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.

Kennedy enters the room with some aides, and the publishers quickly line up to shake hands with him. Dealey notices that Kennedy looks thin, but that his grip is strong. The group adjourns to lunch around a long, elegantly laid-out wooden dining table that stretches almost from one end of the room to the other. Waiters circle, filling water glasses. The publishers, all dressed in business suits, unfold linen napkins and drape them on their laps. Dealey is seated and picks up the menu: Gnocchi a la Parisienne, Truites Grenobloise, Haricots Vert au Beurre, Beignets de Salsify, Peche Melba, Petits Fours Secs, Demitasse. He puts the menu in his pocket.

Kennedy begins by offering some greetings, some welcomes, and then he segues into well-practiced comments, pleading for sympathy from the media because he feels like a "fugitive" in the White House. He offers a quick review of the foreign affairs priorities that the administration is handling — the Bay of Pigs, the Vienna Summit with Khrushchev, the crisis in Berlin.

As he gives his overview, the well-dressed waiters quietly circle the table and refill wineglasses. The publishers eat delicately while listening to Kennedy's talk. Some jot down notes. Some nod in assent as Kennedy speaks, and they chuckle at his splashes of self-deprecating wit.

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 stares at the president. Like a reporter, he takes note of the details: Kennedy is only picking at his food. He is sipping from a glass of tomato juice. He really does look awfully thin. Lyndon Johnson quietly excuses himself because he needs to fly out for a scheduled speech in Florida.

As Kennedy continues, Dealey glances at his watch impatiently. Hasn't the president invited us here to get our input? When is he going to quit monopolizing the conversation and listen to someone else for a change?

Dealey swivels and looks around the table. Kennedy is clearly charming the people from Texas, the ones Dealey has known for years.

They seem to be in awe, whether of the man or the office it is hard to say. Either way, it is disgusting. Texans aren't supposed to be so easily brainwashed.

Dealey can't stand it. Leaning forward, half out of his seat, he suddenly interrupts Kennedy and speaks forcefully across the elegant dining table:

"Isn't one of the purposes of this meeting to get an expression of grassroots thinking in Texas?"

Kennedy smiles, perhaps unsure where things are headed, and slowly nods in agreement.

Dealey abruptly growls: "Well ... That being the case, I will present the grassroots thinking in Texas as they have been presented to me and as I understand them."

The clinking and scraping of silverware against the china comes to a halt. The room is silent, except for the sound of Texas publishers shifting uneasily in their seats.

The entire room stares at Dealey, whose shoulders are hunched as he cradles a batch of papers he has pulled out of his suit jacket. Kennedy has a slight smile of amusement playing across his face as he regards the old man confronting him. Dealey holds a nine-page, 500-word statement he has written out that very morning on hotel stationery from the Statler Hilton in Washington. He begins reciting in a loud voice:

"The general opinion of the grassroots thinking in this country is that you and your administration are weak sisters. Particularly this is true in Texas right now.

"We need a man on horseback to lead this nation — and many people in Texas and the Southwest think that you are riding Caroline's tricycle."

Dealey pauses and looks around the room.

The other publishers are horrified, the blood draining from their faces. He looks at Kennedy. The president's smile has disappeared, and his face, it appears, is turning red.

Dealey keeps reading:

"The American people are aroused, and rightly so ... We should lead from strength, not from weakness ... We can annihilate Russia and should make that clear to the Soviet government. This means undoubtedly that they can simultaneously destroy us. But it is better to die than submit to communism and slavery."

Dealey rages on, and the room is as silent as stone.

"We want desperately to follow the administration as long as the administration displays courage, but we will not follow its policies like a bunch of driven sheep if it gives in to Russia one iota. The American people are sick and tired of being bluffed, of negotiations when there is nothing to negotiate.

"These state meetings with the press should not be social meetings. You cannot proselyte the newspapers of America and win them to your side by soft soap ...

"We are not morons to be led around the nose by an invested bureaucracy."

Dealey finishes and leans back in deep satisfaction as the luncheon erupts.

Several people begin speaking at once. Some of the publishers rise to their feet and yell: "No, no."

Others begin shouting at, apologizing to, Kennedy: "We don't agree, he's not speaking for us."

One livid publisher lights directly into Dealey: "Ted, you're leading the worst fascist movement in the Southwest and you don't realize that nobody else is with you."

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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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