"An Aristocracy of Critics" by Stephen Bates

An Aristocracy of Critics Luce, Hutchins, Niebuhr, and the Committee That Redefined Freedom of the Press Stephen Bates

Publication date:
12 Jan 2021
Yale University Press
336 pages: 235 x 156mm
19 b-w illus.
Sales territories:

The story behind the 1940s Commission on Freedom of the Press—groundbreaking then, timelier than ever now

The Commission on Freedom of the Press was the greatest collaboration of intellectuals in the twentieth century. Financed by Time Inc. publisher Henry R. Luce, the committee included preeminent philosophers, educators, theologians, and constitutional scholars, with University of Chicago president Robert Maynard Hutchins as chair.
Starting in 1943, commission members spent three years wrestling with subjects that are as pertinent as ever: partisan media and distorted news, activists who silence rather than rebut opponents, conspiracy theories spread by faceless groups, hate speech, and the survivability of American democracy in a post-truth age.
The report that emerged, A Free and Responsible Press, is a classic, but much of the commission’s greatest wisdom never made it into print. In this book, journalist and First Amendment scholar Stephen Bates reveals how these towering intellects debated some of the most vital questions of their time—and reached conclusions urgently relevant today.

Stephen Bates is an associate professor of journalism and media studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he teaches First Amendment law. He lives in Las Vegas, NV.