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Harry Truman Writes on the Purpose of the Press
Harry Truman Writes on the Purpose of the Press& "When our forefathers established special guarantees for the freedom of the press, they did so not for the personal aggrandizement of the publishers, but to serve the public"& & Truman was president in a time of rising suspicion and even paranoia about communists and the extent to which they had infiltrated American life. It was the era of McCarthyism and blacklists, and as the main target of the red-baiters, Truman to some degree had to ride the tiger the better to control it. Thus he has come under criticism for instituting loyalty oaths and failing to stand up for freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.& & Yet the following letter demonstrates that this criticism is not altogether justified, and that at the height of the McCarthy madness, he had a clear picture of the value and purpose of freedom of the press, the most controversial of those rights.& & Typed Letter Signed on White House letterhead, Washington, May 12, 1952, to Wellington Wales, editor of the newspaper The Citizen-Advertiser in Auburn, New York. "I was pleased to learn that the Auburn Citizen-Advertiser has been selected for the ÔMost Valuable Citizen to the Community' award of Auburn, New York. When our forefathers established special guarantees for the freedom of the press, they did so not for the personal aggrandizement of the publishers, but to serve the public. The award that has come to you is a gratifying demonstration of the true role of a newspaper in a democratic society."& & In 1946, Truman had called freedom of the press "one of the freedoms for which we were fighting and essential to our democratic way of life." Here he not only advocates it, but more significantly shows his understanding that the Founding Fathers did not establish that freedom to benefit the publishers (or by extension the other elites which publishers often represent), but to inform and enlighten the common people. A radical purpose, both in 1790 and today, and a very important presidential statement.
      [Bookseller: The Raab Collection]
Last Found On: 2013-09-16           Check availability:      Biblio    

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