Sunday, October 24, 2010

Mark Feldstein

From Randy Dotinga's Q & A with Mark Feldstein, author of Poisoning the Press: Richard Nixon, Jack Anderson, and the Rise of Washington's Scandal Culture:

Q: You write that Richard Nixon was paranoid about the press and had every right to be because it really was out to get him. Which came first, his paranoia or the reason for it?

The paranoia came first. There were people in college who talked about him being paranoid long before the press started attacking him, even before [columnist] Drew Pearson and Jack Anderson started going after him in the early 1950s. He would completely overreact to the very mild criticism at the time he was sending [accused spy] Alger Hiss to prison when he was a congressman.

He was lionized by almost the entire media except for a handful of dissident liberal critics, but he was so sensitive and paranoid that he really overreacted.

He viewed himself as a victim and never seemed to realize that he made himself a target by his own initiating of these slash-and-burn attacks on supposed Communist subversion. By the time he became a national figure, there were critics on the left going after him. Certainly Jack Anderson and his boss, Drew Pearson, were out to get him.

Q: Why did they hate him so much?

Drew Pearson was a liberal, very ideological and, like Nixon, was a Quaker. But he was a pacifist compared to the fundamentalist, almost evangelical strain of Quakerism that Nixon was raised in. He was very much of what we'd call a born-again Christian today.

With Anderson, it wasn't so much ideological. He was willing to...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue