Years ago, the House Appropriations Committee opened an inquiry into “cultural diplomacy.” The response from the Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs at the time was that it was a necessary response to the “enormous sums” our adversary was spending on propaganda, “possibly more than the rest of the world combined.” Below is an excerpt from the newspaper story reporting on State’s defense of its cultural efforts (details on the story are below the fold):
[Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs] said the giving of “ideas” or “propaganda” to other countries had become the “fourth arm” of foreign policy. … Congress and even the State Department did not fully appreciate its value, [the Assistant Secretary] said.
[The House Appropriations Committee Chairman] contended that most of the information [from the State Department] was “slanted” to favor the department’s views and thus constituted a “ministry of propaganda.”
[The Assistant Secretary] replied that everything that emerged from his office was “straight information”; that
any “slanted or one-sided information” always gave the source, thus removing it from the “propaganda classification.
[A]sked why [State’s Public Affairs] had more employees – 3,000, – than the entire State Department had [only four years prior], the [Assistant Secretary] explained the State Department rarely received requests for information [before] but now got an average of 34,000 a month.
The Assistant Secretary was William Benton. The article was published in The New York Times on April 23, 1947. The title of the article was “Benton says Soviet Sows Propaganda: Tells House Body Outlay May Exceed Rest of World – Defends Culture Unit”. The Chairman was J. Edgar Chenoweth [R-CO] and he was supported in his remarks by Rep. Fred E. Busbey [R-IL].