The relationship between news/public affairs broadcasting and political affairs has been close since radio’s launch in 1920. The ability to transmit messages to potentially large audiences made broadcasting a tantalizing prospect to politicians of all colors. The divisive political struggle between conservatives and liberals influenced broadcasting most visibly and negatively during the period known as the Red Scare (1947–1957). Although news media are constitutionally protected from government influence in the United States, the historical reality is that broadcasting is frequently susceptible to political pressures.

The early cold war (1945–1960) following World War II saw a growing distrust of communism and a deep-seated fear that “Reds” were infiltrating the United States. Political conservatives sought and identified suspected Communists in every walk of life. Although anti-Communists vigorously ...

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