How the Morning News Helped Dallas Become the City of Hate

Two years before Kennedy was shot, extremism was already burning in Dallas. Then the Morning News fanned the flames.

How the <i>Morning News</i> Helped Dallas Become the City of Hate
Brian Stauffer

In their new book Dallas 1963, Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis carefully chronicle the story of Dallas in the years leading up to President John F. Kennedy's assassination in November 1963. In this excerpt, they take us back to October 1961, when The Dallas Morning News' combative publisher helped cement the city's reputation as a conservative hotbed.

Ted Dealey considers the telegram that has just arrived at his office. It is addressed personally to him from President John F. Kennedy, but Dealey knows a form letter when he sees one. In fact, several other publishers in Texas are receiving the exact same message:

"It would be useful to me to have an exchange of views with you on state, regional and national problems. Therefore I would be most pleased to have you as my guest at a luncheon on Friday, October 27th at 1:00 p.m. at the White House Washington. (Enter the Northwest Gate on Pennsylvania Avenue.) I hope it will be possible for you to attend. It would be appreciated if you would kindly reply to Press Secretary Pierre Salinger."

Ted Dealey, two seats to Kennedy's left, confronts the president at a White House luncheon.
Photograph by Abbie Rowe/White House Photographs/John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
Ted Dealey, two seats to Kennedy's left, confronts the president at a White House luncheon.

Dealey sets the telegram aside. He knows Kennedy has been playing the seduction game, hosting a series of similar meetings with publishers. The president's stated rationale may be a desire to "exchange views," but Dealey knows what he is really up to.

Kennedy is going to try to charm the press into giving him better coverage. He is going to peddle his soft soap, this time to a bunch of Texans.

Dealey has already made his own feelings about Kennedy quite clear in his newspaper. He heard from his sources in Washington that the Morning News' combative editorials are causing Kennedy pain. As Dealey will tell anyone who would listen, "I am not particularly fond of brother Kennedy."

Dealey quickly calculates the cost of a trip to Washington. With airfare, hotel, food and drink, it will cost several hundred dollars. It's easily worth it. Not many people are given the opportunity to tell the president of the United States to his face exactly how they feel about him.


His father, George B. Dealey, founded The Dallas Morning News in 1885, seven years before Ted was born. It was the dominant newspaper in Texas, and it was, really, the world the young Dealey grew up in. He always saw being publisher as a civic calling, as important as any elected office. Even when he left the city and played football for the University of Texas in Austin and then earned a master's in philosophy at Harvard, he knew he was destined to take control of his father's paper.

He made his first mark on the news venue back in the 1920s, when the Ku Klux Klan chose Dallas for its national headquarters. The Klan staged its grand parades down Main Street during the day and it terrorized at night, with cross burnings and whippings and unexplained disappearances of young black men. The city's establishment fell into line and Klansmen were elected to city offices. The managing editor of the competing newspaper, the Dallas Times Herald, resigned to become the Klan's public relations director. Dallas, never really known for much, earned a reputation as the KKK bulwark in America.

The young Dealey lobbied his father to stand up to the Klan. Thanks to his efforts, the Morning News led a public campaign against the KKK, even withstanding advertising boycotts and angry mobs gathering outside the paper's headquarters. It emerged stronger and more influential than ever. It had no rival as the state's leading newspaper. For the next 20 years, the News' politics was squarely within the traditions of mainstream America. The paper endorsed Franklin D. Roosevelt for president and even supported his New Deal programs, one of which helped cement the Dealey family's legacy in Dallas: One of FDR's Works Progress Administration projects was a small park built in downtown Dallas, just three blocks from the Morning News building. It was named in honor of Ted Dealey's father, and it featured a 12-foot-tall bronze statue of the older man. It became known as Dealey Plaza.

Ted Dealey liked seeing the towering statue. Too, he liked that he had enshrined the family's vision for their newspaper in a quote carved into a panel four stories high above the front entrance to The Dallas Morning News building:

"Build The News upon the rock of truth and righteousness. Conduct it always upon the lines of fairness and integrity. Acknowledge the right of the people to get from the newspaper both sides of every important question."

Dealey's father had been a moderate man with a finely attuned sense of social decorum. Now, in 1961, the son is striking some people as occasionally caustic or even callous. He is, his friends say, fiercely intelligent and filled with a crackling wit. He is considered the paper's best writer, and he spends time with the editorials. But he is talking openly of his "masturbation period" and he tells one News executive, "Some day when you're sitting in that fancy new office of yours, keep in mind that at one time in that exact location stood the finest whorehouse in the entire city of Dallas."

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83 comments
jblanken11
jblanken11

All of this is quite interesting except for the fact the Lee Harvey Oswald was a committed leftist (that should have been committed by the way) . At the time Kennedy was hardly a lion of the Civil Rights movement , being dragged in by events and his brother, not much less than kicking and screaming. I cannot believe that the DMN editorial page , as much as I dislike it , had one thing to do in reality with JFK's assassination here.

Sidewalk
Sidewalk

Even as a kid growiing up in Dallas, I remember how hateful the DMN was toward Kennedy. The writers and reporters must have been reporting in a bubble, because when Kennedy came to town the streets were packed with well-wishers. Dallas has been and always will be a douchebag city.

harleykarmadad
harleykarmadad

If you come here from another city, the first thing you notice is how extremely right winged the DMN is. 

Then you will notice it more every time you travel to a moderate or liberal city.  Recently I was in Portland and counted 13 Headlines in one edition that you would NEVER see in the DMN.  It is mind boggling how blatant they are.  It is as if they only print for the Republican's of Dallas, yet it seems a majority lean more moderate or liberal. 

It is hard sometimes to convince others that Dallas is not as right wing as the press makes us look.  And they always go back to the killing of JFK.  Something, I guess Dallas can never live down as long as DMN is our spokesmodel.

robertdglover58
robertdglover58

Wellll...

As we all know the courageous Democratic Party (along with Grand Wizard Robert Byrd) led the fight for the 1964 Civil Rights Act & the 1965 Voting Rights Act against fierce opposition, led by the racist, backward and xenophobic GOP. Wait? What? Didn't happen that way? Well, okay, never mind.

roo_ster
roo_ster

Always interesting to see what new baloney the left will come up with to desperately try to explain away why JFK was killed by a member of the left.  The sad thing is, they don't have to try very hard, since folks on the left are terribly ignorant of history.  It doesn't have to make sense or not contradict previous explanations, because the only ones who might bring up inconvenient facts are on the right.  And folk on the right don't have to be listened to because hate.  And racist.

Also, look at how meek and servile the lefty pressers are in the face of authority. Back then they licked JFK's shoes and thought it a horror that a citizen would not fawn on the President in a blatantly political gathering.  Nowadays they fellate BHO.  (I recall a silly MSM bint declaring she was willing to polish Clinton's knob for his support for abortion, so it really ought not to surprise anyone.)





billysottile
billysottile

Wow, at least no one has killed Obama yet!

dc005
dc005

story I've always heard,  when Ted finished,  JFK looked at him "Mr. Dealey,  I can certainly understand why the people of Dallas are thrilled when the afternoon paper arrives!"

jgston323
jgston323

Where in Washington State may I subscribe to the Dallas Morning News?  LOL.  To my Freshman students, even in the late '80s, JFK was as remote as Abe Lincoln.  Give it a rest.  The parade's gone by.  Thank you JKF and LBJ for a conformist welfare-state, for massive military-conscription, and for Viet Nam.  How many American lives did you ruin, and for what? Shame !!

oledriller
oledriller

Here we go again another progressive writer playing his illiterate subscribers with those little anti-conservative jabs here and there of how they were part of the KKK and that's why Democrats hated Texas. Bull hockey! The Democrats owned the state of Texas in 1961...lets get that straight! We all know the facts of how LBJ and the "Duke of Duval County" put Kennedy in office with all those votes from dead people. Republicans were just starting to crawl at that time. The Northern Dems owed the state thanks and needed their support. However, the Lone Star State was home to a majority of conservative Democrats that were already hated by their Yankee counterparts. Kennedys assassination was just a good excuse to blow off Texas. Lets not also forget that behind every single KKK hood was a Southern Democrat. Another one those history truths liberal Dems like to hide from their constituency. Without his promises and support of civil rights, Medicare , Medicaid and food stamps LBJ would not have been re-elected. If all Americans would just read LBJ's books they would know exactly what he told his senators right after signing the civil rights bill. " I'll have those Ni__ers voting Democrat for the next 200 years". His vision of the future was true. Like it or not that's the way it really was!

James_the_P3
James_the_P3

Ummmm, I'm pretty sure Lee Harvey Oswald was a Communist who at one time defected to the Soviet Union.

Mac_Wallace
Mac_Wallace

'We're headed into nut country today."

JFK on the morning of 11/22/63

Funny how it all ended in Dealey Plaza. Just a coincidence though...

epicmale
epicmale

Kennedy was all about 'Camelot'...at least in his publicity efforts.  But, behind the scenes, he was orchestrating the assassination of Castro, but failed.  He was also directing the FBI, via Hoover, to spy upon MLK and set up a concerted plan of character assassination.  Apparently freedom of speech only applies to democrats that toe the line and do as they are told.  Hmmm....kind of reminds me of the current democrat in the Whitehouse....NSA, IRS attacks, 'transparent' government, etc, etc....

Plus, let us not forget, the assassin was not some right winger, but rather an avowed communist...sort of like many that currently occupy the Whitehouse.

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum topcommenter

Ain't if funny that the ideological antecedents of today's Tea Partiers and conservative Republicans were yowling about a commie-loving president 50 years ago, while their descendants now scream about a socialist POTUS? The more things change, the more they stay the same.

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum topcommenter

@robertdglover58 Forgive me if I'm misreading you, but it sounds as if you fail to understand the split in the Democratic Party, especially over segregation in the middle of the 20th century. Please read up on the Solid South and Dixiecrats. Fact is that southern Dems were the racist segregationists, while the northern Dems were the progessives. This was made unequivocally obvious following the passage of the Civil Rights Acts when you had Southern Dems defecting to the Republican Party en masse, thus ending the Democratic tradition of the Solid South. Stop reading revisionist, pseudo-historians like David Barton and smarten up.

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum topcommenter

@roo_ster I guess facts and historical context equate to baloney in your world. The point of this excerpt is to demonstrate the hostility of the DMN's editorial board toward Kennedy and how they whipped up anti-Kennedy fervor, not to intimate that it necessarily had much to do with Oswald's motives.

Sure Oswald was an ultra-leftist, communist sympathizer, but "member of the left" is a pretty simple-minded label. As with the right, there is a spectrum of ideology. Oswald was about as far from Kennedy's politics as Grand Wizard Robert Shelton was from Nixon's.

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum topcommenter

@jgston323 Someone missed the point. If you don't live in Dallas and haven't been reading the DMN for most of your life, you might not care much about its editors' politics during the JFK years. However, if you're a Texas history and politics buff, this would be a fascinating sidebar to the assassination narrative.

harleykarmadad
harleykarmadad

@oledriller I am sorry but once I read I was illiterate, I remembered I could read.  So that is as far as I got.   Yet I assume from that bit of undeserved arrogance the words must fall in line with a Cruz/Palin 2016 agenda.

oledriller
oledriller

It just amazes me how illiterate Dems get their pannies all in a wad when you tell them about their true history. None of the right wing parties of today resemble anything near the Democrats of forty years ago. Show me your documented facts. You might want to quit watching the lamestream media such as ABC, "All Barrack Channel"  or CNN, "Clinton News Network".  Obama has now been documented on video of spewing more than 250 lies to Americans since in office. Unprecedented in history. Apparently he was dead right when he told the newsman , "My supporters really don't care about the truth".  

gabe48
gabe48

@oledriller Democrats were, indeed, the majority in Texas, but you do realize that they were called Texas Democrats, right?  You also realize they practically mirror the current Tea Party and GOP?  You do realize that there was a huge paradigm shift, and the parties basically flip-flopped, correct?  No, of course you don't.  You are a conservative mongoloid who buys into your party's current lies and bullying tactics.  This is coming from a libertarian who despises the current Dem party, as well as the GOP.  

I think you need to take a trip to Mac's for some tasty ribs and fresh, hand-cut fries

texasisthereason
texasisthereason

@epicmale Kennedy was on the CIA and FBI's side?  Lets ignore that historical inaccuracy for a moment.  So the CIA killed him, because he was orchestrating the CIA. WTF

harleykarmadad
harleykarmadad

@oledriller Excuse me, Mr. Illiterate here and I am trying to unwed my PANNIES but I am not sure what a pannie is.  Did you mean Panini?  Because I love Panini's and yet I have never had a problem getting them in a wad.  If you know people who do, tell them to eat it like a sandWHITCHIE.

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum topcommenter

@oledriller You poor, uneducated fella. Start with Wikipedia and look up "Solid South" and "Dixiecrats." Then read about what happened to Southern Democrats following the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@gabe48 

I've heard that they are out of this world!

Much like oledriller, here.

James_the_P3
James_the_P3

@CogitoErgoSum @James_the_P3 As has been pretty commonplace for the last 50 years, the authors implicitly and explicitly link Kennedy's assassination with Dallas' penchant for right-wing extremism in the early 1960's.  In reality, one had absolutely nothing to do with the other.

epicmale
epicmale

@texasisthereason @epicmale Uh...dude, his BROTHER was head of the DOJ.  Get it?  And yes, Kennedy did attempt to orchestrate more than one assassination attempt upon Castro.  When you consider that he grew up in an organized crime family (Daddy was one of the largest bootleggers during Prohibition), why would you think he was a populist?

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum topcommenter

@texasisthereason @CogitoErgoSum The editorial board of the Morning News and its adherents -- as mentioned in the article -- most certainly were not Democratic. The Solid South was already flagging by the 1960 election. Republicans were well on their way to turning the South red.

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum topcommenter

As I said, poor fella. Anyone who employs the word "libtard" is belying their intellectual limitations. Keep working at it, guy.

oledriller
oledriller

@CogitoErgoSum @oledriller Uneducated huh ....LMAO. If you only knew! Like I said before, Libtards get all their information from the internet and pay TV. Did you actually read the stupid article and understand it ? It has nothing to do with the GOP today.  Also, two of the reference articles were debunked years ago as just more leftist spew. You can do better than that!  

James_the_P3
James_the_P3

@CogitoErgoSum @James_the_P3 And it is.

But I can't helped but be rubbed the wrong way by it, as a native Dallasite.  In much the same way that Gabby Giffords' shooting was ascribed to right-wing lunacy by certain agenda-bearing parties (including, most notably, The New York Times), Kennedy's assassination was quickly associated with Dallas's Birchers and Dealey-esque loons.  And just like Giffords', Kennedy's shooting had absolutely nothing to do with the right-wingers and everything to do with mentally ill loners.

And it would just be another instance of political slander, which I wouldn't particularly mind (not being much of a right-winger myself) if it didn't implicate my hometown.  But it does, so I can't help but take some offense.


Dealey's behavior and political beliefs were noxious.  They don't reflect well on a major newspaper in a major American city.  And, ultimately, they were fairly harmless.

James_the_P3
James_the_P3

@CogitoErgoSum @James_the_P3 Well I can't know what was in the mind of a madman.  I can tell you that Oswald spent less than a year in Dallas (June 1962-April 1963 and then again from October 3, 1963 to his death).  In that brief time, he attempted the murder of Gen. Edwin Walker, who was a notorious right-winger.

I would find it hard to believe that in the eight months between Gen. Walker's attempted assassination and President Kennedy's, that Oswald would go from so despising the type of right-wing lunacy that Gen. Walker espoused to adopting it wholesale.  And not just adopting it, but adopting it to the degree that it provided a motivating basis to kill the president.

Maybe that's the case.  But there's no evidence of it and it's more than a little tough to believe.  The much more likely explanation was that Oswald was a disaffected and mentally unstable young man who fancied himself a Communist, and that the right-wing lunacy that was popular in certain high circles in Dallas in 1963 is nothing more than ideosyncratic civic background to a national tragedy.

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum topcommenter

@James_the_P3 @CogitoErgoSum Fair point. However, Oswald did spend a considerable amount of time in Dallas, presumably reading the paper and soaking up the anti-Kennedy vibes. At the same time, I realize there's no evidence to support the opinion that he was influenced by the vibe in Dallas.

epicmale
epicmale

 @texasisthereason  Now I do believe that is a display of purposeful bias or evidence that someone is culturally ignorant.  Other countries deal with criminality in different ways.  In some countries, the criminals along with their families are just geographically segregated, at the point of a gun, because that is cheaper than building housing and fences.

To understand this concept, look at how Saddam Hussein isolated his 'criminal' element?  The Kurds were herded like animals.  You see, many countries don't have due process as we do here.  Or criminals were marched into the desert, shot, and pushed into mass graves.  And are you aware of the warehousing of 'criminals' in China until a Party Member with the right DNA profile needs a kidney or liver or heart? 

And of course we can really trust China, Russia, Brazil, et al to be up front and honest about their prison populations.   Right?  Comparing US prisons to many places in the world is like comparing apples to dung piles.

poppymann
poppymann

@texasisthereason @poppymann @epicmale I do not deny that we live in a country that profits off the backs of the poor and the non-white. As a matter of fact we do it two ways: we send them to prison and we send them to war and in each case, the same people get paid. 

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum topcommenter

Also, a bit of research shows that Dallas and Harris counties went for Nixon while Kennedy only won the Texas popular vote by a 2% margin. Also helped that LBJ (a Texan) was on the ticket. Those were different times -- times when the still-populous and largely Democratic rural vote could outweigh the conservative urban population centers. Things have flip-flopped since then, obviously.

 
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