Semester of Graduation

Spring 2021

Degree

Master of Mass Communication (MMC)

Department

Mass Communication

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

Huey Long’s use of the phrase “lyingnewspapers” to discredit negative publicity is commonly cited as evidence of his negative relationship with the mainstream press, but he did not always hold a hostile view toward newspapers. Before the press turned against him during his enemies' attempt to impeach him as governor in 1929, newspapers were one of his central tools for political advancement. He devised strategies to attract press attention and relied on newspapers to publicize himself and propagate his ideas more frequently and consistently than he used circulars or radio broadcasts, which are commonly attributed to his political success. As with all populists, his disruptive ideas and behavior threatened the status quo and provoked hostile responses from the political and economic elite. The negative publicity he received as a result of their opposition and criticism worked to his advantage, however, because the press gave him a platform to defend himself and explain his perspective. The symbiotic press-Long dynamic drastically changed during his first year as governor, when his ruthless and undemocratic behavior drew the press out of neutrality. He fought back against the oppositional press by creating his own paper, The Louisiana Progress, of which the phrase “lyingnewspapers” was a primary feature. To understand why Huey Long created his own newspaper and how he used it, this thesis will correct various misconceptions about his dynamic with the mainstream press. This thesis will show how he used the press and the evolving role of newspapers during key periods of his career. More broadly, this thesis will illuminate the unique dynamic between populists and the press by using Long as a model for how outsiders can leverage the power of the news media to build political influence and maintain public support.

Committee Chair

Hamilton, John M.

Share

COinS