Nineteen seventy-two saw President Nixon veto funding for public broadcasting. In the wake of Nixon’s veto, Pace and Macy resigned as chairman and president, respectively, of CPB. Pace was replaced by Thomas Curtis, a former Congressman from Missouri; Macy, by Henry Loomis, a career civil servant, then the Deputy Director of USIA. In addition to Curtis, Nixon appointed six other Directors in 1972.
On January 14, Whitehead sent a memo to Flanigan in which he recommended a “CPB budget request of $35 million for FY 73 with quiet Administration support of the Pastore/Magnuson bill already introduced to extend CPB authorization at the current $35 million level for one year only.”
Whitehead also urged a “strong statement from you to our friends on the Board that, until CPB has demonstrated a more responsible attitude toward funding of controversial programming and toward highly centralized networking operations, the Administration will be unwilling to support long-range funding or significant increases in CPB funds.”
At the same time, Whitehead recommended an increase in Broadcast Facilities Act support from $11 million in FY 72 to $15 million in FY 73.
“The modest increase [in facilities funding] which I suggest,” Whitehead said, “will demonstrate a positive attitude toward public television and provide some relief to those local stations that are in the most trouble. It will make it easier for me to retain local station support for many of our objectives despite the failure to increase CPB funds.”
With respect to CPB funds, Whitehead noted:
Tom Moore feels very strongly that anything below $45 million for CPB in FY 73 will make it difficult for us to continue making progress on the public affairs front within the public television community. I would have more leverage in dealing with these people if I could show $45 million as evidence of our good faith, and I told Tom Moore that I would recommend that amount for that reason. But I think CPB is in enough disfavor now that the President can take a tough stance so long as he does not appear negative, and, all things considered, I feel my recommendations are best from his standpoint.
At its January 20-21 Board meeting, CPB voted not to fund the networking of news, news analysis, and political commentary. Prior to the meeting Whitehead held meetings with CPB Chairman Pace and Director Wrather. Also in early January, Springer had talked with Schooley and said to him “that there was not a chance to get any appropriation of any kind out of the Committee or passed in the Congress…if they [CPB] were to continue news, news commentary and news analysis by professional broadcasters.” According to a “Confidential” memo sent to Flanigan by Helen Dubino, Springer’s Executive Assistant: “He [Springer] asked if he [Schooley] fully understood the impact of what he [Springer] was saying and he [Schooley] said he did.”
While voting not to fund news, news analysis and political commentary, the Board rejected Moore’s proposal to adopt a similar policy public prohibition against public affairs programming involving controversial political issues.
In a January 24 draft Memorandum for the President, Whitehead noted that almost all of the additional $10 million for CPB which the Administration had requested in its FY 73 budget would be used “to increase support for local stations as we have been urging and will not increase the level of support for centralized program production.”
The memo said:
Tom Whitehead has made it clear to Pace and Macv that the extra $10 million for CPB in the FY 73 budget is based on the willingness of the Board to redirect its activities and that further increases are dependent on the willingness of the Board to make some of the changes we think are important. We are making some progress with the Board, but in view of the slow movement and reluctance, Whitehead will have to continue the pressure both in public and in private. Also, we will have to change the Board in April and replace Pace and Macy as quickly as possible, as all of us earlier agreed. Whitehead also has been working closely with the Hill where we are getting considerable support. However, House Democrats threaten to make a partisan issue of the Administration’s posture towards public television.
The progress to date will have no immediate effect. All of the offensive programs are funded through the end of this fiscal year, and even some of those that are dropped can be expected to be funded through foundations and syndicated outside the public broadcasting network. Changing the Board and the management will be necessary to continued progress but we have made a good beginning.
On February 9, Moore sent Whitehead a “confidential” letter with some background information on the status of television programs CPB had funded in FY 71 and was considering funding during the remainder of FY 72.
On February 20, the ACLU issued a 55-page report which accused the White House of attempting to intimidate” and “starve” public broadcasting. The report cited examples of attempted intimidation on the part of the White House and examples of the medium’s willingness to cave in under the pressures of that intimidation.
A February 22 memo prepared by Henry Goldberg summarized the ACLU’s findings:
Powledge’s [the author's] main thesis is that public television is a “disaster in the making” caused largely by “a cynical exercise in White House manipulation of a communications medium that threatens to reduce the medium to even worse pap than commercial television’s diet” (p.52). To facilitate this manipulation, the White House keeps CPB on a starvation diet, since even the increase in funds proposed for FY 1973, “would leave national public affairs programming in an advanced state of poverty; [and] it once again would postpone permanent financing and would continue to leave the medium at the mercy of politicians.” (p.48) Powledge sees a clear connection between a delay in permanent financing and a reduction in national public affairs, since the White House will oppose such financing until public TV steers clear of national issues.
Taking a pro-NET and anti-PBS stance, the ACLU report implies that the Administration is being aided in its scheme by local stations, which exercise censorship power through PBS.
“All in all,” Goldberg concluded, “the report is typically polemical and anti-Administration, but it doesn’t add much that is new.
Also on February 22, Brian Lamb, OTP’s Congressional Liaison, sent Whitehead a memo reminding him that in March the President would have five appointments to the CPB Board.
“Senator Pastore has asked that Mr. Michael A. Gammino, Jr., President, Columbus National Bank, Providence, Rhode Island, be reappointed to the Board. If his wish is granted, there will be four vacancies created…,” Lamb’s memo said.
On February 24 Whitehead sent Fred Malek biographical information on five potential CPB candidates, one of whom was Springer. Whitehead told Malek that he [Whitehead] was “doing some checks on the side as to their [the potential candidates'] feelings with regard to the key policy issues facing the Corporation….” Whitehead suggested to Malek that they touch base as soon as Malek completed his “political checks.”
On March 1, PBS President Hartford Gunn sought to answer publicly Whitehead’s question about the appropriateness of public television’s carriage of public affairs and news commentary. In a speech before the Western Educational Society for Telecommunications, Gunn said:
Let me say right-off raising questions about public affairs programming on public television — or about any other area of our activity — is appropriate for stations, citizens and all branches of the government. Questions, comments and criticism are always most welcome. What is not welcome, or appropriate, is for those in positions of real power to attempt to influence a public medium on the basis of their own personal biases. We all have our biases and our prejudices. But, by inappropriate attempts to influence our medium, I mean attempts to apply financial pressure to achieve objectives which are alien to the basic purposes for which public broadcasting was established in this country.
In early March, Whitehead met again with Pace and Macy. He also got together with Moore and Wrather. The CPB Board met March 17-18 on the West Coast.
On March 27, Lamb advised Whitehead about the status of the CPB authorization bill. Lamb told Whitehead that he had met with Max Friedersdorf of the White House Congressional Liaison Office and that the two of them had concluded:
1) We should attempt to change the public broadcasting legislation as it came out of the House Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee in two ways:
a) Introduce an amendment that deals with the salary question as it regards both executive and performers in public broadcasting. He (Friedersdorf) feels the limitation on performers should be no higher than $42,500.
b) Introduce an amendment that would cut back funding to one year.
2) Have [Senator] Howard Baker talk to Senators Magnuson and Pastore regarding one year funding.
At Friedersdorf’s request, said Lamb, “Scalia is preparing minority views for the House Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee which will reflect the need to deal with the salary question and one year funding.”
On March 30, Clark MacGregor of the White House staff called Whitehead to say that he had talked with Springer and that Springer could not respond to an invitation to serve on the CPB Board until after Election Day.
On April 11, Rose called Whitehead and left a messaqe that Flanigan wanted to get Ted Braun off the Postal Board and onto the CPB Board. Rose also indicated that Flanigan had met with Senator Scott concerning Joe Hughes.
In late April, Whitehead met with Moore and Neal Freeman, another prospective CPB Board nominee. Whitehead also met with Loomis.
On April 25, Whitehead drafted a memorandum which was to be sent to President Nixon under Flanigan’s signature.
The memo gave the President a “Progress Report on Public Broadcasting.” A final version of the memo was prepared on April 27.
We have been working in the public broadcasting field to accomplish three objectives:
(1) Objectivity in their journalistic coverage of politically controversial public affairs.
(2) The elimination of the use of Federal funds for public affairs programming.
(3) A reduction of the influence of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in the public broadcast system by decentralizing some of the power to the local stations.
Our progress on these three objectives is reported below.
(1) Anti-Administration bias, while certainly not eliminated, has diminished in large part because of public attention focused on the known bias of Sander Vanocur. Our only short-run lever here is the spotlight of public attention on the widely acknowledged liberal bias of most public television commentators, and we will assure that spotlight is kept on them for the rest of this year. In this effort our Congressional supporters have also been helpful.
In another, somewhat related area we have succeeded in cutting the CPB contribution to the NET budget from $3.2 million to $222 million [sic] next year. NET has been a major producer of liberal-bias programming in the past.
(2) We have had very little success in convincing most of those involved in public broadcasting (including several of our friends) that coverage of public affairs should be eliminated in the long run. Some of our appointees on the CPB Board recently made an effort to reduce the amount of the Corporation’s funds allocated for this purpose for the next fiscal year. Their only success was a reduction in support for the National Public Affairs Center for Television (which funds Sander Vanocur) from $1.6 million to $1.2 million, and this has been interpreted in the press as a definite slap at Sander Vanocur and the heavy emphasis of CPB on public affairs programming.
(3) The influence of the local stations is being more and more felt at CPB, and this has been largely beneficial. However, it is clear that so long as the Board of Directors of CPB is unchanged and so long as John Macy is President, we will continue to have a heavy amount of centralization and a heavy amount of public affairs programming.
While I wish the progress were more substantial, at least the public attention focused by Tom Whitehead and the work on the CPB Board by Jack Wrather and Tom Moore have slowed Macy and others in their efforts. Taking over control of the Board and replacing the management is the only way to achieve our long run goals. e will recommend to you shortly new appointments to the Board that will provide a majority of members who believe Public Broadcasting should be limited to cultural and educational subjects, and should have no public affairs programming at all. Once they are confirmed we would expect to replace both President Macy and Chairman Pace, and to put the new program policy in place.
Also on April 27, Moore sent Whitehead CPB’s 1973 TV Production Budget. The set of recommendations contained in the 118-page document was an expansion of material provided the CPB Board at its March 17-18 meeting. Moore’s cover letter to Whitehead said the document “includes the information you are seeking, if you are able to abstract it…let me know if there is any further information I can get you.”
The same day, sent Whitehead a copy of “the recommendation of the [CPB] program advisory committee to regulate the programming and staff….” Moore told Whitehead that the recommendation would be acted upon at the next CPB Board meeting and “would prevent the problems that sprang up when the staff developed the programming on their own, and presented it as a total package before the program committee became involved.”
Moore also called Whitehead’s office on the 27th to convey information concerning NET’s budget.
On April 28, Whitehead responded to a request from Congressman Robert Michel for the views of the Administration with respect to appropriations for CPB for FY 73. In part Whitehead’s letter said:
We have introduced in both the House and Senate legislation authorizing an expenditure of $45 million for the Corporation during the next fiscal year. This is an increase of approximately 30 percent over the present year, and in our view it is needed to continue the sound progress of public television. A larger amount is not supportable for two reasons: First, is the fact that the overall budget cannot sustain it. More than a 30 percent increase for these useful but nonessential services is obviously not justified in a year of severe budget pressures.
Second, drastically increased funding should not be poured into the public broadcasting system until appropriate structures have been established to eliminate its clear tendency towards centralization and towards creation of a Federally funded “fourth network,” contrary to the intent of the Public Broadcasting Act. In our view, this tendency would be greatly strengthened by giving the Corporation drastically increased funds during the next year.
In early May, Moore sent Whitehead an item from the May 10 NAEB Newsletter:
“Covering the ’72 Election: The Ways and Means”
Fiscal considerations, predictably, are having a major impact on the style and scope of ’72 presidential election coverage, both at the national and the local station level in public broadcasting.
Faced with a $400,000 cut from its $1.6 million CPB grant, the National Public Affairs Center for Television finds its plans to provide on-the-scene coverage of the Democratic and Republican national conventions effectively blocked. As a result, its reportage will most likely be limited to feature-type presentations.
On May 11, Moore sent Whitehead a copy of material NPACT Board Chairman Sidney James had sent to CPB Chairman Pace. Moore’s letter said James’ letter had almost brought about a reconsideration of the $400,000 reduction in CPB’s funding of NPACT for FY 73. Moore also told Whitehead that he had had a call from Loomis and that they were planning to lunch the next week.
On May 11, Ralph Vinovich, Administrative Assistant to Congressman Michel, sent Lamb the NAEB’s response to questions Michel had submitted to them. OTP had prepared the questions for Michel. One of the questions asked NAEB whether it felt Federal money should be used for national for national news and public affairs programming. Another asked NAEB its opinion of the new National Public Affairs Center for Television.
NAEB’s answers to these questions follow:
6. Yes. The Congress has expressed its conviction in this also. Both the House and Senate reports on the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 emphasized the ‘value to a democracy of a citizenry that is kept fully and fairly informed as to the important issues of our times.’ (H.R. Report No. 57290, 90th Congress 1st Session, Page 10 (1967)) and the role of noncommercial educational broadcasting as ‘a vital public affairs medium–bringing indepth many aspects of community and political life;…a means of examining and solving the social and economic problems of American life today.’ (Senate Report No. 91-167, 91st Congress, First Session, Page 7 (1969)).
7 & 8. The new NPACT appears to be developing as a major national production resource which will benefit the stations. It has recently been reorganized to come under the jurisdiction of Station WETA, a move strongly endorsed by the stations. Stations’ general acceptance of the NPACT programs is indicated by their high rate of broadcasting them. Presumably stations will be continuously assessing and evaluating NPACT’s performance. It has been producing programs for only a short time, however, and it would be premature to make overall judgements at this time.
In answer to another question, NAEB noted that Congressman Clarence Brown had surveyed local public TV stations as to their program priority preferences and had found that the stations’ first preference of “the kinds of programs on which CPB should spend its funds and efforts” was national public affairs programming. On May 17, Whitehead met with Presidential Speechwriter Pat Buchanan and gave Buchanan a memorandum on CPB’s use of Federal funds. The memo contained a functional breakdown of CPB’s budget.
On May 18, Whitehead sent Flanigan an article from the May 6 Memphis Press Scimitar entitled “PBS to Televise Nude Ballet.” The article noted that PBS was federally financed.
On May 25, the White House announced the nomination of five persons to be members of the CPB Board for terms expiring March 26, 1978. The five were:
Michael A. Gammino Jr. of Providence, R.I., Chairman of the Board and President of Columbus National Bank of Rhode Island. (reappointment)
Joseph D. Hughes of Pittsburgh, Pa., Trustee, Richard King Mellon Foundation, and Vice President, Richard K. Mellon and Sons, Philadelphia. (reappointment)
Neal Blackwell Freeman of New York, N.Y., Vice President, King Features Syndicate, Inc. He replaces Zelma George whose term expired.
Theodore W. Braun of West Los Angeles, Calif., Chairman and Founder of Braun and Company, Los Angeles. He replaces Joseph A. Beirne whose term expired.
Gloria L. Anderson of Atlanta, Ga., Associate Professor and Chairman, Chemistry Department, Morris Brown College. She replaces Ovetta C. Hobby whose term expired.
On June 1, the House took up H.R. 13918, the CPB authorization bill which Congressman Torbert Macdonald had introduced in January. The bill authorized $65 million in FY 73 and $90 million in FY 74 for CPB. It also provided for 30 percent of CPB’s appropriation to be distributed to local public broadcast stations.
In connection with House consideration of the legislation, OTP prepared a number of statements critical of public broadcasting for use by House Members. One such statement, drafted for Ohio Congressman Sam Devine, talked about NET’s influence over national programming and its dominance of the prime time evening schedule of PBS, concluding:
One would not be concerned with so great a proportion of ‘cultural’ and public affairs programs being produced by N.E.T. and N.E.T.-derivative organizations, if the production entity had a reputation for balanced and objective programming. But this is not the case. Key officers and employees of N.E.T. have had a record of biased, leftist and left-leaning programming and have openly acknowledged their biases. Thus, the American public will continue to be subject to views of ‘culture’ and current events filtered through the particular points of view represented by the New York City program producers. CPB has not diminished N.E.T.’s dominance, but actually has aided and abetted N.E.T.’s control over what viewers will see and hear on public television.
Devine’s statement appeared at page H.5157 of the June 1, 1972 Congressional Record.
OTP also prepared statements which questioned the lobbying activities of CPB, NAEB, and individual public broadcast licensees; the salaries paid to NPACT correspondents Vanocur and MacNeil; “the expensive advertising campaign mounted by PBS to huckster its network programming”; the influence of the Ford Foundation in public television”; “the carriage of allegedly cultural events in which nudity is the prime attraction”; and the balance and objectivity of specific PBS programs. Among others who used the OTP drafted statements were Congressman Jim Harvey (Cong. Rec. p. H.5153) and Congressman Robert Michel (Cong. Rec. p. H.5154).
After defeating amendments to cut the salary of Vanocur and other newsmen (182-163) and to limit CPB to a one-year $45 million authorization (183-166), the House voted (254-69) to extend CPB’s authority for two years at the levels provided in H.R. 13918.
On June 2, Whitehead sent Hughes, Wrather, Moore and Freeman the Washington Post account of the preceding day’s action. The Post article, by Mary Russell, was headlined, “CPB: Under Fire Again.”
During the month of June, Whitehead met or talked with CPB Directors Cole, Hughes, Moore, Pace, and Wrather and CPB nominees Anderson, Braun, and Freeman. Whitehead also held discussions with Curtis, Kristol and Loomis.
Anderson, Braun, Freeman, Hughes, and Gammino were confirmed by the Senate on June 15.
On June 20, the Senate Commerce Committee reported H.R. 13918. The Senate Report recommended enactment of the bill as passed by the House. Enactment of it, the Report said, would “further the growth and development of public broadcasting and is, therefore, in the public interest.”
Included in the Senate Report were the Supplemental Views of Senators Baker, Cotton, and Griffin. The three Republicans recommended against a two-year authorization:
We believe strongly that a two-year extension of CPB’s funding at a total level of $155 million is inappropriate at this time. Establishment of a plan for long-range funding for CPB was initially deferred because the Congress had no clear understanding of CPB’s future needs — needs which we hoped would be clarified once CPB had gained operational experience. We believe, however, that CPB’s operational experience has not clarified these needs. To the contrary, it has raised new questions and new doubts as to CPB’s role in the system and its relationships with the local stations. CPB has not shown to our satisfaction how it intends to resolve these issues. More importantly, CPB has not stated clearly how it intends to use its increased funding to serve the financial and operating needs of the local stations, and how it intends to pursue the goal of local station autonomy and independence within the national public broadcasting system.
The statement was drafted by OTP.
OTP also drafted floor statements which were used by Senators Strom Thurmond (Cong. Rec. p. S.10,0l1) and J. Glenn Beall (Cong. Rec. p. S.10,008) when H.R. 13913 was brought up in the Senate on June 22. Thurmond’s statement questioned the geographic distribution of program production funds by CPB. Beall’s questioned the “hidden subsidy…provided CPB in the form of reduced rate interconnection services for its national broadcast network.”
Notwithstanding the questions raised by Thurmond and Beall, the Senate passed H.P. 13918 with only one dissenting vote (82-1).
At the White House that day, President Nixon met with about 30 representatives of the commercial broadcasting industry. According to a Memorandum for the Record prepared by Whitehead from notes made at the meeting:
The President opened the meeting by referring to meetings he has had with broadcasting executives and said he wanted to have similar meetings with individual station owners. He is aware of their concerns, cable television, and the like. He wanted to start the meeting off by asserting some principles: the first, was his belief in the private enterprise system — particularly in the media. It is in the interest of the country that we have a strong and independent private enterprise broadcast system for two reasons: (1) principles of the First Amendment — free speech, free press, dangers of government control; (2) he has traveled abroad extensively and seen what government-run or government-sponsored broadcasting is like; and in spite of the growing reports of many people that government-controlled broadcasting produces high-quality programming, no commercials, etc., he stated that no one should be fooled — that that was a bunch of crap.The President then turned his attention to public broadcasting in this country. He stated that this country would benefit from the public broadcasting system, that most of his advisers disagreed with him on this subject, and urged him to support the larger funds for broadcasting [sic]. He thought that the biggest danger, however, was not that it be too big, but that it be kept under very careful control as to size and what it was allowed to get into because it would inevitably be subject to Government control, and would inevitably become a political force in our country. He felt that we had to give serious consideration to the fact that you never know who’s going to be sitting in his chair next and that some presidents might be inclined to use Federal support of public broadcasting to their advantage, that that was a risk not worth taking; and, therefore, public broadcasting, particularly the use of Federal funds, should be kept under the strictest of control and not be allowed to become too large.
The President then asked to hear what the group had in mind.
On June 26, Whitehead sent a Memorandum for the President to Flanigan. The memo reviewed the Administration’s efforts in the public broadcasting field and the recently passed CPB authorization bill. Whitehead’s cover memo to Flanigan summarized the course of action recommended:
We conclude that the President should veto the legislation. The option of a Pocket Veto is not an attractive option since a veto on grounds of principle will have more impact and provide us with more initiative.John Mitchell sees no problem with this course of action, and Cap Weinberger poses no objection. I have sent copies to Colson, Ehrlichman, and MacGregor.
Whitehead added a P.S.: “Pat Buchanan and Max Friedersdorf also concur in this decision.”
In full, Whitehead’s June 26 Memorandum for the President said:
BackgroundThe Congress has just passed legislation authorizing funding of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) for $65 million and $90 million in FY 73 and FY 74 respectively. The current authorization expires June 30 this year. Funding for FY 72 was $35 million, and your budget recommended a one-year authorization for FY 73 of $45 million. The legislation also contains other provisions, the most important of which are the establishment of a permanent Public Broadcasting Fund, and the requirement that five of the fifteen CPB board members be managers of public TV stations.
The Senate has appropriated the full $65 million for the coming year; but the House has made no appropriation. The conference this week is likely to approve something over $45 million.
The legislation is essentially that proposed by Torbert Macdonald, Chairman of the House Communications Subcommittee. It was actively and effectively supported by CPB and most of the public TV stations around the country. I opposed the Macdonald bill in the House hearings, and OTP introduced an Administration bill in support of our position. The vote on our funding position lost 183-166 in the House and 58-26 in the Senate. We succeeded in generating active debate and dissension in both the House and the Senate over the direction of CPB and public broadcasting generally.
Our five recent appointments to the CPB Board have been confirmed and will attend the July meeting. Both John Macy and Frank Pace are expected to leave this year. We expect that Macy will be replaced with Henry Loomis or Neal Freeman and that our appointment to the Whitney vacancy will be elected to replace Pace.
You will recall that your decision to support an increase of CPB funds from $35 million to $45 million was based on the expectation that a substantial reduction in politically controversial news and public affairs programming would ensue. That has not occurred, and there is no sign that the professional public broadcasting community intends any such action. It will require active control by the new CPB Board and management under real funding constraints to make progress in this area.
You must decide whether to sign or veto the CPB authorization. (Draft signing and veto statements are attached at Tab A.) The major objectives are (1) containing the growth of Federal funding, (2) showing CPB and Congress the seriousness of your concern, (3) achieving answerability on the part of CPB and the local stations in their use of tax dollars, and (4) reducing the use of Federal dollars for support of politically controversial programming.
Whichever course you choose, I believe we should retract our commitment to the early development of a plan for long-term, insulated financing for CPB. While the goal of insulating CPB from governmental pressures is sound, the public broadcasting community has not yet demonstrated the responsibility or maturity to justify such funding.
Option 1: Sign CPB bill
1. Avoids making a issue of the subject this year and giving the appearance of hostility toward public broadcasting.
2. Easily relieves us of our commitment to develop long-range financing for CPB by acknowledging that the two-year autohrization and annual appropriation pattern set by Congress is the most appropriate approach for the present.
1. Risks large increases in funding for CPB both this year and next, and makes $90 million the floor for FY 75 authorizations.
2. Casts doubt on our desire and ability to restrain public broadcasting, since CPB has pushed this legislation through against our stronq opposition and despite our criticism of their performance and responsibility.
3. Places very heavy reliance on our CPB Board appointments to support positions that they may not be able to maintain. It will be hard for them not to support appropriations up to the full authorization, and extension of the authorization to three or five years.
4. Because of the high funding levels and the doubt cast on the seriousness of our concern, it will be more difficult for the CPB Board to cut back funding of news and controversial public affairs programming.
Option 2: Veto CPB bill
1. Keeps both authorization and appropriation at lower levels.
2. Calls attention to the direction and performance of public broadcasting.
3. Will help avoid the growth of CPB into a highly centralized full-scale TV network instead of the experimental and educational program production entity originally envisioned.
4. Limiting funds this year will assist CPB Board in shifting priorities away from news and public affairs toward educational programming.
1. Will produce some criticism that your Administration is trying to intimidate the media and is unsympathetic to the cultural and educational benefits of public TV.
2. Will cause short-run, and perhaps long-run, animosity against us by professional public broadcasters.
3. May antagonize Senators Magnuson and Pastore.
There is not a large viewing audience for public TV, nor does the public seem very aware of it. The professional public broadcasters at CPB and in the local noncommercial stations, however, are becoming an effective lobbying constituency in the Congress. In the name of “public” broadcasting, they are seeking funds and independence to create a TV network reflecting their narrow conception of what the public ought to see and hear. This should not be allowed to happen.
I strongly recommend that you veto the CPB financing legislation.
On June 28, Bob McDermott of Flanigan’s staff notified Whitehead that Flanigan, with the concurrence of Klein, Colson, MacGregor, and Ehrlichman would recommend that the President veto H.R. 13918.
Also on the 28th, Whitehead sent some background regarding public broadcasting to Assistant White House Press Secretary Gerald Warren. Whitehead’s memo to Warren said:
If the President decides to veto the Public Broadcasting Act, and if the announcement is made prior to Thursday evening’s news conference, it is possible that the President may get questions.
Whitehead attached several items which he hoped would be helpful, including several questions he thought could be asked at the news conference and proposed answers:
1. Q. Is this veto of the Public Broadcasting Bill a part of an Administration game plan to intimidate the media in this election year?A. No, to the contrary. It was my firm belief that the legislation as passed by the Congress would have the effect of undermining the intent of the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, which established public broadcasting as we know it today. One of the primary goals of the Act, and you can find it throughout the history of Congress’ deliberations, was to provide an incentive for local stations’ programming initiatives– to make the local stations educational resources for their communities.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting was to assist the stations in their effort. However, since 1967 we have seen a continual increase in National network production, contrary to the intent of the law. This Administration is dedicated to the principle of public broadcasting. Since 1967, Federal appropriations have grown from $3 Million to $35 Million. This year, I requested $45 Million, a 30% increase over last year. This hardly demonstrates hostility to public broad casting. On the contrary, we feel public broadcasting should be continued and strengthened by recalling it to the original purposes of the 1967 Act.
2. Q. Does your veto mean public funds for programs like Seasame [sic] Street and Masterpiece Theatre will be cut off in the future?
A. No. In FY72 the producers of Sesame Street received only $2 Million of its $13 Million budget from CPB. In addition, large grant.s for the development of Sesame Street have come from HEW, separate from the Corporation budget. My budgetary request for this year is $45 Million, 30% over last year’s budget. This will certainly not hinder production of Sesame Street or other fine educational programs.
3. Q. Was your action today prompted by the alleged hostility toward this Administration by public broadcasting correspondents Sander Vanocur and Robert McNeil [sic]?
A. I certainly have no objection to any responsible view that may be expressed against this Administration You in the professional press corps can best judge Mr. Vanocur’s objectivity and competence.
4. Q. One of your advisers, Clay Whitehead, called on Public Broadcasting to get out of news and public affairs programming. Do you agree with him?
A. There is a deep public policy concern about a network using tax dollars for sensitive political programs which surfaced in the legislation that Congress passed prohibiting the CPB from conducting political polls. I am concerned that public broadcasting devotes a third of its network schedule to national news and public affairs. I am not against local stations doing this type of programming. What I do question is the centralized national direction and the use of tax dollars. Is this type of programming any different from what we see on the commercial networks? I do not think so. And we cannot risk a government-controlled network in this country like so many other countries have.
S. Q. Does your veto today mean that the Administration is no longer seeking a plan to insulate public broadcasting from the Federal Government?
A. No. But we do not think this is the proper time to devise such a funding plan. The future direction of public broadcasting is still unclear, as was evident from the Congressional debate on H.R. 13913. Moreover, there always have been reservations about the role of the Federal Government in national public TV service. This was evident during the hearings on public broadcasting in 1967. By vetoing the bill today, I am saying that many of the questions regarding the Federal Government’s relationship with public broadcasting have not yet seen answered. A long range plan would in effect say that these questions are insignificant and would give public broadcasting the go ahead. I cannot agree to that.
6. Q. In light of the fact that the Chairman and President of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting are both members of previous Democratic Administrations, do you plan to put your own people in these positions?
6. A. The President appoints the Board members, but under the statute, the Board elects its own Chairman and hires its own President. Questions regarding employment of officials and staff for the Corporation are the province of the Corporation’s Board of Directors.
7. Q. Your veto message says that more time is needed to determine the future direction of public broadcasting. What future direction do you think it should take? Should the Administration attempt to influence that direction?
A. Both the Carnegie Commission and the legislative history of the 1967 Public Broadcasting Act made it very clear that public television was to be principally local and devoted to broad educational pursuits. The role of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting was to provide grants to the local stations for their own use and to provide grants for the production of worthwhile programming of a broadly educational nature that does not attract sufficient audience for commercial broadcasting. It was never intended that there should be a monolithic publicly-funded national network with the Corporation as its headquarters, nor that its principal purpose should be programming for narrow audiences. It was not intended to be a journalistic medium. Its purpose was to encourage local and private initiatives in educational programming and experimental program development. I believe those objectives remain sound and those are my objectives for public broadcasting.
8. Q. Should the Administration attempt to influence the direction of public broadcasting?
A. Of course, I am against the Government dictating the content of programming be it in public television or commercial television. In that sense, we should not influence public broadcasting. But public officials responsible to the public for how tax dollars are spent cannot avoid the responsibility for assuring that those funds are used for sound purposes.
On June 29, Flanigan sent a memorandum to the President transmitting Whitehead’s June 26 memo. Flanigan’s memo summarized the situation regarding the public broadcasting legislation:
On Monday the Congress passed an authorization for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting of $85 million in FY’73 and $90 million in FY’74. The legislation also contains other undesirable provisions, the most important of which is the authorization for a permanent public broadcasting fund.
As you know, we actively opposed this type of legislation, and the Office of Telecommunications Policy backed an Administration proposal for a one year extension at your budget level of $45 million. FY’72 funding was $35 million.
Messrs. Ehrlichman, Colson, MacGregor and Weinberger have reviewed this matter and concur in recommending that you veto this bill. This action appears to offer our best chance to obtain responsible legislation which will provide a reasonable funding level and structure for federally- financed public broadcasting.
Clay T. Whitehead’s memorandum at Tab B sets forth in detail the reasons for a veto. In brief, I feel that our opposition to this legislation has been clear and well-documented, and we have already suffered most of the adverse reaction from the CPB and the press. Clark MacGregor believes that a veto will be sustained. However, MacGregor considers it imperative that the veto be delivered early tomorrow morning while the House is in session, so that it cannot be charged that Congress was given no opportunity to override it.
We have prepared a veto message, attached at Tab A, which urges that the Congress immediately enact a one-year extension of the CPB authorization at the $45 million level specified in your budget, and sets forth your support of an appropriately organized and financed CPB.
CPB would be covered in the interim by the continuing resolution which is expected to pass Congress before July 1.
That you veto H.R. 13918 and sign the veto message at Tab A.
President Nixon vetoed the CPB authorization bill on June 30. In his veto message, the President said:
There are many fundamental disagreements concerning the directions which public broadcasting has taken and should pursue in the future. Perhaps the most important one is the serious and widespread concern — expressed in Congress and within public broadcasting itself– that an organization, originally intended only to serve the local stations, is becoming instead the center of power and the focal point of control for the entire public broadcasting system.
The Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 made localism a primary means of achieving the goals of the educational broadcasting system. Localism places the principal public interest responsibility on the individual educational radio and television stations, licensed to serve the needs and interest of their own communities. By not placing adequate emphasis on localism, H.R. 13918 threatens to erode substantially public broadcasting’s impressive potential for promoting innovative and diverse cultural and educational programming.
The public and legislative debate regarding passage of H.R. 13918 has convinced me that the problems posed by Government financing of a public broadcast system are much greater than originally thought. They cannot be resolved until the structure of public broadcasting has been more firmly established, and we have a more extensive record of experience on which to evaluate its role in our national life.
Later that day Whitehead met with CPB Chairman Pace. In a memo to the President, Whitehead recounted their discussion:
I met with Frank Pace today to inform him of your decision to veto the public broadcast financing legislation. In a frank, and I think constructive, discussion, Mr. Pace asked that I inform you that he intends not to stand for re-election this fall as Chairman of the Board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. He and I agreed that it would be useful for him to meet with you for 10 minutes at your convenience sometime this summer to discuss the problems and future directions of CPB. Mr. Pace indicated it would be his intention to remain on the Board of the Corporation, and I encouraged him to do so.
On July 5, Whitehead sent Flanigan a memo from Sydney, Australia, where Whitehead was traveling. The memo pertained to the selection of a new CPB Chairman and President:
Since we last talked, I have made several further checks on Tom Curtis and Irving Kristol. I conclude that it would be far preferable to proceed with Kristol rather than Curtis.
This choice is based on two main considerations:
First, that Kristol’s personality and capabilities complement and reinforce Henry Loomis’, whereas Curtis’ strong points more nearly coincide with Loomis'; and, secondly, Kristol could be more readily elected as Chairman than Curtis. Curtis’ main strong points are that he is thoroughly with us philosophically and has a reputation for getting things done in a political environment. However, it will be principally the President of the Corporation rather than the Chairman who will have to make the necessary changes. Though both the President and the Chairman traditionally represent CPB on the Hill, there is much more day-to-day contact by the President. While Loomis might not be as effective in this role as Curtis, he certainly can perform the job effectively. More importantly, however, Curtis will not be well known by the Board of the Corporation or by the professional broadcast community. Regardless of his strength, he is bound to be viewed by most of those people as a purely political appointment. There was considerable resentment on the Board of Directors about the President’s desire to shape the Corporation, particularly in the news and public affairs area. Tom Moore, Al Cole, and Jack Wrather feel that that attitude will prevail even more strongly after the eto.
Irving Kristol is in agreement with our philosophy at least as strongly as Tom Curtis — perhaps even more so, because his beliefs grow from an intellectual conviction after some familiarization with public broadcasting. I believe he would be far more effective than Curtis in selling our point without arousing political opposition. His reputation is such that it would be very hard for the press or the professional public broadcasters to accuse him of partisan motivation. Furthermore, his intellectual conceptualization of our point of view would greatly assist Henry Loomis in the practical task of turning the Corporation around, and would deflect much of the public attention away from the changes that Henry will have to make.
All four of the Board members I have talked to are willing to work to get our choice elected Chairman, but all point out that it will not be easy. Like it or not, we have to work through the Board to achieve our objectives. The major danger is that someone now on the Board would react negatively to our choice and announce his own candidacy. There is sufficient animosity on the Board towards the President that someone like Jim Killian could build a sizeable coalition against us. Considering the two personalities, I, and the Board members I have talked with believe it would be far easier to convince the Board to go with Kristol than with Curtis.
In light of all these considerations, and particularly in light of the effect of the veto, I feel strongly that we would be far better off proceeding with Kristol. His appointment would reflect more credit on the President and display less political motivation; he could be more easily elected Chairman in the Fall; and, finally, Loomis and he would be an effective team in working to achieve the changes we want. Tom Moore, Al Cole, and Jack Wrather all concur in this analysis based on the general characteristics of the two individuals. Len Garment believes that Kristol might be more useful to the Administration elsewhere, although he believes that both Curtis and Kristol would do a good job. Frank Shakespeare knows both individuals and agrees with my analysis. Neal Freeman, one of our newest appointees to the Board and one of our strongest supporters, also agrees.
In conclusion, I am recommending that we proceed with Kristol as rapidly as possible. It is absolutely essential that he be named before July 17, so that (by virtue of a Recess Appointment) he be able to attend the July 21 Board meeting. (The Recess Appointment, by the way, would look rather devious if Curtis were the nominee.) If you concur, I would appreciate your notifying Dan Kingsley as soon as possible. I am sure Dan will be in touch with me. If you have problems, perhaps we should try to make contact by phone.
On July 6, Cole called Whitehead’s office to request information on Irving Kristol and Tom Curtis. According to the phone log, Cole said:
Krystol [sic] is an able man, primarily a writer, a strong conservative and Nixon supporter. Mr. Cole talked to John Olin, who is a close friend of Nixon’s. Mr. Olin talks highly of Curtis. He said he is a former Congressman (Mo.), a strong supporter of the Nixon Administration, and an outstanding administrator, and might be better for the job than Krystol [sic].
On July 14, the White Rouse announced the recess appointment of Curtis to be a member of the Board of Directors of CPB for the remainder of the term of Whitney, who had resigned.
On July 28, Caspar W. Weinberger, Director, 0MB, sent a memo to the President in response to his request that OMB prepare an authorization bill for CPB providing a one-year extension and $35 million. Weinberger told the President:
We have prepared such a bill and the papers necessary to transmit it to the Congress. The transmittal papers explain that the amount being requested is $10 million less than that proposed in your January budget, because the Congress has increased many programs above your requests in its action on the budget to this point and offsets must be found.
However, while the draft bill was being prepared, Senator Pastore evidently discussed the matter with the Office of Telecommunications Policy and Senators Cotton and Baker and secured their general agreement for a new bill (5. 3824) to be introduced in the Senate. This bill was introduced and passed on July 21 without reference to committee and without debate.
Senate Bill 3824 differs from our drafts in that it provides $45 million instead of $35 million (the $45 million being the figure in your January budget)
Senate Bill 3824 also differs from the draft bill in that it does not require the distribution of a specific amount ($7 million in our bill) to individual stations, and it provides $25 million for construction facilities for individual stations.
Senator Pastore believes the S45 million figure in his bill is responsive to your veto message of the earlier bill, which message mentioned that $45 million was an appropriate level of funding.
In view of the Senate action on 5. 3824, which is now in the House Commerce Committee awaiting consideration, should we proceed with the transmittal of the new draft bill providing $35 million; or should we try to secure a lower authorization than the $45 million contained in S. 3824 by negotiations with the Rouse committee; or should we simply acquiesce in S. 3824?
On August 4, Whitehead informed Harley O. Staggers, Chairman, House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, that 5. 3824, the interim authorization measure, was “consistent both in amount and purpose with the President’s statement of June 30….”
Meanwhile, on August 1, Wrather’s office had called Whitehead’s office to request copies of biographies on Loomis and Curtis for the CPB Nominating Committee.
Also on August 1, Moore sent a “confidential” letter to Flanigan. The letter to Flanigan began, “This is an effort to put together the ‘scenario’ you suggested at the Grove.” It then laid out the scenario:
To have the Board of the CPB adopt a policy of devoting all its non station appropriations to cultural, educational, and experimental entertainment programs to the exclusion of public affairs. Then, to execute the policy in such a manner that this policy and character of public broadcasting will become permanent and not altered by future Boards.
Four new members of the Board, new Chairman to be
chosen in September, policy committee appointed in July to respond to Board in September.
First move: Elect Tom Curtis as Chairman. This will be done, but it should be done with enthusiasm in order to achieve our basic objectives. Curtis should keep a humble low profile with Wrather, Cole, and me to handle the election. Wrather, Cole and Bob
Benjamin, (Ch. United Artists, Democrat) are the nominating committee. If we get Cole and Wrather strongly behind Curtis we will have a clear majority and, in fact, he can be elected unanimously by acclamation.
Prepare for this by giving core group (Wrather, Moore, Cole, and Curtis) a non publicized meeting with the President. Let him sound his feelings directly, and urge the cooperation to that end.
Elect Curtis in September.
After election, the policy committee (now consisting of Moore, Chairmen, Valenti, Killian, and Curtis) should be changed to five members by Curtis appointing his replacement and one other. The policy committee would then recommend a policy change on public affairs, and with some opposition, we should be able to pass this with a close majority of the Board. Cole and Wrather are swing votes here, and the point should be made by the President at his meeting.
After this policy change, if the present staff is still intact, we would select a new president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, who in turn, would staff the organization to implement the new policy. There are indications that if we have changed policies, with the new Board, the staff problem will solve itself.
This new staff would undertake the preparation of a strong program schedule, and budget request for 1974-75, 75-76. The schedule would be without public affairs, but heavy with music, drama, education, and new forms. It would be created with advice and participation of such people as Nancy Ranks, Joe Papp, Sol Hurok, and educators (adult, graduate, under-graduate, secondary, primary, and pre-school).
With this schedule, the positive approach to this programming will enable the President to make his recommendation to Congress for a two year financing bill. During his second term, the President can be repeatedly identified with the cultural and educational programming. He can well shape the character of the public television in such a positive way that the public affairs issues will never come up again.
Welcome to the New Public Television.
In an August 2 Floor statement, Congressman Macdonald urged his colleagues to support S. 3824, which the Senate had already passed. “The bill is short and simple,” Macdonald said. “(I)t calls for federal funding, in fiscal year 1973, in the amount of $45 million, for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. It also calls for a badly needed increase in the appropriations for technical facilities at the local stations….
In his statement, Macdonald also pledged to “continue to oppose, as strenuously as I know how, the naked pressure that the Office of Telecommunications Policy puts on public television by implicit or direct threats, promises or divisive tactics.”
The next week, the House passed S. 3824.
On August 10, Macy resigned as President of CPB. In his letter of resignation to Pace, Macy said, “You are aware of my growing belief that current trends in the development of the industry point toward the desirability of a change in leadership of the Corporation.” Macy also cited health reasons as a factor in his decision to resign.
On August 15, Whitehead and Lamb dined with Curtis at the University Club.
On August 17, John Witherspoon, director of television activities for CPB, announced his resignation, effective October 15.
On August 18, Whitehead recommended to OMB that President Nixon approve S. 3824, authorizing $45 million for CPB for FY73.
That day Whitehead also sent the following letter to Macy:
I returned from overseas to find your letter of July 24 and was happy to learn of your safe passage through surgery. I hope that your second round of surgery is equally as successful. I realize what your feelings must have been with regard to the President’s veto, and I’m sorry it had less than a recuperative effect on your health.
I am sure you know that you will be missed by the entire broadcasting community. While we have differed on a number of matters. I have always had the greatest respect for you, and for your considerable accomplishments as CPB’s first chief executive. You have seen CPB through a turbulent, but productive, infancy and can be proud of many fine accomplishments. I hope that in the future you will continue to be concerned with the sound growth of public broadcasting as I will be and that we can stay in touch.
With warm regards and best wishes for a speedy recovery.
On September 6, Whitehead asked Lamb to coordinate putting together a list of people for high-level positions in CPB.” Whitehead asked Lamb to get as many people working to suggest names as he could.
On September 16, Colson sent the following memo to Al Snyder, a White House press aide:
How did we miss the fact that National Educational Television ran the full McGovern speech to the Security Analysts in New York? Not only do they run it once, but they re-ran it a second time. Somewhere along the line we’re not watching these things carefully enough. Even though NET has a small audience, two runs of that speech is an outrageous violation of Section 315. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting also never made known to us that this had happened, so we would of course have found out about it only by monitoring. They damn well, as a public corporation, had an obligation to tell us and I would like you to take this up with whoever you deal with there. Also, I would very much like to know why our monitoring operation failed in this instance. We should have demanded and been given equal time to put on a spokesman. Even though the audience is limited, as I say, it would have been worth doing. It is too late now because we did not make a timely protest, but I think this reflects some real deficiencies in our operation somewhere.
Incidentally, this was pointed out to me yesterday by Frank Stanton as an example of the kind of thing we should not miss.
On September 18, Curtis announced that Loomis had been chosen to replace Macy as President of CPB, effective October 1. Curtis, himself, had just been elected CPB Chairman, on September 15, replacing Pace.
A few days later Whitehead wrote to Curtis and Loomis, congratulating them on their new offices and offering OTP’s assistance.
On October 4, Whitehead dined with Loomis at Abbott Washburn’s home.
On October 6, Whitehead met with Loomis and Curtis in his office. Accordinq to an October 14 14 [memo] Whitehead wrote to his “personal file,” the three discussed the following:
1. The GAO audit. Is clearly related to long-range financing. Should be able to provide useful information on station accounting and financial information essential to sound long-range financing plan. The audit was requested by Staggers, and Loomis and Curtis plan to bring this to the Board’s attention at the next Board meeting.
2. Long-range financing related to GAO audit and veto message. Torn Curtis will explain to the Board the current willfully inadequate basis for developing a long-range plan. Curtis will point out the difficulties in getting capital the size of the system, funding levels, timing, etc.
3. Station liaison. Torn Curtis will work with local board chairmen and Henry Loomis with local station managers.
4. FY 74 budget. CPB staff wanted to plan on a $90 million basis for FY 74, but was scaled down to a $74 million request to OMB with 37% going to local stations. Loomis estimates that $5 million is required to stay even, arid approximately $60 million is a minimum for political purposes. I suggested it might be difficult in this tight budget year to get more than $50-55 million.
5. Meeting with the president. It was agreed that the President should meet with Curtis and Loomis at the earliest possible opportunity.
Yet to be discussed: Ford Foundation, staffing, news and public affairs, and PBS.
On October 11, Whitehead sent Flanigan a memo in response to Flanigan’s inquiry regarding statutory or other legal requirements for public affairs programming on public television. The memo said that while there is no explicit requirement in the 1967 Public Broadcasting Act for CPB to underwrite the production and distribution of public affairs programs, there is at least an implication that CPB will engage in public affairs programming. The memo noted, however, that the Senate report on the 1967 Act specifically encouraged public broadcasting to “offer in-depth coverage and analysis which will lead to a better informed and enlightened public.
The same day Whitehead sent Flanigan a memo proposing a Presidential meeting with Curtis and Loomis. Along with the schedule proposal, Whitehead sent Flanigan some talking points:
1. Impress on Curtis and Loomis the necessity of dumping NPACT and withdrawing CPB support for news and public affairs programs, particularly preventing all of the current efforts to make public broadcasting a “network of record” a la New York Times.
2. Past efforts to do this through “friendly” Board members have been unsatisfactory, apparently because these Board members do not appreciate the depth of the President’s personal concern. There should be no confusion on this point at present.
3. The Administration will keep CPB’s FY 1974 budget at a $45-50 million level, so Curtis and Loomis will have adequate incentives to enforce strict priorities in use of CPB program and networking funds. Thereafter, if progress is being made, funding will increase.
4. In addition to news and public affairs, one of the most important Curtis/Loomis tasks is to clean house at CPB and staff it with reliable people. They should be open to suggestions from OTP on staffing.
5. PBS power.
On October 12, Flanigan sent a memo to Parker, proposing that the President meet with Curtis, Loomis, Whitehead, and himself before December 1.
On October 26, Whitehead had lunch with Curtis and Loomis at the Metropolitan Club.
On November 7, Loomis sent Whitehead a 276-page document containing initial CPB staff recommendations for major series to support in FY 74. Attached to the “National Program Profile” was a note which said, “Tom — This is our ‘burn before reading’ [sic] document. No one here knows you have it. HL”
The next day, prior to the CPB Board meeting in Owings Mill, Maryland, Whitehead had breakfast with Tom Curtis at the University Club.
At its meeting that day, the CPB Board voted to adopt the Program Advisory Committee’s recommendations for 1974. According to a memo prepared by OTP, “The Committee’s recommendations were premised on $70 million financing for FY 1974; its recommended program list did not include Buckley or Moyers but did include ’30 minutes with.'”
The memo said that Wrather “cautioned against automatic annual renewal of programs and urged that CPB must not delegate its program authority.
On November 10, Whitehead met with Curtis. On Monday, the 13th, he met with Loomis. Following the Loomis meeting, Whitehead met with Moore and Freeman in New York City.
On November 28, Parker advised Flanigan that the proposed Presidential meeting with Curtis and Loomis could not be arranged before December 1. “Further,” Parker said, “Herb Klein suggests that he, you and Colson meet with the group and have a detailed discussion prior to their seeing the President.”
On November 28, Whitehead, Flanigan, Garment, and Shakespeare met with Loomis and Curtis in Flanigan’s office.
On the 30th Whitehead met with Loomis again.
In December Whitehead met with Curtis and had phone conversations with Freeman and Moore. Whitehead also had several conversations with Kristol, whom President Nixon appointed to the Board on December 15 to fill the remainder of the term of Haas, who had died in September.
Copyright 1979 American University