Roy Cohn to Reagan: Don’t forget your deal with Rupert Murdoch

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Roy Cohn introduced now-president Ronald Reagan to Rupert Murdoch when he was only a governor, and Cohn offered him something he couldn’t refuse: a pro-Reagan media apparatus. Today, Cohn thinks Reagan needs a reminder.

In a letter to administration officials, Cohn makes his intentions clear: Murdoch’s papers support the president, and the president supports Murdoch’s papers.

I had one interest when [Thomas Bolan] and I first brought Rupert Murdoch and Governor Reagan together–and that was that at least one major publisher in this country (New York Post — over one million, third largest and largest afternoon; New York Magazine; Village Voice; San Antonio Express; Houston Ring papers; now the Boston Herald; and internationally influential London Times, etc.) would become and remain pro-Reagan.

Mr. Murdoch has performed to the limit up through and including today.

Roy Cohn

Cohn goes on to argue that, despite Reagan’s meeting with Murdoch a week ago, the publisher feels slighted by the administration’s inability to work with the Boston Globe this week. He adds a subtle suggestion that Murdoch will be happy to criticize the president if he doesn’t receive the same treatment he gets from UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Australian P.M. Malcolm Fraser.

Mr. Murdoch has been deeply disturbed at what he regards as a failure to stand by some basics in the President’s original program… He is hurt at the way the Boston matter was handled… If there is time for the enemy there must be just a little time for [Murdoch].

Roy Cohn

The letter is sent to Reagan administration officials Edwin Meese, III; James Baker; and Michael Deaver. (Meese was a member of the Council for National Policy.)

Reagan assistant Michael McManus responds, telling Cohn that he has apologized to Murdoch and appreciates “the importance of what he is doing.”

In the United Kingdom, Murdoch’s deal with Thatcher was that he would give her positive press if she helped him buy up a close majority of the country’s newspapers.

External Sources

The Guardian – Thatcher (Archived)

Photo: Public Domain

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