Mike Wallace and Bennett Cerf (Founder of Random House) Talk Censorship

Long before 60 Minutes, Mike Wallace hosted his own talk show, The Mike Wallace Interview (1957 – 1960), where he asked probing questions to celebrities of the day. The complete archive – now available via the University of Texas (access it here) – features interviews with Frank Lloyd WrightEleanor RooseveltSalvador DaliReinhold NiebuhrAldous Huxley, and Henry Kissinger, to name a few. In another notable interview, Wallace talked with Bennett Cerf (watch here), co-founder of the publishing giant Random House, and eventually the conversation turned to censorship. Cerf’s comments date back more than 50 years, but the issue never really goes away. File under: “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.”

WALLACE: Well, yet you say, one of the greatest threats facing book publishing and the entire country is censorship.

CERF: That’s right.

WALLACE: What is the… Who does the censoring, and what is the motive of those who censor?

CERF: Well, now that would take a lot of exploration Mike. I think there are an awful lot of people in this country, who are not satisfied to govern themselves and their own families. Or the people who belong to the same cult that they do, but who have taken upon themselves, to tell everybody else what they should read, what they should see, and what they should think.

WALLACE: For what reason do they do it?

CERF: I guess, they think it will make them more sure of getting to heaven. I don’t know why they do it. I think they’re selling short, the good taste of the American public.

WALLACE: Who are these people, who would like to inflict this kind of censorship upon the American public? What are the groups?

CERF: Self-appointed snoop hounds.

WALLACE: Such as… such as…

CERF: They come from all… walks of life, er… in all the way back to colonial days, and in times of the Puritans. There were people who were telling others, what they most think, how they must behave, and what their morals must be. These people cannot resist butting in.

via Richard S.

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