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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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PRINTED FROM FLORIDA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.florida.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University Press of Florida, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FLASO for personal use.date: 03 August 2021

“The Voice of Free Enterprise”

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(p.49) 2 “The Voice of Free Enterprise”
Conservative Bias

Bryan Hardin Thrift

University Press of Florida

As WRAL-TV’s vice president for programming, news, and public affairs, Helms’s intentions were twofold. First, he wanted WRAL-TV to establish a conservative alternative in order to win converts to conservatism, and that meant tearing down liberalism and the Democratic Party. Second, he wanted to elect conservatives. This, Helms expected, meant realignment of eastern North Carolina and the rest of the white South with the GOP. He believed the key to both objectives was winning over the voters of eastern North Carolina and voters like them throughout the South. Editorializing on WRAL’s daily newscasts afforded him something the Bankers Association could not—a broad audience in eastern North Carolina. Pious incitement’s exaggeration, embellishment, and outrage made good television. Helms blamed Democrats for the tumult of the civil rights movement, politicized the Supreme Court rulings on school-led prayer, and made voters fear their government. Helms pushed his reporters to present the civil rights movement in a negative light, to question the National Council of Churches, to criticize moderate Democrats like Governor Terry Sanford, and to give positive coverage to movement conservatives like Barry Goldwater and William F. Buckley.

Keywords:   conservative alternative, pious incitement, civil rights movement, school-led prayer, Supreme Court, Barry Goldwater

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