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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