Roosevelt Seeks Revenge
62 to 63 years old
Pulitzer was briefly elated after Democrat William Gaynor was elected New York's mayor, especially as the profane and peppery judge beat Hearst, still thirsting for office, by a hundred thousand votes. But Pulitzer then faced the grim prospect of Roosevelt returning from his African safari to fight for a third presidential term, and continuing to pursue the criminal libel case against him with all the power and prestige of the White House. Yet, not wanting to handicap Roosevelt by boosting Taft unfairly, he warned Frank Cobb's editorial partner, Horatio Seymour, to avoid any distortion in his anxiety to “make a phrase or show brilliant, rhetorical style.” Instead, he must stick to the facts and use “moderation, reasonableness in every word whether criticizing or praising.”
It would be fair, he wrote, to criticize Taft's “absurd” talk about war because it showed his “ignorance of European conditions.” (Hardly absurd—World War I was only four years ahead.) It would also be fair to attack his “preposterous advocacy of the old military cries of Roosevelt that we must have a bigger army and a bigger part in European politics, while reasonable to praise him “warmly and strongly” for his “policy for economy and retrenchment.” Pulitzer admitted that if Seymour wanted Roosevelt nominated, the best policy would be to “tear Taft to pieces. That is, if I allow you, which I don't.”
Yet Pulitzer required “every editor to write only what he conscientiously believes, and if he disagrees with the policy of the paper [i.e., with Pulitzer] to remain simply silent. But I do ask you to be silent when you disagree with me.”
A few months later he complained, “I have never known the World to come so near to being muzzled, afraid of saying anything about Taft or his weaknesses. If there is anything under the sun I hate, and that I believe the World was never guilty of before, it is trimming or sitting on the fences or the
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: Pulitzer: A Life. Contributors: Denis Brian - Author. Publisher: John Wiley & Sons. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 2001. Page number: 359.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.