“Print the truth, Newsday!”
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In 1965, Yannacone organized the first municipal Arts Council in the United States just after the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation had published a definitive report on the desperate state of the performing arts throughout the United States.
At that time, the sparsely populated Town of Brookhaven in central Suffolk County, approximately 50 miles east of Manhattan, had already been dubbed Crookhaven by the Long Island daily newspaper, Newsday, because of a number of well-publicized real estate scandals. However, its new administration, led by a farsighted visionary Town Supervisor, Charles R. Dominy, believed that the performing arts, particularly music, should receive at least some support from municipal government. He asked Yannacone to create the Brookhaven Town Council on the Arts and bring professional musical performances to the people of Brookhaven Town during the summer of 1965.
Yannacone submitted a proposal to the Recording Industry Music Performance Trust Fund which had been created as part of the settlement of the Musicians strike against the recording industry in 1948 and used royalties from record sales to fund free concerts by professional musicians in all parts of the country.
The proposal was approved and Yannacone was able to establish the Brookhaven Town Symphony Orchestra, the first municipally sponsored fully professional symphony orchestra in the United States and invite the legendary tenor saxophonist, Billy Mitchell to create the Brookhaven Town Jazz All Stars around the local alumni of the Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Dizzy Gillespie bands.
Nevertheless, in the spring of 1968, Newsday reporters reopened their attack on Brookhaven Town government and claimed that Yannacone and the Brookhaven Town Symphony Orchestra and the Brookhaven Town Jazz All-Stars were further evidence of corruption and political patronage. To save the summer concert season and validate the support from the Music Performance Trust Funds, Yannacone was forced to bring an action against Newsday to compel them to “tell the truth” about the summer music programs and the role Yannacone played in bringing them to Brookhaven.
The action succeeded in terminating the attack by the paper, even though the well-known First Amendment newspaper defense lawyer argued before the Court and a room full of journalists from the other six daily New York newspapers publishing at that time that, “You cannot compel a newspaper to print anything, even the truth!”