"In the 1968 elections the McCarthy campaign staff was approached with a suggestion for crossing media. In the United States no law prohibits the mating of radio and TV. In Southern California, for example, Spanish-speaking sportsfans watch the picture on TV but listen to a Spanish-speaking sports broadcaster on radio.
So it was proposed that the New York-New Jersey area be offered a night of radio sound & TV picture. Five commentators were to provide the audio; John Culkin, Jean Shepherd, Marshall McLuhan, myself & Tony Schwartz, who originated the idea and had a sound studio equipped to handle the project. A bank of small TV sets offered simultaneous coverage of all principal TV stations in the area; each would be kept on its particular channel. From these the connentators would select programs shown on a master TV set & toward these programs would direct their comments.
The plan was to announce in the New York-New Jersey newspapers that at 7 P.M. on a certain night a local radio station would provide that evening's TV audio. For example, the audio for a TV cigarette commercial would be one minute of coughing via radio. If there was a laughshow, it would be pointed out that the laughtracks were copyrighted in 1935 & that most of the people one heard laughing had been dead for some time.
Then listeners would be asked to turn to a channel showing Walter Cronkite, at which point they would hear a taped "countdown," first in English, followed by a A-blast; then in Russian, then Chinese, each followed by blasts & more blasts & finally only a child's cry.
Finally, and this was the point of the whole project, listeners would be encouraged to turn to a channel with Hubert Humphrey speaking. Instead of his speech, however, they would hear - on radio - the four letters he wrote to his draft board gaining exemption from duty in the Second War - one letter citing two lectures he had delivered to an ROTC class, while in the background would be played Hitler's ranting, bombs & screams; then Humphrey's pro-Vietnam War speeches - "A glorious adventure and great fun, isn't it?" - while in the background the guns & screams continued.
The McCarthy team, mostly literate men, saw something profoundly immoral in the suggestion. New forms always seem immoral or chaotic since they are unconsciously judged by reference to consecrated forms. But a curious contradiction arises: New forms are condemned, but the information they disseminate is believed, while the old & valued aren't even seen."
#1. Edmund Carpenter's writing style always seems a lot like he's writing things from memory and potentially embellishing a bit along the way to make a point. Fact checking for writer and reader wasn't so easy in the pre-Internet days.
#2. This was a proposition from the opposition, and even Wikipedia says "all through his political life, Humphrey was dogged by the charge that he was a draft dodger", so the team may have intended to bend the truth on purpose.
Public (in the American sense, viewer supported) broadcasting like NPR and PBS develop excellent digital content that we would not otherwise have because it's not advertiser friendly.
If you hate clickbait, fake news, and spam, you should support public media.
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