History of Time Magazine Part 4

About the history of Time magazine, the founding and publishing in America.

PROBING THE PERIODICALS

TIME MAGAZINE

But it was in Time's coverage of China that Luce's anticommunist bias truly got the better of him. He was consumed, obsessed by the land of his birth. His March of Time newsreels showed the noble Chinese led by their savior, Chiang Kai-shek, braving the barbarian Japanese invaders. By the mid-1940s, however, those same noble Chinese were braving, not the Japanese, but other, apparently ignoble, Chinese--Chinese Communists, led by one Mao Tse-tung, whose very existence Luce preferred not to recognize. If China was no longer the China of his youth, he didn't want to know about it, and he didn't want Time to report it. So Time didn't. In its pages China remained identified with Chiang, who somehow, inexplicably, and surely temporarily, had evacuated the mainland and was occupying a small island called Taiwan. The fall of China was not so much mourned as ignored.

China's fall was, of course, the fault of the Democrats: Harry Truman and particularly Dean Acheson, who Time reported, was soft on communism. He led those unworthies in the State Dept. who had not lifted a finger to save Chiang. By 1950 Time had become almost the house organ of the Republican party, and was instrumental in drafting Eisenhower for its candidate. Time's coverage of the 1952 campaign is remembered as one of its most biased efforts of press innuendo. Ike always "dwelt on" subjects that Stevenson "spouted" about; lke consistently "rested" while Adlai "loafed." Photographs of the Republican were invariably favorable, while those of the Democrat were unflattering. Staff liberals protested, without recourse. Needless to say, Time's coverage of the eight years of the Eisenhower administration, and especially of John Foster Dulles, was consistently benign.

Otto Fuerbringer, an archconservative, became managing editor of Time in 1960, and his impact was such that President Kennedy, who did his best to woo Time reporters, said he could always tell when Otto was sick or on vacation because the magazine was different that week. Richard Clurman had gradually upgraded Time's news service until it was one of the best in the world, but Fuerbringer held almost total editorial power. Clurman's reporters might write superbly, but it was Otto who decided whether what they wrote would appear, and how.

This problem became particularly apparent with Time's coverage of the war in Vietnam. At first the magazine loved the war, and so many Time dignitaries visited Vietnam in the early 1960s that one reporter, Mert Perry, called it "Time Magazine's Disneyland." The editors were euphorically optimistic, and pessimistic dispatches from the field seldom found their way into print. Charles Mohr, assigned to the Saigon office in 1962, soon found himself on a collision course with Fuerbringer, who was convinced that the root of the problem in Saigon was the American press, Time included. Time employed its "Press" section to attack those critical of the war. When the matter came to a showdown, Mohr and Perry resigned, reviving the old accusations that Time was a magazine of preconceptions to which it fitted the facts at will.

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