The Daily News and Post-World War II Conservatism

The Daily News is an American newspaper in New York City. It is a tabloid that features intense city news coverage, celebrity gossip, classified ads, comics, and a sports section. In addition to its print edition, the newspaper has a digital edition available on mobile and desktop platforms. The newspaper has been one of the best-selling newspapers in the United States since the mid-1940s.

Until the advent of online news, Daily News was among the most popular print publications in America. Its circulation peaked at about 2 million copies a day in the late 1940s. Today, the newspaper has a circulation of approximately 500,000 and is owned by New York Daily News, Inc.

When people cite National Review as the journalistic parent of post-World War II American conservatism, it is easy to overlook that there was another mass-circulation paper that also helped shape and define this worldview. Though it did not attack bureaucrats and foreign policy the way National Review did, the Daily News tapped into similar veins of reactionary populism and ethnonationalism.

Patterson’s editorial positions, while not particularly sophisticated or even well informed, reflected his belief that the public was not interested in playboy scandals and high-society divorces but wanted to know “how they are going to get their food, what they are going to eat, where they are going to live and how they are going to keep their children safe.”

The paper promoted a broad range of conservative policies, but with an eye toward local concerns. This approach dictated the newspaper’s news coverage of city issues in the mid-twentieth century; it sought to ensure residents had affordable rent, a good subway system and clean streets, among other quality-of-life matters. It favored easing land-use restrictions, encouraging private business to provide city services and, of course, keeping taxes low.

Similarly, the newspaper’s letters page was often dominated by “Voice of the People” content. While not all of these expressed reactionary attitudes, many did show a wariness of or resentment of non-whites and especially African Americans. One letter, for example, applauded a lynching and argued against affirmative action in government hiring, arguing that no jobs should be earmarked for blacks unless they could also be earmarked for whites.

The newspaper’s broader worldview of reactionary populism persisted for decades, well after Patterson died in 1946. It was a worldview that resonated with the public, and it is important to understand how this mass-circulation newspaper shaped and reinforced its readers’ beliefs. This understanding is crucial in evaluating the impact of a news medium on the politics and public policy of a country.