Las Vegas Sun

July 17, 2019

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McCarthy Loses Face In Verbal Fire

Walks Out, Refuses To Debate As Greenspun Answers ‘Vicious Lies’

Greenspun and McCarthy

Sun Archives

Hank Greenspun confronts Sen. Joseph McCarthy during a Republican rally at the War Memorial Building in Las Vegas in October 1952. McCarthy unintentionally calls Greenspun an ex-communist during the rally— meaning to call him an ex-convict because of Greenspun’s violation of the Neutrality Act by running arms to Israel. McCarthy exits the stage as Greenspun shouts, “Show me your proof.” The quote becomes the rallying cry of McCarthy’s foes.

What was perhaps the most drama-packed and best-attended political meeting ever held in Nevada broke up in a scene of bedlam last night last night at War Memorial hall after the audience had listened to Sen. Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin, who had purportedly come here to speak in behalf of Sen. George W. Malone, now seeking re-election.

Instead of speaking for Malone the Wisconsin senator leveled his fire at Publisher Hank Greenspun of the Las Vegas Sun, using language that violated every sense of decency, for which Nevada is noted in everything competitive.

But McCarthy, after prating about Americanism and war record, turned and ran like a scared rabbit when Greenspun challenged him to debate his reckless charges.

McCarthy in his typical wild swinging fashion, with no regard for facts but with hold on his audience that is frightening called Greenspun "an ex-convict" and "an admitted Communist, publisher of the Las Vegas 'Daily Worker.'"

Women shuddered and strong men controlled their emotions with difficulty as the attacked continued. They had never heard such disgraceful language from a Nevada...

Their sense of fair play, their love of truth was outraged to the breaking point, as the Las Vegas publisher was excoriated by the tongue of a man whose like had never before been seen or heard.

"This man Greenspun is here," roared McCarthy. "Let him stand up and be seen."

As McCarthy finished, Greenspun was on his feet instantly, ready with his answers, ready to challenge the big bad wolf from Wisconsin. But in that same moment McCarhty slipped off slipped off the stage and headed for the door, followed by Sen. Malone a few henchmen and a part of the crowd.

In vain did Greenspun shout at him to come back and listen. At least a dozen times - before McCarthy had reached that door - Greenspun all but pleaded with him to come back.

McCarthy kept going, sliding through the crowd, apparently wishing he had seven-league boots to aid his exit. It reminded one of Marc Anthony after he had finished speaking over Caesar's corpse. "Now let mischief do its worst."

From then on, for perhaps 30 minutes, with his words being carried to thousands of homes by radio throughout the state Greenspun denied the "dirty lies" of his attacker, called him a "filthy rabble rouser," then proceeded to cite chapter and verse as he gave McCarthy's record in the few years that he has been in the public eye. His war record his acceptance of money beyond his salary, his defense of Nazi soldiers who butchered American prisoners of war - these and a dozen other indictments were hurled by fighting-mad and outraged publisher.

The crowd that at first booed him settled down and remained to cheer him. McCarthy had hit below the belt.

"Debate with me if you're not afraid of the truth, senator!" Greenspun roared.

Then Greenspun began to defend himself before those who remained, and with the state-wide radio connections still intact.

"This charge that I am an ex-Communist is the biggest lie you have told Senator, and you have told many on the floor of the United States Senate," Greenspun began.

Then Greenspun answered the ex-convict charge:

"I was convicted of smuggling," he began when someone in the audience shouted:

"You did it for money!" Where upon Greenspun answered:

"No! I smuggled guns to help the struggling young republic of Israel in its fight for survival, and it is one of the proudest chapters in my life." And he went on to explain how the Los Angeles judge when sentence was passed observed:

"Knowing the motives that impelled you I cannot find it in my heart to send you to prison."

Greenspun then challenged McCarthy's voting record in the senate.

"Defend your voting record, Senator and explain how you yourself on every defense bill with the exception of two voted the straight Communist party line."

Greenspun then turned to McCarthy's defense in the U.S. Senate of the Nazi's who perpetrated the infamous Malmedy massacre. He declared:

"Kenneth Ahrens, an American soldier who had survived the massacre of 150, escaped death by falling to the ground and feigning death. When called as a witness, he stated that SS troops seemed to be in a hilarious mood and seemed to be enjoying their work."

Greenspun continued:

"Joe jumped to his feet, accused Ahren of trying to inflame the public mind and instigating a "Roman holiday" by his testimony. Red faced and perspiring, McCarthy accused the judges who convicted the murderers as morons. He reserved all his wrath for the American officers."

Greenspun then asked the absent McCarthy to answer the following questions if he dared:

1. What did you actually do, Senator, for the $10,000 paid to you by the Lustron Corporation?

2. Did you pay a perverted Communist agent to spy on American diplomats?

3. Were you ever an enlisted combat marine as you have stated so many times?

4. Were you ever wounded in action in the South Pacific as you claim?

5. Why did you so stoutly defend the murderous cut-throats who tied the hands and blindfolded the eyes of brave young American soldiers and then shot them in cold blood?

When Greenspun finished, hundreds of well-wishers flocked around him, clasping his hands, and expressing their admiration for his fighting defense against the unprincipled attacked by the senator.