Upton Sinclair: The Profits of Religion
Book Four - The Church of the Slaves
The Outlook for Graft
Anyone familiar with the magazine world will understand that such crooked work as this, continued over along period, is not done for nothing. Any magazine writer would know, the instant he saw the Baxter article, that Baxter was pals by the New Haven, and that the "Outlook" was paid by the New Haven. Generally he has no way of proving such facts, and has to sit in silence; but when his board bill falls due and his landlady is persistent, he experiences a direct and earnest hatred of the crooks of journalism who thrive at his expense. If he is a Socialist, he looks forward to the day when he may sit on a Publications' Graft Commission with access to all magazine books which have not yet been burned!
In the case of the New Haven, we know a part of the price - thanks to the labors of the Interstate Commerce Commission. Needless to say; you will not find the facts recorded in the columns of the Outlook; you might have read it line by line from the palmy days of Mellen to our own, and you would have got no hint of what the Commission revealed about magazine and newspaper graft. Nor would you have got much more from the great metropolitan dailies, which systematically "played down" the expose, omitting all the really damaging details. You would have to go to the reports of the commission - or to the files of "Pearson's Magazine," which is out of print and not found in libraries!
According to the New Haven's books, and by the admission of its own officials, the road was spending more than $400,000 a year to influence newspapers and magazines in favor of its policies. (President Mellen stated that this was relatively less than any other railroad in the country was spending). There was a professor of the Harvard Law School, going about lecturing to boards of trade, urging in the name of economic science the repeal of laws against railroad monopolies - and being paid for his speeches out of railroad funds! There was a swarm of newspaper reporters, writing on railroad affairs for the leading papers of New England, and getting $25 weekly, or $200 or $300 on special occasions. Sums had been paid directly to more than a thousand newspapers - $3,000 to the Boston "Republic," and when the question was asked "Why?" the answer was, "That is Mayor Fitzgerald's paper." Even the ultra-respectable "Evening Transcript," organ of the Brahmins of culture, was down for $144 for typing, mimeographing and sending out "dope" to the country press. There was an item of $381 for 15,000 "Prayers"; and when asked about that President Mellen explained that it referred to a pamphlet called "Prayers from the Hills," embodying the yearnings of the back-country people for trolley-franchises to be issued to the New Haven. Asked why the pamphlet was called "Prayers," Mr. Mellen explained that "there was lots of biblical language in it."
And now we come to the "Outlook"; after five years of waiting, we catch our pious editors with the goods on them! There appears on the pay-roll of the New Haven, as one of its regular press-agents, getting sums like $500 now and then - would you think it possible? - Sylvester baxter! And worse yet, there appears an item of 933.64 to the "Outlook," for a total of 9,716 copies of its issue of Dec. 25th, 1,909 years after Christ came to bring peace on earth and good will towards Wall Street!
The writer makes a specialty of fair play, even when dealing with those who have never practiced it towards him. He wrote a letter to the editor of the "Outlook," asking what the magazine might have to say upon this matter. The reply, signed by Lawrence F. Abbott, President of the "Outlook" Company, was that the "Outlook" did not know that Mr. Baxter had any salaried connection with the New Haven, and that they had paid him for the article at the usual rates. Against this statement must be set one made under oath by the official of the New Haven who had the disbursing of the corruption fund - that the various papers which used the railroad material paid nothing for it, and "they all knew where it came from." Mr. Lawrence Abbott states that "the New Haven Railroad bought copies of the 'Outlook' without any previous understanding or arrangement as anybody is entitled to buy copies of the 'Outlook.'" I might point out that this does not really say as much as it seems to; for the President of every magazine company in America knows without any previous understanding or arrangement that any time he cares to print an article such as Mr. Baxter's, dealing with the affairs of a great corporation, he can sell 10,000 copies to that corporation. The late unlamented Elbert Hubbard wrote a defense of the Rockefeller slaughter of coal-miners, published it in "The Fra," and came down to New York and unloaded several tons at 26 Broadway; he did the same thing in the case of the copper strike in Michigan, and again in the case of "The Jungle" - and all this without the slightest claim to divine inspiration or authority!
Mr. Abbott answers another question: "We certainly did not return the amount to the railroad company." Well, a sturdy conscience must be a comfort to its possessor. The President of the "Outlook" is in the position of a pawnbroker caught with stolen goods in his establishment. He had no idea they were stolen; and we might believe it, if the thief were obscure. But when the thief is the most notorious in the city - when his picture has been in the paper a thousand times? And when the thief swears that the broker knew him? And when the broker's shop is full of other suspicious goods? Why did the "Outlook" practically take back Mr. Spahr's revelations concerning the Powder barony of Delaware? Why did it support so vigorously the Standard Oil ticket for the control of the Mutual Life Insurance Company - and with James Stillman, one of the heads of Standard Oil, president of Standard oil's big bank in New York, secretly one of its biggest stockholders!
Also, why does the magazine refuse to give its readers a chance to judge its conduct? Why is it that a search of its columns reveals no mention of the revelations concerning Mr. Baxter - not even any mention of the $400,000 slush fund of this paragon of transportation virtues? I asked that question in my letter, and the president of the "Outlook" Company for some reason failed to notice it. I wrote a second time, courteously reminding him of the commission; and also of another, equally significant - he had not informed me whether any of the editors of the "Outlook," or the officers or directors of the Company, were stockholders in the New Haven. His final reply was that the questions, seem to him "wholly unimportant"; he does not know whether the "Outlook" published anything about the Baxter revelations, nor does he know whether any of the editors or officers or directors of the "Outlook" Company are or ever have been stockholders of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad Company. The fact "would not in the slightest degree affect either favorably or unfavorably our editorial treatment of that corporation." Caesar's wife, it appears, is above suspicion - even when she is caught in a brothel!
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