Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Walter Winchell-The First Blogger

One of the most controversial figures in radio broadcast history, Walter Winchell was a journalistic hero.  Most noted for writing show business gossip for the New York Daily Mirror, Winchell later made his debut on radio in 1930.  Walter crawled his way to the top by digging up dirt on Hollywood celebrities and political figures.

But later in his career something happened to Walter Winchell that gave him the courage to stand up against newspaper owner and boss, William Randolph Hearst.  Mr. Hearst wanted Winchell to continue his rag column which regularly appeared on page two of the Mirror.

Walter was more concerned about something else-the rise of Adolph Hitler in Germany and his ugly rhetoric against Jews.  Because of the danger of Hitler's influence on Europe, Winchell could no longer write about Hollywood gossip.  Winchell said about the glitz of silver screen icons: Broadway is a main artery of New York life - the hardened artery. 

To Winchell's mind, Hitler could not be ignored. Neville Chamberlain, Prime Minister of the UK could not be trusted when he dismissed the threat of Hitler.

Winchell changed the thrust of his columns and became obsessed with Nazi Germany.  Hearst, with his own financial interests in Germany and a possible comrade with the German dictator, ordered Winchell to go back to writing his gossip column.  Winchell refused and everyday his column containing his rantings about the anti-Semitic leader of Germany. His column went on a forced march to the back pages of the NY Daily Mirror until Winchell's column appeared no more.

Winchell used every resource he could to warn America about the lunatic dictator of the Nazis.  He was a true journalist who stood against the newspaper moguls of his day to speak the truth.  Had Winchell been given access to the Internet, he would use blogs as his platform. For no one would threaten him with loss of his job due to his honest reporting about the growing menace of Nazism.

Winchell's legacy calls bloggers and reporters in the mainstream to use their keyboards to provide an alternative to a media controlled by the likes of William Randolph Hearst.  A menacing giant who just wants to sell newspapers.

Historians speculate that the downfall of Winchell came when he climbed abroad the ant-communist bandwagon of Senator Joe McCarthy. What is most respectful about Winchell is that he threw off the popular mantle of Hollywood gossip columnist to become a voice that spoke up for the silent victims who were tread under the boot heels of Adolph Hitler.

Most of us are not sure who Walter Winchell is, but if you're concerned about journalistic truth and exposing political threats to our democracy, get to know this man.  He's the kind of guy, despite his gruff manner, you'd want in the trenches with you when nothing but the truth is all that really matters.

1 comment:

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