PUBLIC MEDIA POLICYBASE

Nixon Administration Public Broadcasting Papers, Summary of 1970

The Nixon Administration continued to develop its position on public broadcasting in 1970. While doing so, it proposed a new three-year authorization for CPB. In 1970, the President also appointed five CPB Directors.

On February 6, Whitehead wrote to Flanigan, Garment, Ranks, Shakespeare and McWhorter, asking them for suggestions for the five CPB Board seats opening up in March. “I think it would be useful if we could come up with a list of five outstanding individuals,” Whitehead wrote. “The board is not particularly visible, but clearly can have a big influence over the course of public broadcasting, and it is obviously important to the President what direction the Corporation pursues,” he continued.

Flanigan sent a copy of Whitehead’s memo to Harry Flemming with a note written across it, “Mr. Flemming — No hacks.

Meanwhile, on March 9, at the Administration’s request, Senators Warren Magnuson, John Pastore and Hugh Scott introduced the “Public Broadcasting Financing Act of 1970.” The bill authorized annual appropriations for CPB through fiscal year 1973. After receiving suggestions from a number of sources, Whitehead sent a memo to Bryce Harlow, John Ehrlichman, and H.R. Haldeman, recommending seven names to be considered for the five Board positions. In a memo, dated April 3, Whitehead said:

We can name five Republicans without overbalancing the Board politically.

The Board is one of our primary levers for assuring that the programming and other activities of the Corporation do not get overly biased politically.

Among those Whitehead suggested for consideration were: Jock Whitney, Paul Keyes, Stanley Sanders, and Tom Moore, the latter of whom had been recommended by Cole. Moore was then President of Ticketron and for many years had been a Vice President of ABC.

Whitehead described Sanders as “an Independent, Negro, from Los Angeles with an outstanding record.”

Whitehead’s memo also noted that “Senator Magnuson, whose committee has jurisdiction, has indicated that he very much wants Saul Haas reappointed.”

In a March 23 memo to Congressional Liaison Bill Timmons, Whitehead had pointed out that Haas was the only commercial broadcaster on the CPB Board. “From what I can determine,” Whitehead wrote, “he (Haas) is not overly liberal ideologically and is constructive on the Board.”

In his April 3 memo, however, Whitehead reported that, “Timmons sees no reason to do so [reappoint Haas] unless we can get a good quid pro quo [from Magnuson].”

Ehrlichman responded on April 4, giving his preferences. Ehrlichman noted that Saul Haas “has a very questionable political background” and told Whitehead to “get an FBI check” if in doubt.

Haldeman sent a memo to Whitehead on April 14. In it he questioned “whether Jock Whitney would be very much attuned to our way of thinking on this — Paul Keyes, of course, would be. Tom Moore would undoubtedly be O.K.”

He recommended some other possibilities, including “Bob Reynolds — a Regent of the University of California and President of Golden West Broadcasting, Gene Autry’s partner and another staunch supporter.

Haldeman also agreed “with Timmons’ view that we should do nothing for Senator Magnuson unless we have a good quid pro quo.”

On April 22, Whitehead notified Flanigan that the clearance process had begun on Whitney, Keyes, Reynolds and Jack Wrather. Wrather’s name had not been on Whitehead’s April 3 list.

Clearance had not begun on Sanders, Whitehead said, because “Flemming says he can come up with a first-rate black Republican.”

“We will compare his guy with Sanders in a few days and then proceed,” Whitehead told Flanigan.

On April 24, Flanigan sent Whitehead a memo reminding him to call Cole with the names of the CPB candidates.

On April 29, Whitehead sent a memorandum to Haldeman saying that Cole was unhappy with the tentative list of nominees because it “did not include any of the suggestions the President had asked him to make.” Whitehead said that Flanigan and he were therefore substituting Moore for Reynolds.

On May 1, Whitehead informed Flanigan that Congressman William Springer “refuses to clear any of our nominees for the Board of CPB unless Frank Schooley is reappointed.”

“Schooley is from Springer’s district,” Whitehead said, but noted “his major support in the past seemed to come from Dirksen.”

Whitehead recommended to Flanigan that Timmons or one of his staff should try to talk Springer out of his opposition to the Administration’s nominees. Flanigan agreed.

On May 15, Whitehead sent Flanigan a memo which said he understood that in a discussion with Flemming, Flanigan agreed that Wrather, Whitney, Schooley, and Moore would be appointed to the CPB Board and that the fifth slot would be filled either by a black or by Keyes.

“If at all possible,” Whitehead said, “I would urge that a black be appointed and that Keyes replace either Wrather or Whitney. If you feel that both Wrather and Whitney should stay, then there is a very difficult choice between Keyes and the black. As much as I would like to see Keyes on the Board, I am afraid I would have to recommend the black as the wiser political choice.”

On May 18, the White House announced the renomination of Schooley and the nominations of Whitney and Wrather to replace Haas and Erich Leinsdorf whose terms had expired.

The next day Whitehead asked his secretary to call Eugene Cowen, Special Assistant to the President, and tell him that the press release announcing the three nominees was incorrect in identifying Haas and Leinsdorf as the directors Whitney and Wrather would succeed.

“We are telling Nick Zapple [Senate Communications Subcommittee Counsel] that no final decision has been made about Haas and no one has talked to Magnuson about Haas,” Whitehead explained.

On June 5, Whitehead received a phone message from Jonathon Rose. Rose called to say that Flanigan wanted Whitehead to do nothing with respect to additional names for CPB. Rose said that Haas was going to have to be reappointed given all the problems with Magnuson’s committee. “So — the black man goes,” Rose’s message said.

On June 29, Whitehead notified Flanigan that he had been informed that Carl E. Sanders, a Democrat, would soon resign as a member of the CPB Board. “This gives us the opportunity we needed to appoint a black to the Board,” Whitehead said, and recommended that that the nominations of Moore and Haas be held up pending receipt of Sanders’ resignation so that three nominations could be announced simultaneously. Flanigan agreed and Whitehead informed Flemming to hold Moore and Haas.

In July, Sanders resigned. On July 13, Saul Haas’ nomination was sent to the Hill and in August Tom Moore’s name was sent forward. The two were confirmed on August 28.

In early August, John Price of CPB sent Flanigan a memo recommending Ralph B. Rogers, Chairman of the Board of Texas Industries, Inc., for the remaining vacancy on the CPB Board. “I recommend him highly as a Republican and as a citizen in Dallas who has taken immense interest in public TV,” Price said.

On August 25, Whitehead responded to Price and Flanigan, saying, “Rogers certainly does look like an attractive candidate…. However, we have only one vacancy, and I think we are in agreement that we should try to find a black for that position.” Whitehead recommended that Rogers be considered when the next vacancy arose.

On October 7, Whitehead sent a memo to Flanigan recommending that the President accept an invitation from the National Association of Educational Broadcasters (NAEB) to address its annual convention in November. In part, Whitehead’s memo said:

The NAEB people are a rather responsible group and surprisingly somewhat level-headed. They provide a very useful counterbalance to us in dealing with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and NET. Their views on the future of public television mirror some of our concerns and could be very useful to us in defining a role for public television that I would prefer over the Ford Foundation view.Since the Association is in Washington, all that is necessary is a 10-15 minute drop-by. I think the publicity and pro-administration impact would be quite beneficial.

The invitation was declined ultimately.

In November, Flanigan sent Cole a copy of a Washington Post article about the NET documentary “Banks and the Poor.” The documentary concerned financial institutions in New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., and their work in the housing, personal loan, and consumer credit areas. With the article, Flanigan sent Cole a letter, dated November 9. The letter said:

Herewith another example of NET activity that is clearly inappropriate for a government supported organization. Would you do me the favor of letting me know the extent to which NET has been supported by CPB in 1970 and the amount of the budgeted support for 1971. I am directing this inquiry to you in that I think it comes better from you to the board and the management of the Corporation than from the White House. Therefore, I’d appreciate you treating this inquiry in that light.

Cole wrote back to Flanigan on the 21st. In his letter, he said:

One of these days when you can be in New York or I can be Washington I want to sit down and tell you what is happening in the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. But I want you for the present to accept my statement that really progress is being made. The Corporation doesn’t really give money to NET in anywhere as large amounts as the Ford Foundation does. They contribute about $16 million a year, which is a good deal more than the U.S. Government did up until very recently. The Government should really provide enough funds to the CPB so that no one else needed to contribute further and there should be a prohibition against having the Corporation accept money for any organization or any group that might affect the quality of programs that are sent out. NET is a separate organization financed very largely by the Ford Foundation. They have been making educational television programs for years and most of them are good, but every once in a while there is a very sour one, including the two that you mentioned. But in spite of the fact that it is going to take a little time, I repeat that the total program is good.

I wish you would look at some of the educational programs. For instance, look at Sesame Street; you might get some of your kids to look at it. Also look at the program called Civilization which is created by the BBC. And also the Advocates. And I’ll bet your wife looks at Julia Childs on The French Chef now and then.

We had a Board meeting in Washington just two days ago and I suggested that Jack Wrather, Frank Pace, John Macy and I try to get ahold of you for lunch some day and really tell you what we are doing. I really think you would cheer for it.

In early November, FCC Chairman Burch had sent Whitehead a proposal for the long-range financing of public broadcasting. On November 27, Whitehead responded to Burch, telling him that he agreed with the general thrust of his proposal:

In particular, the idea of dividing federal support between the Corporation and local communities gets over one of the big hurdles I have had with previous proposals.

Whitehead suggested a few changes in Burch’s proposal and then outlined what the proposal would look like with these changes. “It may be quite feasible,” he told Burch, “to include it in the President’s legislative program next year.

According to Whitehead’s outline:

1. Federal funds would be apportioned one-half to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and one-half to locally supported, nonprofit, public programming sources. The funding for local sources would be distributed through the Corporation in proportion to the non-Federal funds each has received.

2. An appropriate legal definition of eligible local programming sources would be necessary; licensees of public broadcasting stations would automatically be included, while political organizations would be excluded. Funds could be used by the local programming source for production and for distribution on any local broadcasting medium including educational and commercial stations and cable systems.

3. Federal appropriations for public broadcasting would be made on a formula basis; $20 million annually plus matching on a two-for-one basis those funds in excess of $100 million from non-Federal sources. The Federal share would not exceed $100 million annually.

4. The parameters of the financing formula described above would be established by law for a five-year period and reviewed by the Congress every five years.

On November 30, Whitehead sent a memo to Flanigan, Flemming, and Garment concerning the remaining vacancy on the CPB Board:

At my request, Sam Wyly is providing me with possible candidates to fill the remaining vacancy on the Board of Directors of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. This is a very important vacancy because it will tip the majority to both Republican and Nixon-appointed members. It is important also because there are no minority group members on the Board once we decided not to reappoint Roscoe Carroll. We are looking for a very solid minority group Republican who can make a substantial contribution, and I believe we will have some outstanding candidates. Our coordination with these matters in the past has not been sterling, and I simply want you to know what I am doing so we will not proceed at cross purposes. I will be in touch shortly regarding possible candidates.

On November 30, Macy wrote to Presidential Counsellor Moynihan, advising him that on Tuesday, December 1, public television’s award winning debate series, The Advocates, would explore the question of guaranteed minimum income. Macy’s letter also indicated who would be on the program.

Guest witnesses opposing the guaranteed minimum income plan will be Mr. Roger A. Freeman, economist and former Special Assistant to President Nixon, and Honorable Ronald Reagan, Governor of California, The Honorable Barbara Jordan, State Senator from Texas and member of President Johnson’s Commission on Income Maintenance, and Professor Theodore Marmor, Associate Director of the School and Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota will defend the need for such a plan.

Macy’s letter precipitated a prompt response from Moynihan:

I am not only not pleased by your letter, I am genuinely troubled by it. It seems to me yet another example of a persistent pattern of biased treatment of the Administration by public television. I would not say this to many persons, but I will say it to you.Consider the implications of the casting of the the forthcoming debate on the question of a guaranteed minimum income which will appear on The Advocates.

One President and only one President has proposed such a scheme. His name is Richard Nixon. His bill has passed the House and is now before the Senate. Who do you choose to oppose the idea? Naturally, an economist who was Special Assistant to President Nixon when the Family Assistance Program was devised. (He was an associate of Dr. Burns who — it is hardly a secret — opposed the plan.) And now who do you get to support the idea? A member of President Johnson’s Commission on Income Maintenance. My respect for President Johnson is surely as great as yours, but you know perfectly well the previous administration would not go near the subject. If you think otherwise, ask John Gardner.

Your audience will be liberal to left in its politics. They will be for the Guaranteed Income. They will see it opposed by an appointee of President Nixon’s and defended by an appointee of President Johnson’s. A Reagan Republican will side with the Nixon man, and a Minnesota liberal will side with the Johnson lady.

I leave the White House every bit as much a Democrat as when I entered. But, dear Sir, I also leave profoundly uncertain of the moral and intellectual capacity of institutional liberals to defend the standards of liberal enquiry.

Moynihan also sent a memo that day to Haldeman:

I enclose an exchange with John Macy which suggests where some of our problems come from. We have men on that Board. Why aren’t they looking out for the President’s perfectly legitimate interests? Why are Federal funds being spent (as I assume they are) to distort the facts of this situation. And what may I ask is a Special Assistant to the President doing opposing his most important piece of domestic legislation?

Haldeman asked Flanigan, Garment, and Klein to look into Moynihan’s questions:

Pat Moynihan has brought up some interesting questions regarding the televised debate on guaranteed minimum income described in the attached. Do we have any control over the choice of participants in something like this? If so, how did we allow an ex-Special Assistant to oppose one of our bills? Please look into this and give me a report so that when the situation arises again, we can make sure our side is strongly defended by one of our own people.

Flanigan, in turn, asked Whitehead to prepare a response to Haldeman. On December 8, Whitehead sent Haldeman the following memo:

To answer directly the questions in your memorandum:(1) We have no direct control over the choice of participants in programs funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; neither does the Corporation. (The Advocates is funded 50/50 by CPB and the Ford Foundation.) The Corporation frequently consults Herb Klein’s office to get suggestions for administration participants, but that procedure was not followed in this case.

(2) We, of course, have no control over the activities of ex-Special Assistants, and I must confess that I strongly share Pat’s suspicion as to why Roger Freeman, of all people, was selected. Our best bet in these activities is to encourage Herb Klein’s office to maintain active liaison with the Corporation on upcoming programs so that we can make suggestions well in advance.

The Corporation was established to be the chosen instrument whereby Federal funds are channeled to public broadcasting and to insulate programming decisions from direct government control. Any attempt to control or change program content would subject us to considerable criticism. However, the Corporation does have a clear responsibility to see that balanced presentations of viewpoints are made, and it is here that Pat’s real point comes into play. By and large, educational and public television producers and directors have a rather unsubtle liberal bias. The remedy to this should be provided by the Board of Directors, which can exert a strong influence to see that a sound mix of programming viewpoints is provided in spite of that bias.

I am meeting early next month with a selected group of these directors to discuss the plans and activities of the Corporation and to establish a firmer liaison between us. We have a number of topics to discuss, and this will be one of them. You will no doubt be interested to know that the current vacancy on the Board presents opportunity for us to tip the balance for the first time to a Republican majority and a majority of Nixon-appointed members. As soon as that vacancy is filled, I will have some suggestions regarding the Corporation.

On December 29, Ken Goodwin of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) called George Mansur, Deputy Director of OTP, to say that neither the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) nor Chairman Burch felt it appropriate for the FCC to prepare and sponsor a legislative package for CPB. He recommended that OTP take the lead in its formulation. Mansur discussed this with Whitehead and the two agreed that OTP should take the initiative.

On December 30, Mansur sent a memo to Walter Hinchman, Antonin Scalia, and Stephen Doyle, asking Hinchman and Scalia to prepare legislation for early submission to Congress, and Doyle to prepare a one- or two-sentence statement suitable for inclusion in the President’s Budget Message.

*The Public Broadcasting Act provides that no more than eight CPB Directors may be of the same political party.

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