In September, 1934, William Randolph Hearst, the most famous journalist and publisher in the world, visited Berlin and interviewed Adolf Hitler. At the time, Hearst admired Hitler, and was rather taken aback when the Fuhrer asked why he was so ‘misunderstood’ in the English-language press. Hearst replied that Americans love democracy and distrusted dictatorships, to which Hitler answered that he had been democratically elected by a vast majority of Germans.
Hearst then said that Americans were concerned about the treatment of a certain unnamed minority. Hitler duly pointed out that Americans had mistreated Native Indian tribes and assured Hearst that Nazi discrimination was being curtailed. Hearst told Hitler that his public would be pleased. He was then surprised to be photographed with various Nazi leaders as part of what was obviously a press stunt for the Third Reich. ‘Visiting Hitler is like calling on the President of the United States,’ he grumbled. ‘One doesn’t talk about it for publication.’
Journalism has changed a lot since in the 1930s, but that Hearst story is worth bearing in mind as self-righteous pundits queue up to denounce the former Fox News host Tucker Carlson for visiting Moscow, apparently to interview Vladimir Putin.
Bill Kristol, the director of Defending Democracy Together, said, kidding on the square: ‘Perhaps we need a total and complete shutdown of Tucker Carlson re-entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.’
Bill Browder, the CEO of Hermitage Capital who writes books about the awfulness of the Kremlin, said that Carlson is ‘either remarkably stupid or consciously evil.’ ‘He’s not stupid,’ replied John Harwood the former Wall Street Journal and CNN man.
Hearst has been rightly criticised for his favourable and gullible view of Nazism.