The News also shared Trump’s concern that overly generous international deals made the U.S. a subject of ridicule. A 1946 editorial cartoon, for example, showed a jovial Stalin kicking a drunk Uncle Sam in the seat of his pants as Sam buys another round of drinks (aid money) for the Soviet dictator and his comrades. Two decades later, the Communists were still laughing. “The Red Hungarian bosses probably giggled into their cups,” an editorial told readers in 1965, when the State Department didn’t penalize the “bosses” after a mob damaged a U.S. embassy building.
Read: The world just laughed at Trump
Even though immigration in the 1940s was at historic lows and subject to the strictest laws in American history, the News called for further restriction. Editorials said immigrants posed a danger to Americans, with one warning in 1945 that “foreigners … want to stream here in millions, share our comparative wealth, and pull down our standard of living.” A 1943 editorial arguing against the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act pinpointed what the News saw as the problem: “Official Washington is infested with do-gooders who want to let the rest of the world in on [our] riches” and to “give away our country.” That notion permeated the editorial page throughout the ’40s and ’50s. One editorial in 1957 blasted “do-gooders,” “world savers,” and “bleeding hearts” for their “giveaway convulsions”—their alleged desire to dish out billions of American taxpayers’ dollars to “Socialist, semi-Socialist, or Fascist countries.”
The News had yet another name for those “do-gooders.” It labeled them “globalists,” an obscure term that the News picked up from Representative Clare Boothe Luce (and Trump picked up from Steve Bannon). The News especially liked Luce’s coinage “globaloney,” which was part of the headlines for three separate editorials in 1943. The end goal of globaloney, the last of these editorials said, was for the U.S. to “buy the Presidency of the World by means of a worldwide WPA,” or Works Progress Administration, the Depression-era jobs program, which would eventually bring “some kind of Socialism or Communism to the United States.”
To head off the threat of globalist socialism, the News offered the same prescription as Trump for restoring the country’s greatness: an “America first” policy. The paper’s publisher, Joseph Medill Patterson, was a strong supporter of the isolationist America First Committee prior to the U.S. entry into World War II, and he continued to promote the slogan in the News long after it had become associated with anti-Semites and fascist sympathizers. In 1950, the tabloid’s top political columnist, John O’Donnell, argued that “the America First philosophy was soundly right” all along.
“America first” retained a negative association when Trump adopted it during the 2016 campaign—but the candidate seemingly didn’t care, presumably because he thought it captured a view of foreign relations focused narrowly on what the U.S. stands to gain. The News unapologetically promoted that way of seeing. In a 1946 editorial devoted to “auditing” World War II, the News asked “what we got out of it” and concluded that it was only a string of Pacific islands to use as bases and temporary control of Japan (which the U.S. would use to “teach the Japs Roman letters and Arabic numerals”). In other words, a lousy deal.