• U.S.

The Press: End of a Search

3 minute read

When Kansas-born Eugene C. Pulliam in 1948 added the Indianapolis News to his string of newspapers,* the News lacked an editor. Pulliam did not mind. He sets overall editorial policy anyway—on a bearing somewhat to the right of Warren Gamaliel Harding. Last week, after twelve years, the editor’s chair at the News finally had a tenant. “I’ve been looking for years to find a man like him.” chortled Gene Pulliam, 71. “I’ve combed the whole goddam country. There are lots of good journalists around, but they’re all cockeyed left-wingers.”

“Unequivocally Conservative.” By no stretch of the imagination can M. Stanton Evans, the News’s new editor, be called a cockeyed left-winger. But he may well be the youngest metropolitan-daily editor in the U.S. He is 26, an age at which many journalists are still writing obits or patrolling the police beat. Editor Evans has never written an obituary or chased an ambulance. Gifted and earnest, Stan Evans is a product of Yale (’55, Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude). In college he fell in with a group of students that called itself “The Inter-Collegiate Society of Individualists.” In this company Evans studied the record of the late Senator Joseph McCarthy, decided that McCarthy “was in the main correct.”

By the time he had read Sidney Hook, James Burnham and Edmund Burke, he had decided that “to be a conservative today, you have to be a radical.” This conclusion led to a $350-a-month assistant editorship on the Freeman magazine and another job with another right-wing magazine, the National Review, put out by his wealthy Yale friend, William (God and Man at Yale) Buckley. “The American tradition,” Evans proclaimed in the Review, “is unequivocally conservative.” Evans still serves the National Review as a contributing editor.

Inevitably Eugene Pulliam got wind of Evans, and in 1959 invited him out to Indianapolis to be chief editorial writer for the News. It was only a short way further to the top.

Closer to Wisdom. As an editor younger than most of his staff—among them Gene Pulliam’s son Eugene S., who is 46 and managing editor—Evans plans not to interfere with the news operations. The only change he has ordered so far is to dress up the editorial page with pictures, including a half-column cut of himself. Still a zealous disciple of conservatism, he spends hours poring through its literature in his third-floor walkup apartment just around the corner from the News. He attends Roberts Park Methodist Church, devotes his evenings to political ward meetings, public rallies, municipal debates.

At 26 he is as convinced as is Gene Pulliam at 71 that he is on the right track, journalistically as well as otherwise. “I think my philosophy is pretty close to the farmer in Seymour, Ind.,” he says. “He believes in God. He believes in the U.S. He believes in himself. This intuitive position is much closer to wisdom than the tortured theorems of some of our Harvard dons.”

* Indianapolis Star and News, Arizona Republic, Phoenix Gazette, Huntington (Ind.) Herald-Press, Vincennes (Ind.) Sun-Commercial, Muncie (Ind.) Star and Press.

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