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Westbrook Pegler and John F. Kennedy


John Simkin
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One of JFK's harshest critics was the journalist, Westbrook Pegler, who had a column in the Washington Post. He was totally opposed to the civil rights movement and argued against the “pernicious heresy against the ancient privilege of human beings to hate.” He also argued in favour of "the praiseworthy pastime of batting the brains out of pickets” during trade union disputes.

Pegler led the attack on Martin Luther King Jr. and after he delivered his famous I Have a Dream Speech, he wrote in a column, “It is clearly the bounden duty of all intelligent Americans to proclaim and practice bigotry.”

In 1965 he warned that Robert F. Kennedy would be come a victim of "some white patriot of the Southern tier" who "will spatter his spoonful of brains in public premises before the snow flies."

Does anyone know if he made any predictions about the death of JFK?

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USApeglerW.htm

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Pegler may have said noteworthy things about the Kennedy campaign, having conducted, through the Hearst papers, a decades-long smear campaign against Frank Sinatra.* Any Pegler slur against JFK would have to be examined as a Hearst dictat.

*Apologies for previous post - Sinatra actually slugged columnist Lee Mortimer, a Pegler associate.

Edited by David Andrews
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  • 1 year later...

I discovered today that when JFK was elected Westbrook Pegler said "democracy is for bums... this country needs a dictator". Pegler eventually was sacked by Hearst in 1962 because of what he considered to be his growing extremist political views. According to Pegler, Hearst had refused to publish 15 articles about JFK. It would be interesting to know what he said about JFK in these articles.

Pegler later admitted that in May, 1957, he had a meeting with Mafia boss, Frank Costello, and asked him "Can you kill a fellow for me?" Costello asked him who it was. When he discovered it was Earl Warren (he blamed Warren for the 1954 civil rights ruling) he refused: "With those Federals, you can get into trouble".

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USApeglerW.htm

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It does seem like it was Hearst who gave Pegler his soapbox.

Frank Costello was one of the mobsters who attended the 1929 conference in Atlantic City where they broke the country into territories, established the Commission to settle disputes and decided to get into gambling in a big way once Prohibition ended.

The mobsters had few rules, but one of them was not to kill a cop because it would bring down more heat on all of them.

Apparently Hearst was a very vindictive person who used his newspapers as weapons against those who he disliked - including Atlantic City mob boss Nucky Johnson.

There's a famous photo of Johnson, Al Capone and Meyer Lansky walking down the boardwalk, which Hearst had composed from composite photos.

ACConsig: 1929 Atlantic City Organized Crime Convention

The origins of he Hearst-Johnson fued is traced back to a party at Babbets, an Atlantic City nightclub recently made famous by the HBO TV Series Boardwalk Empire.

ACConsig: Babbets

“Later that night he invited the girls – minus Nesbit – back to a party at his suite at the Ritz to entertain visiting dignitaries and local bigwigs,” says Van Meter but, “There are several versions of what happens next, but they all end the same. Nucky Johnson insulted actress Marion Davies, who was the mistress of William Randolph Hearst, by calling her a ‘tramp’ among other ‘vicious’ things. Some versions of the story have it that it happened at the Ritz, where Marion was in a suite just down the hall, having a party of her own that same night. Other versions maintain that Hearst was with Davis in Atlantic City and that words were exchanged among the three of them at Babette’s Yacht Bar, one of Nucky’s favorite hangouts famous for its ship-shaped bar.”

As Van Meter explains, “In any event, Nucky had made a powerful and vindictive enemy out of someone who under any other circumstances would have been happy to be his crony. Nucky later said of Hearst, ‘He’s a windbag who a dumb broad has played for a sucker.’ Hearst was not the kind of man you wanted to upset, as he was not above using his newspapers to destroy perceived enemies. At Hearst’s behest, the New York Evening Journal began a campaign against Johnson that reached a crescendo in 1929, shortly after the underworld conference.”

Edited by William Kelly
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It does seem like it was Hearst who gave Pegler his soapbox.

It is true he was employed by William Randolph Hearst who syndicated his column. However, he died in 1951. His son, William Randolph Hearst, Jr., was more liberal in his outlook. He actually won the Pulitzer Prize in 1956 for a series of articles on the Soviet Union that reflected these views. Hearst was also concerned by the number of newspapers who had stopped taking Pegler's column. This was a period when he was a member of the John Birch Society and was describing people like Eisenhower as being under the control of communists. Hearst sacked Pegler on 14th August, 1962. Pegler claimed that "I have a great deal of information which has become inapplicable until now because I couldn't get it published. This censorship had been going on a long time." He then went on to say that one of the stories that Hearst had stopped him from writing about was John Kennedy's corrupt relationship with Billie Sol Estes.

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