Sunday, March 3, 2013

Blog post (from research) #12: (Due Monday, March 11)
There will be two or three boxes of organized HKS letters in the Maryland Room on the first floor of Hornbake Library held in reserve, starting Monday, March 4. 

You will need to get over to the Maryland Room, pick a file or two from these boxes, and search for a letter that interests you and that you think lends itself to further research.   

Find out some more about the issues addressed in the letter, the actual broadcast, and some kind of background. (250-350 words; 4-5 secondary sources).  

Please note that I am looking for more sophisticated work with each of these small assignments, especially evidence of deeper search for sources.


  1. The letter I chose from Howard K. Smith’s letter collection dates back to May 10, 1972; the letter partly dotes upon Smith’s professionalism and adeptness in delivering the news, but also addresses a specific event reported on the news as well as a broader issue within the journalism industry. The specific event that the letter writer, Mr. Joseph P. Wall of Philadelphia, discusses is the New York State Legislature’s 1972 decision to repeal its landmark abortion statute, which was originally passed in 1970 [1]. The initial statute legalized abortion in New York and was hailed as “a defining political and cultural event, it stunned nearly everyone;” a more conservative Legislature attempted to repeal the bill two years later but then-Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller vetoed the bill [1]. Essentially, “the most permissive abortion law in America” was too important to women’s rights to be overturned -- the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 was crafted in regards to the New York statute [2].
    Wall’s main reason for writing, however, was not to insert his opinion on the issue, but rather to comment on Gregory Jackson’s reporting on the subject. In his piece, Jackson asserted that the attempt to repeal the abortion law “was another case of men deciding on laws for women” [3]. According to Wall, Jackson’s insertion of his opinion without denoting it as such was a clear violation of journalistic ethics. As a journalist your ability to provide the public with unbiased and accurately reported news is your lifeblood, and Jackson’s actions could be constituted as injudicious, especially when reporting on such a contentious issue. The issue also conjures up other important journalistic ethics cases and how the organizations handled them, such as New York Times Co. vs. United States, also known as the Pentagon Papers case [4].


  2. The letter I found came from what I would consider the minority group during the Vietnam War era. This letter, written by Tom F. Schroeter, tells his “duty” that explains how he is a not only a believer of the war, but also in pursuit to get involved shortly. In the letter he praises Howard K. Smith as the “only anchor he can identify with.” However, the purpose of the letter was how Mr. Schroeter convicts Smith of becoming imbalance in terms of the war efforts. He preaches that Mr. Smith is not interpreting the youth protest movement nor President Nixon’s news conferences correctly. He is acting purely on his bias, which isn’t true to his past nature as a journalist.

    The key sentence that stood out to me was how the idea of serving in the war was not a “patriotic duty, but a duty to my belief history, and to the lives of all those living and to be born.” Shortly a month before, 41 percent of the nation felt that the Nixon regime was not handling the situation in Vietnam well. From most of what I learned about in school and whatnot, the majority of opinion of Vietnam was that it was a long exhaustive war that changed the idea of patriotism. I find it interesting and also a minority opinion that Mr. Schroeter considers himself necessary to preserve the life of Americans. Perhaps even more interesting is that fact that he does not deem himself as patriotic, more on the path of obliged to do so. President Johnson and Nixon were famously know for using the idea of “patriotism” for grasping control of the war. Those who fought and believed in the war were patriots, while others were clearly against America.

    Another interesting aspect of the letter was how there was no mention of the anti-war rally march on Washington. The rally took place just three days before the letter was dated. 80,000 people attended the rally. While he slightly discusses the Kent State Massacre on very general terms, he never even mentions the recent call on Washington.

    As the years went on during the war, the younger generation seems to be more in depth with politics and voiced their opinion much louder than anybody else had tried. The idea of protesting the war did not sit well with some, but for others it served as the true meaning of being American. This character is interesting for the fact that he did not belong to this general consensus. He triumphly believed that education was not as important as serving one’s duty. Assuming his education track is not faulted, Mr. Schroeter is clearly an intelligent man, which makes his opinion so much more unusual and fascinating.


    Howard. K Smith Letter

  3. The letter I chose commended Howard K. Smith's coverage of the 1974 Turkish Invasion of Cyprus, although there were plenty critical letters concerning the issue as well. As it was a conflict I knew nothing about, I decided to look more into it.

    In 1967, there was a coup in Greece, and a military junta resulted. Turkey invaded Cyprus in response on July 20, 1974. The Turks refer to this as the "Cyprus Peace Operation." Turkey and Greece neared all-out war, and the Greeks' junta fell apart as a result.

    As a result, Northern Cyprus was founded - technically the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyrus. It is a self-declared state only recognized by one nation - Turkey.

    Turkey was found guilty of five different human rights violations - displacement of persons, deprivation of liberty, ill treatment, deprivation of life, and deprivation of possessions - all crimes committed against Greek Cypriots.


    Emerson, Michael. The Wider Europe Matrix. 2004
    Crawshaw, Nancy. The Curious Revolt: An Account of the Struggle for Union with Greece.
    Press and Information Office (Cyprus).
    Letter to Howard K. Smith.
    European Commission of Human Rights, "Report of the Commission to Applications 6780/74 and 6950/75" ,  Council of Europe, 1976

  4. A lot of the letters in the 1969-1970 were concerning Howard K Smith’s views on the Vietnam War. When we watched his obituaries in class, they mentioned that Smith used to be in favor of the Nixon administration and the Vietnam War. Most viewer mail seemed to be against the war. Some letters had a more hostile tone while others were written by fans that respectfully disagreed. While most letters were short, I found a really interesting letter, which I thought was well written and well thought out. The letter was written in response to Smith’s pro-war remarks. Even though Smith was a liberal, he took a pro-war stance and called “for all-out American military escalation to end the war in Vietnam, the invasion of Laos and Cambodia,” according to a New York Times obituary [1]. Even after the Tet Offensive, when most newsmen were already disillusioned with the war, he still called for more bombing in Vietnam [2].

    The viewer letter I chose was written by Fulton Pace. Pace respectfully disagrees with Smith’s sentiments that “’if we just hold on tight a little longer, victory is right around the corner’”. Pace goes on to present a parallel between German forces bombing Allies’ supplies and how the U.S. is doing the same in Vietnam with the same luck (slowing the opponent down but not enough to compensate for wasting resources). He felt that the U.S. should instead adopt a program to “restore and improve world ecology, including the control of birth to maintain its necessary balances” and felt U.S. solders should instead “conserve resources, build homes…[and] check pollution” among other things. I thought this was an interesting point from someone who understood that the same formula for democracy that worked in one place (like the U.S.) wasn’t always the solution in another (like Vietnam).

    Smith didn’t quite view the war this way. He supported the war, not only because his son fought in it, but also because didn’t want democracies to stand aside again as they had for Hitler and he believed it was a “proxy fight for the superpowers” [3] [4]. This is interesting to note because it seems that by 1970, the anti-war message seemed to be as powerful, or even more powerful, than the pro-war message [5]. A Gallup poll at the time asked “In view of developments since we entered the fighting in Vietnam, do you think the U.S. made a mistake sending troops to fight in Vietnam?” The numbers decreased as time went on and by May 1970 (when this letter was written) only 36 percent of those polled said it was not as mistake [6].


  5. I decided to research a letter written to Howard K. Smith by a Mr. Eugene P. Feit on June 19, 1972. The letter was written on University of California, Berkeley School of Law paper. This is what originally caught my attention because my uncle, a lawyer, worked closely with U.C. Berkeley shortly after this letter was written.

    The letter was criticizing Smith’s positive commentary of Nixon’s decision to end the Vietnam war. Feit pointed out that this was four years and 20,000 deaths after he promised to end the war in his 1968 campaign.

    He ended the letter with the story of a young man who was a Nixon organizer in New York in 1968. This young man believed that Nixon would end the war and dedicated himself to the campaign. He was drafted and lost “several of his limbs.” Feit argues that this “Mr. Kantor” would disagree with Smith’s commentary.

    I researched further into “Mr. Kantor” to find out that his full name is Lloyd Kantor. The first search turned up a book entitled, “Private War, Personal Victory,” by Loretta Kantor.1 The book is a personal story written by Lloyd’s wife and college sweetheart about the struggles of rehabilitation and the fight for Veteran’s benefits. A blog review of the book, describes Lloyd’s troubles, rehabbing in a “cockroach-infested Walter Reed,” and wasting hours learning tasks that would do him little good, like learning to drive a car, despite having no arms or legs, and the use of only one eye.2

    A write-up about the book, published in the Kantors’ high school magazine, includes great pictures of the couple, including one of Lloyd at one of his “Students for Nixon” meetings. The piece claims that Kantor organized one of the first “Students for Nixon” groups in the country.3

    A 1988, local article in the Ocala Star Banner, includes testimony from Lloyd about when he lost his limbs. The young soldier with a Mets symbol engraved on his helmet said when the booby trap exploded, he cried for help. “John Wayne doesn’t call for help,” he said, “but the rest of us do.” The article goes on to describe a story of how Lloyd was reunited with a nurse who tended to him right after he suffered his injuries. He had heard her talking in a TV documentary about a patient with no limbs who asked for a rabbi as he was wheeled into the hospital. He knew that she was talking about him and tracked the nurse down just to say thank you.4

    Kantor continued to be active with his fellow veterans. A newsletter shows that he was a member of the Fourth Infantry otherwise known as the “Ivy Leaves” and contributed to the organization by writing and sending articles to the organization’s archives. 5

    Though the Kantors’ story is probably similar to other Vietnam veterans of the time, I question why more stories like this are not told. Why didn’t Howard K. Smith comment on the conditions of Vietnam veterans recovering in Army hospitals in 1972? Or comment on the men who supported Nixon in 1968 and were then drafted, injured and neglected?

  6. I chose a letter written to Howard K Smith on May 6, 1970 by Arthur J. Viseltear. Mr. Viseltear wrote his letter on Yale University stationary and was an assistant professor with a Ph.D. Therefore, a very educated man. I also believe he had his secretary write his letter because there are two pairs of initials, one being his, at the bottom of the second page.

    The letter makes reference to many things that relate to events on college campuses. He writes, “I must protest an administration with priorities that causes…to occur the premeditated murder of sons and daughters on college campuses”. This sparked my interest and triggered something I had learned about before.
    This letter was written just two days after the National Guard killed four students at Kent State University on May 4, 1970. The shooting occurred at a demonstration on the college’s campus after President Nixon ordered troops to enter Cambodia [1]. The ruckus at Kent State went on for a few days and the Ohio National Guard was sent in to occupy the campus [2]. After confrontations with students who wouldn’t resist, the Guardsmen fired off. They killed four students and wounded nine [2]. The backlash ignited even more protests and demonstrations on college campuses around the nation.

    As I was researching more about the event, I stumbled across an article in the Marietta Times from 2008 by a writer who was remembering the massacre [3]. He mentions Howard K. Smith by name and says Smith was present at a weeklong event “Journalism Week” at Ohio University during the first weeks of May 1970 (it seems to be right after the May 4 shooting). On May 14, the campus of Ohio University had a situation where a protest was out of control as well. The writer mentions this because after the May 4 shooting, ABC News did a feature about OU and that things were quite on their campus. I think it’s great he mentions Smith by name and shows how ABC in a way put a target on OU.

    What I find particularly interesting about this letter, is that a Yale University professor thought to write to Howard K. Smith to air out his problems. I think most people today would write to a senator or a congressman to get a problem addressed. These letters show that people thought of Howard K Smith as having the same power to change society’s opinion. Writing to him was the way they got their message out there. I think it says a lot of Smith’s reputation and his program.

    [1] The Report of the President’s Commission on Campus Unrest –


    [3] Rembering May 1970 --

    [4] The May 4 Shootings at Kent State University: the search for historical accuracy

  7. For this assignment, I chose a two-page typed letter from a woman Evansville, Indiana, that is dated May 15,1970 and directed at Howard K. Smith. He was a big influence in the making of television journalism and was one of the most widely recognized journalist during his television years at CBS and ABC. [1] One of the reasons for choosing this letter was the writer’s heartfelt plea to erase the presence of Communism. However, what I found more interesting is what the letter does not say.

    The writer explains that she has a son fighting in the Vietnam War and he stationed in the war torn country. She fears for his safety and simply wants peace, which is why she is soliciting the help of Howard K. Smith. In the letter, she makes absolutely no reference or comment regarding any of his broadcasts, but rather requests his attention and efforts be directed toward ending Communism in the world.

    The very fact that she wrote to Howard K. Smith about this issue and not a broadcast comment makes a definitive statement: Smith was an influential journalist, who displayed the power and authority to direct the attention of the national audience. He was so influential that he could affect and change the American psyche and perspective on a number of different issues, including the unpopular Vietnam War.

    “Howard K. Smith was a man of intelligence and integrity in World War II and beyond,” said CBS anchor Dan Rather. [2] Smith was well respected by his peers and by television viewers, and had a way of captivating their interest.

    One way in which Smith won over his viewers was his unabashed will to provide a strong commentary that took a stance on the issue, which is something that journalists before him did not do. “A dull and cautious editorial or a strong one on a banal issue are of no help to anyone,” Smith said in a past interview. [3] Smith felt that he actually had an obligation as a journalist and an advocate of the public to express a clear position on every issue. The writer most likely had this theory in mind when writing the letter in an attempt to persuade him to embrace the issue and take a public stand against Communism. Her belief was probably that if Smith public condemns Communism, then the rest of America would follow his lead.

    Another thing I noticed in the letter was that the writer talked about the idea of wanting peace in the world, and in her body and soul. In two places, she writes “I desire peace.” While they are short, simple sentences, it demonstrates the presence of the peace movement that began in the 1960s. “In the 1960s, high-profile opposition to the Vietnam war turned to street protests in an effort to turn U.S. political opinion against the war.” [4] The war was becoming highly unpopular, and Americans wanted the violence to stop. There was a huge emphasis on resisting violence and restoring the peace. That was this writer’s intention.


    Links to the letter… in two parts

  8. I chose two letters for Howard K. Smith, both written from the same city on the same day: Augusta, Ga. on May 20, 1970. They were both in response to Smith’s reporting on riots in the city’s black community. According to the letter writers, Smith was only reporting the black side of the issue and neglecting to make a case for the whites of Augusta.

    According to a New York Times report, Augusta at the time was a city of about 70,000 people, evenly split between whites and blacks. The reporter said economic disparity and differences in social mobility created a “great gulf between the black and white communities” (Johnson). Three-fourths of blacks in the city lived under the poverty line, and average white income was nearly three times higher than average black income (Johnson).

    The riots were in reaction to the torture and killing of a 16-year-old, retarded black youth in jail by his guards. Jail officials said the boy merely fell from his cot, an explanation that quickly drew ire from the black community (Johnson). It was unclear, according to witnesses, how and when the riots, which consisted of arson, violence, vandalism and looting, began. Georgia Governor Lester Maddox called the riots “a communist conspiracy" (Johnson).

    At some point during the riots, police began shooting, resulting in the deaths of six black men. One black witness on the scene told the New York Times that police didn’t begin shooting until rioters began dragging whites out of stopped cars and beating them (Johnson, Waldron and Wooten). According to the Times, the only white people on the scene of the riots were the white police officers. Witnesses also told the Times three of the six men killed were innocent bystanders not involved in the riots. No weapons were found on any of the six bodies (Johnson, Waldron and Wooten). According to autopsy reports, all six men were shot in the back and killed with buckshot (Waldron).

    The letters to Smith regarding his biased reporting solely blame the blacks for the riots and insinuate the men killed were to blame for their own deaths. Both letters call on Smith to present the white side of the story and stop presenting the black rioters as victims in the situation. According to Nina B. Wilson, the writer of one of the letters, “In the TV coverage there has been only one side presented. One would think that the blacks were the victims and the riot was entirely the blame of the whites... we have not had the other side of the picture presented, and I regret to much of this country the black will always be the victim.” The other letter writer, Milton Avett Jr., called the rioters “brick throwing, property burning, looting Negros.” Wilson says “All whites and many good blacks regret the trouble,” implying that while there are “bad” blacks, all whites people are good.

    CONT. IN NEXT POST (blogger said post too long)


    Wilson fails to acknowledge any wrongdoing, abuse, mistreatment, or cruelty to Augusta blacks on the part of whites. Neither letters mention the murder of the retarded black boy that caused the riot and the nearest either came to acknowledging racial inequality in Augusta was, “The Negro may have just reason to demonstrate... but those killed weren’t peaceful demonstrators.” It is clear both harbor great spite for the rioters and are either ignorant of their reasons for rioting or hold racial equality in low esteem. Wilson ends her letter by saying, “If black people ever want true equality they must learn that responsibility goes with it and burning, looting and maiming is no indication of it.”

    This was not the first time Smith came under fire for biased reporting in racial matters. He frequently editorialized and added his own commentary, especially when reporting on race riots in the South and other Civil Rights issues. According to his New York Times obituary, Smith's opposition to segregation stemmed from his exposure to Jim Crow injustice while growing up in Louisiana. He also said once in radio commentary that America was in danger, “of becoming a racial dictatorship, like Nazi Germany, or reverting to barbarism, as has happened... in Alabama” (Goldstein). Smith had been deeply affected by his time in Europe covering WWII and observed first-hand German brutality toward the Jews. Smith’s unwillingness to compromise his beliefs about segregation caused him to leave CBS for ABC in the early 1960s (Goldstein).

    Johnson, Thomas. “Economic and Social Differences Separate the Races in Augusta.” New York Times. May 19, 1970.

    Johnson, Thomas; Waldron, Martin; and Wooten, James. “Witnesses to augusta Riot Say 3 of 6 Killed Were Bystanders.” New York Times. May 17, 1970.

    Waldron, Martin. “Autopsies Show Buckshot Felled Six in Augusta.” New York Times. May 16, 1970.

    Goldstein, Richard. “Howard K. Smith, Courtly, Outspoken Voice of Radio and Television, is Dead at 87.” New York Times. Feb. 19, 2002.

  10. The letter I found referred to Howard K. Smith’s May 17, 1972 broadcast after Governor George Corley Wallace Jr. from Alabama was shot five times. Wallace was shot by a civilian in the midst of a campaign rally, leaving him paralyzed in both legs [1] Wallace, who was known for his ultra-segregationist platform, was unable to pursue an intended presidential campaign. [2]

    Although I can’t find the actual broadcast, I found a Field & Stream archive from September 1976 which chronicles the April 20, 1976 ABC News program entitled “Gun Control: Pro and Con”, which was narrated by Smith. The article includes a quote from Smith after the pro-gun control segment, in which he says, “In a moment you will hear the other side…you will hear the implication that free access to guns protects Americans. The figures you have just heard make a hash of that. With the spread of guns, more Americans than ever have been killed, attacked, robbed, terrorized. Please try to keep that in mind throughout the rest of the program.” [3] Although this ABC program came after the Wallace broadcast, it clearly shows that Smith was pro gun control.

    George A. Olson, a lawyer from Texas, wrote a letter on May 19, 1972 using his “Olson and Olson Law Offices” stationary in response to Smith’s narration of the Wallace shooting. In the letter, Olson states that although he generally admires Smith’s objectivity, he feels that Smith’s opinion on the necessity for gun registration is unfair. He criticizes Smith’s belief that gun registration will put an end to gun violence, and states that the criminals will just resort to smuggling firearms. He mentions that although he is not a member of the National Rifle Association, he agrees with their position on many counts, and believes that the “strong gun laws” in New York are ineffective. He offers another solution to the violence, stating that there should be stricter criminal penalties, perhaps mandatory death penalties, for firearm crimes. He concludes the letter by expressing that although Smith is entitled to his opinion, he believes it’s unfortunate that the same opinion is heard so consistently on the national networks without a counteracting opinion.

    It’s fascinating to me that such an old letter feels so relevant. The same questions and concerns surrounding gun violence still remain a prevalent and significant issue in 2013. Apparently, the day after Wallace was shot, Nixon said “I don’t know why any individual should have a right to have a revolver in his house…can’t we go after handguns, period? I know the rifle association will be against it, the gun makers will be against it [but] people should not have handguns.” [4] This was particularly shocking to me coming from Nixon, and makes me outraged that even after the Sandy Hook Tragedy, there may be absolutely no change in federal gun control laws.


  11. The letter I chose was a fan letter to Howard K. Smith regarding his editorial in late March of 1970 about the Catholic Pope’s stance on birth control. Smith criticized the Pope for condemning birth control, and the letter writer was in agreement with him. She noted that “probably 90% of my young Catholic friends completely ignore his edicts and are having exactly the number of children they feel they should have in this overcrowded world.” While her statistic was not representative of America as a whole, Smith’s stance was not uncommon for the time period. Furthermore, the fear of overpopulation is no longer as prominent.

    The oral contraceptive pill was formally approved by the FDA in 1960 and shortly thereafter a Gallup poll indicated that sixty-one percent of Catholic Americans believed the Church would eventually approve birth control (Time, PBS). In July of 1968, Pope Paul VI announced the Vatican’s official stance: the Catholic Church would not stand in support of birth control, pill or otherwise (PBS). This view is maintained to this day, with recent minor changes in the wake of AIDS and distorted population growth, most notably in Africa.

    Smith’s criticism of this view was mirrored closely by his viewers. In that time period, a mere twenty-eight percent of Catholics agreed with the Pope, meaning many were on the same side as the letter writer and the editorial (PBS). Given the time of the letter and the reference to the broadcast, it must have been aired on ABC, since Smith left CBS in late 1961 (The Guardian). Throughout his career, his editorials were marked by “forceful commentary,” and he was once quoted as saying, “A dull and cautious editorial, or a strong one on a banal issue, are of no help to anyone” (New York Times). Smith was not a formal commentator until 1975, and up until then he was a nightly news anchor (CNN).


  12. My letter is from May 7, 1970 and is from a very passionate conservative viewer of Howard K. Smith’s. This of course was three days after the Kent State massacre so there was an incredible around of dissent across America over the entire situation. My letter was from a middle-aged father who was concerned that the media was too biased to the left in its coverage of the shooting and to a further extent, the minority of “hell-raisers” at that time.

    For reference sake, during the shooting four students (unarmed) were killed and nine others were injured, according to John M. Lewis’ “The May 4th Shootings at Kent State University.” The shootings capped off a four-day protest from Kent State students who were angry with the Cambodia Incursion that was occurring in the midst of the Vietnam War. The writer of this letter says the focus on the minority of people in America that are publicly protesting only served to tear the country apart and promote additional unrest. The media was censored during the Vietnam War once President Nixon was installed, which happened to be the year before this tragedy according to Owen Taylor in “Bombs Over Cambodia.”

    It was interesting also that the last line of the letter said in regards to the author’s 16 year old son, should he decide to march against the National Guard “he deserves to be shot.” That was appalling to me and gave me a much better perspective on Americans during this time that were on the other side of the protest and riots. The conservative nature of Americans was clearly deep rooted and the divide in the country over the war makes me surprised that there weren’t more events/tragedies like Kent State.


  13. From the Howard K. Smith letters collection I chose a telegram from June 4, 1972. The telegram was sent via Western Union to Smith from Paul Gilchrist of Berkeley, California. Although I don't have much experience with telegrams, so I have no clue in context whether this message is long or short, the telegram is two pages.

    He wrote: "Time to revive your editorial about how the Angela Davis acquital demonstrates that blacks receive fair treatment under the American judicial system /STOP/ You can misquote Kingman Brewster again and claim that he inserted that blacks cannot receive fair trials in America /STOP/ You can ignore the fact that the cases against Bobby Seal, the Panther 21, and Angela Davis were preposterous on their face and that the defendants were outrageously confined for over a year under excessive or no bail /STOP/ There is the injustice /STOP/ The American judicial system may be the finest devised by man but it discriminates against blacks."

    To be quite honest, this telegram confused me for a while. After reading and researching about the topic for quite a while, I've finally come to interpret it as saying that while it does show that blacks are treated fairly in the court system because they were found not guilty by juries, they were still discriminated against by being put in jail awaiting trial in the first place. I am still confused by part of this telegram because it was sent on the day of the Angela Davis case decision, but asks to "revive" the editorial... I'm not quite sure what that was supposed to mean [1]. Also, I wonder if Gilchrist is African American. My initial thought is yes, but perhaps not.

    Upon further research I found more evidence to help explain Gilchrist's odd telegram. In a post-acquittal interview, Davis said, "the only fair trial would have been no trial at all. [2]" Once again, this supports the idea that while America is changing its mentality in the judicial system and it appears to be non-prejudice, it still is because she was charged with a crime in the first place.

    This makes the most sense by reviewing the case facts. Davis, a radical civil rights leader, owned several guns that were taken from her and used by a friend and possible lover in the kidnapping and killing of a judge and prisoners at a California jail. Although Davis was not involved with the murders, she was a radical leader and owned the guns, and was hence arrested and put on trial for helping kidnap and murder three people [3].


  14. I decided to look more into a letter from Shirley M. Rarig, a “busy mother of five children” who took time off her “home engineering” to share some light criticism to her favorite news commentator on May 7, 1990.

    She was writing in regards to a May 6, 1990 broadcast in which Howard K. Smith condemned President Nixon’s remarks about “campus bums.” Rarig apparently thought the epiphet was fitting.

    When I began looking into the letter’s content, I found Nixon’s statements came from an informal discussion with members of the Pentagon, according to a May 1, 1970 article in the Milwaukee Journal. Three days later, police shot and killed four protesting students in the Kent State Massacre.
    Shirley Rarig’s letter came three days after that.

    I found another letter in response to Smith’s commentary, from a listener named I. M. Wright who agreed Nixon wasn’t calling all students bums.

    “He was speaking of the small per-centage of stuent arsonists, militants, etc. and I don’t understand why some people of the Press refuse to use their common-sense, unless it is a deliberate scheme on their part,” Wright wrote in on May 7, on a small notepad-sized sheet of paper, filled to the margins with typewriter print.

    I think it’s particularly interesting, given the tone of many of the letters I passed, how polite Rarig was, ending her letter “you are all we poor conservatives have on national television. And we need you desperately.” Under her signature and typed name, she also fixed a gold address sticker, and the paper her letter is printed on has a jagged right edge that looks intentional, so she must have been able to afford nice stationary.

    According to an obituary for Shirley MacMillan Rarig, of Mulkiteo, Wa., she was 44 in 1970; she also calls herself Mrs. Samuel F. Rarig, and a Samuel F. Rarig died in 2009 in Mulkiteo.

    Even if she was upper or middle class, it must have taken a lot for her to carve out a few minutes to type up a letter, considering she has five children aged 5 to 19.

  15. From the Howard K. Smith leeters collection, I chose a letter from E. H. Borchardt of Iowa City, Iowa that was typed written on May 2, 1972.

    Borchardt letter addresses how the media biased opinion should be lefted out and instead left up to the audience to expeds their personal opinion. According to the letter, on May 1, 1972 Smith couldn't understand what happened to Muskie ( this was addressed on his 5 o' clock news).

    Edmund S. Muskie was an American politician from Maine who served as governor of Maine from 1955-1958. In 1968, Muskie was the Democratic nominee for Vice President and was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for President in 1972.

    During the 1972, a letter was published that Smith had written to the Democratic U.S. Senator Muskie indicating his support. This is the bias that Borchardt writes about.

  16. My letter to Howard K. Smith is dated June 19, 1975 and comes from a Walter P. Henry of Clearwater, Florida. It appears to be in response to a commentary by Smith on what Mr. Henry refers to as "our 'so-called' energy crisis." Mr. Henry expresses a feeling of kinship with Smith, saying "You are the first of the national figures (yes, I consider you a national figure) who has expressed views which correspond to mine…" He enclosed copies of letters sent to his local newspaper and to Frank Zarb, Federal Energy Administrator.

    What caught my attention, though, was this sentence: "About the only crisis we have in th is country seems to be the inability of the people in power to take the bull by the horns and start us on the road to AMERICANISM." In particular that last word, "Americanism," which I associate with the 1950s and debates which juxtaposed Communism and Americanism, whatever the latter might be.

    In Google Books, I found a title A History of the Concept of Americanism, 1885-1910, a dissertation written in 1936 by a Dorothea Edith Wyatt at Stanford.[1] So clearly the use of the term predates the 1950s. An online dictionary gives the word two basic meanings:

    "1781, in reference to words or phrases distinct from British use, coined by John
    Witherspoon (1723-1794), president of Princeton College… (American English 'English language as spoken in the United States' is first recorded 1806, in Webster.) Americanism in the patriotic sense 'attachment to the U.S.' is attested from 1797, first found in the writings of Thomas Jefferson." [2]

    So the use of the term goes back to the Founders. But what does it mean, exactly? To Mr. Henry it seems to mean "too much liberalism – constantly complaining about the USA – tearing it down instead of building it up. There is a deliberate campaign of revealing our weak points and very seldom exploiting our good points," which might be Mr. Henry's definition of "Anti-Americanism" – a term used more frequently a sometimes easier to define depending on whether it is being used to describe citizens of this country or a different country.

    While I was still poking around in documents from the 1950s, I found a more positive definition: "Americanism includes a deep reverence for the Bill of Rights and a desire that its principles be studied, discussed and understood…" [3] That would be my definition if I used the term, but I prefer democracy.

    [2] Online Etymology Dictionary:
    [3] "Americanism, Limited," New York Times. Jul 19, 1955

  17. I selected a letter dated August 7th, 1969. The letter, written by Mrs. Charles E. Blair of Chicago, is dated the day after Smith spoke out again Sen. Ted Kennedy and the Chappaquiddick Incident. Mrs. Blair commended Smith four his courageous reporting and thanked him for “speaking for us.” Blair wrote of how the elected officials and the mainstream media largely ignored the incident, because “they each know their own imperfections.” She argued that senators considered themselves immune from the law and “far above the common man,” maintaining that anyone who did what Ted Kennedy did would be jailed at once. Blair takes her cause against Kennedy even further, saying, “the spirit of the dead girl will hang around Teddy’s neck like the albatross of the ancient mariner.” She closes by thanking Smith once again, saying “were it not for the press, we the people would have no voice.”
    On a separate sheet of paper, Mrs. Blair included a poem and her initial thoughts about the incident. This sheet is less formal and reads almost like internal monologue:
    For some reason which I cannot explain, I keep seeing the scene of the Kennedy fiasco….I see him coming to his senses…I see him confronting the enormous damage to the Kennedy star, and quickly running back to cover his tracks.
    I found myself reading and re-reading this letter. Blair’s criticism is beautiful, articulate and passionate. Like many of my peers, I am familiar with Ted Kennedy. I’ve heard about his indiscretions from time to time, but remember him as one of history’s heroes, something of a bastion of social justice. I come from a long line of Irish Catholics from New England. The Kennedy clan was always saint-like in my mother’s household. I feel silly because until today I never really knew the extent of the Chappaquiddick Incident. It’s things like this that make me realize how often history ignores the victims.
    On July 18th 1969, Sen. Ted Kennedy drove his car off a bridge in Chappaquiddick, Massachusetts. He survived but his passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, died hours later on the scene. Kennedy swam to safety, returned to his hotel and reported the incident 10 hours later. Kopechne was trapped inside the vehicle. Investigators believe that she survived for several hours because of an air pocket inside the vehicle and could have survived has Kennedy reported things immediately.
    Following the incident accusations circulated that Kennedy had been driving drunk, that he was having an affair with Kopechne and that he tried to cover up his crimes. Kennedy denied these charges against him and pled guilty of leaving the scene of an accident.
    "Today, as I mentioned, I felt morally obligated to plead guilty to the charge of leaving the scene of an accident. No words on my part can possibly express the terrible pain and suffering I feel over this tragic incident. This last week has been an agonizing one for me and for the members of my family, and the grief we feel over the loss of a wonderful friend will remain with us the rest of our lives."
    The incident (along with a half dozen indiscretions) followed Kennedy for several decades and is believed to have been one factor that contributed to his failed presidential run in 1980. Still Kennedy will go down in history as one of the longest-serving members of the U.S. senate, a founder of modern liberalism and “the lion of the senate.”

    [3] (Opinion piece)

  18. I pulled the file for May 29, 1970 out of the box of letters addressed to CBS’ Howard K. Smith (he was working at ABC). Many of the letters in the file revolved around the Vietnam War and for the most part there was an even split of criticism and support for how Smith and his colleagues were covering the events.

    One particular letter was from a person (sexually ambiguous name) named K.O. Swesson from Florida. He (or she) was particularly un happy with the US involvement in Vietnam, Swesson questioned why we were involved in a “civil war,” as well as with Smith himself. Swesson called Smith, “a hypocrite,” and said he, “should be kicked off the editorial staff.” The person from florida claimed to have studied American foreign policy too.

    There were numerous letters like the one described above and the discontent with Smith’s broadcasts was no secret. Smith was a staunch supporter of the war and disagreed with President Johnson [1]. Smith had already stirred up discontent with his radical show called Scope from 1966 to 1968 on which he talked about things in the war no one else was, notably African American soldiers and North Vietnam [2], and now he was the lead anchor for the evening news broadcast. Reading through the various letters and doing research I couldn’t help but think about the idea that the people sending Smith hate mail were sending Cronkite letters of support and vise versa, as the two giants of news had completely different views of the war [3].

    In my research it is evident why such letters of vitriol came to Smith he was a man of conviction while on air. He was fired from CBS for refusing to pull back a statement he made during one segment about the Klu Klux Klan [4]. His firing from CBS paved the way for his coverage of Vietnam on ABC.


  19. My letter to Howard K. Smith is dated June 16, 1975 and comes from a woman named Willabelle Lunsford of Morgantown, West Virginia. Lunsford is writing to bring attention to seven missionaries in Dak To, Vietnam. Lunsford adds that these people were captured when the city fell March 9 and held under “conditions that are primitive and humiliating.” Lunsford said that she is a member of the Morgantown Christian Missionary Alliance Church, and she implies that the captives are a part of the Alliance as well.
    It appears that there was a major battle in Dak To that was fought from November 3 to 22, 1967, according to’s Military History section. [1] I am shocked at how brave those missionaries were to enter such a dangerous land at the time. After all, the battle seemed to wreak a lot of carnage. The U.S. lost 376 soldiers, and an additional 1,441 were wounded. The estimated deaths of Vietnamese soldiers were between 1,000 and 1,445.
    Lunsford said that the missionaries’ captivity was a violation of the ceasefire that was ordered in January 15, 1973. This was ordered by Richard Nixon, who cited “progress” in the Paris peace negotiations, according to the History Channel. [2] This order prevented direct attacks, including mining, shelling, bombing, and shooting, against North Vietnam. Just eight days later, Nixon announced the end of U.S. involvement in Vietnam in order to “end the war and bring peace with honor,” according to the New York Times. [3]
    It seems that the missionaries stayed in Vietnam to help those with leprosy, because Lunsford mentioned that the missionaries are “non-combatant” and “non-political” and she cited their work at a leprosarium. The leprosarium was in Ban Me Thuot, “located in a dense jungle terrain” in the Darlac Province in South Vietnam. There were 56 Alliance church groups in the areas in the early ‘60s. [4] One man that Lunsford mentioned was Archie Smith, a surgeon who was abducted May 30, 1962 by 12 armed Viet Cong. The soldiers ransacked the hospital and left at 10 p.m. that night with their captives and medical supplies.
    But what really has me shocked is Mitchell’s other claim to fame. His first wife was just one of six U.S. casualties in the homeland during WWII. [5] Mitchell and his wife took children from the church on a Sunday School picnic. The children and Mitchell’s wife went to explore the area while Mitchell prepared the lunch. The kids found a balloon, or so they thought. They yelled to tell Mitchell about it. Mitchell screamed for them not to touch it, but it was too late.
    His wife and kids died. Mitchell remarried, had more kids, but then he met his fate in Vietnam. When he was captured he was never seen again.


  20. I picked a letter sent on May 19, 1970. The letter was about Howard K. Smith's comments in the May 16th issue of "Talk of the Town" and during a newscast on ABC on May 18th.

    The viewer was not pleased with what Smith said about Nixon sending troops into Cambodia. Nixon had sent troops into the eastern part of Cambodia during the Vietnam War because he believed there was a Communist stronghold in that part of the country.

    The author of the letter accused Smith of often being critical of the US. This may have been due to the fact that Smith was critical of Nixon during his presidency. Smith wrote Nixon's political obituary before he had become President. Smith also became very conservative during the Vietnam War and was against the occupation.

    I wonder what the author's thoughts about the nation's patriotism because following the troops being sent into Cambodia, 30 ROTC buildings were burned. Congress also voted on whether to cut off funding for the ground operations in Cambodia. It wasn't only Smith against the placement of troops in Cambodia during the Vietnam War, it was the whole country.,9634

    Gitlin, Todd, The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage. New York: Bantam Books, 1987.

    Fulghum, David, Terrence Maitland, et al. South Vietnam on Trial: Mid-1970–1972. Boston; boston Publishing Company, 1984.