Fake News, 1938

Image result for images of hitler taking czechoslovakia

Fake news has a long and shameful history. Our 21st century nooze media didn’t invent it.

The 1930s were the heyday of unreliable, dishonest, distorted, suppressed, and invented news. Walter Duranty of The New York Times won a Pulitzer Prize for his brazen fictions about life in Josef Stalin’s workers’ paradise. But for real, thorough-going journalistic quackery, the British newspapers took the cake.

As Britain’s ruling class, throughout the 1930s, sought to appease and butter up Adolf Hitler at all costs, and to shirk their duty to defend their country, and to delude themselves into thinking Hitler was a nice man who only wanted what was reasonable and good, the higher-ups at the British papers did everything they could–including telling outright lies–to foster this illusion and deceive the British public.

Mind you, it wasn’t the reporters. The foreign correspondents in Berlin, Vienna, Rome, and elsewhere faithfully sent their editors accurate reports of developments in Europe. These the editors rewrote to mask the truth, or else simply discarded. As the Nazi regime grew in evil, so grew the editors and publishers in mendacity.

One particular incident really stands out.

In 1938 the arch-appeaser, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, bragged about securing “peace in our time” by sacrificing “a faraway country,” Czechoslovakia, to Hitler. This came on the heels of a long series of concessions to the Nazis, all of which made Hitler stronger and the western democracies weaker. It came rather close to treason.

Unable to stomach the dishonor of the government’s cowardly betrayal of an ally, Alfred Duff Cooper resigned as First Lord of the Admiralty. His resignation speech was a ringing denunciation of Chamberlain’s actions, and a full house at Parliament was strongly moved by it.

So the London Times reporter on the scene reported. Accurately, as a good reporter should.

But The Times’ editor-in-chief, Geoffrey Dawson, hand in glove with Chamberlain in all attempts to surrender to Hitler, didn’t like that report at all. So he threw it away, wrote a false account of Cooper’s speech going over like a lead balloon… and signed the reporter’s name to it! Appalled by his editor’s chicanery, the reporter resigned. And faced with a storm of criticism over the grossly inaccurate account that had appeared in his paper, Dawson could only pretend he didn’t know how that had gotten published.

In their decade-long campaign of lying and distortion, the British news media had a share in the responsibility for the millions of lives snuffed out in World War II. There were countless opportunities to stop Hitler before it was too late to prevent war. Thanks in part to the noozies, those opportunities were allowed to pass away, one after the other.

This is the example being followed today by our own Big Media.

God help us. Amen.

About leeduigon

I have lived in Metuchen, NJ, all my life. I have been married to my wife Patricia since 1977. I am a former newspaper editor and reporter. I was also the owner-operator of my own small business for several years. I wrote various novels and short stories published during 1980s and 1990s. I am a long-time student of judo and Japanese swordsmanship (kenjutsu). I also play chess, basketball, and military and sports simulations. View all posts by leeduigon

12 responses to “Fake News, 1938

  • UnKnowable

    Newspapers have had plenty on ignominious moments ant there’s nothing new about that. They are in business to sell newspapers, telling the truth is only important if it sells papers.

    The British, of the thirties, were pretty much ostriches, sticking their head in the sand and hoping for security. In many ways, they are the perfect analog of the progressive left in our day. The problem is, there is always a nascent Hitler waiting in the wings. Without a weakened society, Germany would have never tolerated Hitler for any length of time. He was as evil as can be, but his ascension to power was a symptom of just how bad things had gotten in Germany.

    My question is this; why do people continue to consume the product of the mainstream media?

    Like

    • leeduigon

      In those days there was no alternative source of information. Now there is–which makes anyone’s adherence to the Big Media inexplicable.

      Like

      • UnKnowable

        That’s one of the amazing things about our time. I find my news via the Internet and can quickly check on several sources. News stories about any single event can be reported quite differently, depending upon where the reporting is being done. It pays to shop around, when it comes to news sources.

        Like

      • Linda Sorci

        People prefer to be lied to rather than to face the truth. It’s usually easier – in the short term, that is. Consequences down the road, though, are always looming. Keeping those rose-colored glasses handy is how many people navigate this life – rather than the Word of God.

        Like

    • leeduigon

      I must add that I was a newspaper reporter and editor in the 1970s, and that most of us, whatever our personal failings, felt highly motivated to seek the truth and report it accurately and fairly to our readers.

      Then along came Watergate and “All the President’s Men,” and every pillock coming out of journalism school wanted to be the next Woodward or Bernstein, and take down a president. Especially if he were a Republican.

      And I’m sorry to say that some of my colleagues from those days, who are still in the newspaper business, have, like so many of my generation, cast away everything they used to believe in and have gone over to a full partisan mode. They no longer value truth or accuracy; and the truth is not in them.

      Like

      • Linda Sorci

        There are always those special few with high morals and integrity, but, of course, those are not the ones with big paychecks and long careers.

        Like

        • leeduigon

          I think we were more than just a few. I think it was most of us, back then.

          But of course we weren’t the Big Media.

          Like

          • UnKnowable

            That’s the thing, the business has changed. All businesses have changed and many don’t have a shred of integrity. Go to Sears and it’s not the same sort of business it was even 20 years ago, and certainly not the business it was 30-50 years ago. It’s not the business itself which has changed, but these changes are a reflection of the ethics practiced by upper management. Newspapers, etc, are the same.

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      • UnKnowable

        Watergate seemed to be a turning point. Sin e then, the media have seen fit to include themselves as part of the story. It seemed to legitimize “taking on” the president, instead of merely reporting the facts. The term investigative journalism entered the lexicon and every hanger-on in the industry decided that was their true calling.

        I remember one local reporter in Denver, whim I found particularly tiresome, that spied on city workers and came out with exposes just in time for sweeps week. When one of her sycophants was bubbling forth with praise I asked if she thought this journalist posted her stories for the public good or for the advertising revenue. I was called every name in the book. 🙂

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  • Linda Sorci

    The media exists to manipulate public opinion, not to tell the truth of any matter – unless, of course, it suits their purposes and objectives. For instance, create a hyped-up story about WMD so we can ‘legitimately’ attack Iraq. It’s always about power and war and money and deposing other governments – not about truthful, accurate information.

    Cynical? You bet!

    Like

    • UnKnowable

      I remember, as a youngster, meeting older people whom struck me as cynical and even paranoid, when they talked about political events. Flash forward to our present day and they don’t seem so crazy anymore.

      There was one old guy in our neighborhood that would go into a particularly harsh harangue whenever he met anyone. I remember him talking to my father and thinking that the old guy was a nut job. Amazingly, much of what he talked about has come to pass during my lifetime. Were he alive today, I’d go shake his hand and thank him for his courage.

      Like

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