A team of Washington correspondents charged today that Vice President Spiro Agnew’s speeches against the press and television has had the “unintentional effect” of creating “a renewed wave of public expression of anti-Semitism.” Writing in the Washington Post, columnists Frank Mankiewicz and Tom Braden said the effect of the speeches was noticeable immediately in the “obscene phone calls protesting ‘Jew-Commies’ on the air” and in the “avalanche of sick mail” received by Norman B. Isaacs, president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors.
The columnists asserted that “obviously Agnew did not intend to spray kerosene on a banked fire. But the language he used was the same country club English which has put him in trouble before.” They noted that the Vice President’s charge that the American press and television was controlled by a small group of men in New York and Washington had “produced a Pavlovian reaction.”
They pointed out that “the theme that America’s press and television is controlled and dominated by a small group of Jews in New York and Washington is dominant among the anti-Semitic lunatic fringe and has been so, at least since the days preceding World War II when the German-American Bund made it an article of faith in order to counteract a press increasingly critical of Adolf Hitler.”
Mr. Agnew, the columnists reported, “was unprepared for the reaction from the lunatic right and he has instructed his staff to answer mail in praise of his alleged anti-Semitism by disclaiming it.”
The “little group” of men who control American communications – if there is one – the columnists asserted, “is white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant – as any head count of the owners of American media will reveal. But professional anti-Semites are undisturbed by facts. Unless Agnew can escape their embrace, he may one day worry about the political consequences.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.