Entertaining Our Way to Socialism: National Public Radio Has Similarities to Other Socialistic Programs Enacted in This Country-It Was Said to Be Meant for the Poor, but Enriched and Empowered Others

By Blumenfeld, Samuel L. | The New American, January 24, 2011 | Go to article overview

Entertaining Our Way to Socialism: National Public Radio Has Similarities to Other Socialistic Programs Enacted in This Country-It Was Said to Be Meant for the Poor, but Enriched and Empowered Others


Blumenfeld, Samuel L., The New American


In a way, the history of National Public Radio, now known simply as NPR, follows the slow, incremental creep of America toward socialism. Its very existence, in fact, serves as a milestone along the socialist path, since it was created by an act of government--the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967. The legislation was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, the liberal Democrat who beat conservative Republican Barry Goldwater in a crucial presidential race in 1964.

Actually, the idea for the legislation came from a 1967 report from the Carnegie Commission on Educational Television entitled "Public Television: A Program for Action." The commission included such high-powered members as James B. Conant, former president of Harvard; author Ralph Ellison; Leonard Woodstock, vice president of the United Automobile Workers of America; James R. Killian, Jr., chairman of MIT; Terry Sanford, former Governor of North Carolina; Lee A. DuBridge, president of the California Institute of Technology; and others of similar notability. Indeed, congressional action was swift, and before one knew it, the Carnegie report had become federal law.

It's important to understand the political context in which all of this took place. Barry Goldwater, a conservative Senator from Arizona, had sparked the emergence of a national libertarian-conservative movement. His rival for the presidential nomination in the Republican Party was liberal, functionally illiterate Nelson Rockefeller. At the nominating convention in San Francisco, Rockefeller was booed, and Goldwater triumphed. While it had been previously expected that the Republican candidate would run against John F. Kennedy, the assassination of the President in Dallas on November 22, 1963, changed everything.

Kennedy had lost a lot of his popularity because of the Bay of Pigs fiasco, and it was predicted by many that he would lose the election for a second term. That's when Barry Goldwater was able to mobilize conservatives in what was hoped would be a great return to conservative Republican principles. But when Vice President Lyndon Johnson assumed the presidency after the assassination, the odds for a Republican victory decreased.

Though Goldwater had rejected the legacy of the New Deal, he lost the 1964 election by one of the largest landslides in history, bringing down many Republican candidates as well--thanks mainly to Nelson Rockefeller and other members of the American establishment. Rockefeller power had brought the entire media down on Goldwater. And the Johnson campaign painted him as a reactionary, ready to unleash the atom bomb on North Vietnam.

The defeat of the conservatives gave Johnson and the Democrats in Congress all the votes needed to pass their Great Society programs, which included the Civil Rights Act, Food Stamp Act, Economic Opportunity Act, Voting Rights Act, Immigration Act (which liberalized immigration policy and quadrupled the number of first-generation immigrants living in the United States from 9.6 million in 1970 to about 38 million in 2007), Elementary and Secondary Education Act (which opened wide the federal treasury for the benefit of public educators), War on Poverty, Medicare and Medicaid, Gun Control Act of 1968, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Endowment for the Arts, and National Public Radio.

Nothing in the U.S. Constitution gives the federal government the power to expand its jurisdiction over the cultural and educational activities of the American people. Yet, when the Republicans under Nixon regained control of the White House, nothing was done to repeal or undo any of the Great Society acts that had created this massive federal intrusion in culture and education.

A New Institution

It was the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 that set up the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), and in 1970 National Public Radio. …

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