The Press as a 1964 Poltical Target
Hardly Any presidential campaign has been waged in the United States without complaint from one or another of the candidates that inaccurate or biased press coverage of his activities was prejudicing his chances of victory. The campaign of 1964 is no exception. Supporters of Sen. Barry Goldwater have been crying out against treatment of their candidate by reporters, columnists and television commentators. Complaints of this kind have not been as loud since 1948, when President Truman's protests against a “kept Republican press” fortified his image as an underdog and helped him to win the election.
It seems ironic that charges of deliberate unfairness to the Republican nominee should be leveled against press, radio and television, when control of those enterprises has usually been thought to be mainly in Republican hands. One explanation offered by Goldwater partisans is that publishers are powerless to stem an anti-Goldwater slant allegedly imparted to the press by liberal-minded reporters, headline writers, columnists and commentators.
A theory widely accepted by other backers of the G.O.P. nominee is that influential Republican publishers, especially on the East Coast, are members of a liberal cabal. Until this year, so the argument goes, these kingmakers were able to dictate selection of the G.O.P. standard-bearer and deny the Republican conservative wing its just due; now frustrated for the first time, they are pictured as seeking revenge against the conservative nominee.