimmy Breslin I wonder if we could shift the questioning to politics political personalities. The first one Ronald Reagan. Do you think he's a preview of coming attractions on the American political scene the glamorous conservative who wins.
Geez I don't know. Orwell created him. He's an engaging dummy but the people around him are not that mean harsh bitter sunburned outfit around him with millionaires you never heard of. Which is half the trouble you know an unknown Millionaire was a very bitter man. He wants to be known he wants to be a very big important fellow and you find his vindictiveness and his willingness to trample on people is very very much alive in the political world if he can get someplace. That's the type of people of Reagan's got around them. Is this a monopoly of conservative millionaires What about what happens when the millionaires are how I'm on or a Rockefeller or a Kennedy. Would you take the same interpretation are they always vindictive. No see then known and it helps them they feel more secure. But how do they get known through politics the same way I've been known all over the state originally got known for stealing I guess and then they became respectable and now they reveal it. But these other fellows are just known now for Making it you know they aren't known to have it for a
long time and the Lobby is full as a first generation guys with the money out there on the West Coast you know that's all new money that's different types of people are very harsh but they don't realize much about other people's problems. The Reagan represents them admirably in the past 30 minutes. The audience has been hearing some social commentary by I think what we could call one of the most hard hitting journalists in America today. I think the audience would agree with me that whether they agree with Mr. President or not there can be no question that here is a journalist who pulls no punches a journalist who is in every sense his own man Jimmy Breslin. Thank you very much. Northeastern University has brought to you Jimmy Breslin a nationally known journalist with The New York magazine. Today's program monopoly Jimmy Breslin on the media. The views and opinions expressed on the preceding program were not
necessarily those of Northeastern University for this station. Questions I asked were the moderators method of presenting many sides of today's topic. Your program host has been Joseph R. Bader Director Department of radio productions. This week's program was produced by Carolyn guardrails. Directed by Robin Goff. With technical supervision by Jeffrey Feldman. Executive producer for issue and inquiry is Karen Gartrell. Issue and inquiry is produced for the division of instructional communications at the nation's largest private university. Northeastern University. Requests for a tape recorded copy of any program in this series may be addressed to issue and inquiry. Northeastern University Boston Massachusetts 0 2 1 1 5. Your announcer Dave Hammond.
Issue and inquiry
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Monopoly: Jimmy Breslin on the Media
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Issue and Inquiry is an analysis of public affairs issues such as environmentalism, public health, education, and politics. Produced for the Division of Instructional Communications at the nation's largest private university, Northeastern University.
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