If you’re afraid of the future, then get out of the way, stand aside. The people of this country are ready to move again.
- Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan once said that ex-Socialist candidate for President Norman Thomas stated, “The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism. But under the name of 'liberalism' they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program, until one day America will be a Socialist nation, without knowing how it happened."
The 2008 election of Barack Obama could arguably be an example of Reagan’s warning coming true. However, the vociferous reaction by the Right to President Obama’s policies indicated that while the country may have been fooled, they had not been cowed. The future of America is very much up in the air, the question being whether a corner has been turned toward liberalism, or whether liberalism has been turned back by conservatism. Of such things do movements, media and communications revolve themselves are. This promises to be a battle for many years to come with no “winners of history” emerging soon. An understanding of the past is the only road map of the future. But it is instructive to consider the world “liberal,” turned into a pejorative by the Right. Indeed, the Left must resort to code words. They are progressives. Taxes are “investments.”
In 1964, the Democrats and their allies in the media thought the world was going their way. In the wake of the shining March on Washington (1963), when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made his famed “I have a dream” speech, a golden moment had arrived. The murder of JFK was a shattering blow. A year later his memory, however, propelled his party to astounding victory. It seemed at that point that his inspiration would carry the nation, and the world, in his vision. He had plenty of enthusiastic family members to carry his mantel.
They also had the press. There was no “conservative media.” Regnery Publishing produced conservative books and a magazine called Human Events. William F. Buckley had a magazine called National Review and was a TV personality. Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged threatened to split the Republicans, forming libertarianism. Otis Chandler’s Los Angeles Times took a major swing away from their old partisan Republican roots. The South was Jim Crow Democrat. Bob Hope was a patriotic comedian, Duke Wayne an outspoken conservative actor, and Paul Harvey a conservative, but not partisan, radio personality mainly warning people of “what the devil would do.” Even Bob Grant was not around yet.
Henry Luce lost control of Time. They swung to the Left. The New York Times and the Washington Post were the big newspapers of Eastern opinion, both liberal. Conservatives just lived with it. They had a fuzzy, vague notion that the forces of media control were arrayed against them, but could not put their finger on it. Movies were becoming liberal, making fun of the military, downgrading the Communist threat, and telling them that Right-wing militarists with their fingers on nuclear weapons were the real danger.
In the mid-1960s TV sit-coms were non-political: The Beverly Hillbillies, Hogan’s Heroes. They kept waiting for the episode of the Andy Griffith Show in which Aunt Bee came shrieking with the admonition, “Andy! Andy! There’s a Klan meeting in Mayberry!” but it never happened. The Twi-Light Zone ever-so-slightly pushed a social agenda, but talk show hosts like Johnny Carson did not. Comics like Mort Sahl and Lenny Bruce were pushing the envelope, but you had to go to Greenwich Village to be a part of that scene. Rock music arrived from England, but nobody thought The Beatles were Communists or The Rolling Stones were Satanists . . . yet.
There were three networks – the average TV only had about seven or nine stations, period – CBS, NBC and ABC. Nobody really understood that any of them were partisan or swung to the Democrats. They had nothing to compare them to. Nobody called them on anything. The most respected and trusted anchor was Walter Cronkite of CBS. He teared up when Kennedy was killed, showed unabashed pride when the astronauts conquered space, and seemed fair. Then came the Tet Offensive, 1968.
The Communists mounted a national aggression against U.S. and ARVN barricades beginning on the Lunar New Year. They all failed. American forces prevailed. The only trouble was that Walter Cronkite did not report it that way. Instead he stared into the camera and informed Americans that in his considered opinion, the American effort in Vietnam, not the Tet Offensive, had failed. He advocated a pull-out of Southeast Asia. President Johnson knew immediately that when he lost Cronkite, he lost middle America. He announced he would not run for re-election in November shortly thereafter.
That’s the way it was.
After his eventual retirement, Cronkite was free to air his political opinions. He was a liberal, and almost a Soviet apologist, but in his day there was nobody to challenge him. The two other networks followed his lead, as other newspapers followed the lead of the New York Times. There was no Rush Limbaugh, no conservative talk radio, certainly no Fox News or blogosphere to research, find fault with, dispute his assertions. He was America and he was a Democrat.
This dynamic did not change in the 1970s. Any semblance of fairness went out the window with Watergate. Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980 with absolutely no media support. He left in 1989, when Limbaugh was just beginning. There was still no Internet. George H.W. Bush did have Limbaugh, but nobody else except the Washington Times, lampooned because it was founded by the Reverend Syun Myung Moon, who was not exactly William Paley.
Causes Steven Travers Supports
Conservative, Christian, USC, American patriotism