RENSE: How liberal a newspaper was it?
RENSE: What do you mean, "fake liberal?" It was certainly liberal compared to the other newspapers in town.
HAAS: It was liberal. You would have to say it was liberal for those days. It was Democratic. It was a very strong Democratic paper. For me, you're talking to somebody who is a socialist! Although there is no socialist party. I'm still at heart a left-wing socialist. I never joined the Communist Party, and I didn't joing the socialist party till many years later. No question about it---it was the only Democratic voice in town. Well, there were some satellite papers out there. Generally speaking, the liberals gravitated to our paper. They tried to get a job there. I don't think you can get any more different than the DN was.
RENSE: What was it like to be a reporter at the Daily News?
HAAS: Exciting! It was always exciting because we tried to be exciting---the paper did, itself. You went for the exciting side of the news. You didn't go for the dismal part of the news. A good murder, the Black Dahlia---that was the kind of a story we wanted to get our teeth into. But then everybody was putting their teeth into that story.
RENSE: As sensational as the Herald-Express?
HAAS: Well, in a different way, yes. Remember that we always had that political bias, which was liberal democratic political bias. So a lot of the stories were tinged with that background. Most of us were ultra liberals, at the very least good strong, Democrats. Well, there is one interesting aspect I'll throw at you, and it's covered in my book, by the way, (I was) shop steward for L.A. Newspaper Guild. That was me. I was red-baited out of the office that I held in the union. I was the director for the L.A. Newspaper Guild. Now that was a vital part of my life that wasn't a vital part of the DN, except in an indirect way.
RENSE: There were two reporters stigmatized by red-baiting: Vern Partlow---
RENSE: And Darr Smith.
HAAS: Darr Smith, right. Those were the two guys. One of the guys, got fired. Darr
Smith. We didn't allow the firing of Vern Partlow. We fought that. He managed to get
changed from reporting to being the editor of the women's page, for Christ's sake! Well,
this was the red-baiting that was going on. We had this period of red-baiting that
included a lot more than just the DN. It permeated through the labor movement, and
thats basically where I got hit, because I was head of the DN American Newspaper
HAAS: Well, the political columnist was a guy named Leslie Claypool.
RENSE: And there was Matt Weinstock, the sort of Herb Caen of Los Angeles. . .
HAAS: He was a gossip columnist, funny-guy columnist. He was the voice of the interesting people in Los Angeles, the Hollywood crowd, the union crowd, the liberal crowd, the right-wing crowd. He was the gossip columnist---that's not really the way to describe him. He was a serious newspaper guy. He was giving the entertaining side of Los Angeles. God knows there was a lot of entertainment going on. He was a Herb Caen. Oh, he was probably the first thing people read in the paper. You know, this city, Los Angeles, has been such an anomaly in terms of a normal city that there is no way to characterize it. Now, Matt Weinstock and the columnists tried to characterize it.
RENSE: Was he the most popular columnist in the city?
HAAS: Hard to say, because we were probably third or fourth in circulation.
RENSE: What about Ned Cronin, the sports editor and columnist?
HAAS: Well, he was a famous guy. He was also a right-winger. He wasn't part of our left-wing crowd. The sports department was considered fascist. Of course, they were just doing what everybody does in sports---having a good time. Covering sports has never been anything but fun.
RENSE: I hear that the library was the "bar," and drinks were a quarter.
HAAS: Well, you just went in there to get a drink. I don't know of a single person who was drunk all the time.
RENSE: So you'd get a shot of whiskey and go back to work.
HAAS: Right. And they worked it off very quickly, working for the Daily News. You were punching that goddamn typewriter forever! I mean, you'd barely get out to take a pee!
RENSE: A great many women worked for the paper?
HAAS: Absolutely. Sara Boynoff---she was very good. And we had Carol Phinney there.
See, the women took over when the guys went off to war.
RENSE: You had been sent to Norwalk to get a statement?
RENSE: How were you able to go back and write the story?
RENSE: You mean, it became "The Daily News had to break the news of a child's
death to her mother in Norwalk. . ." kind of thing?
RENSE: Now they would just show the mother weeping on TV.
HAAS: Yeah, there it is. And you don't need that many words to go with it. And that's why the newspaper business changed in this town. Because TV took over.
RENSE: Tell me a bit about some of your old colleagues. Did you know
RENSE: What kind of a guy was he to work with?
HAAS: Very funny! He was a wild guy, but everybody was wild up there. I
mean, we didn't have any "straights." No plain old-fashioned straight writers.
They were always looking for an angle and trying to write stuff that was interesting to
read. That was the object. Just write an interesting story. To hell with the news!
Stories about people at the Daily News were rampant. Those crazy people at the Daily
News! We were acting up, probably, a little bit more than we should have in the sense
of being responsible reporters, photographers, and so on. We were having the time of our
lives, and we participated in the whole business of what was going on in the city,
Hollywood, everything else. We were loving this city, because of the excitement of living
here and working on a newspaper here, and we were the minority newspaper, and by God, we
were going to fight for our lives!
RENSE: So what did the staffers do? There had been such tremendous comaraderie---
RENSE: Why did the paper go under?
HAAS: Well, who knows. I think it was just what was happening in the world. Newspapers were proliferating, and then TV came on, and newspapers became secondary to what you really got your news from.
RENSE: Did the city give a damn that the Daily News was gone?
RENSE: Do you miss the Daily News?
HAAS: Well, I'm not sentimental about anything. I look back on my political life with a great deal of satisfaction. I loved it. I loved being in politics. I loved being on the newspaper.
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April 30, 2004
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copyright 2003, 2012, Rip Rense