[Walter Winchell and the stock market]

Saturday, March 12, 1955

This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.

Begins with the disclaimer that he knows little about the stock market. The saying "everybody was in the market" was used to spread the blame. Talks about the Walter Winchell case. Winchell mentioned certain stocks as being "good buys." Sunday night tips caused great deal of action. Seldes talks about the last of these occasions. Specialists were called in to prevent a peculiar event from arising. Winchell used his own broadcast time slot to defend himself to the public. Had a representative to talk with him. No disagreement about the facts in the case. Winchell used his right to defend himself. Take this right away and you take away the right of free speech. We begin to wonder whether the first amendment applies in all of its aspects. Do we need a new charter to spell out the responsibilities in broadcasting in radio and television? The saying "somebody crying 'fire' in a crowded theater" assumes that there was no fire. But if there was a fire, then it would save lives. Does the right to say a stock is good include the right to say a stock is bad? Do the physics of television overcome the political morality of the first amendment? Haven't we created by television a new kind of authority without responsibility? Loaning money to Britain. One of the most important things we can do is educate people to listen critically. There is a greater effort in reading than in looking and listening. Propaganda comes to us when are critical senses are comparitively low. Newspapers are not fundamentally an entertainment medium. Radio and television are entertainment with a modicum of fact.

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection

WNYC archives id: 70369
Municipal archives id: LT6407

Hosted by:

Gilbert Seldes


More in:

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.


About Lively Arts, The

Legendary critic and author of The Seven Lively Arts Gilbert Seldes discusses big-thinking issues in art and life from his characteristically populist perspective.

Simultaneously a timely and visionary program, Gilbert Seldes's The Lively Arts (1953-1956) examines contemporary issues of 1950s television, radio, and theater, as well as current events and the intellectual arts. Seldes, who was the first Director for Television at CBS News and the founding Dean of the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania, was also a renowned critic, author, playwright, and editor. As a major social critic and observer, Seldes viewed theater, television, and radio with a prescient eye to the future based on a well-informed understanding of the past. 

These programs feature commentary and discussion on a wide range of topics — from sex and censorship in the movies to progressive education to juvenile delinquency to political campaigning on television — many of which are still hotly debated today. Serving as a precursor to Seldes's television programs and providing an audio context for his seminal books, this show is key to understanding today's cultural commentary.


Supported by