TRI-CITY HERALD ARTICLES
dated 2/5, 2/6, 2/7, 2/8, and 2/9
Plus a letter from the President of Villagers, Inc.
that appeared in the last Richland Villager (3/2/50)
Tri-City Herald - Sunday, February 5, 1950, Page 1
VILLAGER PROBE TO BE EYED
It has been announced that preliminary discussion
concerning the investigation of the Richland Villager
weekly newspaper will begin at 3pm tomorrow.
Glenn C. Lee, publisher of the TRI-CITY HERALD, Fred
C. Schlemmer, AEC manager at Hanford, and George Prout,
vice president of General Electric co., will take part
in the discussion.
Lee has charged that the villager has become a
political football and has asked for an investigation of
its operation. The publisher said the Villager is a
responsibility of AEC-GE and requested the interest of
Schlemmer and Prout because the weekly newspaper is
operated as tax exempt enterprise.
It is located on a government project and the
majority of its board of directors is made up of AEC-GE
Lee stated further that when newsprint was almost
impossible to obtain, AEC-GE had been instrumental in
procuring it for the weekly paper. Also, while tax
paying merchants in Richland paid through the nose on
percentage-lease-rent arrangements, the weekly paper's
rent for a very choice office location amounted to less
than a small depreciation charge.
Lee said to his knowledge a publication had never
been made of the operating statement and distribution of
profits for the non-profit corporation, Villagers, Inc.
Nor has financial responsibility ever been fixed for
possible operating losses.
He further contends the affairs of the paper were
being conducted in an unbusinesslike and in a political
manner, and that because of the paper's public
ownership, a through investigation should be made.
View the above article
Tri-City Herald - Monday, February 6, 1950 Page 1
A LETTER OF PUBLIC INTEREST
Feb. 6, 1950
Mr. W. D. Smyth
Board of Villagers, Inc.
Dear Mr. Smyth:
In reference to your answer to my recent letter, I
regret you are attempting to pass the buck to your
editor-manager. I will continue to endeavor to carry on
discussion of this matter with you.
You are president of Villagers, Inc., you are
employed by G.E., an agent of the U.S. Government, and
you are responsible for the operation of a tax-exempt,
non-profit newspaper, published on a government
I state again that The Villager, weekly Richland
newspaper, is being used as a political football and I
want some answers. Other taxpayers are interested in
this situation too, and they want some answers.
As far as knowledge of what's behind the operation
and manipulation of The Villager is concerned, your
editor-manager, who has had the job just a few weeks, is
completely uniformed [sic].
This puts the hot potato right back in you lap.
If the potato isn't hot enough yet for you to talk
to me about it, stick it back in the oven. If and when
it pops, and the hot pulp spatters, it might land on a
few heads who are still behind the scenes. This will
make it even more interesting.
One great freedom that Americans still have is
freedom of the press.
It is, and has been, seriously abused, prostituted
and enroached upon at Richland.
Because A FEW AEC-GE Villager board members, and
their influence, and unspoken but definitely conveyed
wishes, have directed the weekly newspaper.
Perhaps these FEW are running the show, and the rest
are innocent bystanders, just being taken along for the
Even in the halls of congress, Senator B.B.
Hickenlooper, prior to the AEC investigation, dubbed the
weekly newspaper a government house organ.
The time will soon come, perhaps it is here now, for
some action. You tell me that you are looking out for
the best interests of the paper and constituents of the
villagers, Inc., yet the Richland newspaper riddle is
still unsolved. How about some more light on the
Very truly yours,
Glenn C. Lee,
cc: G.R. Prout
Fred C. Schlemmer
view the above
Tri-City Herald - Tuesday, February 7, 1950 Page 1
A FREE PRESS
"Congress shall make no law respecting an
establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free
exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or
of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to
assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress
These words are from the first amendment to the
AEC-GE government employees control and direct a
non-profit tax-exempt newspaper on a government
Are they using it to attempt to muzzle a Free Press
in the Tri-City area?
Are they using its printing job as an economic
Are they refusing to grant this government printing
on a sealed bid basis, so they can show political
favoritism? We think so. And lots of other interested
people think so too.
A Free Press is one that may:
1. Criticize government.
2. Publish without a license.
3. Publish without censorship.
The press represents a certain threat to dictatorial
or crooked government.
Government must not interfere with, or sponsor, or
subsidize the press.
Yet here in the Tri-City area, that is what is going
on under our very noses.
As long as government employees control a newspaper,
they hold an axe, and a happer, over the editorial and
economic head of a Free Press.
Behold, the Richland Villager, a political football.
view the above
Tri-City Herald - Wednesday, February 8, 1950 Page 1
AEC-GE DECLINE VILLAGER PROBE
PRIVATE MEETING REFUSED
A request by Glenn C. Lee, publisher of the Tri-City
Herald for a conference with George R. Prout and Fred C.
Schlemmer concerning operation of the Richland Villager
was denied late afternoon by Prout.
Prout is Hanford Works manager for General Electric
company and Schlemmer operates Hanford for the Atomic
Lee's request had been for an investigation of the
villager's operation. He termed the paper a "political
A meeting between Prout, Schlemmer and Lee had been
tentatively set for Monday afternoon. This meeting was
postponed and Prout followed this by denying a request
for another meeting.
Prout, however, made a counter proposal of a press
conference at which the matter would be discussed.
Lee said this morning that while he wasn't
personally interested in attending a press conference,
he would send Herald editorial representatives to such a
conference if and when Prout wanted to arrange it.
A misleading report concerning the investigation
requested by AEC-GE of the Richland Villager was being
circulated in the Tri-City area this morning.
Representatives of outside newspapers contacted the
Herald this morning with information obtained for AEC-GE
public information offices that Herald Publisher Glenn
C. Lee refused to meet with Hanford officials regarding
Said Lee; "I am shocked and amazed at the lack of
interest on the part of AEC-GE for the welfare of the
project in the way this case is being handled. As
government employees, they are obligated to the people
to make a complete investigation of this situation.
Their latest action indicates they have neither the
intention or desire to check into the matter."
Lee said he believed a press conference at this time
would be "woefully premature" and would hamper the
investigation he has requested.
He pointed out that because of the past violations
of business ethics and contractual obligations on the
part of the Villager Board it would best serve the
public interest that certain matters not be aired unit
the investigation was underway by AEC-GE.
In his original request for an AEC-GE probe of the
villager's affairs, Lee said the weekly paper was a
direct responsibility of AEC-GE because it was a tax
exempt, non-profit enterprise operating on a government
TRI-CITY HERALD IS OFFICIAL PAPER
The Tri-City Herald is now the official paper for
the city of Kennewick. After some discussion at the
Tuesday meeting, the Kennewick city council voted
unanimously to name the Herald. The action was taken
due to suspension of publication by the Kennewick
Courier-Herald, the city's former official paper.
view the above
Tri-City Herald - Thursday, February 9, 1950 Page 1
AEC AND GE COMPARE 'POLITICAL
FOOTBALL' PAPER TO A CHURCH
George R. Prout said today at [sic] Richland General
Electric company has no intention of investigating the
operation of the Richland Villager, weekly newspaper.
The Hanford manager for GE said the Villager, which
is published by a non profit cooperative association of
citizens, had a status similar to that of a church, The
Masonic lodge and the American Legion.
"It is not our right, nor do we want the right, to
The statement was made at a press conference which
also was attended by Fred C. Schlemmer, Hanford manager
for the Atomic Energy Commission. Prout said the
conference had been called at the request of Glenn C.
Lee, publisher of the Tri-City Herald. Lee had charged
the Villager was being used as a "political football."
He had asked GE and the AEC to investigate its
Lee did not attend the conference. Prout said that
after The Herald's publisher had made the Villager a
"matter of public interest" by printing front page
editorials and letters it was felt that request of other
members of the press to attend could not be denied.
"After he (Lee) made it a matter of public interest
we didn't see how we could refuse to permit others to
Prout added that Lee had declined to attend the
conference when informed members of the press would be
there, saying he preferred a private discussion.
The GE vise president did not, however, rule out the
possibility of future conferences with Lee on the
He emphasized that GE and the AEC have no control
over the Villager, no more than they have over a church,
a club or a veterans organization.
"As far as the company is concerned, we don't
presume to have the right to interfere."
He also disavowed any responsibility for financial
losses by the weekly newspaper. He cited that the
Richland Jaycees in underwriting a community
c_l_gration, had suffered financial losses, but that
neither the government nor GE were responsible.
He admitted that the Villager board of directors had
members who were GE employes [sic], but said the
company's policy was not to interfere in it's employes'
[sic] private lives. Schlemmer said that at present none
of the board members were AEC employes. [sic]
Both also denied that to their knowledge, there had
been no interference in the past by GE and the AEC in
the weekly newspaper operation.
Lee said later, in a prepared statement:
"I am shocked and _______ed at the lack of interest
on the part of AEC-GE for the welfare of the project in
the way this case is being handled. As government
employes [sic] they are obligated to the people to make
a complete investigation of this situation. Their latest
action indicates they have neither the intention nor
desire to check into the matter."
Lee said further ___ahan___ AEC-GE were not being very
realistic. If AEC-GE think they can place a government
project tax exempt newspaper in the same category as a
church on the project, they better start adjusting their
view the above
March 2, 1950
in the final issue of the Richland Villager (Vol. 5, #53)
James W. Phillips
I should like to take this opportunity to express
my personal appreciation to you and the loyal members of
your staff for the full cooperation given me and the
Board of Directors during the past few months. We all
realize that there have been moments of and sometimes
days of despair when we have been openly criticized for
what we have considered to be honest and honorable
It is with a great deal of pride and satisfaction
that our publication has weathered this criticism
without having to apologize in any way for what we have
We can now anticipate a barrage of additional slurs,
slanderous statements and untruths from the Tri-City
Herald and we deeply regret that we will be unable to
reply to anything that might be said through the medium
of a non partisan public spirited publication such as
I therefore state now and for the future that I,
personally, and the members of the Board of Directors of
Villagers stand on our past performance and trust that
the people of this city will understand that our action
in suspending the publication of the Villagers [sic] was
done only in the best interests of the membership of
I, personally wish you and your staff members the
best of luck in whatever activity you may elect to
pursue in the future. I am confident you will succeed.
Best personal regards.
W. D. SMYTH
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