The Voice of America and the Domestic Propaganda Battles, 1945-1953

By Solomon, William | Journalism History, Spring 2001 | Go to article overview

The Voice of America and the Domestic Propaganda Battles, 1945-1953


Solomon, William, Journalism History


Krugler, David F. The Voice of America and the Domestic Propaganda Battles, 1945-1953. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2000. 246 pp. $34.95.

After World War II, the Soviet Union and the United States set about "to share and contest ... the domination of the world," according to Howard Zinn in A People's History of the United States. Ironically the Voice of America, begun during the war and used afterwards to abet U.S. imperialism, received intense and continual criticism from within the federal government. VOA funding and operations became a battleground for tensions and rivalries within both the executive branch and Congress. Staunch conservatives argued that the government had no business competing with private broadcasters.

However, most damaging were Senator Joseph McCarthy's attacks. The VOA, housed within the State Department, was accused of harboring fellow travelers. It dismissed some staff, allowed congressional vetting of its scripts, and hired private broadcasters to create much of its programming. Yet it remained a continual target of right-wing wrath.

David Krugler's The Voice ofA merica and eD Propaganda Bales, 1945-1953 provides a thorough documentation of these conflicts. Drawing upon diverse archives, including the correspondence of State Department officials, the book examines with care all of the twists and turns which befell the VOA, from the war's end to the VOA's transfer in 1953 to the newly created U.S. Information Agency.

Perhaps the book's greatest contribution is to illuminate the right wing's pathological intolerance for liberal policies and worldviews. This era was, after all, a time when the Cold War reigned supreme. A conservative-liberal consensus in Congress supported an expansionist foreign policy and an array of domestic social service programs. …

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