The Death of the Post

When the bell tolled for the Saturday Evening Post one day last January, it tolled not only for a venerable magazine but for “a style, a system, a regime”—and for a part of America. A senior editor who was there for five years, until the last day, tells the sad story of the death of the onetime ‘’King” of American periodicals, and of the men who guided its rise and fall.

On Friday, January 17, 1969, Martin S. Ackerman, president oi (he Curtis Publishing Company, announced that the February 8 issue, then being printed, would be the last issue of the Saturday Evening Post. The magazine had been sick for some time.

Key Curtis officials disagreed on the cause of death. Under various titles and various owners the publication founded by Benjamin franklin would have been 240 years old on October 2, 1969.

When the announcement finally came, the obituary writers gathered in the editorial offices of the Saturday Evening Post building in New York. Professional mourners assigned to the occasion by the Post’s competitors stalked the block-long corridor looking for usable quotes. A television crew chief explained: “It might be worth a minute tonight; a minute’s a lot of time in our business.”

Yes. Well, the Times would give it more than that. So would the gossipmongers of publishing and advertising. T hey had been predicting the end for some time. Yet at the end, there, a curious scene: the Post stall—editors, writers, researchers, copy girls, photographers, art directors, cartoonists —have locked themselves into the big corner office at tire Lexington Avenue end of the building. The office is the capacious meeting room of editor William A. Emerson, Jr. They are all drinking politely and have locked the doors against what Emerson enigmatically calls “the press” outside.

Bill Emerson, “Old Tiger,” big bear of a man from Atlanta, Georgia, is giving his last official performance for the insiders: journalism’s Establishment. He’s deceptively easygoing, a pretender at disorganization, a waterfall of Southern mythology, folklore, outrageous metaphors, habitual magnolia charm, like a Southern committee chairman. For five years and through four inept corporate managements he’s kept the Post going by filibustering, and by counting the noses of a very subtle Establishment, the in-crowcl of publishing. Emerson and the Post were the quintessential insiders. That’s why “the press” is outside.

There’s a knock on the closed doors. “Would you mind,” asks the Daily Features lady from the New York Times, “talking to just one more reporter?”

“Not at all, muffin,” Emerson drawls. “I’m just one more reporter myself these days.” And he goes outside to give her the interview she needs.

Back in 1964, when Emerson was first named editor, he Hew to Detroit because it had been reported that the automobile advertisers were nervous. If Detroit had pulled their advertising, the Post would have died right then. Emerson stood up at the Bloomfield Hills Country Club, looked down into the satiated, hooded eyeballs of the auto executives, shuffled his speaker’s cards, and began: “My name is William A. Emerson, Jr. I am the new editor of the Saturday Evening Post. I stand before you perfectly equipped to be the editor of the Post because the ‘A’ in my name stands for Appomattox. My family have been losers for generations.”

Cut to Commercial dpr. Exterior, 1 min. Boy sings a cappella “School Days.” Video: slow pan elm-lined summer street to boy riding bike no hands into close-up. He tosses magazine in a long arc to house porch. Camera follows arc until it thuds on stoop. Zoom to close-up of Post cover. Dissolve on lyric . . when we were a couple of kids.”

George Horace Lorimer’s name as editor first was printed on the masthead in the June 10, 1899, issue and stayed there for thirty-eight years. That September the first illustrated cover showed pictures of two great racing yachts, Columbia and Shamrock, as they were expected to appear in the impending America’s Cup races. That same month the size of the Post page was set at 680 lines, the size carried in the last issue.

Lorimer had dropped out of Yale to work for P. D. Armour in tire meat-packing business, then left a budding career as a businessman to become a writer. He was hired for the Post after a ten-minute interview in Boston by Cyrus H. K. Curtis, the publisher of the Ladies Home Journal. They agreed there should be a magazine for men. A “vast glamor and romance,” they said, “lies ignored in the field of business yet no one writes about it.”

Curtis had paid $1000 for the Post, type and all, but to get it going spent another 31,250,000, including some $950,000 on promotion. In Lorimer’s first year, the Post had 97,497 circulation and $59,338 in advertising. Since advertisers were slow to come in, it nearly bankrupted publisher Curtis. But then they came in a rush. In 1905 circulation stood at 696,044, and advertising had broken through to $1,058,934. The Post was on its way to being the spokesman for the great middle class of America, to reign as king of the mass magazines.

The Post was king for a number of reasons. For one thing, mass production needed a system of mass distribution. The Post, as the first truly national magazine, would provide the advertising medium for such a system. In 1914 the Post carried the advertising of some forty automotive manufacturers: Detroit and the Post were to prosper together.

But a more important reason for King Post’s success was that in 1900 most American magazines were influenced by English literature and European manners, and Lorimer aimed to interpret America to itself. Lorimer published as the first Post serial a novel about American business: The Market Place by Harold Frederic. Lorimer himself supplied the materials for the next series by writing Letters From a Self-Made Merchant. The Post’s first distinctive fiction series was by George Randolph Chester on J. Rufus Wallingford, businessman. It was followed by Potash and Perlmutter, New York cloak-and-suit partners, then the Siwash football series, and the series on Jack O’Keefe the busher, You Know Me Al, by Ring Lardner. All-American stuff, that’s what it was. A vast romance was being explored. Lorimer was editing for an America that loved Gus Edwards songs, an America that would “Come away with me Lucille, in my merry Oldsmobile.” Indeed, the Olds Motor Works took the first two color ads in the Post.

Those were America’s “school days/school days/ dear old golden rule days,” and the Post was the cantor for a golden dream, an America in which every man would have bis opportunity either at Siwash or in an Olds. If man would do the sensible thing, if lie “would answer opportunity when it knocked, then riches and honor might be his. The Post sang the song of evergreen optimism.

The genealogy of evergreen optimism made it uniquely an American proposition. King Post’s parents were, on his father’s side, the Age of Production: on his mother’s side, the Novel of Manners. Just as the Post was born, the Age of Production was dying. It was enshrined in the mausoleums of Newport, typified by Berwyn’s coal, Vanderbilt’s railroads, and Mrs. Belmont’s Finance Capital. The pink marble palaces were testament to what had been extracted from a rich land.

In the shadow of finance capitalism, King Post went about his father’s business: providing mass distribution for mass production. Indeed, if every small boy would seize the opportunity, if he would sell enough subscriptions, he might win an Eagle bike. King Post was the king of a distributive age, an age in which no more pink palaces would be built, no more testimonials to capital, an age which instead would devote itself to a home of your own, a Buick, and testimonials not to capital but to Camels.

King Post’s mother raised him. There are those who say be never understood the Novel of Manners, but be did learn from her about Harper’s Weekly and “Literature,” and editor Lorimer created for magazine and reader a special brand of American fiction. Jack London published Call of the Wild in the Post in 1903; P. G. Wodehouse wrote Jeeves; Clarence Burlington Kelland was a perennial; Mary Roberts Rinehart wrote her subdeb stories; Harry Leon Wilson wrote R aggies of Red Gap; and in 1916 the Post carried the first illustration by Norman Rockwell. It was said that he painted people “the way they really were, not like Picasso or those garbage can painters over at the Armory.”

From James Branch Cabell, Rudyard Kipling, and William Dean Howells, the Post drew on “The Better Things in Life.” Prophetically, in Silas Lapham, it was Howells who described King Post’s future: in the end when Silas Lapham’s social status and commercial winnings are tumbling about him in ruin, he will be given the chance to swindle a large and impersonal corporation. But he doesn’t, because his success is the true, honest heart of the good country boy who cannot take mean advantage even of those who can afford to lose. Lapham continued his descent because, in effect, he refused to agree to a merger with CBS.

When the Post character supersalesman Alexander Botts worked his Earthworm Tractor, be was always doing good things. In the Post’s final years, when writer Joan Didion described San Bernardino, California, as “bulldozed suburbia,” a place of illusions, it was the Chamber of Commerce, those doers of good things, who hung Miss Didion in effigy. But by then, of course, the Post had changed, and America had changed even more.

Cut to Commercial #2. Interior, 1 min. Busby Berkeley stage set. Chorus dances 2/4 time tap upstage. Back set is 30-foot-high Post logo. Rockets and fireworks continuous. Chorus sings: “We want to go back to nor-mal-cy/Back to the way things used to be You had a car in every garage/Al Capone was still at large.”Zoom to Post logo. Dissolve.

Cyrus Curtis died on June 7, 1933, and editor Lorimer succeeded him as president of the Curtis Publishing Company. In 1937 Lorimer retired and did not live out the year. But the company and the magazine they had founded prospered steadily: in 1913 circulation stood at 2 million; by 1932 it was 2.8 million; by 1940, even though the war restricted paper supplies, it was 3.2 million; when Eisenhower was elected in 1952, circulation was 4.2 million. Advertising grew apace: in 1913, S7.8 million; in 1932, S22 million; in 1940, S27 million; and in 19.32, $73 million.

The Post feuded with Harold Ickes, with General Johnson and ihe NRA, with Joe Kennedy, and all those New Dealers. In those days, Post editorials carried enormous weight, and it was said that even Roosevelt turned to it to read what mid-America thought. Then the war came, Ben Hibbs was named editor, and he said: “I believe firmly in the American system—freedom of living—freedom of enterprise. Above all, I believe it is the patriotic duty of the Post to help keep alive in the minds of the people the fact that free enterprise literally has made America.”

Ben Hibbs was a friend of Eisenhower’s. For the 1932 campaign Norman Rockwell painted the sweetest Ike mid-America had ever seen. But the romance of business that had been Lorimer’s joy had subtly changed into a business-patriotism. Under Ike, it turned out, “what was good for General Motors, was good lot the country,” which was not the very same thing at all as, “what was good for business, was good for the country.”

As a matter of fact, what was good for General Motors would soon leave the Post on the beath. Many of those forty automotive advertisers that had backed Lorimer in 1914 were now divisions of General Motors. By the fifties, competition by producers in the mass market had noticeably ebbed, and as the tide of the distributive society went out, so did potential advertisers.

But there were other changes, too. Just as the mass magazines had supplanted the Novel of Manners as escapist fare, television began to supply an endless stream of situation comedies, horse operas, and detective stories to entertain the audience the Post claimed as its own. Indeed, even “Hazel” became a TV show.

Moreover, TV licenses were granted as federal monopolies in every city and region, in what advertisers called “markets.” These were not national markets in the old sense, but something new: conglomerations of special markets offered to advertisers at rates magazines could never meet. To get its stories into a home, a magazine has to bear the cost of buy ing paper, treating it with ink and words at a printing plant, and then shipping it. Television sends its stories over airwaves provided “free” by the FCC.

The answer of the big magazines to the threat of TV was to get as many readers as TV could show in its Nielsen ratings; to fight numbers with numbers. As the numbers went up, so did the cost of paper and printing. Only very rich advertisers could afford to buy a page at §40,000. Smaller advertisers were dosed out. The effect of the “numbers game” was synergistic and fatal.

Collin’s went under in the fifties, but in the paneled boardroom at Independence Square in Philadelphia, although the directors shifted uneasily in their seats, they paid whopping dividends, and sailed on to what they thought was a calm horizon. There was, however, an even more fatal flaw in Ben Hibbs’s Post than the “numbers game.”

When Lorimer had set out to interpret America to itself, evergreen optimism was unquestioned, but postwar America had some doubts about itself. For example, when the atom bomb was exploded, the Post puffed with pride because Dr. William Laurence had told the story, “The Atom Gives tip,” five years before the event. The atom was a triumph of American science and good old Yankee ingenuitv, by jingo. But postwar America was not so sure the atom had given up. And then, as editor Hibbs put it: “The intellectuals aren’t communicating with the ordinary folks . . . and most of us simply lump all such people together under the general heading of ‘eggheads’ and make no effort to understand what they are saying.”

Indeed not. The society of mass distribution had changed into a welfare society of mass consumption, fueled in its energies by an oligarchy of corporate associations whose connections always ran straight to Washington. That’s what “good for the country” meant.

When Ike really did put tHe “earthworm tractors” to work on a gargantuan federal highway program. they ripped up many of tHe elm-shaded towns Rockwell had painted. In April, 1933, the Post started a series called “The Face of America.” The first layout showed the Brandywine in spring: “The Brandywine, a jewel among rivers, is so small mapmakers call it a creek. But it looms large in American history, poetry and art.”

Yes. Well, it would turn out later that the Brandywine was polluted, and though America knew, the editors of the Post did not.

In 1958, Sigma Delta Chi gave its Lop award to Harold Martin for his article “Can We Stay Rich?” Two years later John F. Kennedy would he elected by pointing out we weren’t all that rich.

In 1959, the Post reported its highest ad revenue in history: $97,614,442. Curtis owned the land on which the trees grew, owned the mills to make die pulp, owned the largest single printing plant in die world, owned the trucks and leased the trains to run across the country, and owned the circulation company which distributed 110 magazines, including Pooh and the Atlantic, besides the Post. The assets of Curtis floated like an iceberg beneath its magnificent public properties: the Post, Ladies Home Journal, Holiday, and American Home. Insiders would later say that Curtis had $50 million in cash and $100 million in securities of other corporations. The year-end issue—December 26, 1959 —featured “Sixteen pages in color on the Life of Christ, Painted by Italian Masters of the XI to XV Centuries and Told with Passages From the Holy Gospels.”

Cut to Commercial #3. Interior. 1 min. Buffalo Bills sing “Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone" offscreen. Video is film clips of 1960 Ike in bubbletop; JFK inauguration; Nixon Calif, concession; Johnson Vietnam TV talk. Dissolve to Post Johnson cover. Dissolve.

From i960 to 1963 cash was pouring out of a stricken company. Finally alarmed enough to stop the payments of preferred dividends, the Curtis board of directors dawdled into action. None of them were magazine men. None were editors, or publishers, or advertising specialists. They did realize belatedly that in the fifties the young talent in journalism had been sucked up by Time, Inc., the ad agencies, and the networks, and that now perhaps they needed to recruit.

Milton Gould, an I ago of a lawyer who specializes in boardroom troubles, joined the board to represent preferred shareholders squawking lor their dues. In turn, Gould invited two men to meet him one day in a room at Brown Brothers, Harriman in Philadelphia. When they arrived to keep their appointment, Gould was not there, he “had been delayed.” So Clay Blair, Jr., and Matthew J. (“Call me joe”) Culligan introduced themselves. “What,” asked each of the other, “are you doing here?”

It turned out that both men believed they were to be president of Curtis. It is a clue to Gould’s genius that he thought by leaving them alone in a Philadelphia boardroom, they might work it out.

They never did. Culligan was tapped as president and Blair as editor in chief, and Blair immediately went to work to depose his rival.

“Joe" Culligan is the paradigm of the romantic, go-getting American salesman—the very man Lorimer had in mind when he wrote Letters From a SelfMade Merchant, the living derivative of those Post heroes who thought “America is good for Business.”

Culligan plays golf at Appawamis like an ad man should. He wears a patch over one eye like the Hathaway shirt man, except that his patch was not bought on Madison Avenue to make a shirt attractive; it was heroically earned in France.

He started as a pitchman at the World’s Fair in 1939; in the fifties he revamped network radio at NBC; he takes credit for the start of the Tonight and Today show forms on TV; he was a top executive at the biggest ot the ad agencies— McCannEricson. Advertising men love to hear Joe Culligan talk, and when he took over Curtis he said: “I can sell this package.” For a while, they believed.

His first sale was the most important. He persuaded Serge Semenenko, the shrewd Boston hanker, to put up $35 million in loans. Culligan had the money just in time, and then, miracles, the greatest copper lode of all time was struck on the Timmins forest lands ot Curtis in Canada. Could Alexander Botts have done it better?

Meantime, Clay Blair was revamping the magazine. The editors and publishing staff were moved to New York. Some 240 editorial staffers were either fired or reftiscd to make the move. Blair recruited hard, and editors and writers answered the call, even though many of them were perfectly aware the Post was doomed. They came for love of the kind of individual journalism the Post might si ill represent. They didn’t care if it eventually folded. It would be the last great chance for the independent editor and for the free-lance writer, it might stand against the encroaching style of manufactured corporate journalism represented by Time, Inc. and the networks. Men who came for such reasons would soon be a problem for the Curtis management.

At first they were devoted to Blair. He was an ex-submariner, and although often crude, he had the instincts of the old-style, hard-nosed reporter. “What we’re going to do,” he said, “is some sophisticated muckraking.” He had hardly begun when a Georgia story of sullied football backfired. Wally Butts and Paul “Bear” Bryant denied they had had conversations to fix a game, sued, and collected. “Sophisticated muckraking” got off to a bad start.

But Blair was undaunted. He pursued his new policies for the Post with the same violence as he pursued his hobby: he was one of the world’s great skin divers, a professional hired for a percent of the treasure. Although most professional divers are superstitious about killing sharks, Blair killed sharks near the wrecks he worked, and killed with pleasure. He said once that treasure diving was like editing the Post: pursuing the truth amidst sharks. His successor as editor, William A. Emerson, Jr., would say: “Only an Irish mystic or a tool would tell the truth. For the rest of us, the truth is too expensive.” Then Emerson would go on to tell an apocryphal story about Blair: “ There’s Blair, down 200 feet, and up conies a 15-foot hammerhead shark. Blair backs up against the coral. The shark eyes Blair and Blair eyes the shark. That ol‘ shark turns tail anti runs, because shark knows it s dangerous to mess with dumb animals.”

In May, 1964, while Culligan was selling the package, Blair was writing editorials blasting Coldwater. Emerson (then executive editor) had assigned a Post senior editor to stick close to Blair: “He’s losing his marbles.”

Blair was holed up in Bermuda, treasure diving, and planning the coup to depose Culligan in the fall. The editor-assigned-to-stick-close questioned Blair: exactly what did he want? He was an editorial man and he was already editor in chief. He had every freedom he needed to pursue his own truth—what was it that Blair wanted to do, and why?

Blair thought out the question over several weeks in Bermuda: Culligan was corrupt, he said, Semenenko venal, the board senile. Only by displacing Culligan as president could a conspiracy of the commercial interests that were bleeding Curtis to death be replaced. “Why?” answered Blair: “Because God wants me to save the Saturday Evening Post.”

In September, Blair, Marvin Kantor, a financial adviser to Blair, seventeen Curtis editors and publishing executives signed a two-inch-thick book of written charges against “Joe” Culligan. They then gave it to the Curtis executive committee. Some of the charges were charges of mismanagement. Others were personal slanders or libels of Culligan. The manifesto was kept secret for about six weeks, then was slipped into the hands of Robert Bedingfield of the New York Times. Amidst a furor of publicity and scandal, Blair -was fired in November, and Culligan forced to resign.

John (“Mac the Knife”) Clifford was appointed president. He had been an NBC vice president and was ill equipped for the job he faced. His first move was to fire some subeditors of the Post on the grounds they were “Blair” men. He had the NBCtrained charm to give them five minutes to get off the floor. As the fired men called good-bye to their fellow editors, the staff drifted up the hall to the offices of Emerson. They found that Emerson, now acting editor, had resigned after insisting to Clifford that only the editor of the Post could hire or fire editors and writers. But Clifford was obdurate.

“Who are you, anyway?” asked an editor of Clifford.

“I’m the president of this company, and I want you men to know I’ve broken strikes before.”Clifford went on to explain that “Mr. Semenenko wants me to save the Saturday Evening Post.”

The editors in turn made it clear that it was Friday evening, that Clifford would have to figure a way to get Emerson to withdraw his resignation, or else by Monday morning Clifford and Semenenko could put out their own damn magazine.

All weekend Clifford tried to find another editor to run the Post. He called competitors, TV men, ex-editors. Some of the editors approached would call staff editors. They would tell the new candidates to forget it: either Emerson or no one.

On a Monday in November, 1964, William A. Emerson, Jr., became the last editor of the Post.

Cut to Commercial Interior. 1 min. Simon & Garfunkel sing “Mrs. Robinson” offscreen. Video, film clips of night riots at Columbia Univ.; on lyric “joltin’ joe has gone away” freeze frame riot, superimpose Post logo. Dissolve.

Emerson was the Southern committee chairman as editor, greeter, ad salesman, politician, Georgia boy, cracker-barrel storyteller. He kept the Post alive for four more years.

The advertisers had to be sold. Emerson set out to sell them. The advertisers said they were worried about the constant change of personnel at the Post. Emerson told them a story about how when he was a boy he was brought up in a town called LowDollar, Tennessee. He had an uncle, he said, who sold garters as a traveling man and who had gone all the way to Chicago once and seen a play and came back to interest young Bill in literature. “And he taught me something else,”Emerson would say. “He took me down to town—down to Low-Dollar, that is, but it was town to me—and he learned me how to hang around.”

Folk talk, sure. Will Rogers as ad salesman and editor. Emerson was actually an honors graduate from Harvard, but he played the clown. He called his readers the “freckle-belly folk" and the “Hooples.” He made advertisers laugh, and the editors work. He blew a Bermuda taxi horn into the phone to Philadelphia. Like most Southern committee chairmen, he had the eyes of a cobra.

In 1965 the Post went biweekly to cut its losses. The advertisers asked Emerson “Why should there He a Saturday Evening Post?” and Emerson wrote out his answer:

Because it is unique. Because it will, in time of turmoil and anxiety, be an expression of common sense, of belief in America and its traditional political and economic systems, of belief in both civil rights and law and order, of belief in the American people and their basic decency and wisdom. If this sounds conventional or platitudinous, we would do well to remember George Orwell’s dictum, in 1948, that truisms are true, and that the basic right is the right to know that two and two make four.

But when Emerson spoke to the advertisers that way they looked blank. Despite the urgings of his publisher to “give them the truth shit,” Emerson was shrewd enough to go back to telling stories. Advertisers liked the stories, they understood them.

A war of attrition was on between Philadelphia and New York. The magazine men in New York fought for cheaper printing, better circulation, investment in new ideas. In Philadelphia the leftovers from the empire, “the fat white overseers,” cut costs in New York, refused to recapitalize, concentrated on hundreds of petty harassments. “You are pissants, ninny-hammers, sapinpaws,”shouted Emerson into the Philadelphia phone.

President Clifford bought a company plane and zoomed here and there with his good friend Miss Gloria Swett, who was appointed the company’s secretary, personnel director, public relations chief, and was the operating head of the law department. Clifford sold the Timmins copper for cash, then a paper mill, and at the very end was trying to sell anything—but he didn’t know how.

Again and again, Armand Erpf, the financial genius of Loeb, Rhoades, attempted to solve the financial mess, but whatever he proposed the board debated endlessly, and by the time they decided what to do, conditions were far worse, and the proposal had to be redesigned and redebated. “Anyone can figure out how to drive the Curtis buggy,” said Erpf, “but no one can figure how to get in it.”

By March of 1968, Curtis couldn’t pay $10 million to the First National Bank of Boston, and two extraordinary suitors arrived to bid for the remains. The editors themselves had raised S50 million, $10 million of it cash. Milton Gould, director tor the preferred, had a friend in one Martin S. Ackerman, called in the trade “Marty the Mortician.” He was president of the Perfect Film & Chemical Corporation, a conglomerate of the remains of several corporations. In the complicated finaglings with the editors—Loeb, Rhoades, and White, Weld on one side, and Gould and “Marty the Mortician” on the other—the board of Curtis gave the nod to Ackerman.

On the morning that Ackerman was to present his bid for control to a waiting Curtis hoard, one editor called the lawyer for the Curtis family trusts —the legatees of Lorimer, E. W. Bok, and Cyrus H. K. Curtis. They were still the owners of 30 percent of the stock and controlled Curtis.

The editor said he wanted the family to know the editors had not given up. They were still ready to risk the $50 million, if the family would rather not deliver the company into the hands of Martin S. Ackerman for dismemberment.

Ackerman’s plans for Curtis had been hinted at in the Wall Street Journal for a week. Now the crucial meeting was just two hours away. With the reply ot counsel for the family, the bell began to toll for the Post: “Who’s Ackerman? I’ve been down in Florida playing a little golf and haven’t had a chance to catch up.”

That afternoon Ackerman took control. In seven months, he would announce the Post’s last issue.

Cut to Commercial $5. Interior. 1 min. Song is “Those Were die Days, My Friend.” Video shows 22 Norman Rockwell Post covers. Cut from cover to cover on the beginning of each bar.

Last Rockwell shows Ben Franklin holding Post and crying. Hold for two bars. Dissolve.

The failure of the Post is not just the story of another magazine going under, but the failure of a style, a system, a regime. In the beginning, the Post and its style stood for all the hopes of free enterprise. In the end, the Post—old King Post—could no longer understand the new sense of things.

Free enterprise originally meant something a man set out to do, just as Curtis and Lorimer did. But the result of their effort was something called the corporation, and the corporation cannot act as men did when they were free. Corporations are things like General Motors or Columbia University or Curtis Publishing. They have no way to do what might be good for the country. They cannot be managed to return the slow buck. They cannot be directed to honor’s reward. Curiously, they are often not even directed to riches, for they have unknown rules. They are ruled by opportunity. And when opportunity reigns as king, then honor, riches, pride, and virtue do his bidding and fill his cups.

When Lorimer began, the hit song was “School Days/School Days.” On the day Martin S. Ackerman became president of Curtis, “Mrs. Robinson” was on the top of the charts. Sensible men will notice the difference. On the day King Post finally died, there in New York after “the press” had gone, the editors gathered in what was now a ghostly layout room to watch themselves and their parting words on the evening news. Yes, sir, just as the TV crew chief had said, it was worth about a minute.

So much for insiders.