“You Have Been Severely Criticized by Persons Who Are Bigoted and Unfair”: Mayor Daley and the “Liberal Media” in the Aftermath of the 1968 Democratic National Convention

Friday, January 2, 2015: 3:50 PM
Conference Room F (Sheraton New York)
Robert Rabe, Marshall University
This paper is an analysis of the controversy surrounding news coverage of violent demonstrations in the streets outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention, using Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley as its focal point. As has been well established in previous scholarship, a large segment of the public supported and defended the Chicago police and the Daley administration against charges of brutality or wrongdoing. Less well understood is the relationship between public response and criticism of the news media. The paper uses letters written to Mayor Daley, as well as statements made by Daley and other Chicago officials, to examine the ways in which the concept of “the liberal media” was employed by angry and frustrated administration supporters in the effort to deflect negative attention and portray Daley and the city of Chicago as victims of unfair media practices. By 1968, the use of the “liberal media” argument was becoming a common element of conservative rhetoric and political strategy.