Ed Driscoll

Henry Luce's Payback

After following Instapundit’s link to Google’s cache of Life magazines, I found this amusing anecdote about Life on Wikipedia:

Luce pulled a stringer for Time, Edward K. Thompson, to become assistant picture editor in 1937. From 1949–1961 he was the managing editor and editor in chief, until his retirement in 1970. His influence was significant during the magazine’s heyday – roughly from 1936 until the mid-1960s. Thompson was known for the free rein he gave his editors, particularly a “trio of formidable and colorful women: Sally Kirkland, fashion editor; Mary Letherbee, movie editor; and Mary Hamman, modern living editor.” [5]

The magazine became archly conservative, and attacked organized labor and trade unions. In August 1942, writing of labor unrest, Life concluded: “The morale situation is perhaps the worst in the U. S. …It is time for the rest of the country to sit up and take notice. For Detroit can either blow up Hitler or it can blow up the U. S.” Detroit’s Mayor Edward J. Jeffries was outraged: “I’ll match Detroit’s patriotism against any other city’s in the country. The whole story in Life is scurrilous. …I’d just call it a yellow magazine and let it go at that.”


Nahh, just merely waaaay ahead of itself: 67 years later, its sister publication Time magazine explores “Detroit: The Death — and Possible Life — of a Great City.”

Update: Related thoughts from Marathon Pundit: “The emptying of Detroit and HelpmeleaveDetroit.com.”

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