From the numerous comments on the Sapiro-Ford trial which continue to appear in papers throughout the country, outside of New York, it is safe to say that the overwhelming majority of the American press is frankly favorable to Sapiro in his libel suit against Ford and the “Dearborn Independent.”
Many papers emphasize the Jewish issue involved, expressing the opinion that it cannot be barred despite the rulings of the court.
Thus, the Paterson (N. J.) “News” (Mar. 21), declares:
“The real question involved is an endeavor to put an end to the alleged pilloring of the Jews of the world by the first billionaire in history.”
The paper reproduces the N. Y. “Times” editorial in which Ford was urged to take the stand and tell the truth.
Similarly the Newport News, (Va.) “Press” (Mar. 23) observes that “it is apparent from the testimony and from some of the letters introduced that this fight was on the Jewish race in general, and that Sapiro was only an incident, a means of attack.”
The Asheville (N. C.) “Times” (Mar. 22) writes, referring especially to Ford’s claim that he was not aware of the anti-Jewish articles published in his paper, the “Independent” :
“Did not Mr. Ford and the editors understand the impression they were creating when ‘The Independent’ launchen its anti-Semite assault? Did they not know that the public credited these stories of an international conspiracy of Jews to control finance, agriculture and what not to Henry Ford? Mr. Ford has his own page in ‘The Independent’; he manifests at least that much interest in its cotents.
“It would seem rather late for Mr. Ford to disavow all responsibility for what ‘the Independent’ has said about the Jews. And perhaps he proposes to disavow nothing.”
In the Elmira (N. Y.) “Gazette” (Mar. 22), we read: “The widely known and advertised anti-Semitism attributed to Henry Ford began to get a public airing when the million dollar libel suit brought against the motor magnate by Aaron Sapiro went to trial in United States District Court in Detroit before Judge Fred M. Raymond.
“The suit is the outgrowth of articles in the Dearborn ‘Independent,’ owned by Ford, in which Sapiro and his associates are said to have fleeced farmers’ cooperatives, organized by them, of vast sums. The Jewish issue is raised in many of the articles, but throughout the week Reed and his associates battled more or less successfully to bar the anti-Semitic question as a trial issue.
“Never before has the Semitic question come so prominently into the courts of this country.”
Other comments follow:
Waterbury, (Conn.) “American”: “William J. Cameron, editor of the Ford owned Dearborn ‘Independent,’ has testified that he and he alone is responsible for the alleged attacks on Sapiro. It is not at once clear, however, how Mr. Cameron can absolve Mr. Ford even by so heroic an admission. If Mr. Ford had not already exhibited antipathy toward the Jew, Mr. Cameron might be allowed to shoulder the charge and accept the consequences. Still, here is a point to be threshed out in court and it will be interesting to learn that Mr. Ford is very much cut up over the unkind things his editor insinuated or said concerning a certain race of people.”
Lynchburg (Va.) “News” (Mar. 23) : “Just why should a suit for libel against Henry Ford become a trial of Aaron Sapiro? The question at issue is not how much Sapiro made, interesting as that is, but how many lies, if any, Ford told about Sapiro.”
Louisville (Ky.) “Times” (Mar. 22): “The supreme silliness of the peace ship benignity of Henry Ford is matched by the supreme silliness of the project of malignity which the Sapiro damage suit brings out.
“Like handling an international war from the deck of a peace ship, the end in view, ending the war, handling the story of cooperative marketing to show that the plan is to exploit the farmer is a task of Mr. Ford’s that is beyond his ways, despite his means.”
Charleston (S.C.) “Post” (Mar. 22): “The appearance of Henry Ford on the stand as a witness is looked forward to by the public with anticipation of considerable entertainment. Mr. Ford’s former experience on the stand, under the fire of legal questioning, during the hearing of the contest over the Senatorial seat from Michigan, gave the public much interest. Mr. Ford’s views of things accounted of importance generally are unusual to say the least, and whatever is thought or said by a man who has made as much money as he has holds a vast interest for the American people.”
Utica (N. Y.) “Observer” (Mar. 21) : “One might gather from Senator Reed’s opening remarks in the $1,000,000 suit brought by Aaron Sapiro against Henry Ford that one who brings a libel or slander suit must be free from blame, or even if few things may be brought against him, he must nevertheless suffer some uncomfortable moments.
“So it turns out for Sapiro, despite energetic and repeated objections by his counsel. If Senator Reed can prove that Attorney Sapiro formed farm cooperative organizations and wrecked them and charged the fees mentioned, then the most that the plaintiff can hope to get is a verdict of six cents.”
The Baltimore “Post” reproduces the remarks of M. E. Tracy, columnist for the N. Y. “Telegram” and the other Scripps-Howard publications, in which Mr. Tracy denounces Ford for his anti-Jewish campaign.
The Lexington (Ky.) “Leader” and the Lexington “Herald” in lengthy editorials refute the charges made by Reed, Ford’s counsel, that Sapiro organized the Burley Cooperative Association of Kentucky for the purpose of self-aggrandisement. The facts in the case are given by both papers. The “Leader” sums up thus: “With regard to the fees paid Mr. Sapiro for the large amount of work he did for the Burley Association, this newspaper is not competent to speak intelligently. This much, however, is known: Mr. Sapiro came to Kentucky at the request of Judge Bingham. He said if an organization was not effected he would render no bill. In none of his speeches did he discuss his personal history.”
A somewhat different opinion on the Ford-Sapiro case is held by the Kansas City (Mo.) “Journal” (Mar. 23), which remarks: “Though there is no doubt of the ‘Independent’s’ prejudice against Jews, that does not constitute libel against the plaintiff. A race can not be libeled. After it is proved that the defendant is running over with malice against the Jews, the attorneys still are faced with the necessity of showing that he is filled with malice toward Sapiro as an individual. And that will be a much harder point to prove.”
The same view is entertained by the Manchester (Conn.) “Heraid” (Mar. 22), which believes that “the laws of libel were never intended to be applied as it is sought to apply them in this Ford case. If they were they would bring on a reign of terror over those whose business is the expression of opinion.”