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Conservative BiasHow Jesse Helms Pioneered the Rise of Right-Wing Media and Realigned the Republican Party$
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Bryan Hardin Thrift

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780813049311

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813049311.001.0001

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“There Is Another Way”

“There Is Another Way”

Free Enterprise, the Mainstream Media, and Southern Realignment in the 1950s

(p.15) 1 “There Is Another Way”
Conservative Bias

Bryan Hardin Thrift

University Press of Florida

This chapter examines Helms’s career during the 1950s. Helms was not a typical southern conservative. He opposed the New Deal and advocated North Carolina’s realignment with the Republican Party. Helms spent most of the decade as executive director of the North Carolina Bankers Association and editor of the Tarheel Banker. His main responsibilities were promoting banking and defending bankers’ interests, but he also advanced conservatism. Helms’s Tarheel Banker commentaries advocated free enterprise—a mix of anti-tax, pro-business policies, with a healthy dose of anti-statism. In 1957, he won election to the Raleigh City Council, where he found his voice in opposition to annexation, taxes, and fluoridation. In his commentaries and position as a city councilman, Helms reconfigured southern racial politics in support of conservatism rather than the racial status quo. His commentaries castigated the mainstream media, advocated private schools in response to Brown v. Board of Education, and criticized liberal economic policies such as farm programs. Helms developed his politics of pious incitement in his attacks on the civil rights movement and the mainstream media. Late in the 1950s, Helms began delivering Sunday afternoon editorials on WRAL-TV. He joined the station in 1960 as vice president.

Keywords:   Tarheel Banker, North Carolina Bankers Association, free enterprise, private schools, realignment, Raleigh City Council

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