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Charles Lindbergh – No Fan Of The American Press – Sound Familiar? A Mr. Magazine™ Blast From The Past, Circa May, 1954

September 5, 2019

Mr. Magazine™ stepped into his vintage vault recently and found a most interesting article in the May, 1954 issue of Focus magazine. This pocket-sized treasure could occasionally pack a powerful punch. In this issue there is a story very reflective of a present-day leader whose opinion of American journalists and news media may only be surpassed by the charismatic gentleman who’s the subject of this article.

The Title of the article: The Men Who Hate Lindbergh tells the story of Charles A. Lindbergh’s immersive hatred of the American press. From the subterfuge by a Chicago Tribune reporter in 1925 that ultimately began the very rocky relationship between the famous aviator and the world of news journalism, to the media coverage of the kidnapping-murder of the Lindbergh’s baby boy, the press and Charles Lindbergh did not share a mutual bond of respect or admiration; quite the opposite, in fact.

And Mr. Magazine™ found it quite ironic that in today’s media world, the animosity between journalists and our current leader of the free world is very reminiscent of the days of Mr. Lindbergh and his opinion of the press. Although, most journalists today would tell you they have never known a more twisted view  toward news content than the one President Trump has, but Mr. Magazine™ would beg to differ. While media people working today might say Trump is the orneriest of public figures in history when it comes to his relationship with the press, I would ask them to read this article about another legacy public figure who might put the president to shame.

One more note of comparison, both men, also share another similarity:  They were both named by TIME magazine as the Man of the Year, changed in 1999 to Person of the Year. Charles Lindbergh was the first person to be named by TIME magazine for such an honor in 1927,  and President Donald Trump was named for such an honor in 2016, 89 years after Lindbergh.

It just goes to show you that magazines have never been afraid to touch controversy, whether it’s a famous pilot who was the first man to cross the Atlantic, or the first president who doesn’t seem to have any verbal filters at all. Both men are controversial, and both men have seen their fair share of magazine articles written about them. And whether you like them or loathe them, you can definitely find them between the pages of a magazine somewhere, either a magazine from yesterday or one on newsstands today.

So, take a look and have a read and let me know who you think disliked the American press more, Lindbergh or the president. Mr. Magazine™ looks forward to hearing from you.

Until the next time…

The Men Who Hate Lindbergh

Flier Wages Bitter War With Men Who Claim They “Made” Him

Known as one of the world’s most laconic men, a balding, greying, 52-year-old hero recently broke silence, told all. In a long (562 pages), painstakingly-written (it took him 14 years) best-seller (The Spirit of St. Louis), Brig. Gen. Charles Augustus Lindbergh tells for the first time the complete story of what went on in his mind when he became the first man ever to pilot a plane across the Atlantic Ocean. Startling current which runs throughout his narration: the inside story of the savage, no-holds-barred skirmishes carried on between Lindbergh and the working press.

It’s an old feud. One veteran newspaperman, Robert J. Casey, recalls a wet day in February, 1925, as the time Charles A. Lindbergh declared war on the American press. Floyd Collins had been trapped in a Kentucky cave under 6 tons of stone, and the struggle to save his life had become an international drama. To cater to the demand for up-to-the-minute pictures of the dying Collins, the Chicago Herald-Examiner arranged to have its photos flown to Chicago from the scene of the accident. Their special pilot: a slender, blond, mail-run flier named “Slim” Lindbergh.

When Lindbergh arrived at the cave to pick up the photographic plates, he was spotted by a reporter on the Herald-Examiner’s arch-rival, the Chicago Tribune. Seeing a chance to sabotage the opposition, the Trib reporter thrust a box of unexposed plates into the young flier’s hands. “Get this stuff back to Chicago as quick as you can,” he snapped. Lindbergh sped away on his fool’s errand, flying blank photographic plates all the way back to Chicago.

But years before he spun his first prop, Charlie Lindbergh had been taught that journalists were “liars.” When his socialist father (Congressman Charles A. Lindbergh, Sr., who ran for Governor of Minnesota in 1918) was stoned in the streets by “patriots” who objected to his assertion that WWI was a vast “Wall Street scheme,” the father told his son not to blame the public. “The people do not know the facts,” the older man had said. “They are blinded by propaganda and the mouthings of the kept press.”

 Young Lindbergh never quite overcame the idea that all newspapers tinkered with the truth. In his book, Lindbergh tells of the part played by the press in his historic flight across the Atlantic: “I wanted publicity on this flight… Newspapers are important. I wanted their help. I wanted headlines. And I knew that headlines bring crowds… The excesses are what bother me – the silly stories, the constant photographing, the composite pictures, the cheap values that such things bring. Why can’t newspapers accept facts as they are? Why smother the flavor of life in a spice of fiction?”

Actions of a Hearst newspaper photographer in December, 1935, turned Lindbergh’s dislike of the U.S. press into hatred. Tortured by the personal tragedy of the kidnap-murder of his small son, Charles, Jr. – for which Bruno Richard Hauptmann was electrocuted – Lindbergh was horrified when the photographer forced his car to the side of the road in an attempt to “steal” a picture of his other son, Jon, then 2 years old. Cold with fury, Lindbergh moved his family out of the U.S.

In the years that followed, the “Lone Eagle” bolstered his unpopularity by throwing the weight of his famous name on the side of isolationist “America-Firsters,” many of whom believed in Adolf Hitler’s preachings. Lindbergh traveled to Germany, accepted the Service Cross of the Order of the German Eagle “in the name of the Fuhrer” from Hermann Goering. When, on his return to the U.S., he began to expound Nazi doctrine (“There are 3 groups trying to get America into war – the British, the Jews and the Administration”), even the most reserved newspapers attacked him. Editorialized the New York Herald Tribune: “Lindbergh has departed from the American way.”

Lindy: “Accuracy, I’ve Learned, Is Second to Circulation”

That Lindbergh’s feelings have not changed was demonstrated only a few months ago. When the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences honored him at N.Y.’s Hotel Astor for his “pioneering achievements in flight and air navigation,” Lindbergh agreed to appear only on the condition that no pictures be taken, no interviews given out. Half a dozen “waiters” at the banquet were in reality detectives assigned to keep the press out. Outside the hotel, half-frozen reporters and photographers turned the air blue with their views on the 20th century’s most famous airman.

“Did you hear,” he asked a photographer, “about the time Lindy knocked down an NKVD man in Russia? When he learned who the guy was, he looked him up and apologized. He had the perfect excuse – he had mistaken the Commie for a newspaper reporter.”

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