The Radio Priest


How I came in touch with these Protocols to begin with, don’t ask me. I must have had two hundred copies of them sent to me from all over the world. I had them in every language. Why? I don’t know. Who told them to send them? I don’t know. I was on the air, and I was a popular character, that’s about all. I got them, and I think I’ve read everything about the Protocols , and I think I’ve studied them as much as any living American my age. First of all, I don’t know the certain truth about them; I don’t think anybody does. I couldn’t prove they’re false, I couldn’t prove they’re genuine.

You said in your introduction to the Protocols in the newspaper that it wasn’t important whether or not they were genuine, only that the pianists should disavow them.

Yes, but as I said, nobody knows the certain truth about them. How old the Protocols are, I can’t get back farther than the sixteenth century, for sure. Who circulated them first, I don’t know. But it’s such a mystery, and there’s such contradictions to it, that the safest thing to do about the Protocols is forget you ever read them, and try to be a Christian for ten minutes, because the Christian attitude toward all these things, even toward Communism, and there’s no doubt who wrote the Manifesto , is this: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

There seems to be some confusion about your exact relationship with Social Justice. Did you actually control the newspaper?

You mean financially? Yes, I did financially.

No, I meant editorial control.

I’m supposed to have, but there were some weeks when I was away. I wasn’t even there to be consulted about what was going in the paper. But it was in my name, and when we were attacked for doing this and doing that and the other thing, because I was the publisher—sure, it’s mine. That’s the only way a man could do. There were many, many things that appeared in Social Justice that I wouldn’t know anything about until maybe two or three weeks afterward.

Some people considered the newspaper a scurrilous publication for doing such things as printing a pink-tinted photograph of Eleanor Roosevelt. Did you know about that before it appeared?

No, no, I didn’t.

On October 21, 1939, the paper demanded the impeachment of Resident Roosevelt. Did you have a hand in this?

I had none. But what’s the use of saying I didn’t have any hand in it? I was the owner of Social Justice . I was the publisher of Social Justice .

Were you ever concerned about the enormous influence you seemed to have over your audience?

How did this power affect you? I thoroughly believed in what I was doing, and I tried to be honest. I’ve spent my whole life defending the things I believed in. And I’ve always been loyal to my country. I’d die for it. That’s not poetry with me. I’ve never forgotten Cardinal Mercier’s old statement that he who lacks patriotism can never say he loves God. You’ve got to love your country, but love doesn’t mean you have to be full of adulation. You have to love it and try to correct the wrongs.

As your views on the approaching war became more and more controversial some of the radio stations on your network, like WOR in New York, began finding excuses to drop your program. Then, late in 1939 the National Association of Broadcasters adopted a new code that prohibited the sale of air time to “controversial” speakers. You were the primary target of the code. Was this what finally ended your radio career?

They used that instrumentality, too. But what really put me off the air was the committee of young priests that Mooney established to censor my broadcasts. It became an impossibility to carry on. One of the priests told me once that they would take a pencil and just indiscriminately knock a page out. At one point I was writing enough for four hours of air time so they’d have something to take out. So finally it got down to the point where I called up Archbishop Mooney, and I said, “Archbishop, I want you to know, you’ve got down to the point now where I can’t get up and recite the last half of the Hail Mary.” So I said to him, “Come on right out and say so.” And he said, “No, I can’t. They won’t let me say so. They want you to quit.” “Oh,” I said, “they do. That’s the first time you told me. Fine. I’m through.”

By “they” did he mean the review committee?