Publisher Gordon Stewart Exposes Claims by Fox News and PCNR

All documentary evidence reviewed plus firsthand account refutes former staffer’s sudden attack regarding ‘Malaise Speech’

White House photo

White House photo

Q: What was your first reaction when you saw an article by Pat Caddell, former pollster/advisor to President Carter, in the PCNR?

A: Something like, “WHAT? Why is one of Roger Ailes’ Fox-hounds all of a sudden barking at me in a local paper?”

Q: And?

A: And for what? Oh no. Not the “Malaise Speech?” He says that I had nothing to do with it and go around telling “everyone I meet” that I wrote the speech alone?

Q: It seems like you don’t agree.

A: Even Pat couldn’t agree with the idea that I had nothing to do with it. Every book, article, White House exit interview, Carter Library Oral History, will confirm I did. It’s called a fact.

Q: Why do you think an attack on you over a 33-year-old speech was suddenly a free story on the Ailes’ paper’s website?

A: Maybe it’s for the same reason that Fox News has mentioned me for the first time ever. It’s hard not to imagine some connection with recent events here.

Example of the historic documentation available as evidence of Stewart's role in the Carter White House (Photos by K.E. Foley)

Example of the historic documentation available as evidence of Stewart’s role in the Carter White House (Photos by K.E. Foley)

Q: Such as…

A: Just recently the Chamber of Commerce took a courageous step in selecting both Elizabeth Ailes and myself for the Cold Spring Chamber of Commerce Business Person of the Year Award. When she rejected the award, instead of simply saying she didn’t wish to share with a competitor, she said the reason was alleged and unspecified “unethical behavior” on my part. So I then wrote a letter to the editor — quote “respectfully requesting” unquote — that she provide some examples of this unethical behavior.

Q: And what happened?

A: Kind of a first for me. She began by announcing my letter wouldn’t be printed, then went on to attack my simple request for facts as “bogus demands.”

Q: So you believe the coverage is not accidental?

A: Roger Ailes has insisted to me in conversation and in writing that he is not involved with his wife’s newspaper. Yet Caddell’s sudden attacks were on his network. When a journalist in New York asked the Fox employee for evidence of my ever having made these claims, he did the same thing as Mrs. Ailes, he attacked the journalist rather than answer the question. So far not one single fact has been produced by Mrs. Ailes or the journalist who works for her husband to substantiate anything they have said.

Q: In his recent FoxNews.com pieces, Caddell asserted that you misrepresented your role in drafting the famous July 15, 1979, speech known as the “Crisis of Confidence Speech” or the “Malaise Speech.” On March 22, 2013, on FoxNews.com, Caddell wrote: “Four years ago, in both print and in interviews, Stewart claimed to be the author of the ‘Crisis of Confidence Speech.’” Have you ever claimed you wrote the speech yourself?

Master Copy of SpeechA: No. Until this attack no one has ever claimed that I did. Nor has Caddell been able to produce where I made such a claim. In fact, in the very op-ed column I wrote for The New York Times (at their request upon Hertzberg’s recommendation, not as some act of self-promotion as Caddell imagines), there is a full paragraph saying that Pat’s ideas were at the heart of the speech.

Q: So you did work on the speech?

A: Of course I did. Jimmy Carter wasn’t handing out invitations to Camp David like nightclub passes. Robert Schlesinger’s book clearly states that Hertzberg and I were summoned to Camp David on July 9 to work on the speech, and his description of events along with those of Prof. Kevin Mattson’s entire book on the speech, along with my exit interviews upon leaving the White House, and in interviews for the Carter Library.

Q: Caddell cites your New York Times op-ed piece in 2009 as evidence for his charges. What do you make of that?

White House Office StaffA: The irony is that in attacking me, he has damaged his own record, because in everything I’ve written about the speech — with The New York Times op-ed piece he cites — I have expressly credited Pat Caddell for his role and ideas. The fact he is willing to sacrifice credible testimony to his own central role in the speech, presumably at his employer’s behest, is — frankly — sad.

Q: Why do you think the PCNR is making so much of this?

A: This came immediately after Mrs. Ailes found herself embarrassed after rejecting the chamber award. Amazingly, she refers to me as a “divider” because I accepted the award! Sadly, other actions taken include refusals to support allegations, refusals to print requests for support, but instead launching more and more personal attacks.

Q: What do you think can be done?

A: I am sorry to say, I honestly don’t know. I do know that appeals to “both sides” to step back, however worthy, won’t be effective because one side already has always been willing to share. I have to say, as many have, that many current practices of the Ailes’ paper seem like a sharp break from the 144 years of its prior existence. When we moved here I quickly became fond of the PCNR. It was quirky, calm, quiet, and above all, decent.

Q: Can we get that sense of decency back?

A: I think we can, just like the Chamber of Commerce is doing to slowly help rebuild our sense of common purpose, just as I hope many of us will share in making Community Day a July 4th for all. Taking specific actions together will help. So will keeping our discourse civil, and our differences resolved with facts, not rhetoric.

[Read an interview with Hendrik Hertzberg here.]


HOW WE REPORT
Trust MarkThe Current is a member of The Trust Project, a consortium of news outlets that has adopted standards to allow readers to more easily assess the credibility of their journalism. Our best practices, including our verification and correction policies, can be accessed here. Have a comment? A news tip? Spot an error? Email editor@highlandscurrent.org.

12 thoughts on “Publisher Gordon Stewart Exposes Claims by Fox News and PCNR

  1. It seems like an appropriate time to express deep appreciation and thanks to Gordon Stewart for his newspaper. I do not know Mr. Stewart personally, but from observing his work product I can confidently say that Mr. Stewart and staff have given the people of Philipstown a great gift: an objective, fact-based, non-ideological source of local news as a counterpoint to the agenda-driven, divisive yellow journalism that characterizes the other paper. Thank you!

  2. Gordon, one cannot be surprised at the vitriolic attack against you considering the source. It is frightening to me, the viciousness of it. Your response is dignified and compassionate. I admire you, your talent and the wonderful newspaper you have gifted us with. The tone of the attack against you echoes the tone of the country, divided, angry and self served. I like to turn away from this and find the beauty and common ground between us all.

  3. Thank you, Gordon, for being you — caring, respectful and accurate in your dealings with individuals and with the community and its issues. We are so fortunate to have you here in the Hudson Valley and for your creativity in starting The Paper, most needed, especially since the negative turn of PCNR under its current management. I believe that most of us in this part of the lower Hudson Valley are grateful for your contributions and support you in your most values work. Carry on!

  4. It’s telling that when Fox “news” dropped this story no reputable news organization would touch it with a 10-foot pole. How outrageous that this thinly veiled smear job was written under the pretext of attempting to set straight the historical record. It is alarming to contemplate this tainted rag actually being woven into the ever more flexible fabric of history. How are these once respectable journalists not ashamed, or at least embarrassed? Reading crap like this makes it startlingly clear why Fox News does not invite comments on its articles. Wouldn’t want to confuse people with facts.

  5. I, too, am saddened by the PCNR’s polemical coverage of local news, and the consequent lack of civility it has brought to conversation and politics in our small community. I am not at all surprised at the willingness of the Ailes’ to manufacture convenient “facts,” nor their willingness to engage in vicious, personal attacks. I also offer my thanks to Gordon Stewart for having the courage and persistence to bring an alternate, respectful sort of journalism to Philipstown.

  6. Upon reading these comments I must add my name to the roster. I am so happy we have The Paper. It serves as a beacon to take on the attacker with such grace that surely it will open the minds of those who sit on the fence and not think anything matters and give courage to do something about it.

  7. It saddens me when all this negativity happens in today’s society. Life is short and we are on this planet for a short time. I can only pray for the human species that we can all come together and just respect each other for our differences and call it a day. All this negativity serves as a bad example for the future of the human species, namely our future generations. An ounce of happiness can go a long way if we only stop and try.

  8. I also thank Gordon Stewart for his contribution to our dear community. The part that made my jaws drop was when Fox called Gordon a “divider.” So rich coming from those who made dividing the nation a winning business formula!

  9. Let me add my name to the list of supporters. When I first arrived in Philipstown, years ago, I looked forward to buying my copy of The PCNR every Wednesday. I found The PCNR of those days charming and whimsical, and a welcome reminder of gentler times. In its current formulation, I can no longer read it; invective heaped upon ideology is a pretty unappealing recipe for a community newspaper. On a personal note, I can only imagine how Sisyphean it must sometimes feel to Gordon Stewart to keep countering the misinformation, and to do so with consistent grace, dignity, and civility. Thank you to The Paper, and to Mr. Stewart for bringing it to all of us.

    • Yes, Elizabeth, that’s just how I felt about the PCNR under the previous publisher. I loved that paper. I used to display it proudly and brag about it to my non-Cold-Springer friends. My favorite article (though probably not a favorite for those involved; my apologies to them) was the great Frozen King Crab Legs Caper that was foiled at Foodtown: a thief caught trying to smuggle out a package of frozen king crab legs in his pants. Turns out it was an inside job, and to top it off, they made themselves a deli sandwich and priced it at a very steep discount! On occasions when I submitted letters to the editor, Brian was such a pleasure to deal with. And then the paper was sold, and they began printing snide and immature editorial replies to every letter to the editor, no matter how benign, and it’s gone straight downhill from there. So very sad. And thank you, Gordon, for offering an alternative and handling the childish and off-base personal attacks with grace.