Hugh Baillie, Newspaper Reporter

During the two years that Clarence and Ruby were in Los Angeles they had few friendly acquaintances with whom they could spend time in a casual manner.

In addition to spies, each side had newspaper reporters upon whom they relied for confidential tidbits, as well as favorable news stories telling their side of the battle between organized capital and organized labor. At the time, Los Angeles had seven daily newspapers and three weeklies. Their role could be important in defending the brothers.

Because of Ruby’s former career as a newspaper columnist and Clarence’s love for being quoted in newspapers, the two of them easily struck up acquaintances with reporters. One young reporter with whom Darrow made a fruitful relationship shortly after his arrival in Los Angeles was Hugh Baillie of the Record. Though he was not a puppet for the defense, Baillie’s news stories proved to be valuable “first drafts of history” and his reporting reads as someone simply recounting events he had observed. Baillie was just one of several reporters Darrow wooed.

Early on, even before he had relented to Gompers’ pressure tactics back in Chicago, Darrow had advised people in the labor movement that they had to stay on message. He believed that the trial of the McNamara brothers would be a public relations battle, almost as much it would be a fight in the courtroom.  Darrow and labor had learned that truism during the Bill Haywood trial and hoped to put the lesson to use in developing the most effective public mind-set as they prepared for trial. But they weren’t in Idaho. General Otis and the Times were determined to dominate the public discussion.

It appears that Darrow not only tried to use Baillie but on occasion, let his guard down. Baillie was no ordinary “cub reporter” but rather a third-generation reporter with “ink in his veins.” By age 29, Baillie headed the Washington bureau of the United Press, and two decades later became president of that international news agency. In his memoir on a 50-year career, Baillie spoke candidly. “My impression was that he [Darrow] had few scruples about the procedure to be used in winning, so long as he personally believed that the cause was just…[.] In my opinion Darrow was guilty – on the evidence, which included his presence across the street, as a spectator, while Franklin was passing the money to Lockwood; on his attitude and appearance during the trials; and on the basis of my private conversations with him.”

Baillie also discussed the quickness of the Lockwood verdict. Shortly after the trial, “I ran into juror Golding. Who grabbed my hand and asked excitedly, ‘did you get my signal, little cub?’ I told him that I had indeed, and he went on to say that the verdict had been generally agreed on, a week before. Foreman Manly Williams said the jury had not debated the testimony at all, merely taken their vote and come back to report the results.” Finally, there is Baillie’s assessment of the two trials: “Only Earl Rogers in 1912 and four jurors in 1913 saved the Great Defender from ending his career prematurely.”

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