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If Ted Dealey Could See His Newspaper Now …

The Dallas Morning News has done a fine job with its JFK 50 series. The organization is tackling the topic in other provocative ways, too. I’m sure the upcoming JFK symposium, which the paper is co-hosting with the Dallas Institute, will be worth your time. But I can’t help but think of Ted Dealey every time I see something in the paper about the upcoming 50th anniversary of the assassination. Because Ted Dealey would have thrown a party. He would have written editorials calling Lee Harvey a patriot. Hell, if Ted Dealey were alive today, he’d be joyously tweeting a countdown to one of the greatest days in American history.

A little background: Edward Musgrove “Ted” Dealey was one of George Bannerman Dealey’s sons. He was a reporter at the paper and rose to become publisher. He was also a red-baiting boozehound who referred to Washington, D.C., as “n—ertown,” advocated dropping nuclear bombs on Russia, and once behaved so boorishly at the White House that his fellow Texas newspaper publishers told him that he was an embarrassment to the state. In the years leading up to the assassination, there were socially conscious people in Dallas who were trying to make the city more enlightened, Juanita Craft and Stanley Marcus chief among them. And then there were the John Birch-style bastards: oilman H.L. Hunt, Congressman Bruce Alger, nutcase closeted homosexual Edwin Walker. Dealey was at the center of the latter group.

Until recently, I never quite understood the City of Hate moniker. Okay, sure, we killed Kennedy. And I knew something about the time that LBJ and Lady Bird were jeered and spat on in the lobby of the Adolphus Hotel. Walker’s name rang a bell, but I didn’t know much else besides the fact that Lee Harvey shot at his house off Turtle Creek Boulevard. But City of Hate? I thought we got the label just because of Lee Harvey.

Not so, friend. In the early ’60s, this town was full of hate. It was — especially in the case of Edwin Walker — insane. And Ted Dealey, with his newspaper, was the beating heart of that hatred.

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis for filling in an embarrassing gap in my education. They co-wrote Dallas 1963, which will be published in October. I’m reading an advance copy of the book now. It’s wonderful, and I suggest you go ahead and pre-order it now.

Update: I’d like to make it clear that I’m not criticizing the paper we read today. Heck, Ted Dealey would be incensed that a papist like Jim Moroney is running the Morning News.

30 comments on “If Ted Dealey Could See His Newspaper Now …

  1. They still vote the same way (though the Southern Strategy changed the party affiliation), but at least the kids and grandkids have pretty much all moved to Collin County.

  2. Two wonderful books capture the good, bad and ugly of Big D in that era. “Strange Peaches,” by the late Edwin “Bud” Shrake, reissued in ’07, is a novel set in Dallas that covers everything from Ruby’s Carousel Club to JFK. Of course, Bud was a hard-partying sportswriter and around for all of it. Another is Lawrence Wright’s 1987 book “In the New World: Growing Up with America from the Sixties to the Eighties.” Wright, author of the Pulitzer-winning book about 9/11, “The Looming Tower,” moved to Dallas at age 13 in 1960, later graduating high school at Woodrow Wilson.

  3. The enlightened left is always good for a laugh. Craft and Marcus were of course enlightened when the “opposite” side were bastards including the “nutcase closeted homosexual” who I suppose if he had been enlightend he would not have been closeted or not a nutcase. I’m confused. If it is derogatory to call someone a closeted homosexual is it because he was closeted or a homosexual? And if bastard is a derogatory term, does that mean that 75% of black children today should be referred to as such or has enlightenment changed that too. Is this a contrast of the 60’s versus today? And just as an aside, I would like to have a dollar for every time LBJ used the term n—er during his enlightened life.

  4. Another thought: While the Kennedy assassination still fascinates everywhere, Oswald’s ghost is literally in the social fabric of Big D. After all, there’s a popular joint named “Lee Harvey’s.” I suspect their cocktails wouldn’t go down well with the three now-grown children of the local cop Oswald killed minutes before his arrest, J.D. Tippit. “Hey, let’s meet for drinks at that place named after the guy who murdered dad.”

    It made me wonder if they’re pouring whiskey at a watering hole in D.C. called “J. Wilkes,” near Ford’s Theatre? Not according to directory assistance. In ’66, Austin lived through what was at the time the largest mass murder in modern U.S. history, 14 dead. Today, there’s still no “Charlie Whitman Pizza Parlor” down on the Drag, in the bosom of the sniper’s perch atop the UT tower. At least not yet, but, hey, “Keep Austin Weird” is an unofficial moniker. It could happen.

  5. Perhaps I should have left Walker’s sexual orientation out of the equation and just described how he handled himself at the Walker Hearings, in front of members of the U.S. Senate, the stuff about the “real control apparatus” that was out to get him. Or the part about American Nazi Party leader George Rockwell, who showed up that hearing to demonstrate his support for Walker. Afterward, when a reporter asked Walker if he’d disavow support from Rockwell, Walker said not a word and just punched the reporter in the eye.

    You know that I don’t mean “bastard” in the technical sense of being fatherless. Substitute “jackass,” if you like.

    As for LBJ, I didn’t say he was enlightened. He probably use the word “niner” quite a bit when referring to San Francisco.

  6. Dallas may be an oh so enlightened city these days but it’s still full of hate, the hate is just directed at different people now than it was back then. Of course no one will ever admit they’re hateful because everyone thinks their own hate is justified.

  7. Let’s just stop right here with two idiotic notions: 1. “Dallas Killed Kennedy” – no it didn’t. Lee Harvey Oswald did. The politics of this city at that time did not make every man, woman and child living here responsible for the assassination of a president. That is an offensive and, dare I say it, hateful thing to say.
    2. “Dallas was a City of Hate” – no it wasn’t. Dallas was a city dominated by southern Democrats and a few Republicans who were fervently opposed to communism and anything considered left-wing at the time. There were typical southern racial issues here, but the city didn’t wake up each day with a scowel on its face and bile in its stomache mad at the world and ready to get to hatin’. This was a time of tremendous prosperity and growth in the city. People moved here in droves. That wouldn’t happen in a bitter angry city.

    The incidents with Johnson and others that are often cited were isolated, not typical. The assassination of the president was carried out by one man (or a conspiracy of a few if you wish), not half-a-million good people. Please stop pushing these stereotypical myths.

  8. The “city of hate” idea is mainly liberal code-speak for “conservative Republican.” Over lunch one day I recall Mr. Stanley characterizing Bruce Alger as some kind of dangerous extremist, for example. In fact, Alger was a principled conservative who believed in the Constitution, limited government, etc. And Tim, I wonder how the former congressman–who I think is actually still alive and living in this area—would react to your labeling him one of the “John Birch bastards.”

  9. From “Dallas 1963″:

    — “[Alger] opposes the Civil Right Bill of 1957, condemning it as placating ‘the troublemakers of the NAACP who seek to incite race hatred and discontent which did not exist.’ ”

    — “Lynn Alger long ago gave up on her marriage … . On the evening her husband won his first election, she claims in her divorce petition, he brought a prostitute into their hotel room, forcing her to watch as he made love to the woman.”

    Glenn, I’m only halfway through the book. I can update this comment section as I go, if you wish. You’re right, though, last month he turned 95.

  10. If criticizing the NAACP makes Alger a bastard does calling the Tea Party the taliban and racist and saying the IRS was right to target them make former NAACP prez Julian Bond a bastard? http://tinyurl.com/knnwtop

  11. The incident w/LBJ and his wife was not isolated. It happened to Adlai Stevenson when he was here as U.N. Ambassador. Indeed, the local newspapers of that era are full of stuff over several years showing the tenor of the town. For goodness sake, the hometown Dallas Morning News ran a nasty, full page A section ad on the day the President visited. It was paid for by several hardcore right-wingers, including, so history tells us, Nelson Bunker Hunt (son of H.L.) and future Dallas Cowboys owner Harvey “Bum” Bright. This ad was so over-the-top as to be unthinkable for a supposedly legitimate mainstream daily American newspaper. Plainly, Big D — at its highest levels of wealth, power and influence — was patently tolerant of hate-filled views. I don’t know what perch @tested sat on through this period, but I grew up in University Park. My own mother lived here for over 60 years, from 1952 until just last fall. She could certainly disabuse @tested of the quaint notion that Dallas wasn’t a “bitter, angry city” in the early ’60s. Yes, the town blessedly grew, and ran away from its past as time went on, as it bloody well should have! But denying one’s past is no badge of courage.

  12. Why is it conveniently ignored that in the midst of all these extreme Right-wing hateful fanatics who supposedly filled the city of Dallas that is was actually a deeply avowed hardcore Left-wing wannabe communist who was the one who pulled the trigger?

    Say all you want about Dallas being anti-Kennedy in 1963, but it was someone from his own side of the political spectrum who assassinated him.

  13. The new media hate is reserved for anyone who questions or is against a large commercial real estate and/or construction project.

  14. Thank you for your on-point citations. I had no idea you were such a student of history, Amy S.

  15. In 1957 when Republican President Eisenhower was trying to get the Civil Rights Bill passed, then Senator LBJ worked hard against it and prevailed. When LBJ became President and the Republicans were able to get the Civil Rights Act passed despite opposition from the Democrats including Senator Gore, LBJ of course took credit and reportedly said that “they would have every niner voting democrat for the next 200 years.” Is it possible for Democrats to be hateful bastards?

  16. I just realized that this is the same Glenn Hunter that I work with. Well-played, sir. You are still my favorite troll on the internet. I should have known that only a joker would come to the defense of Bruce Alger. [tip o’ the hat]

  17. Sen. John F. Kennedy (D-Mass.) also voted against the ’57 civil rights bill.

  18. Thanks for the tip on the books, new and old, about Dallas in that era. I long ago quit reading about the assassination. Too painful. But I’ve not read a lot about Dallas in that time. I’ll find as many of these as I can, and I’ll definitely read the new book. If there are books out there that will disabuse me of the notion that Dallas really was a City of Hate back then, I hope someone will start us a reading list. I’m interested.

  19. Was the man who killed Kennedy a rightwinger or a leftwinger? It’s as simple as that. All the “hate” in 1963 Dallas is ascribed to the rightwing, anti-red zealots in the city at the time. But in the end, it was someone from the left who committed the crime. Why is that so outrageous to point out?

    I’m not saying JFK was a communist, but LHO’s politics fall much more to Kennedy’s side of the political spectrum than they did Alger’s, Walker’s or Dealy’s.

  20. odd that you assert that “LBJ worked hard against [the 1957 CRA] and prevailed” when the Act passed and became law.

    Your revisionist history on the 1964 CRA fails against the facts:
    “Just five days after John F. Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963, Lyndon B. Johnson went before Congress and spoke to a nation still stunned from the events in Dallas that had shocked the world.

    Johnson made it clear he would pursue the slain President’s legislative agenda—especially a particular bill that Kennedy had sought but that faced strong and vehement opposition from powerful southern Democrats.

    “No memorial oration or eulogy could more eloquently honor President Kennedy’s memory than the earliest possible passage of the civil rights bill for which he fought so long,” Johnson told the lawmakers.

    and that became the 1964 CRA, not by “the Republicans” but by both Democrats and Republicans. yes, there was a time when the 2 parties could actually leave their partisanship behind and pass a bill they could both support….

  21. The 1957 CRA as well as the 1964 CRA passed only because the Republicans overwhelmingly voted for it while the Democrats did everything they could to prevent it. The Democrats controlled both houses as they have for most years since WWII. Had the Democrats truly been the Civil Rights party as they pretend to be today, they could have passed it without any Republican votes. LBJ took the credit and as he said “every niner will be voting Democrat for the next 200 years.” The Republican Party was never against Civil Rights as they have been portrayed by the Dems and the press.