Sunday nights on WAMU, the NPR station here in the nation's capital, we have Ed Walker's "The Big Broadcast," which features old-time radio shows. It's generally kind of a fun show--Johnny Dollar, the man with the world's most glamorous expense account ("expense item: train ride to Poughkeepsie, $3.25"); old Dragnet episodes; and the comedies, which are shockingly not funny, even the classics like Fred Allen. Drama is more or less drama, but humor has really changed.
But last night brought a special edition--an "as they heard it" broadcast of how radio reported the D-Day invasion in real time. Should've been a week earlier, but whatever. Anyway, it was riveting and poignant and amazing radio. Fascinatingly, the first reports about the invasion came from German radio. Neither the BBC (an arm of the government, remember) nor the Pentagon would confirm it for a few hours. Apparently the Allies wanted the world to be unsure whether the Germans were bluffing.
It all got me wondering what life would have been like if Fox had been around back then...
"Well, we're getting reports from the German News Service that the Allies are landing in France, but the Pentagon isn't confirming. Just what's going on here?"
"It seems like mass confusion at the Pentagon today, I mean, are we invading or aren't we?"
"Well, we all know, Sean, that there's been no direction at all from this Democrat administration on this. There've been all these leaks, these national security leaks designed to make Roosevelt look tough, I guess. Meanwhile, we've been pounding the table for months waiting for this invasion. If indeed it's happening."
"I wanna bring Senator Nye in here. Senator, are you getting any information?"
"No, Sean, nothing official, nothing from Roosevelt. But I am getting some reports from some of my sources in Germany, who report that the Wehrmacht is repelling our forces brutally at the beaches."
"No surprise there, Senator."
"No, none. Several of us have been predicting this kind of disaster since Harry Truman held those hearings about that so-called war-profiteering business that did nothing except harm the free enterprise system and the people charged with producing all this war materiel."
"Exactly! Charles Lindbergh, Fox contributor, I wanna turn to you now. What does it say--if true--what does it say about this Roosevelt administration that it's withholding information like this from the American people, with Americans dying out there for a cause, as you have so eloquently stated, that many Americans are frankly dubious of--"
"So true, Sean. We've seen, at Dunkirk and Bataan and other places, how the administration just repeatedly fails to level with the American people--"
And so on. You can write the rest yourselves. In fact, please do!
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