• U.S.

The Press: Ants in Pants

2 minute read

When NRA needed a general counsel, Administrator Hugh Johnson thought of his old friend Donald Randall Richberg in Chicago. Temperamentally the two were poles apart but Lawyer Richberg’s professional brilliance and political liberalism were the stuff General Johnson wanted. As an inducement Friend Johnson gave Friend Richberg his own top NRA salary, $14,000, took for himself the counsel’s smaller pay ($6,800). Thus was Counsel Richberg grandly launched upon the New Deal sea.

For a year Messrs. Johnson & Richberg worked shoulder-to-shoulder. Then began the long, loud ruction over NRA reorganization. As old friends will, the two men fell out violently. Counsel Richberg worked in closer and closer to the White House while General Johnson charged his staff with “disloyalty.” Finally, Johnson angrily resigned and Richberg was upped to the nominal rank of “Assistant President” (TIME. Oct. 8).

The General promptly closeted himself in Manhattan to write his memoirs for which, it was said, he would receive the highest word-rate ever paid a onetime public official. They were scheduled to appear first as a series of articles in the Saturday Evening Post, later in book form. Friends of Friend Richberg saw the manuscript, rushed to him with alarming tales of what Friend Johnson had written about him. By last week Lawyer Richberg was so wrought up that he released to the Press a letter he had written to Satevepost Editor George Horace Lorimer:

“I have been told that the book includes certain definitely described attacks on me which, if made, would be untrue, maliciously libelous and designed wholly for the purpose of doing me harm. . . . Many of the charges which General Johnson has loosely made in private conversation regarding me and my activities can be completely disproved. . . . I simply desire to notify you that if you take the responsibility for publishing the statements by General Johnson . . . you must accept the full legal responsibility for taking such action without any adequate effort to assure yourself of the truth of the libel.”

Newshawks found General Johnson visiting his mother in Okmulgee, Okla. Snorted he: “Donald is a high official. If he thinks there is libel in this narration, why doesn’t he stand on his legal rights in a suit for libel and not attempt to use his position to threaten the freedom of the Press?

”Donald’s agitation is just a symptom of the ants of conscience in his pants.”

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