Appeal from the Circuit Court of Whiteside County; the Hon.
A.J. SCHEINEMAN, Judge, presiding. Affirmed.
This is an action to recover damages for the publication of an alleged libel. The trial court sustained a motion to dismiss the complaint and entered judgment for the defendants. Plaintiff has appealed.
The sole question presented is whether the complaint states a cause of action. Substantially, the allegations thereof are that plaintiff was a person of good name, credit and reputation in the City of Rock Falls, Whiteside County, Illinois; that he was held in high esteem by his acquaintances, neighbors, and the general public; that the defendant corporation owned and published a daily newspaper called The Daily Gazette, which was in general circulation in Whiteside County and other areas of Illinois; that Preston Grandon was president of the Sterling Gazette Company, a corporation, and editor of said newspaper; that the other defendants were its officers and publishers; that at the time of publication of the alleged libel plaintiff was a candidate for mayor of Rock Falls at an election held April 18, 1961, and was campaigning for said office; that on April 15, 1961, the defendants wrongfully and maliciously intending to injure the good name of plaintiff, and to bring about his defeat in said election, published a libelous article of and concerning plaintiff which reads as follows:
NO WORD TAKES PLACE OF "LIAR"!
In an advertisement appearing in today's issue of The Daily Gazette, inserted by Cecil P. Wade, candidate for mayor of Rock Falls, appears this statement:
"After reading these articles, I endeavored to obtain equal space and equal coverage in this newspaper to answer and refute the assertions made by the writer. My request for fair play fell upon dead ears and the only conclusion that can be drawn is that only the present mayor is afforded such privileges and opportunities."
That statement is a "lie" of the common garden variety, which means that the person accepting responsibility for that statement, Mr. Cecil P. Wade, in the parlance of the street, is an "unadulterated liar."
We dislike using the word "liar"; it is not dignified, it is unbecoming of either a reputable newspaper or its publisher; unfortunately it lowers the author of this editorial to the degraded level of the advertiser.
But under the circumstances, when Mr. Wade called at the office of the writer of this editorial, one Preston F. Grandon, complained that he had not been treated fairly, that he "demanded" space in this newspaper, he was told that he could have that space in the news columns "without cost" to say whatever he pleased, without restriction as to the length of his statement.
Mr. Wade appeared pleased with this solution to what appeared to him to be a problem. In the presence of a witness he ordered the reference above stricken out; said he would prepare another advertisement; that he would also prepare a news story to his own liking.
Mr. Wade appeared to be an honorable man who received every courtesy anyone could extend; was granted the use of The Gazette columns as he requested, something that had never been denied him, which he freely admitted. But somehow the honor that appeared to surround Mr. Wade when in the office of this editor, seemed to desert him very shortly afterward, when he ordered the advertisement to be inserted as it appears in The Gazette today.
We have no disagreement with Mr. Wade or his ambition to become mayor of Rock Falls. We apologize to our readers for publishing this statement today.
We told Mr. Wade that we would have a statement to the effect of the above. Being what we believe to be a "truthful" man, we are keeping our word to him. We may be a lot of things all wrapped up into one ...