Skip to main content
Article
Black and White and Red All Over?: Reassessing Newspapers' Role in the Red Scare of 1919
Journalism History (2013)
  • Matthew Pressman
Abstract
Most historians writing about America’s 1919 Red Scare have claimed that the press, by exaggerating and sensationalizing the threat from radical leftists, helped foment a national hysteria. This article, focusing primarily on New York City’s top three morning newspapers, argues that the press in 1919 did not irresponsibly stoke public fear. While most papers supported the government’s crackdown on suspected radicals and took management’s side in labor disputes, the overall sense they conveyed was that the radicals were ineffectual and the authorities firmly in control. Some newspapers, moreover, such as the New York American (the flagship of William Randolph Hearst’s powerful chain), covered strikes fairly and downplayed the unrest roiling the country. Examining the circumstances and pressures under which each newspaper operated, this article explores what shaped their coverage and argues that their greatest impact was not on the public, but on politicians.
Publication Date
April, 2013
Citation Information
Matthew Pressman. "Black and White and Red All Over?: Reassessing Newspapers' Role in the Red Scare of 1919" Journalism History Vol. 39 Iss. 1 (2013) p. 29 - 39
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/matthew-pressman/3/