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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.