A review of the news that made The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s front pages through the decades.

Today's AJC Deja News comes to you from the Saturday, May 30, 1970, edition of The Atlanta Constitution.


MADDOX ORDERS BAN ON ATLANTA PAPERS AT CAPITOL GROUNDS

Georgia Gov. Lester Maddox never called the Atlanta Journal-Constitution "fake news." He just said the paper practiced "the lowest, yellowest, crookedest, most dishonest journalism.”

Powerful people being upset with the press is nothing new, but the manner of complaining about coverage has changed. And in the pre-Twitter days of 1970, Maddox took his feud with the AJC to the streets. In fact, he took the paper off some streets.

“Maddox ordered sales of the newspapers banned on state property at an angry press conference [on May 29] in which he attacked The Atlanta Constitution and Journal for opposing his proposed special session of the General Assembly,” Constitution Political Editor Bill Shipp wrote in the front page piece. The Constitution called the idea, centering around changing Georgia’s method of bond financing, “an act of absurdity bordering on idiocy.”

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When State Office Building Authority Director Steve Polk refused to comply with the order to remove 10 of the offending vending machines, Shipp reported “Maddox denounced Polk for insubordination and said he and the state patrol will remove the machines at 4 p.m. if the newspapers do not pick them up.”

“We may throw the boxes in the city incinerator,” Maddox said.

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May 29, 1970 - Atlanta, Ga.: Governor Lester Maddox ordered a ban on Atlanta Journal-Constitution vending machines from the state office complex. Gov. Maddox gets a helping hand in removing newspaper racks. He carried out his promise to remove the machines from state property. (Staff photo-Billy Downs) 1970

Credit: Billy Downs

May 29, 1970 - Atlanta, Ga.: Governor Lester Maddox ordered a ban on Atlanta Journal-Constitution vending machines from the state office complex. Gov. Maddox gets a helping hand in removing newspaper racks. He carried out his promise to remove the machines from state property. (Staff photo-Billy Downs) 1970
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May 29, 1970 - Atlanta, Ga.: Governor Lester Maddox ordered a ban on Atlanta Journal-Constitution vending machines from the state office complex. Gov. Maddox gets a helping hand in removing newspaper racks. He carried out his promise to remove the machines from state property. (Staff photo-Billy Downs) 1970

Credit: Billy Downs

Credit: Billy Downs

MORE DEJA NEWS>> Check out what we’ve covered before (and again)

Fast-forward to April 2018, when the paper and public officials again found themselves in disagreement, this time over access to records.

"The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News filed a complaint with Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr alleging 'a culture of political interference' with open records requests at Atlanta City Hall, and requesting mediation to implement reforms for repeated violations of state law," the AJC's J. Scott Trubey wrote.

The media outlets “[sought] mediation through Carr’s office to create enforcement measures to ensure compliance with the law,” Trubey reported, “and the appointment of an independent public records officer who would be free from political meddling.”

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms' office responded that she was "committed to transparency, opening the doors of city hall to the public and the media."

On October 3, all parties agreed to a settlement in the open records case.

No newspaper vending machines were harmed in the process.

The events of 1970 played out quite differently, though, with Gov. Maddox making good on a threat to start picketing Atlanta Newspapers, Inc., on June 4 “from 2 to 4 p.m.”

“Beginning then,” the AJC reported June 2, “Maddox said he would picket ‘every time I get a chance,’ including lunch hours.” He and a crowd of supporters picketed the paper’s Forsyth Street offices on the announced day. But then a kidney stone operation sidelined him a week later. The special session was canceled.

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Atlanta, Ga., March 10, 1971 - Georgia Lt. Gov. Lester Maddox burns a copy of The Atlanta Constitution Wednesday in the state Senate. Maddox, who presides over the body, was incensed at an article which accused the Senate of being in shambles with a huge backlog of legislation. He said the newspaper did not have to 'guts, integrity, manhood or decency' to report the situation accurately. Maddox drew a standing ovation as he concluded a fiery speech and the burning of the newspaper. (Bill Wilson/AJC) 1971

Credit: Bill Wilson/AJC

Atlanta, Ga., March 10, 1971 - Georgia Lt. Gov. Lester Maddox burns a copy of The Atlanta Constitution Wednesday in the state Senate. Maddox, who presides over the body, was incensed at an article which accused the Senate of being in shambles with a huge backlog of legislation. He said the newspaper did not have to 'guts, integrity, manhood or decency' to report the situation accurately. Maddox drew a standing ovation as he concluded a fiery speech and the burning of the newspaper. (Bill Wilson/AJC) 1971
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Atlanta, Ga., March 10, 1971 - Georgia Lt. Gov. Lester Maddox burns a copy of The Atlanta Constitution Wednesday in the state Senate. Maddox, who presides over the body, was incensed at an article which accused the Senate of being in shambles with a huge backlog of legislation. He said the newspaper did not have to 'guts, integrity, manhood or decency' to report the situation accurately. Maddox drew a standing ovation as he concluded a fiery speech and the burning of the newspaper. (Bill Wilson/AJC) 1971

Credit: Bill Wilson/AJC

Credit: Bill Wilson/AJC

As of June 26, the AJC ban was over, with the governor saying the newspaper vending machines would be returned to state office property because the Journal and Constitution “treated my controversy about the boxes (vending machines) just about as fair as anything I’ve ever seen.” But by March 1971, Maddox — now Lieutenant Governor — was burning a copy of The Atlanta Constitution in the State Senate chambers.

Maddox found a somewhat sympathetic ear at the time from then-State Senator Jimmy Carter, who had announced as a Democratic gubernatorial candidate. But Carter said he wasn’t sure if he’d ban newspaper vending machines if he were governor.

And the future president’s take on the situation? It had none of Maddox’s fiery rhetoric, that’s for sure.

“I get awfully mad at the Atlanta newspapers,” Carter said.


ABOUT DEJA NEWS

In this series, we scour the AJC archives for the most interesting news from days gone by, show you the original front page and update the story.

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