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Fulton Lewis, Jr.
2/1/58

Fulton Lewis, Jr., conservative newspaper and radio commentator, talks to Wallace about the right wing in America, President Eisenhower, Vice President Nixon, General Douglas MacArthur, Francisco Franco, Adlai Stevenson, Joseph McCarthy, Eisenhower Republicans, and Democratic Liberals.

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Transcript
THE MIKE WALLACE INTERVIEW
Guest: Fulton Lewis, Jr.
2/1/58

WALLACE: Good evening. Tonight we go after the story of the political right wing in the United States, Senators Jenner, Knowland and Goldwater, General Douglas McArthur, the late Senator Joseph McCarthy. Our guest will be a major spokesman for the militant right wing, newspaper man and radio commentator Fulton Lewis, Jr. If you’re curious to know why Fulton Lewis, Jr. attacks both Democratic Liberals and Eisenhower Republicans, what he thinks of McCarthyism today and how he explains the attraction the far right has for “crack pot fascist” groups in America, we’ll go after those stories in just a moment. My name is Mike Wallace, the cigarette is Parliament, another fine product of the Philip Morris Company.

(COMMERCIAL)

WALLACE: And now to our story. Fulton Lewis, Jr. is perhaps the leading spokesman for the militant right wing in America. Every week night over three hundred or perhaps even four hundred radio stations from coast to coast and daily in his syndicated newspaper column, Fulton Lewis blasts everything politically to the left of Vice President Dick Nixon. A personal friend of such Senators as William Jenner and William Knowland, Mr. Lewis is to some a fearless and prophetic patriot, to others he is America’s Golden Voice of Reaction. Let’s try to find out why. Fulton, first of all, in order to chart your position as a major spokesman for the militant right wing in America, I would like your capsule opinions of the following figures: President Eisenhower.

LEWIS: A very sincere individual who is trying to do a job – unfortunately does not have the equipment by experience because he has been raised in a school in which –uh – when he calls for a general G-2, he gets a general trained in G-2. When he moved to the White House, this was the only form of administration that he knew. He called for people expecting to find competent people come up to him and what he got was politicians and people who had made a campaign contribution.

WALLACE: A man fitted for his job?

LEWIS: A man – a man morally fitted for his job, certainly and emotionally in so far that he in – in so far as he intends sincerely to do a good job and tries to do one.

WALLACE: Dick Nixon?

LEWIS: Dick Nixon is a young, very aggressive, probably the best trained man that has ever stood in possible line for the Presidency. A very sincere individual, a very fine, clean, family man and an ardent anti-communist.

WALLACE: A man you’d like to see President?

LEWIS: I would like very much to see Dick Nixon President among other people.

WALLACE: General Douglas McArthur?

LEWIS: General Douglas McArthur – a very brilliant figure, a very cold figure and one who stays behind a very very thick high stone wall.

WALLACE: Would he have made a good President?

LEWIS: I think perhaps in his younger years, he would have made a very excellent – uh – President because he’s done a good job at anything and everything he’s ever undertaken so far as I know.

WALLACE: Generalissimo Franco of Spain?

LEWIS: A very interesting character – uh – I wouldn’t want him here in America, heaven knows. We want no dictators here, uh – I do think that he has however, done a great deal for Spain.

WALLACE: Time Magazine, March 21st, 1955 quote: “Among Dictator Franco’s journalistic admirers, few have been more dedicated than Fulton Lewis, Jr. Lewis has repeatedly charged that criticism of Franco’s dictatorship came from left wingers and pinkos.” End quote.

LEWIS: I cannot be responsible, Mike, for what Time Magazine may or may not print.

WALLACE: Time added that when Lewis visited Spain, Franco snubbed you, therefore, you may change your tune?

LEWIS: This is no more true than the first statement. As a matter of fact, I had an interview with Mr. Franco, enjoyed it very much, it was a very excellent interview. The things that he said, I don’t think would please you from an American standpoint but they told the truth so far as Mr. Franco was concerned.

WALLACE: Gerald L.K. Smith?

LEWIS: There’s one rule in my office and this is the only person in the world to whom this applies but I’ve only met Mr. Gerald L.K.Smith once in my life. That was by accident on the train in Nineteen Hundred and Thirty-Three or four. About Gerald L.K. Smith alone, among all people alive today, there is a rule in my office that if anything – any mail comes in or telegrams come in – they bear on the outside of them any identification as coming from Gerald L.K. Smith, they go in the wastepaper basket without even being opened.

WALLACE: Adlai Stevenson?

LEWIS: Adlai Stevenson – a very brilliant – uh – figure but I’m afraid in his politics a rather unstable one. Uh – I don’t mean mentally unstable. By this I mean, uh – uh – wavering – uh – tottering – uh – not holding to a single line.

WALLACE: The late Senator Joseph McCarthy?

LEWIS: I think Joseph McCarthy did a great deal of good for the country. I think he was one of the most courageous fighters against Communism that I have ever seen on the national picture. Uh – I did not agree with everything that he did and told him so on frequent occasions when I disagreed. I do think, however, that he gave his life for the cause of anti-communism in America and for this I think he deserves great credit.

WALLACE: Using Senator McCarthy as a point of departure, Fulton, and you certainly were one of his staunchest supporters during his heyday between 1950 and 54, I’d like to ask you this question. What has been happening to people of your political beliefs since McCarthy’s meteoric decline. What I mean by that is this. We don’t hear very much about the “far right” any more. Could it be that the far right is discredited that you’re a vanishing race?

LEWIS: Well, now, Mike – uh – you have introduced a matter of semantics in here – uh – I have not taken issue with you at this definition of the “far right” but I would have to ask you what do you consider the “far right?”

WALLACE: Well, I …

LEWIS: And I also want it understood that I don’t purport to speak for the people that you have mentioned here. They are my friends and we think very much alike on many issues but I am not a spokesman for them.

WALLACE: Well now – uh – when I mentioned earlier the name Jenner …

LEWIS: Uhmm…

WALLACE: Knowland, Goldwater …

EWIS: That’s right …

WALLACE: Bricker …

LEWIS: Bricker …

WALLACE: Styles Bridges…

LEWIS: Styles Bridges…

WALLACE: The late Herman Welker …

LEWIS: The late Herman Welker …

WALLACE: Kenneth Wherry … the late Kenneth Wherry …

LEWIS: Yes, by all means.

WALLACE: These are all men who were and – either were or are of the “far right” …

LEWIS: Well, that may be…

WALLACE: Is that not true?

LEWIS: It may be that you consider them of – the “far right” and you certainly and – are perfectly entitled to consider them that way. I call them the “right” but I don’t call them the “far right.”

WALLACE: Well, would you then care to differentiate between the “right” and ….

LEWIS: Well, let’s let them stand for what they are.

WALLACE: Well, what do – what do they stand for?

LEWIS: Well, they stand first of all, universally for opposition to communist subversive activities, subversion in government…

WALLACE: Well so do Republicans, the Eisenhower Republicans and so do the Democrats.

LEWIS: Not all of them, no. Not by any matter of means, and this is only one of the things, they also stand for a resistance against the ever encroaching uh – octopus of bureaucracy, the ever increasing power of – uh – of a bloated - uh – civil service, they stand for reasonable economy in government, they stand for progress when progress – uh – promises a desirable and a worth while delivery but not progress just for the sake of progress with – when the outcome and the probable achievement is entirely questionable.

WALLACE: Well, who – perhaps we can best find out who they are and what they stand for by finding out what and whom they’re against. Who are they against?

LEWIS: Uh – Knowland – Well I – I don’t – I don’t follow you question, Mike. I don’t see how by asking who Bill Knowland is against, I don’t know who he’s against.

WALLACE: Well, all right. Uh –

LEWIS: I’ll tell you one person he’s against and that’s Goody Knight in California.

WALLACE: Well, let me ask you this. When I said earlier that you were against Eisenhower Republicans and Eisenhower Republicanism and Democratic Liberals, is that an accurate statement?

LEWIS: No, it is not. Because I am not against Eisenhower Republicans or as such.

WALLACE: Well, just last December 4th, Fulton, you wrote a column, bemoaning the fact that the kind of men that you admire – the McCarthys, the Bob Tafts, you mentioned Welker and Wherry, and Indiana’s right-wing isolationist, Senator William Jenner, you bemoaned the fact that these men are vanishing from the scene and you wrote this: you said, “There are no many left in their stead have come mostly men of less rugged breed.” Now what did you mean that?

LEWIS: I meant by that – the people who have taken part or have attempted to take over the Republican Party, are – such as Mr. Paul Hoffman, Mr. Harold Stassen, didn’t succeed very well, Mr. Sherman Adams –

WALLACE: Well, then these are Eisenhower Republicans –

LEWIS: These happen to be what they call Eisenhower Republicans, they do not however, represent what Mr. Eisenhower purports to represent.

WALLACE: Well –

LEWIS: And there are many more Eisenhower Republicans.

WALLACE: You further said – I gather that you are a Jenner man…

LEWIS: Jenner man in that he is a friend of mine and we think very much alike on many issues, on most issues, I should say.

WALLACE: … and you wrote of Senator Jenner, quote – “Deep seated disgust for Ike’s palace guard and what he, Jenner, considers the compromising, double-talking, super –internationalist maudlinism, that he has gained control of the administration.”

LEWIS: I’m rather proud of those lines.

WALLACE: These are your words. The point is that you seem to be worried about the fact that these men are disappearing from the scene. Why are they disappearing?

LEWIS: Well, you asked me about this writing here. You presuppose, Mike, and this is very dangerous, demonstrably dangerous subject to make, you presuppose that the so-called Palace Guard actually represents the Eisenhower Republican thinking. It does not.

WALLACE: Do you want to leave it there?

LEWIS: Yes.

WALLACE: Let’s look at the stand of the Far Right and your role in … let’s put your own words back in your mouth. I would like to see exactly what you do represent and what you’re against. For instance: in your writings and broadcasts, they are full of attacks on what you called quote “The ultra liberal eastern crowd, the New York Park Avenue Pink Set," "the Left Wing Fund for the Republic," the "CIO-backed Communist left wing crackpots," Adlai Stevenson and his ultra liberals of Americans for Democratic Action. Now these are all quotes from Fulton Lewis columns or …

LEWIS: That’s right. And I suggest that you certainly don’t want people named in specific application to those things because there might be an element of libel involved.

WALLACE: Exactly. Now what I am after actually, Fulton, is this. I listened to you almost every night on my car radio and …

LEWIS: Thank you Mike. I watch this show every Saturday night.

WALLACE: I’m glad to hear that. Now I get the impression, Fulton, that you’re seriously distressed that the state of this country – that you think that we are constantly on the brink of - maybe communism, but certainly socialism, that the government is being run by either a bunch of crackpots or men who are less than patriotic, certainly less than competent and that we’re a heck of a state.

LEWIS: Now, let me ask you a question when I say that – when you say that I think the government is being run by people who are something less than competent…

WALLACE: Uhm.

LEWIS: What people are you talking about when you say you – uh – the government is being run? Do you realize that the government is not run by the cabinet and by the President.

WALLACE: It’s being run by whom?

LEWIS: It is being run by the Civil Service structure of the government that has been in there for many many years. It is so firmly entrenched the Eisenhower Administration, Mike, goes only down to the level of Secretaries and Assistant Secretaries. Below that level …everything is Civil Service.

WALLACE: Uhm.

LEWIS: And it functions the same. Just the same in this Administration as it functioned in the past Administration.

WALLACE: But, the policies certainly aren’t made are they by the Civil Service –

LEWIS: The policies are - are made by the President and they are passed on down to the Civil Service people where – at which level the Civil Service people do exactly as they please. As they have done in the past. And much of the policy itself, the policy planning staff of the State Department is not in the hands of Mr. Dulles at all. The policy planning staff of the State Department is in the hands of the Foreign Service.

WALLACE: In other words…

LEWIS: Through the Foreign Service.

WALLACE: And Mr. Dulles is just a Charlie McCarthy for the men who are – uh – the – the career men in the State Department. Is that the point?

LEWIS: In considerable degree that’s exactly true. Exactly true. As was his predecessor and his predecessor before him.

WALLACE: John Foster Dulles and Dwight Eisenhower are not making the foreign policy of –

LEWIS: in broad overall topside they are, but they – uh – the President himself said that if he were to give a directive about a change in the operation of a certain bureau or agency, it would be at least two years before his orders ever got down to the operating level. That’s what I’m talking about.

WALLACE: Well, then what would you like to do about all of this Fulton, if what you say is true?

LEWIS: Well, I think you’re very – definitely that certain claims are indicated, the most important of them is to do a realistic – uh – objective overhaul of the Civil Service system and make it into the thing that it is supposed to be.

WALLACE: How would you suggest that we go about this?

LEWIS: In the first place this – there should be in order to make Government responsive to the will of the people, to the express will of the people through the Congress and through its election for President, the President himself ought to have the power to appoint everyone who has any part in policy making all the way down to the – into the ranks of the department. I don’t’ mean clerks, I don’t mean technicians, I don’t mean scientists in the Department of Agriculture. I most certainly do mean everybody below the level of Secretary right on down to who is in anywise connected with policy making and that means – well, go ahead you wanted to – I don’t want to –

WALLACE: Well, I did want to interrupt because if this were that important to you and as I say I listen to you every night, I – chances are that over the past month I would have heard more of this from you than I have because nightly when I listen to you I get the impression that this country as I say is in awful state, that we are leaderless, that we are being betrayed, and I don’t mean in a traitorous sense, but we are being betrayed by incompetence in our government.

LEWIS: We are …

WALLACE: Well in what sense? I don’t – I don’t follow.

LEWIS: Uh – we are being betrayed by the bureaucracy of Civil Service. These people – uh – for over the years and years and years are used to doing the same thing in the same way and following the same pattern and they have come to believe that they have a vested interest in their particular job.

WALLACE: And …

LEWIS: They are protected from removal, they protected from firing –

WALLACE: and the elected representatives of the people – Eisenhower and his Cabinet who are not elected obviously but – uh – that the Senate and the Congress of the United States are simply powerless to change the course of events.

LEWIS: The Congress of the United States is not powerless to change the course of – of events but the President certainly is.

WALLACE: Fulton, over the years…

LEWIS: He is the prisoner of the Civil Service System. And whether you heard it or not, Mike, I have been yelling this not about Mr. Eisenhower, not about Truman, but all the way back into the early days of Mr. Roosevelt.

WALLACE: Fulton, over the years you’ve been accused of many things as –

LEWIS: Oh, many…

WALLACE: …as every stormy petrel.

WALLACE: Life magazine has accused you of a – quote, “Disgraceful abuse of the news.” An article in Harper’s magazine speaks of you quote, “Headlong one-sidedness.” The Journal called a Public Opinion Quarterly has carried an article about you called quote, “What constitutes irresponsibility on the air, a case study,” these are just a few.

LEWIS: What was the last one?

WALLACE: Public Opinion Quarterly carried an article about you called quote, “What constitutes irresponsibility - on the air, a case study,” end quote.

LEWIS: Did you take the trouble, Mike, to get the copy – uh – of the following – uh – edition of that quarterly?

WALLACE: The following edition?

LEWIS: The following edition, the next quarterly.

WALLACE: Uh – I don’t have it here with me Fulton, I’d be pleased if you –

LEWIS: Well, that was the other side of the story in which I exposed the writer of the original article for his complete and total irresponsibility and proved the misstatements which he made throughout.

WALLACE: How do you feel about this kind of criticism?

LEWIS: It rolls off my back like water off a duck.

WALLACE: Truly?

LEWIS: Truly.

WALLACE: Uh – let me ask you this, how do you feel when men like Gerald L.K. Smith whom you profess to abhor – who –

LEWIS: I do abhor.

WALLACE: Who you do abhor – uh – so frequently or is so frequently an admirer of the same men that you admire, General Douglas McArthur, Senator McCarthy, and for awhile even Vice President Nixon, although he’s changed his tack on Nixon, and it should be said here that Nixon is dismissed – uh – has denounced Smith as a hate monger too. Uh –

LEWIS: As I have.

WALLACE: As you have. Tell me this, what – what is the appeal that these men [have] for the lunatic fringe in America?

LEWIS: Now, that these men – uh – you just mentioned it, Gerald L.K. Smith –

WALLACE: Yes, MacArthur, McCarthy and then Nixon for awhile.

LEWIS: I don’t know, it certainly is true however, that the conservative side of the picture has attached to it a lunatic fringe. Make no mistake about this. And it is a thing that disturbs me – you – uh – use the term – uh – extreme right. I prefer the term conservative. But, - uh – I find that very considerable amount of lunatic fringe that adheres like ling to the coattails of the conservative side of the American picture. Why, I can’t say. Unfortunately, Mike, you can’t control who follows you down the street or who writes you letters.

WALLACE: Answer me this, if you will sir. Earlier this week, my reporter spent some times with you, in Washington, had lunch with you …

LEWIS: A very nice young man, by the way…

WALLACE: Well, he said that you said as follows: This is a quote: “If the political lines were drawn sharply between left wing and right wing in America, and there was an election, the entire nation would go right, except New York state.” You said. And your reason was this. Quote, “because of the kind of people there, who are inclined or who have been led toward the left. There are the Puerto Rican imports, and the people of European origin, who are looking for something for nothing. People who have the dog-eat-dog philosophy.” – end quote. Now in a moment I would like you to tell us what you mean by that. And we’ll get the answer to that question in just sixty seconds.

(COMMERCIAL)

WALLACE: Fulton, do you want me to read that quote to you again, or do you think you have it well in mind?

LEWIS: Yes, I’d like to have you read it Mike, if you will?

WALLACE: “If the political lines were drawn sharply between left wing and right wing in America, and there was an election, the entire nation would go right, except New York state. Because of the kind of people in New York state, who are inclined or who have been led toward the left. There are the Puerto Rican imports, and the people or European origin, who are looking for something for nothing. People who have the dog-eat-dog philosophy.”

LEWIS: The “Looking for something for nothing,” – this was a very excellent reporter, and that’s almost correct. The “Looking for something for nothing” is not quite an accurate appraisal. I had not this thought in mind. What I did tell the young man, who was a very delightful young man, was that New York and some of the large population centers, have been taught, because of selfish political techniques, have been taught, to try to get something for nothing – to have been taught to believe that they are entitled to something for nothing, and in that sense there is a dog-eat-dog philosophy.

WALLACE: Do you really believe that if there were an election between extreme right and extreme left – the extreme right would win all over the country, except New York not –

LEWIS: This is not what I said. I said between a clear drawn election between the right, between conservatives-I didn’t use the “right”-between conservatives, conservatism and liberalism, and this is the thing that I have been driving for, for years and years and years, and until we get it the American people are not going to be able to have a free expression. If we could get an election between the conservatives and the liberals there is not any question in my mind whatsoever. You speak of a small minority.

WALLACE: Well, now wait a minute.

LEWIS: There is no question in my mind whatsoever that the balance would be sixty to seventy-five percent on the conservative side.

WALLACE: … and New York state would go left.

LEWIS: New York City would go left – New York state certainly would not – necessarily. It would be a cross between the conservative out state and the ultra-liberal city.

WALLACE: What about men like Paul Douglas or Hubert Humphrey, or Wayne Morris or Richard Newberger, certainly these men are not conservatives. All of these men were elected against people who were just as – just as liberal as they were. Well, then why are you saying –

LEWIS: … and the answer to your question, Mike, lies in the fact that every time, every time the Republicans have put up one of their liberal candidates, the candidate has lost, except in the case of the Javits of New York.

WALLACE: Well then, why don’t – why do you bemoan the fact that men of less rugged breed – to use your own words, are replacing men like McCarthy, Werry, Welker, Jenner, now. This is your own statement.

LEWIS: Yes, but I didn’t mean that they were replacing them in the Senate. I meant that they were replacing them in the councils of the party.

WALLACE: Do you really believe, that what you consider to be the “right” is a strong group in the United States.

LEWIS: … I believe that - seventy-five percent of the people of the United States, if they ever get a chance to express themselves – they will.

WALLACE: Well, this is a Democracy. Why don’t they have the right to do – to express themselves.

LEWIS: Because both parties have been so infiltrated by those who think that they can give – buy votes – that both parties have ended up to be the same thing. Explain to me, Mike, if you would be so kind as to how Jacob Javitts and Bill Mullen, the members of the same Republican Party, and how John Stennis of Mississippi and Wayne Morris are members of the same Democratic Party. Does this make sense?

WALLACE: Do you respect Jacob Javitts, as a Senator?

LEWIS: I respect Jacob Javitts as a Senator, and I think he had no course other than to adopt the policy – policies that he has adopted, if he is going to expect to get the New York City vote, which is necessary for him to get into New York State, in order to win.

WALLACE: Fulton, one last question, we have just about a half a minute. You have a son, Fulton Lewis III, twenty-two years old, I believe.

LEWIS: I certainly have.

WALLACE: I’m told on reliable authority that when he attended the University of Virginia, he joined the liberal club or group of some sort, and that when you heard about it, you got so sore that you went down there and gave him a good bawling out, and apparently frightened him into quitting. True or untrue?

LEWIS: That is just about as untrue and is diametrically the opposite of the truth. He joined the very ultra conservative organization, got some bad editorials from the local newspaper down there. I went down there and tried to persuade him not as Freshman to force his way into a Communist hunt on the campus of the University of Virginia and persuaded him to do so.

WALLACE: I must say that the story that we got was from a very good friend of yours in Washington. In any case, I thank you for coming and spending this half hour with us here in New York tonight. Fulton Lewis, Jr. reflects the thinking of a small but significant force on the American scene. Maybe it’s larger than we had been led to believe, but he does perform an even more important function. He challenges those of us who are indifferent to politics or too lazy to bother. He challenges us to make up our minds. In a moment, I’ll return with news of next week’s guest, a Nobel Prize Winner, but first, thirty seconds about the new hi-fi Parliament.

(COMMERCIAL)

WALLACE: Next week, we’ll take a look at the role played by women in American society, and their battle against the double standard at home, at work, and in love. Our guest, you see her behind me – will be Pearl Buck – perhaps the most famous authoress in the world, winner of the Nobel and Pulitzer Prizes for literature. If you’re curious to know Pearl Buck’s views on the battle between the sexes, and if you want to hear why she says that America’s current pessimism, almost despair is our most serious problem, we’ll go after those stories next week. Untill then for Parliament, Mike Wallace, good night.