Matt Armstrong's blog on public diplomacy, international journalism, and the struggle against propaganda

Smith-Mundt Timeline

Key Dates for the Smith-Mundt Bill and its predecessor, the Bloom Bill

  • October 1945 – Bloom Bill introduced in Committee to disseminate information abroad and fund “interchange” of students, teachers, specialists
  • December 1945 – Bloom Bill out of Committee and to the full Congress
  • January 1946 – AP tells Voice of America and the State Department that it will no longer permit VOA to rebroadcast its wire stories claiming AP will be tainted by stigma of being a government propaganda tool (State Department and other newspaper editors later point out that AP fails to harbor similar qualms when selling to TASS or other foreign government news operations)
  • Feb 1946 – US Ambassador to Russia declares “the Russians declared psychological war on the US, all over the world… a war of ideology and a fight unto the death.”
  • July 20, 1946 – Bloom Bill passes the House after amendment requiring maximal use of private resources
  • Aug 1, 1946 – Amendment to Surplus Property Act of 1944 passed, funds Sen. Fulbright’s exchange programs
  • Aug 2, 1946 – Bloom Bill blocked in Senate by lone Senator; Taft never gave a reason but would support the bill again in the next, the 80th, Congress
  • August 2, 1946 was the last day of the session. Earlier, the Congress rejected the State Department’s request for $19 million for 1947 programming that would today be considered public diplomacy. Congress instead authorized $10 million while publicly complaining about “loafers, incompetents” and “drones” at State.
  • March 1947 – State Department formally asks for legislation to empower and make permanent its global public affairs operations
  • May 1947 – Smith-Mundt Bill introduced, it is largely the same as the Bloom Bill
  • June 5, 1947 – Secretary of State George C. Marshall gives a “routine commencement speech” at Harvard that would launch the Marshall Plan
  • Sep/Oct 1947 – Congressional Delegation to Europe encounters dramatic propaganda from the Communists without little to no defense or response from the US
  • December 1947 – House passes the Smith-Mundt Bill
  • January 1948 – Senate passes the Smith-Mundt Bill
  • January 27, 1948 – President Harry S Truman signs the Smith-Mundt Act