Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with John Ed Pearce, April 25, 1996

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
Transcript
Toggle Index/Transcript View Switch.
Index
Search this Index
X
00:00:03 - Comparing political cartoonists

Play segment

Partial Transcript: --specified at the time or not, but I always considered Hugh almost a tragedy. He had more talent than any man I ever met on the Courier.

Segment Synopsis: Pearce compares political cartoonist Hugh Haynie with some of the more recent cartoonists, such as Joel Pett.
[there are loud background noises]

Keywords: Cartoonists; Cartoons; Humor; Joel Pett; Nick Anderson; Political cartoonists; Political cartoons; Subtlety; Talent

Subjects: Courier-journal (Louisville, Ky.)

00:04:47 - Television journalism

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Well, they try to say "print journalists"--

Segment Synopsis: Pearce shares his thoughts on television journalism, and how it differs from print journalism, often negatively.

Keywords: Columnists; Court television; Money; News programs; Newspapers; Political talk shows; Tabloids; Talk shows; Television journalism; The Globe; The National Enquirer; Violence

Subjects: Journalism; Journalists; Newspapers; Television broadcasting of news

00:09:37 - Radio journalism / the myth of the liberal media

Play segment

Partial Transcript: And then of course, we have radio, which has fallen on evil days.

Segment Synopsis: Pearce discusses radio journalism briefly, and its decline. He also shares his views on why he feels the idea of the media being dominated by liberals is a myth.

Keywords: Columnists; Conservatism; G. Gordon Liddy; Liberalism; Liberals; Media; Michael Reagan; New York Times; Radio; Rush Limbaugh; Wall Street Journal; Washington Post

Subjects: Newspapers; Radio journalism

00:12:53 - Problems with local news programs

Play segment

Partial Transcript: And the evening news does not cover its community. It covers superficialities.

Segment Synopsis: Pearce shares his views on what he feels is the superficiality of local television news coverage, and how it does not tell viewers much about their government, the economy, and other things he feels are more important.

Keywords: Automobile accidents; Fires; House fires; Incarceration; Local news programs; Local newspapers; Magazines; School boards; Sports; Weather

Subjects: Education; Newspapers; Television broadcasting of news

00:17:11 - Public news programs / favorite magazines

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Now National Public Radio does make a stab at getting us a picture of our world.

Segment Synopsis: Pearce briefly gives his views on public news programs such as those on National Public Radio. He also shares some of his favorite magazines.

Keywords: American Heritage (magazine); American History (magazine); Americas (magazine); Atlantic Monthly (magazine); Civilization (magazine); Foreign Affairs Quarterly (magazine); Foreign Policy (magazine); Harper's Magazine; Magazines; NPR; National Public Radio; Oceans (magazine); PBS Newshour; Public Broadcasting Station; Sea Frontiers (magazine); The American Prospect (magazine); The Utley Reader (magazine); Washington Spectator (magazine); World Press Review (magazine)

Subjects: Periodicals; Radio programs; Television broadcasting of news

00:21:21 - Other favorite magazines / early television

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Where would you place the popular news magazines in terms of their value? Newsweek, Time, US News.

Segment Synopsis: Pearce mentions some of the other magazines that he reads. He also talks about the beginnings and growth of television, sharing his personal experiences with it in the late 1940's and early 1950's.
[there are some distortions in the recording]

Keywords: Bingham family; Book reviews; Editorials; Football; Kentucky Historical Society Register (magazine); Magazines; New York Times; Newsweek; Norton Family; Obscenity; Popular news magazines; Television sets; The Filson Club Quarterly (magazine); The New Yorker; Time; U.S. News and World Report; Wrestlers; Wrestling; Writing

Subjects: Courier-journal (Louisville, Ky.); Lexington Herald-Leader; Louisville (Ky.); Periodicals; Television

00:25:55 - Television's impact on American culture

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Were you concerned, uh, uh, uh, being a newspaper person that the Bingham's weighing into television would somehow harm the newspaper?

Segment Synopsis: Pearce shares how he feels that television has had a negative effect on American culture since its introduction, especially related to the loss of newspaper advertisements.

Keywords: Advertising; Corporate sponsors; Culture; Editors; George Mickler (??); Gillette; National advertising; Reporters; Sponsors

Subjects: Courier-journal (Louisville, Ky.); Newspapers; Television

00:30:02 - Courier-Journal distribution in Kentucky / circulation in Indiana

Play segment

Partial Transcript: I recall when I came here and, for quite a few, for two decades afterward, we had trucks.

Segment Synopsis: Pearce describes how the Courier-Journal used to be distributed within the state of Kentucky, via truck. He also talks about its distribution in Southern Indiana.

Keywords: Brown Ransdell (??); Circulation; Editorials; Newspaper circulation; Newspaper editions; Newspaper transportation; Roads; Trucks

Subjects: Courier-journal (Louisville, Ky.); Indiana; Newspapers

00:35:24 - Barry Bingham / Mark Ethridge's opposition to Pearce's being in the editorial department

Play segment

Partial Transcript: But on the other hand, you went out to all these areas and traveled around.

Segment Synopsis: Pearce discusses his working relationship with Barry Bingham. He also talks about how Mark Ethridge opposed his being in the editorial department, telling him that he had no future there.

Keywords: Editorial department; Editorial staff; Frederic C. Lord; Fritz Lord; Mark F. Ethridge; Spies

Subjects: Bingham, Barry, 1906-1988

00:39:00 - Staying with the Courier-Journal / being passed over for editorship of the editorial page

Play segment

Partial Transcript: And, I think I told you on two occasions had a friend who was a national editor of Time Magazine that asked me to come to New York to be on that staff.

Segment Synopsis: Pearce describes how he turned down several job offers and chose to stay with the Courier-Journal because he thought he would be offered the position of editor of the editorial page. He shares how he was passed over for this position when it became available.
[there is a break in the recording]

Keywords: Editors; Heart attacks; Jim Wine; Lobbying groups; Molly Clowes; Otto Ferbing (??); Robert Worth Bingham III; Russell Brandy (??); Time Magazine

Subjects: Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963; Myocardial infarction

00:43:46 - Clashes with Barry Bingham, Jr. / Bingham's editorials

Play segment

Partial Transcript: And again, I was surprised to the point of shock by the attitude of young Barry.

Segment Synopsis: Pearce describes how he clashed with Barry Bingham, Jr. over their views on hunting. He remembers Bingham's editorials, which he characterizes as being juvenile and not well written.

Keywords: Attitude; Barry Bingham, Jr.; Editorials; Editors; Elk; Hunters; Hunting; Molly Clowes; Moose; Robert Worth Bingham III; Roommates; Wives

Subjects: Bingham, Barry, 1906-1988

00:48:13 - Barry Bingham Sr. writing skills / Bingham Jr.'s aversion to being edited

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Barry Senior wrote a great deal for the paper, and Barry Senior was a very good writer.

Segment Synopsis: Pearce describes the writing skills of Barry Bingham Sr. He shares how his son, Bingham Jr. did not want any of his writing to be edited.

Keywords: Book reviews; Editing; Editorials; English majors; Literature; Novelists; Novels; Writers; Writing

Subjects: Bingham, Barry, 1906-1988; Courier-journal (Louisville, Ky.)

00:51:45 - Staffing changes under Barry Bingham Jr. / Bruce VanDusen

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Then, very shortly after he took over, he began making changes in the staff.

Segment Synopsis: Pearce describes the staffing changes that were made under Barry Bingham Jr. In particular, he talks about Bruce VanDusen, who was brought in by Robert Worth Bingham III.

Keywords: Bob Bernard; Bruce VanDusen; Cash crops; Crops; Editors; Impatience; Lunch; Molly Clowes; Money; Night managing editors; Robert Worth Bingham III; Staff; The Voice of St. Matthews; Tobacco; Typos; Wealth; Writing

Subjects: Tobacco

00:58:01 - Possible reasons for being passed over

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Uh, then I started looking very seriously for another job in the newspaper. But I was pretty close to fifty then.

Segment Synopsis: Pearce speculates about why he may have been passed over for the editor position he wanted, despite Barry Bingham Sr.'s telling him that he planned to give it to him.

Keywords: Bob Bernard; Chicago Democratic Convention; Editorials

Subjects: Bingham, Barry, 1906-1988; Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991; Combs, Bert T., 1911-1991

01:01:52 - Wilson Wyatt / meeting Bert T. Combs

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Uh, did we go through the Wilson Wyatt-Bert Combs campaign?

Segment Synopsis: Pearce talks about Wilson Wyatt, who declared his candidacy for the governorship of Kentucky in 1958. He also describes meeting Bert T. Combs for the first time.

Keywords: Character; Governorship; Harry Lee Waterfield; Integrity; Judges; Mayors

Subjects: Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991; Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985; Combs, Bert T., 1911-1991; Courier-journal (Louisville, Ky.); Truman, Harry S., 1884-1972; Wyatt, Wilson W. (Wilson Watkins), 1905-1996

01:05:35 - The 1955 gubernatorial campaign / the Young Turks' support of Bert T. Combs

Play segment

Partial Transcript: And, and it was splitting up the party. It was splitting up the party.

Segment Synopsis: Pearce talks about the 1955 campaign for governor, which was won by Happy Chandler. He describes how a group of Kentucky legislators known as the Young Turks supported Bert T. Combs and urged him to run for governor again.

Keywords: Dee Huddleston; Foster Ockerman, Sr.; Tom Breckenridge; Young Turks

Subjects: Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991; Combs, Bert T., 1911-1991; Democratic Party (Ky.); Politicians; Politicians--Kentucky

01:08:33 - The 1958 campaign for governor

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Why wouldn't the rebels turn to Wilson Wyatt? He was a reformer, a liberal, a, uh, progressive, uh. Why would they not turn to him?

Segment Synopsis: Pearce discusses the 1958 campaign for the governor of Kentucky, and the candidates who were running.

Keywords: Harry Lee; John Breckinridge; Taxes; Wilson W. Wyatt

Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985; Combs, Bert T., 1911-1991; Moloney, Richard P.

01:12:19 - Being a part of Wilson Wyatt's campaign for governor / Wyatt's personality

Play segment

Partial Transcript: One day, Barry asked me if I could, uh, help Wilson.

Segment Synopsis: Pearce talks about his working as a part of Wilson Wyatt's campaign for Kentucky Governor. He also describes Wyatt's personality.

Keywords: Committee for Kentucky; Conservatism; Conservatives; Dick Harwood; Harry Schacter; Jim Pope; Optimism; Personality; Political campaigns; Political platforms; Wilson W. Wyatt

Subjects: Americans for Democratic Action; Bingham, Barry, 1906-1988; Harwood, Richard; Political campaigns; Politicians; Politicians--Kentucky; Stevenson, Adlai E. (Adlai Ewing), 1900-1965

01:18:06 - Bert T. Combs and Wilson Wyatt's becoming running mates for governor

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Um, so we worked pretty hard for him, and it soon became apparent that, if both he and Combs stayed in the race that Waterfield would probably win--

Segment Synopsis: Pearce shares how Bert T. Combs and Wilson Wyatt decided to join forces to run for the governorship, rather than competing with each other and likely losing as a result.
[there is a break in the recording]

Keywords: Divide and Dissent (book); Stanford Motel; Wilson W. Wyatt

Subjects: Bingham, Barry, 1906-1988; Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985; Combs, Bert T., 1911-1991; Political campaigns

01:21:16 - Inaccuracies in Divide and Dissent (book)

Play segment

Partial Transcript: The version that I published in Divide and Dissent was the version that was generally accepted at the time.

Segment Synopsis: Pearce clarifies some of the inaccuracies in his book, Divide and Dissent, relating to a meeting between Earle Clements and Wilson Wyatt at the Stanford Motel. He briefly talks about his work as a speechwriter for the campaign after Combs and Wyatt declared themselves as running mates.

Keywords: Divide and Dissent (book); Platforms; Political platforms; Speech writing; Speechwriters; Stanford Motel; Wilson W. Wyatt; Writing

Subjects: Bingham, Barry, 1906-1988; Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985; Combs, Bert T., 1911-1991

01:23:52 - Comparison of Combs and Wyatt

Play segment

Partial Transcript: How did you see this new team working together when you'd go to these meetings?

Segment Synopsis: Pearce compares Wyatt and Combs' personalities and intellects.

Keywords: Humor; Intellect; Intelligence; Personality; Respect; Wilson W. Wyatt

Subjects: Combs, Bert T., 1911-1991; Politicians; Politicians--Kentucky

01:27:09 - Being appointed to the state parks board by Combs

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Shortly after the election, Bert came into see Wyatt--uh, see Barry, and ask him if he, Barry, would uh, spare me for four years to be Commissioner of Conservation.

Segment Synopsis: Pearce tells how he was appointed to the state parks board by Governor Combs. He describes being a go-between for Combs and Barry Bingham Sr. during the time he served on the parks board.

Keywords: Bond issues; Commissioner of Conservation; Conservation; Henry Ward; Herndon Evans; Money; State parks; State parks board; Volunteers

Subjects: Bingham, Barry, 1906-1988; Combs, Bert T., 1911-1991

01:32:31 - Bert Combs' marital problems and affair

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Naturally we became close. Too close I guess for my own good. And if I'd had better judgement or more knowledge I'd not have let it get to the point that it did.

Segment Synopsis: Pearce talks about Governor Combs' marital problems, and shares how he found out that he was having an affair with Helen Rechtin.

Keywords: Adultery; Affairs; Art Lloyd; Bill May; Friends; Helen Rechtin; Jack Matlick; Land; Mabel Combs; Property; Sanibel Island (Florida); Widows

Subjects: Combs, Bert T., 1911-1991; Weinberg, Lois Combs

01:39:43 - Garvis Kincaid / work with the state parks

Play segment

Partial Transcript: I forget whether or not that was the night Garvis Kincaid gave the big party.

Segment Synopsis: Pearce talks about Garvis Kincaid and his genius as a businessman. He also discusses some of the projects he was involved in when he was on the state parks board, including finding a contractor to build the lodge at Butler State Park.

Keywords: Bailey Ryan; Butler State Park (Carrollton, Ky.); Contractors; Fountainglow Hotel (??); Garvis Kincaid; Lodges; Money; Parties; Penthouses; State parks; State parks board

Subjects: Parks

GPS: General Butler State Resort Park (Carrollton, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.670526,-85.153989
01:44:14 - Pine Mountain State Resort Park

Play segment

Partial Transcript: I fought awfully hard for money for Pine Mountain.

Segment Synopsis: Pearce talks about the work that he did to develop Pine Mountain State Resort Park, in Pineville, Kentucky.

Keywords: Asher family; Broadbent Lodge; Buildings; Herndon Henry Ward; Lakes; Land; Money; Pine Mountain State Resort Park (Pineville, Ky.); The Herndon Evans Lodge; Visitors centers

Subjects: Combs, Bert T., 1911-1991

GPS: Pine Mountain State Resort Park (Pineville, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 36.745693,-83.71655
01:48:00 - Molly Clowes

Play segment

Partial Transcript: It, it, it was a fascinating experience for me, and I really valued it, but it cost me very dearly.

Segment Synopsis: Pearce discusses Molly Clowes, a former editorial page editor for the Courier-Journal. He describes her family background, education, personality, and work experience.
[there is a break in the recording]

Keywords: Blood pressure; Editorial writers; Fingerprinting; Herald Post (newspaper); Illness; Mary Bingham; Molly Clowes; Remy Walsh (??); Reporters; Robert Worth Bingham III; Scorn; Tea; Writers

Subjects: Bingham, Barry, 1906-1988; Chicago (Ill.); Courier-journal (Louisville, Ky.); Families; Journalists

01:53:32 - Ideas and innovations for the Courier Journal's editorial page

Play segment

Partial Transcript: I think that Barry, and to a degree Worth, wanted some changes made, but they didn't know what it was.

Segment Synopsis: Pearce shares some of the ideas that he had to change the Courier-Journal's editorial page. Some of these were implemented by the paper.

Keywords: Editorial columns; Editorial notebook; Editorial writers; Editorials; Ideas; Innovations; Molly Clowes; Russell Brandy (??)

Subjects: Bingham, Barry, 1906-1988; Courier-journal (Louisville, Ky.); Lexington Herald-Leader; Newspapers; Newspapers--Kentucky

01:57:06 - The Louisville Courier-Journal as a respected newspaper

Play segment

Partial Transcript: The Courier when I got there was a paper of national reputation, partially because of innovation.

Segment Synopsis: Pearce talks about the Louisville Courier Journal's reputation as a "hot shot" newspaper. He talks more about some of the innovative ideas that were put in effect there. He discusses why the editorial staff very rarely received raises, even when the paper was doing well.

Keywords: Barry Bingham; Barry Bingham, Jr.; Courier-Journal Magazine; Headlines; Innovation; Mark F. Ethridge; Robert Worth Bingham III

Subjects: Courier-Journal (Louisville, Ky.); Newspapers; Photography; Wages.

02:03:15 - Worth Bingham

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Tell me about Worth Bingham. I don't really, uh, have a good feel for what he was like.

Segment Synopsis: Pearce describes Worth Bingham and talks about how the people on the staff of the Courier-Journal felt about him. He talks about Norman Isaacs' conflict with Mark Ethridge and his push to get him fired. He talks about a rumor that started about another conflict between Mark Ethridge and Jim Pope. He talks about an electrical accident that killed Jonathan Bingham and the car accident that killed Worth Bingham.

Keywords: Accidental death; Barry Bingham, Jr.; Car accidents; Conflicts; Jim Pope; Jonathan Bingham; Mark Ethridge; Norman Isaacs; Reputations; Retirement; Robert Worth Bingham III

Subjects: Bingham, Barry, 1906-1988; Courier-journal (Louisville, Ky.)

02:16:36 - Conflict with Barry Bingham, Jr.

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Barry Junior--there was a lot of talk in the company. Barry Junior did not want to take over the paper.

Segment Synopsis: Pearce talks about why Barry Bingham, Jr. did not want to run the Louisville Courier-Journal. He discusses the only editorial piece he wrote that was ever retracted. He talks about why Barry Bingham, Sr. moved him from the editorial department to the Courier-Journal Magazine, and discusses his opinion that this was a step down in terms of job positions. He talks about the conflict he was having at the time with his wife over his low wages and talks more about Barry Bingham's response to his asking for a raise.

Keywords: Africa; Barry Bingham, Jr.; Courier-Journal Magazine; Documentaries; Editorials; Money; Newspapers; Norman Isaacs; Novels; Reporters; Retractions; Television; Wife

Subjects: Bingham, Barry, 1906-1988; Courier-journal (Louisville, Ky.); Wages.