Ms. Olmsted documents how, throughout the 1930s and even into the ’40s, these proprietors, who controlled both the editorial and news content of their papers, consistently and purposefully minimized the Nazi threat and opposed American or British intervention against it ... Although Ms. Olmsted explores fascinating alliances among the group...they were far from uniform in their positions or methods ... None of the other publishers were as blatantly pro-Nazi [as Rothermere], but Ms. Olmsted shows—through her industrious forays into and judicious use of the archives, correspondence and secondary literature—that all of them were racist and anti-Semitic ... The Newspaper Axis has a bit of the feel of a retroactive suspense story: As the aggressions of Germany, Italy and Japan continued through the decade, how long would it take for these owners to realize what was going on? A pretty long time, it turns out ... Although The Newspaper Axis is a first-rate work of history, it is also quite timely.
A damning indictment ... Olmsted...sometimes overstates the case that these publishers enabled Hitler. Opposing the president in wartime isn’t the same as aiding the enemy ... Yet in many ways, the members of the newspaper axis were especially despicable. Not only were their editorials extremist to the point of being unhinged, their news coverage was slanted too.
Olmsted has herself a clever book title, but it’s a bit of a stretch. The various media barons really had little to do with one another. A greater handicap is her intellectual integrity: she has to acknowledge that her 'axis' members, while hugely mighty and important, nevertheless kept failing in their main objective—defeating Roosevelt ... As Olmsted makes clear, the president was dealing with a right-wing press that, absent reliable polling, was thought to reflect its readership.