What Horrible Things Did Time Magazine Do in 1964?

Was Time magazine “scurrilous and utterly shameless in its willingness to distort” in 1964?

In a used bookstore over the weekend I came across some old issues of Fact: magazine. I’m not familiar with Fact: but Wikipedia tells me it was published from 1964-1967 and edited by Ralph Ginzburg and Warren Boroson.

The cover of the very first issue caught my eye; it is full of quotes from people disparaging Time:

Fact Magazine cover - January-February 1964 Volume One Issue One

Here is the full page illustration opposite the article in which Time is called “The Weekly Fiction Magazine”:

Fact Magazine 1964 - Time Magazine article illustration

And here is an excerpt from the opening of the article:

Fact Magazine 1964 - Time Magazine article

To quote the first paragraph (bolding is mine):

“Time’s technique for handling news is so simple that it seems to have eluded several generations of critics – and yet it is almost solely responsible for (A) Time’s monumental commercial success and (B) Time’s equally monumental failure in the fields of ethics, integrity and responsibility.

The article goes on to chronicle all sorts of alleged malpractices by Time with quotes from a variety of figures.

So what was up with Time magazine in 1964? I have a feeling this article reveals more about the style and approach of Fact: than the practices of Time but I found it very interesting nonetheless.

As a side note, Define provided consulting to Time.com for several years. So I have first-hand knowledge that they seem pretty ok nowadays. :)

UPDATE: Be sure to check out the comments for more background from people with knowledge of both publications at that time, including Fact’s Warren Boroson.


  1. Warren Boroson says

    Time has corrected the errors of its ways, to a large extent–
    But back then, Time had no ethical standards–
    It would lie and lie–to be clever & mean–
    Getting celebrities to complain about Time’s lies, for an article, was a cinch–
    Ralph Ingersoll, who wrote the lead article, was the former editor or publisher of Time magazine–

  2. says

    Thank you for the additional information Warren; it would be interesting to see what else I can turn up on this online. Do you recall any reaction from Time when it was published?

  3. says

    Warren, am I mistaken, or was Milton Glaser the art director of Fact? And wasn’t Ginzburg some kind of genius in the lost art of direct-response writing for subscription ads?

  4. says

    TIME was notorious for its Vietnam coverage. Luce was the son of protestant missionaries in China, he had a weird chip on his shoulder and was a rah rah supporter of our anti communist fight. Under his orders Time willfully distorted what the reporters in the field reported. When they wrote that we were losing, what the print article said was that we were winning.

    In other reporting they were also self directed. My daddy always used to say that if you actually know the subject, you’ll know that what time says is completely wrong. This is why a lot of people still refuse to read it.

    I think the sad fact is, Time and Newsweek are mostly irrelevant

    Ralph Ginzburg was an artsy pornographer. He put out a magazine called EROS, By todays standards it wasn’t dirty. it was more artsy than interesting. not sure what ever happened to him, but he was a long time ago.

  5. Steve says

    You should read a biography of Time founder, staunch Republican and virulent anti-Communist Henry Luce.
    He never let any facts get in the way of his opinions and, in many ways, would’ve made Rupert Murdoch appear to be liberal.
    As Murdoch does, Luce used his publishing empire to promote the ideologies and causes he believed in.

  6. says

    It would be nice to shrug and say it was another time. But its not very different from FOX’s travesty of news coverage.

    Part of me sympathizes with those poor stupid tea baggers. They know they’re getting screwed, but it still doesn’t occur to them that a lot of the screwing is coming from the news sources they trust.

    I’ve lived in communist countries, and Fox just isn’t that different from what you get in Russia or China. Henry Luce was on a mission, that justified everything including lying through his teeth. Same old, same old

  7. Marty says

    Time was notoriously rightwing then and Fact:’s view of Time and Time-Life Inc. wasn’t held just by elites such as celebrities who might have had an ax to grind; it was widespread. Evidence: When I took journalism in a public high school in 1965 (in a NJ suburb of NYC) the teacher told us, using a standard putdown, that “Time is for people who can’t think and Life is for people who can’t read.”

  8. says

    I was in high school in the 60s and recall that Time magazine was not allowed to be used as a source in the high school debating league because it was considered to be too biased. Don’t know if they’ve mended their ways, haven’t read Time (or Newsweek or U.S. News & World Report) for many years.

  9. David Heim says

    re Mitch Shannon’s question: I believe that either Herb Lubalin or Ed Benguiat was the art director for fact: magazine. Lubalin collaborated with Ralph Ginzburg on the magazine Avant-Garde, and the typeface he designed for the magazine’s logo is still in use. Benguiat, who died recently, was an influential type designer for decades.

  10. Warrren Boroson says

    The very gifted Herb Lubalin was the art director–

    Later, Ralph Ginzburg went to prison for 8 months for publishing nude photos of Marilyn Monroe in Eros magazine–and sending out mass mailings for Eros–

    The book, The Best of Fact, is still available–it includes the comments on Time–

    Time magazine was the Fox News of its day–

  11. Warrren Boroson says

    Ralph died a few years ago–he had become a photographer for the Daily News, and a book he wrote was called I Shot New York–

    He was a genius at promotion and advertising–

    He and I were sued for $2 million by Barry Goldwater for an issue of Fact that cast doubt on his mental stability–Fact polled over 1,000 psychiatrists–Goldwater won $75,000 from Ginzburg and the magazine, and $1 from Ginzburg, the magazine, and me–

    I’ve sent his widow these emails, and she may comment–

    At age 75, I write a weekly financial column at http://www.newjerseynewsroom.com.
    My last two books were on reverse mortgages and on how to invest like Warren Buffett.

  12. Richard Sanders says

    After his EROS notoriety, Ralph Ginzburg worked for many years as a photographer for the NY Post. Not would you’d expect, I know, but a guy’s gotta make a living. He died in 2006.

    And yes, as a former Time Incer, I know all about the virulent anti-Communism that ran through the company when Hank Luce was still alive. David Halberstam’s book, The Powers That Be, is filled with examples of how senior editors at Time rewrote Vietnam reporting to meld with Luce’s ideology. Once he died in 1967, the magazine began to rebuild its reputation.

  13. says

    Thank you for all of this information everyone. It is great to get more background on Time during that period, Fact and the people involved with both.

  14. Seth Norman says

    I had no use for Luce, and his corruption of news reporting deserves scrutiny. That said, I see little evidence of gross bias in the I sometimes read today.

  15. Warrren Boroson says

    By the way, the reason Time Magazine reformed — stopped printing so many biased, distorted articles — was not just that Henry Luce had died. I heard Richard Parsons, a former Time Inc. publisher, say in an interview that he had brought about a change in Time Magazine’s undesirable news policies.

  16. Richard Sanders says

    Parsons was the CEO of Time Warner, not a publisher of Time Magazine. And Luce died in 1967, while Parsons didn’t come to TW until 1995. Lots of changes happened in the 28 years between.

  17. Warrren Boroson says

    Not so. Parsons joined the TimeWarner board in 1991–he became president in 1995–
    And the magazine continued to be biased long after Luce died–
    I worked at Money magazine in the 1970s–

  18. Richard Sanders says

    Biased, maybe, but not with the outright distortions of the Luce era. The editors back then actually LIED about body counts, military setbacks–just as, 20 years earlier, they swore that Mao was about to get his ass kicked out of China.

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