TWEET by @OTOOLEFAN (Don Millard ): “JFK vs US Steel: Back when Presidents would stand up to Big Business: http://youtu.be/WWKImfw3nLE”
Don raises an excellent point, and it again reminds us how important it is to learn and remember history, not least so we can recognize when it’s being distorted.
In 1991, director Oliver Stone made the film “JFK” (1991) with Kevin Costner. Stone is notorious for playing fast and loose with the facts in order to achieve the ‘leftie’ message of his choice, and “JFK” was no exception. (As an aside, “JFK” may be one of the finest examples of why I detest so-called docudramas.) At the time, the movie provoked an enormous amount of debate around the country. At RealHistoryArchives.com, I found this piece which, in part, discusses briefly the news conference I’ve pasted in below. While there is a great deal more in the article relating to misinformation and historical inaccuracies within the movie, this is the excerpt related specifically to the U.S. Steel controversy, entitled “Alexander Cockburn and Noam Chomsky vs. JFK: A Study in Misinformation”:
From The Nation 3/9/92, p. 318
“. . .JFK always acted within the terms of those [economic, military, intelligence] institutions and that against the script’s assertions, there is no evidence to the contrary.”
In 1962, Kennedy brokered an agreement between the major steel corporations, including U.S. Steel, and their labor unions. The unions would hold off on a wage increase if the steel companies would not raise prices, which Kennedy felt would cause an inflationary spiral in the economy. On April 10th, four days after U.S. Steel signed the agreement, Roger Blough, chairman of the board, handed Kennedy a memo saying that U.S. Steel was going to break the agreement and raise prices. Within 24 hours Kennedy launched investigations by the FTC and Justice Department into collusion and price rigging by the steel companies. He threatened to break Pentagon contracts with U.S. Steel. In a week, Attorney General Robert Kennedy began a grand jury probe and announced subpoenas for documents held by U.S. Steel. President Kennedy then announced a press conference and delivered the following remarks:
“. . .the American people will find it hard , as I do, to accept a situation in which a tiny handful of steel executives whose pursuit of private power and profit exceeds their sense of public responsibility can show such utter contempt for the interests of 185 million Americans. “
In less than ten days the steel companies capitulated. Later on, when prices were raised in 1963, Bobby Kennedy instituted a lawsuit against the steel companies.
These actions followed Kennedy’s criminal probe of the electric companies in 1961 in which he actually jailed the companies’ executives for price fixing. It parallels his probe of the Rockefeller-controlled Freeport Sulphur, Hannah Mining and other mineral companies in 1962 and 1963 who had overly lucrative deals stockpiling armament materiel at the public’s expense. In other areas Kennedy opposed the Pentagon with his nuclear test ban treaty (the CIA and Joint Chiefs worked against him in Congressional hearings).
He opposed the same groups at the Bay of Pigs when he refused to launch an invasion and the Cuban Missile Crisis where he refused to launch air strikes against the missile silos. This last, according to one commentator, sealed his fate with Wall Street since by calling off an invasion he removed the last possibility of reversing Castro’s nationalization of American industries.
Sources: Thy Will be Done by Colby and Dennett p. 401. Battling Wall Street by Don Gibson pp. 10, 11, 14. The Burden and the Glory ed. Allan Nevins p. 195.
You can also read the full text of President Kennedy’s speech and the subsequent news conference here. The full audios can be heard below.