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George Seldes

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George Seldes was born in Alliance, New Jersey, on 16th November, 1890. When he was nineteen he was employed as a cub reporter by the Pittsburgh Leader. In 1914 he was appointed night editor of the Pittsburgh Post. As a young man he was influenced by the investigative journalism of Lincoln Steffens.

In 1916 Seldes moved to London where he worked for the United Press. When the United States joined the First World War in 1917, Seldes was sent to France where he worked as the war correspondent for the Marshall Syndicate. At end of the war he managed to obtain an exclusive interview with Paul von Hindenburg. Unfortunately for Seldes, the article was suppressed and never appeared in the American press.

Seldes spent the next ten years as an international reporter for the Chicago Tribune. This included an interview with Lenin in 1922. However, the Soviet government did not like Seldes's reports and in 1923 he was expelled from the country.

The editor of the Chicago Tribune sent him to Italy where he wrote about Benito Mussolini and the rise of fascism. Seldes investigated the murder of Giacomo Matteotti, the head of the Italian Socialist Party. His article implicating Mussolini in the killing, resulted in Seldes being expelled from Italy.

The Chicago Tribune sent Seldes to Mexico in 1927 but his articles criticizing American corporations concerning their use of the country's mineral rights, were not always published by the newspaper. Seldes returned to Europe but found that increasingly his work was being censored to fit the political views of the newspaper's owner, Robert McCormack.

Disillusioned, Seldes left the Chicago Tribune and worked as a freelance writer. In his first two books, You Can't Print That! (1929) and Can These Thins Be! (1931), Seldes included material that he had not been allowed to publish in the Chicago Tribune. His next book, World Panorama (1933), was a narrative history of the period that followed the First World War.

In 1934 Seldes published a history of the Catholic Church, The Vatican. This was followed by an expose of the world armaments industry, Iron, Blood and Profits (1934), an account of Benito Mussolini, Sawdust Caesar (1935), and two books on the newspaper industry, Freedom of the Press (1935) and Lords of the Press (1938). During this period he also reported on the Spanish Civil War for the New York Post.

On his return to the United States in 1940 Seldes published Witch Hunt, an account of the persecution of people with left-wing political views in America, and The Catholic Crisis, where he attempted to show the close relationship between the Catholic Church and fascist organizations in Europe.

In 1940 Seldes began his own political newsletter called In Fact. A journal that eventually reached a circulation of 176,000. One of the first articles published in the newsletter concerned the link between cigarette smoking and cancer. Seldes later explained that at the time, "The tobacco stories were suppressed by every major newspaper. For ten years we pounded on tobacco as being one of the only legal poisons you could buy in America."

As well as writing his newsletter Seldes continued to publish books. This included Facts and Fascism (1943), 1000 Americans (1947), an account of the people who controlled America and The People Don't Know (1949) on the origins of the Cold War.

In the early 1950s Seldes work came under attack from Joseph McCarthy. Despite his long history of being hostile to all forms of authoritarianism and totalitarianism, he was accused of being a communist. He later recalled how: "Newspaper columnists would write that a Russian agent stopped by my office each week to pay my salary. I didn't have the money to sue them for libel. My lawyer told me it would take years to reach a settlement and even if I won I would never see a dime."

Seles was blacklisted and now found it difficult to get his journalism published. He continued to write books including Tell the Truth and Run (1953), Never Tire of Protesting (1968), Even the Gods Can't Change History (1976) and Witness to a Century (1987). George Seldes died on 2nd July, 1995, aged 104.


You can find a selection of his articles here:


Here is part of an article from 1941.

Tobacco Shortens Life

In fact

Jan. 13, 1941

(No. 18) Vol. 11, No. 5

Smoking shortens life. Between the ages of 30 and 60, 61% more heavy smokers die than non-smokers. A human being's span of life is impaired in direct proportion to the amount of tobacco he uses, but the impairment among even light smokers is "measurable and significant"

The facts for the foregoing statements come from Johns Hopkins University, department of biology. They constitute one of the most important and incidentally one of the most sensational stories in recent American history, but there is not a newspaper or magazine in, America (outside scientific journals) which has published all the facts.

The mention by Secretary Ickes of the .suppression of this story resulted in one of the major scandals of American journalism. Many prominent newspapers which had suppressed the story published false statements and refused to print corrections.

Here are the facts.

"Make Users' Flesh Creep"

FOR generations there have been arguments about tobacco. Moralists preached against cigarets. Scientists differed. But in Feb 1938 Dr. Raymond Pearl, head biologist, Johns Hopkins, gave the New York Academy of Medicine the scientific result of a study of the life histories of some 7,000 Johns Hopkins cases which, for newspapers, should have constituted a story "to scare the life out of tobacco manufacturers and make the tobacco users' flesh creep," as Time commented (March 7 1938).

The Associated Press, United Press and special correspondents of New York papers heard Dr. Pearl tell the story. But a paragraph or two buried under less important matter, in one or two papers was all the great free press of America cared to make known to its readers, the consumers of 200,000,000,000 cigarets a year.

Science News Letter (March 12 1938 p. 163) had this to say:

"Scientists can tell you whether or not groups of men are marked for early death.

"They can do this while these men are still In good health, years before the first appearance of any signs of the disease that will eventually kill them.

"The studies which make this possible were reported publicly for the first time by Dr. Raymond Pearl. . . .

'Tobacco, smokers do not live as long as nonsmokers. This conclusion was based on life tables for the number, out of 100,000 non-smoking men, 100,000 moderate smokers (men) and 100 ,000 heavy smokers (men) who were still alive at each age level after 30 years. At age 60, for example, 66,564 of the 100.000 non-smokers were still living, 61,911 of the moderate smokers were living, and 46.226 of the 100,000 heavy smokers were still living. . . .

"The studies show that smoking is associated with a definite impairment of longevity. This Impairment in proportional to the habitual amount of tobacco usage by smoking, being great for heavy 100,000 heavy smokers (men) who were still alive at each age level after 30 years. At age 60, for example, 66,364 of the 100,000 non-smokers were still living, 61,911 of the moderate smokers were living, and 46,226 of the 100,000 heavy smokers were still living . . .

The studies show that smoking is associated with a definite impairment of longevity. This impairment is proportional to the habitual amount of tobacco usage by smoking, being great for heavy smokers and less for moderate smokers, but even in the latter, sufficient to be measurable and significant."

61% Excess Deaths

WRITING in La Follette's Progressive (no advertising taken) Francis A. Porter popularized Dr. Pearl's tables as follows:

Deaths from age 30 to 60 among:

per 100,000 per 100

1. Non-smokers 3,436 33

2. Moderate 38,089 38

3. Heavy 53,774 54

Percentage of excess deaths:

1. Moderate smokers 14 per cent

2. Heavy smokers 61 per cent

Alcohol versus Tobacco

WRITING on the subject of longevity in Scientific Monthly (May 1938) Dr. Pearl said of the use of alcohol:

"The problem of the effect of such usage upon longevity has excited violent and unreasoning prejudice on the part of large numbers of people. They contend that alcohol always and everywhere shortens the life of its users. There is much evidence, experimental, statistical and actuarial, that this is not a universally valid generalization." Dr. Pearl had previously studied the use of alcohol. He now concluded: "Moderate drinking does not significantly shorten life when compared with total abstention from alcohol, while heavy drinking does seriously diminish the length of life." This too would have been a big story for any newspaper which had the courage to publish anything about such matters.

Of tobacco, Dr. Pearl explains bow he picked his 7,000 cases, and concludes:

"These are not large numbers from an actuarial point of view, but are sufficient to be probably indicative of the trends that would be shown by more ample material. Naturally the men included in the observation were an unselected lot except as to their tobacco habits. That is to say they were taken at random and then sorted into categories relative to tobacco usage." The result of the study is summed up in Dr. Pearl's life and death table, which follows:

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A great follow-up for students of George Seldes and those concerned with the media in general is Donald Gibson’s book Communication, Power and Media.

[originally posted on the JFK Research Forum (www.jfkresearch.com)]

Communication, Power and Media

by Donald Gibson

Nova Science Publishers, Inc., Hauppauge, New York, 2004

ISBN: 1-59033-930-4

Donald Gibson has done it again! With his latest book, Communication, Power and Media he has done with the media what he did earlier for the JFK case. He has again taken a great crime—and what the media is doing to us is a great crime—and in this book lays out a convincing picture of who is doing the crime, and how and why there are doing it.

This book is a well researched, well executed, scholarly little masterpiece and it represents a very big ray of hope. Students and researchers of the JFK assassination will especially reap benefits from it because it contains clues that could lead to an understanding of two of the most important unanswered questions in the case. How is the media controlled? And how is a rock solid cover-up maintained that has lasted for over forty years?

There have been other books about the media but only Donald Gibson—of those working in the field—has the background and worldview to be able to paint a comprehensive picture of what the scope of the problem is. It took a lot of courage to write a book like this, and in addition to the author one must tip one’s hat to the publisher. In fact it seems a minor miracle that a book like this ever saw the light of day. And even though you won’t see it on any New York Times bestseller lists and you probably won’t see Professor Gibson on Book Notes, it’s out there (!) and that in itself is a big story.

In the first chapter entitled “Language, Communication and Human Nature,” the author identifies the problem and then identifies where we should start looking for answers:

We have serious problems with our media. These problems are related to both what the media does do and what it does not do. The first, the sins of commission, are related primarily to entertainment. The second, sins of omission, are connected primarily to the information and news aspects of media. In both areas there are major problems. The media acts in ways that can only end in the undermining of our democracy and our civilization. That the media does this is apparent if not obvious. We need to know, to the best of our ability, why they would do this. That requires that we have some idea of who directs the media…

On the question of who runs the media it turns out that some relatively old ideas are probably closer to the truth than many recent ones. Bad ideas, especially if they take up enough space, can sometimes drive out the good. We are likely to do better if our starting point is Ferdinand Lundberg or George Seldes rather than, say, Noam Chomsky… (pp 8-9)

The sins of omission are what the media doesn’t tell us and the incomplete, inaccurate, and misleading picture of the world it presents, and the sins of commission are the never ending waves of decadence, violence, and nonsense that it pushes on us.

By analyzing what the author calls “interlocks,” he demonstrates that the great media conglomerates are closely linked to the largest and most powerful Establishment financial institutions and thus—as should come as no surprise to students of the JFK case—they are simply an arm of the Establishment and the media agenda is the Establishment’s agenda.

The media’s behavior is itself a means to an end. In order to understand the reasons for the pornography, violence, banality and self-censorship, we must look at the content of media in relation to the Establishment agenda. Achieving the goals of this agenda is what explains the behavior. The agenda is in this sense the immediate cause of the media’s behavior.

The overall goal of those who control the media is simple and banal; it is the same goal that motivated the English at the time of the American Revolution – world power. We need to look more closely at those who control the media. They are the promoters of the Establishment’s agenda. They are probably also the carriers of a culture of domination, a set of beliefs, values and rationalizations that support the goal of world power. (p79)

Ron W

Edited by Ronald R. Williams
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You can find a selection of his articles here:


Thanks and well done, John, for giving Seldes his own thread - no US journalist of the 20th century deserves it more.

Interested readers can find a complete run of In Fact, his remarkable weekly, here:


We have the University of Pennsylvania’s Schoenberg Centre for Electronic Text and Image to thank for the riches therein.


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In 1931, Seldes married Countes Dunsilla Ladine Young de Martino - a Texan who was an incredibly interesting woman. Amongst other things, she wrote feature stories for 'The News', was married to a Spanish Count, was a prisoner in a harem, starred in Russian movies and had been a member of the cast of Street Singers of Europe.

In 1950, Seldes carried four very important endorsements of his work. Harold L. Ickes, Estes Kefauver, President Truman and Robert S. Lynd.

BTW, Seldes' book, 'Freedom Of The Press' was published by Bobbs-Merrill. Given some of the spooks who would end up in their employ, the title is kind of ironic.


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