• U.S.

The Press: Seven Shuttles

2 minute read

Handsome General Douglas MacArthur, Chief of Staff, paced his office in the State, War & Navy Building one day last week, nervously puffing cigarets in a long ivory holder. Few blocks away in Room 620 of the Willard Hotel sat Columnist Drew Pearson (Washington Merry-Go-Round) and his lawyer. In Room 415 was General MacArthur’s lawyer. Thus was the stage set for settlement of the $1,750,000 libel suit filed by the General last summer against Columnists Pearson & Robert S. Allen for picturing him as a swaggering, supersensitive strutter who pulled social and political wires to advance himself in the service (TIME, May 28). Co-defendants were United Feature Syndicate which distributed the Merry-Go-Round, and Hearst’s Washington Times which printed it.

Between hotel rooms and War Department shuttled the General’s plump aide, Capt. Thomas J. Davis, carrying a bulky dispatch case. Seven times in four hours he puffed back & forth. With each round trip one of General MacArthur’s seven charges was wiped from the complaint. Then final terms were secretly signed.

Crowed Messrs. Pearson & Allen: “No money was paid by us to General MacArthur for costs or otherwise. No apologies or retractions were given or asked for. . . . Abandonment of the suit emphasized more clearly than ever the wide latitude which, under a free press, must be allowed for criticism of public officials.”

General MacArthur said nothing.

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