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Was FOX News An Idea Created In President Nixon’s Administration?

July 5, 2011

As strange as it may be, all things Richard Nixon fascinate and entertain me.  I really do think that Nixon was a premier thinker, and one of the best foreign policy statesmen of his time.

Then there are stories like this.

Please note that there was concern even in the Nixon days over a news network, such as what FAUX News would become, concerning a “flap about news management.”  That ‘flap’ is something that is often the source of concern and amusement here at CP when dealing with FAUX News.  The network is a joke for anyone that is serious about news, policy, and a better understanding of anything.

Now comes evidence that the brainchild of FAUX News, while working in the Nixon Administration, had pondered how to manipulate and distort the news, package it for partisan purposes, and then present it so the average angry white male will watch.  ( I wonder if blonde bimbos were part of the plan way back in the RN days?)

“A Plan for Putting the GOP on TV News” (read it here) is an unsigned, undated memo calling for a partisan, pro-GOP news operation to be potentially paid for and run out of the White House. Aimed at sidelining the “censorship” of the liberal mainstream media and delivering prepackaged pro-Nixon news to local television stations, it reads today like a detailed precis for a Fox News prototype. From context provided by other memos, it’s apparent that the plan was hatched during the summer of 1970. And though it’s not clear who wrote it, the copy provided by the Nixon Library literally has Ailes’ handwriting all over it—it appears he was routed the memo by Haldeman and wrote back his enthusiastic endorsement, refinements, and a request to run the project in the margins.

The 15-page plan begins with an acknowledgment that television had emerged as the most powerful news source in large part because “people are lazy” and want their thinking done for them:

Today television news is watched more often than people read newspapers, than people listen to the radio, than people read or gather any other form of communication. The reason: People are lazy. With television you just sit—watch—listen. The thinking is done for you.

With that in mind, the anonymous GOP official urged the creation of a network “to provide pro-Administration, videotape, hard news actualities to the major cities of the United States.” Aware that the national television networks were the enemy, the writer proposed going around them by sending packaged, edited news stories and interviews with politicians directly to local television stations.

This is a plan that places news of importance to localities (Senators and representatives are newsmakers of importance to their localities) on local television news programs while it is still news. It avoids the censorship, the priorities, and the prejudices of network news selectors and disseminators.

This was before satellite, so the idea was that this GOP news outlet would record an interview with a Republican lawmaker in the morning, rush the tape to National Airport via truck, where it is edited into a package en route, and flown to the lawmaker’s district in time to make the local news. Local stations, the writer surmised, would be happy to take the free programming. The plan is spectacularly detailed—it was no idle pipe dream. The writer estimated that it would cost $310,000 to launch and slightly less than that to run each year, sketched out a 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. schedule with shooting times, editing times, flight times, and arrival times, and estimated that the editing truck—”Ford, GMC, or IHS chassis; V8 engine; 5 speed transmission; air conditioning; Weight: 22,000GVW”—could be “build from chassis in 60 days.” In other words, they were serious.

According to Ailes’ copious margin notes, he thought it was an “excellent idea” that didn’t go far enough and might encounter some “flap about news management.”

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