Academic journal article Journalism History

Television News and Cold War Propaganda, 1947-1960

Academic journal article Journalism History

Television News and Cold War Propaganda, 1947-1960

Article excerpt

Bernhard, Nancy E. US Television News and Cold War Propaganda, 1947-1960. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1999. 245 pp. $59.95.

This excellent book could have been subtitled "The Selling of the Cold War," for it expertly covers the interactions of the U.S. government with developing television network news organizations in the coverage of the early years of the Cold War. Author Nancy Bernhard, an associate editor of a public policy journal published by the Massachusetts School of Law, The Long Term View, spent over a decade researching and then writing this discerning book. Weaving together numerous primary and secondary sources, she supplies readers with a compelling argument that television networks willingly aided the long-term U.S. arms buildup and helped defense and security officials garner the public support necessary for this growth.

Building on their expert radio operations, television networks worked with government officials to bring Cold War messages to the public in news and public affairs programs. Against the backdrop of the Red Scare of the 1950s and hungry for material to fill airtime, networks often accepted government handouts and assistance without question for their public affairs programming and, therefore, acted as unofficial U.S. government propagandists throughout the decade.

Bernhard chronicles these developments and presents them in an absorbing account which begins with an overview of post-World War II public and private agencies engaged in information dispersal.

The second chapter records the development of television in American political culture, while chapters three through six detail broadcaster cooperation with the state department, the White House, and the defense department in fighting communism through network television. …

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