Editorial reaction of selected major Indiana daily newspapers to a national controversy : the Truman, MacArthur conflict

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Henderson, Thomas G. (Thomas Gerald), 1944-
Ferrill, Everett W.
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The dismissal of General Douglas MacArthur on April 11, 1951, from all of his commands by President Truman furnished the impetus for this survey of editorial opinion and reaction. The newspaper editorial opinion represents five major daily newspapers with broad geographic coverage of the State of Indiana, plus a wide range of political reaction to the topic. The editorial opinion is also representative ofea diverse socio-economic base.Of the five newspapers, the Evansville Courier was one of two that retained a consistently rational outlook toward the American scene during the Truman-MacArthur conflict. It took the position early that the Korean War should not be expanded, that the chance of an expanding war with China was to be avoided. The Courier expressed its dissatisfaction with the Truman foreign policy record, including the loss of China. It supported executive privilege and roundly attacked MacArthur.The Fort Wayne News Sentinel was very conservative, expertly vindictive, and at times somewhat irrational in its editorial opinion. At other times, its tenor was completely opposite. After fighting had been stabilized at the 38th parallel, it advised moving no further north,thus supporting limitation of the war. The News Sentinel supported MacArthur to the hilt and generally, deplored American negotiations and her "cringing" under Russian communism.The Gary Post Tribune's record in regard to the Truman Administration was that it had failed in its Far Eastern foreign policy and that the policy was unclear. It called MacArthur's dismissal unfortunate, but added that the move was supported in the interest of preserving civilian supremacy and the western alliances. Early in the Senate hearings, it applauded the conduct of those proceedings but as they ground on, pleaded for their end. Imploring its readers to rational thinking, the Post Tribune insisted "Cold Reason Must Rule" and deplored the fact that it felt that negotiation was becoming synonymous with appeasement.The Indianapolis Star's production of editorial opinion was prolific, in comparison to the other newspapers. The Star maintained a consistent conservative Republican approach to all issues. The Truman Administration was condemned for loss of the World War II "Pacific victory," for appeasement and defeatism, and for the formulation and execution of its Far Eastern foreign policy. Russia was seen as the real enemy of America, and early in the Korean War, military limitations were supported but later those same limitations were attacked vigorously. The concept of limiting the war was said to encourage further aggression. The Star advocated the protection of executive privilege, and as the Senate hearings progressed, informed its readers that no new information could be gained from the testimony.Of the five newspapers, the Palladium Item was the most reactionary and irrational. Although, at times, emotionalism and an occasional case of irrationality overcame the News Sentinel and Star, the Palladium Item made a steady diet of those "entrees." In describing the toll of American lives in the Korean War, the paper revealed its nature in the editorial, the "Truman Meat Grinder." Allies were seen as worthless and Truman as a "puppet" of England. The paper insisted that Truman's "hatchet-men" were trying to smear the General's character, because he was a "champion" against "traitorous" elements in America.The editorial reaction of the five papers was conservative and condemned the Truman Administration foreign policy, especially in the Far East. The Evansville Courier and the Gary Post Tribune presented well thought-out opinions based on a rational approach to the frustrations of Americans in the Korean War and adherence to the concept of limited war. The Republican newspapers, the Indianapolis Star, the Fort Wayne News Sentinel, and the Richmond Palladium Item, adhered to the Republican condemnation of the Truman Administration.