The New York Times journalist who secretly led the charge against liberal media bias

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tags: journalism, The New York Times, media bias

Sid Bedingfield, a professor in the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota, is the author of "Newspaper Wars: Civil Rights and White Resistance in South Carolina, 1935-1965."

John G. Briggs Jr. was a respected classical music critic and cultural reporter for the Times. But he had a second professional life that he hid from his bosses in New York. Writing under a pseudonym for a prominent South Carolina newspaper, the Times journalist delivered fire-breathing, race-baiting and occasionally anti-Semitic screeds attacking the “liberal” press and its alleged communist ties.

I discovered Briggs’s journalistic alter ego while researching my book, “Newspaper Wars: Civil Rights and White Resistance in South Carolina.” In 1955, Thomas R. Waring, conservative editor of the Charleston News and Courier, accused Northern editors of erecting a “paper curtain” to shut out the segregationist view on civil rights. Briggs wrote to Waring to enlist in the editor’s campaign to “pierce the paper curtain.”

A Southerner by birth, Briggs detested the Brown decision outlawing school segregation, and he agreed with Waring’s view about liberal bias in the Northern media. Coverage of Southern affairs in the New York press is “loaded with bias,” Briggs wrote to Waring. “Talk about Dr. Goebbels and his ‘thought control.’ The so-called ‘liberals’ could give lessons to Dr. Goebbels.”

Waring published Briggs’s letter, identifying the author simply as a “Newspaper Man” who worked in a Northern newsroom. Later that month, Briggs and Waring concocted a pseudonym, and Briggs began sending in regular columns.

Under the byline of Nicholas Stanford, the Times critic excoriated the biggest names in the media business, including his own employer. Briggs claimed Northern editors were “liberal hypocrites” who shaped the news to fit their worldview. He said they ignored black crime, bowed to the NAACP and supported “unchecked immigration.” Some, he argued, were even communist sympathizers who did Moscow’s bidding.

Read entire article at The Washington Post

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