FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was generally disdainful of the press, but there was one media giant who clearly did have an amicable relationship with Hoover — radio commentator and newspaper columnist Paul Harvey.
FBI documents obtained by Newsmax under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) show that Hoover and Harvey corresponded frequently over the years.
Harvey — who died in February at age 90 — was outspoken in his praise for the Director, and Hoover often wrote to Harvey complimenting him for a radio broadcast or newspaper column.
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A note from Hoover dated Oct. 25, 1963 was typical:
“I was certainly impressed with your comments regarding the Salvation Army. You have the ability to say a great deal with only a few words, but these remarks are particularly pointed and pertinent.”
On June 10, 1968, Hoover wrote: “It was with a great deal of pleasure that I learned you were awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by Parsons College.
“This is certainly a well-deserved tribute. Your straightforward broadcast and your apt interpretation of the news have gained you the respect and admiration of the American public, and I am happy to add my congratulations to the others you will receive.”
When former Attorney General Ramsey Clark published a book in 1970 that was highly critical of Hoover, Harvey came to the Director’s defense, writing a column lauding Hoover’s accomplishments and honesty.
And on Dec. 3, 1970, a year and a half before Hoover’s death, he wrote to Harvey:
“Your generous remarks about my direction of the FBI are most encouraging. The kind sentiment and your support mean a great deal to me.”
Harvey had been heard nationally since 1951, when he began his “News and Comment” for ABC Radio Networks. At the peak of his career, he reached more than 24 million listeners on over 1,200 radio stations, and his syndicated column was carried by 300 newspapers.
Hoover met with Harvey in Washington several times, beginning in April 1952, and Harvey sometimes sent the FBI an advance copy of his columns or radio commentary, the FOIA documents show.
Hoover’s warm relationship with Harvey stood in stark contrast to the hostility between the Director and some others in the media, and Hoover was extremely sensitive to the way he was portrayed in the press.
He even blacklisted conservative icon William F. Buckley over a satirical article in Buckley’s National Review he thought ridiculed Hoover, FBI documents also show.
Hoover initially was an admirer of Buckley. The two met when Buckley visited the Bureau in 1950 and again in 1962.
But the relationship soured in 1967 when Buckley’s National Review published a piece parodying The New York Times, featuring a mock front page saying that Hoover had submitted his resignation as Director upon his arrest on a morals charge.
Hoover called the article “a new low in journalism.”
In response to the article, Hoover had Buckley removed from the Special Correspondents List, a preferred list of journalists.
Buckley told a high-ranking FBI official that the article was clearly satire. But a May 26, 1967 FBI memo indicates that the Bureau considered suing Buckley over the piece.
Hoover’s icy relationship with Buckley did seemingly begin to thaw shortly before Hoover’s death in 1972. Late in the previous year, Hoover sent Buckley a letter complimenting him for a column defending the Director.
But in October 1974, FBI Director Clarence Kelley declined an invitation to appear on Buckley’s TV show “Firing Line.” A memo regarding the invitation mentioned the National Review article that had angered Hoover.
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