You don't remember who George Jessel was, unless, like me, you are old enough to have watched him appear on TV in the 1970s, at which time he was already quite old. Jessel was an old-time Jewish vaudevillian, born in 1898, who by the 1970s spent so much time officiating at banquets that he was calling himself the "Toastmaster General" of the United States.
He was a conventional liberal on civil rights, but during the Vietnam War, in which he was active in the USO, he wasn't the kind of "liberal" who wanted the US to lose the war, and abandon South Vietnam to the Communists.
Shortly after the New York Times had published the stolen "Pentagon Papers" (classified government material selected to make the war effort look bad) Jessel appeared on Edwin Newman's Today Show and blasphemed the Great And Good New York Times and Washington Post:
After commenting on the high morale he said he had found among the troops overseas, Mr. Jessel said:
“But of course, when you pick up Pravda, uh, The New York Times—you generally see, oh, they're all full of dope and killing children, drunk.”
Later in the interview, he said, “You pick up a paper, you know, Pravda, uh, The Washington Post—and you see hundreds die of pollution.” At that point, Mr. Newman said:
“You are a guest here, but I don't really think very much of this talk about Pravda—excuse me, The New York Times; Pravda—excuse me, The Washington Post. I think that's silly. I do. Thank you very much, Mr. Jessel.”
During the exchange that followed, Mr. Newman objected that it was a serious matter to toss off accusations that newspapers are Communist. Mr. Jes sel said he did not mean it that way, “quite that way,” and that he would not repeat the phraseology. When he attempted to say “one more word,” Mr. Newman cut him off.
Jessel Is Cut Off On Tv Show Over Reference To Newspapers, By George Gent, July 31, 1971
The New York Times could publish any damn thing it wanted about the war (the famous photo at right was published in 1968) and publish classified information (the Pentagon Papers) in hopes of undermining the war effort, but Edwin Newman would stand like a stone wall against any insinuation that in doing so, they were serving the purposes of the Russians.
Those were the days! And when I say "those were the days", I mean that those were the days when there were only three networks, and no conservative papers.
"I don't think we're obliged," the TV newsman said afterwards," to invite anyone on to malign or slander anyone he pleases."
"I meant it as a gag," Jessel complained. "I was on a show a few weeks ago and a woman damned Christianity and all the religions of the world but they didn't throw her off. So why can't I rap newspapers? God doesn't publish the newspapers."
Well, the problem is that the press regards itself as literally sacred, and now regards its service during Watergate and the Vietnam War with the same glow of pride that veterans of the NVA and Viet Cong must feel, although unlike said veterans, they incurred absolutely no risk.