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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

Turning Off Turn-On

Turning Off Turn-On

Helms as a TV Executive in the 1960s

(p.137) 5 Turning Off Turn-On
Conservative Bias

Bryan Hardin Thrift

University Press of Florida

Helms faced a paradox at WRAL-TV. He was part of the cultural elite: he was a TV executive associated with a television network, ABC, that not only harbored liberals who took radicals seriously but also used sex to sell. The influence of liberalism, the sexual revolution, and the civil rights movement seemed pervasive in news and entertainment. Helms wanted traditional values to restrain business privately. Television executives, he felt, should exercise their influence by providing programming that supported traditional morality and conservatism. Yet it was not only liberals and activists who hindered the conservative agenda; free enterprise also interfered, because the profit motive drove network programming. He tried to shape what the network offered and, when that failed, he did his best to censor network entertainment and news programming. Helms switched network news programs to facilitate his ability to shape what was broadcast. While pessimistic about conservative efforts to stem the flow of cultural change, he expected unease over change to open doors for conservatives. On WRAL-TV he fired some of the first shots in the culture war.

Keywords:   ABC, censor, sexual revolution, network news, culture war

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