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Committee on the other side. Likewise what Dorothy Thompson writes is probably propaganda in the broad sense of the term and, on the other hand, perhaps what Gen. Hugh Johnson writes might by some interpretation be considered propaganda to the contrary. But, as I take it, your point is that the American public can read or disregard that propaganda as it sees fit; it can turn you off on the radio, and I have no doubt they frequently have. [Applause.] And likewise they can turn off the Fight for Freedom Committee, and perhaps Mr. Willkie, and no doubt they frequently have. [Applause.)
But if, as you charge, a monopoly exists and this monopoly controls 50 percent of the seating capacity of the theaters of the country outright, and the other 50 percent indirectly, then the average theatergoer has no choice in fighting that propaganda but by being on one side when he goes to the moving pictures. Is that the point you make?
Senator NYE. Precisely; and I am delighted that the Senator should bring out, if I have not made it clear, that very important element of consideration.
It does not make any difference who is making a speech on foreign relations these days; if the address is a public one or is on the radio, it is the privilege of any American to turn it off or decline to listen to it. But everyone who comes to hear those who are speaking upon this subject come knowing of the prejudice, if I may call it that, or of the favoritism which the speaker entertains toward this general subject. They are on their guard against whatever element of propaganda the speaker may inject. But the individual who goes into a theater for the privilege of being entertained finds his guard down completely in this flood of propaganda being poured into his being in a way that is pretty hard to get rid of. That is an entirely different kind of propaganda.
It is the right of the committee to ask us who bring this demand for an investigation, what pictures we consider to be the propaganda pictures at the moment.
Senator MCFARLAND. Senator, may I ask a question at this time? Senator NYE. Certainly.
Senator MCFARLAND. You recognize the principle of law that Congress through any subcommittee can only make an inquiry which is pertinent to the possible exercise by Congress of its constitutional power of legislation? You recognize that principle, do you not?
Senator NYE. Quite.
Senator McFARLAND. May I ask you at this time just what legislation you and Senator Clark of Missouri had in mind that this committee would recommend, when you introduced the original resolution?
Senator NYE. I could not respond to the Senator's question intelligently if I were to contend that I had any specific legislation in mind at the time of the introduction of this resolution, nor can I profess to have any kind of legislation in mind at this moment. I can only repeat that I hope that it is not going to be necessary to resort to legislation.
Senator McFARLAND. You mean that we should conduct this inquiry just for the purpose of publicity ?
Senator NYE. No. [Applause in the audience.] I do not mean anything of that kind. I do not think anything of the kind. I am
not asking for anything of the kind, and I think the Senator is very, very unfair if he suggests that Senator Clark of Missouri and I were entertaining that kind of attitude. [Applause.]
Senator McFARLAND. I am not trying to criticize you, Senator. You misunderstand me. What I am trying to get is what you are trying to accomplish, what you want the committee to accomplish for you. I want to know what we are trying to do here.
Senator CLARK of Idaho. May I make one suggestion ? May I say, not in any attempt to answer the question, that there are a lot of things that we might ultimately be able to do. The Senate has control, by way of legislative process, over interstate commerce and those things engaged therein. We might conceivably amend the Sherman law to provide that a monopoly like the moving-picture monopoly, if it is shown to exist, might be regulated in a measure like the radio industry today is regulated, and be required to give equal views on controversial public questions. That is a possibility. The radio today in political campaigns is required by law to give equal time and, as a matter of practice, has given equal time on foreign policy controversies to both sides. We might amend the Sherman law to tighten up on these monopolies which the Department of Justice apparently tightened up on only half-way:
I think it cannot be determined what course we should pursue legislatively until we ascertain all of the facts.
I did not mean to interrupt, Senator McFarland; I merely wanted to make that observation of the possible ultimate legislative results of this inquiry:
Senator NYE. May I suggest that again and again the Senate has authorized investigations without any reference to specific legislation. Almost biennially the Senate authorizes a committee to investigate the conduct of election campaigns. The language of the resolution is that found in this resolution. Legislation has followed its investigations without any necessity upon those who had undertaken the investigation to lay down in advance what the legislation might be.
I had the privilege for 3 or 4 years of heading a committee which gave study to the causes that were involved in our entry into the last war. There was no specific legislation in mind at the time of the introduction of the resolution or at the beginning of the investigation, But when that investigation was finished its study became basic of a great deal of legislation that has had a most prominent part in our life in more recent months.
I could go on endlessly reciting these examples and, indeed, the practice of having an investigation and then talking about legislation afterward, if it is found by the investigation to be a necessity.
Senator McFARLAND. Senator, my idea in asking you was that if you did have some legislation in mind, it would be quite helpful to the subcommittee, particularly to myself, in knowing what to look for.
Senator NYE. If the Senator's statement had been as broad as that I could have said to him, if I have not already said it, that I did not have any legislation in mind.
Senator McFARLAND. Of course, if it was for the purpose of controlling freedom of speech it would be unconstitutional and we could not make the inquiry. There are certain things that we cannot do here. That was the reason I wanted to know what we were trying to do. 13 Senator NYE. I have said as much in my presentation to the committee previously this morning.
I was saying that it was the right of the committee to demand of us who asked this investigation a statement as to what pictures we considered to be propaganda pictures. Without undertaking to name all of them, I think that those which I shall now name would bear investigation:
✓ Convoy, Flight Command, Escape, I Married a Nazi, That Hamilton Woman, Man Hunt, The Great Dictator, Sergeant York.
There will be other testimony concerning additional pictures, I understand, before the committee within the immediate days.
I have myself seen some of these pictures. I do not pretend to have seen all of them. In a general way I can only say to the committee that my own feeling that there is propaganda in the moving pictures is built upon what I have seen, built upon the report of what others have seen, built upon reviews of certain pictures which have been published in papers, and built upon a seemingly endless encounter with individuals who increasingly have been complaining about how the silver screen was being utilized to break down the determination of Americans to stay out of these foreign wars. My thought in this regard was greatly strengthened by excerpts which I read in the press from the report of Mr. Will Hays, in which extract I could not help but sense that Mr. Hays, conversant with growing public resentment toward what were called "propaganda pictures," was warning the propaganda producers against substituting propaganda for entertainment, entertainment after all being the purpose and the job of the motion-picture producers. Frankly, I should like to see some of these pictures allegedly carrying propaganda which I have not been privileged yet to see, and I think the committee would be justified in affording itself, if need be, a private showing of those pictures I have named, and perhaps others, making sure that the film that is given you to observe is unedited since its first showing to the American public.
Senator CLARK of Idaho. In Mr. Willkie's letter which has been inserted in the record he offers to have the committee shown, I think, particularly, the picture entitled "Escape” and, I believe, another picture.
Mr. WILLKIE. All of them, Senator.
Mr. WILLKIE. We are prepared to set them up here for the committee, if that will be of any accommodation to you.
Senator CLARK of Idaho. I think that as time goes on possibly we can have a moving-picture show here in the committee room, then.
Mr. WILLKIE. I guarantee it will be a good one, Senator.
Senator CLARK of Idaho. It will if you have anything to do with producing it.
Senator NYE. Mr. Chairman, if you are trying to ascertain how near through I am, I think that I shall require as much time more as I have already taken, before I have finished.
Senator CLARK of Idaho. What is the pleasure of the committee? We can run along here. Did you have something to say at this moment, Senator McFarland?
Senator MCFARLAND. No. The only thought I had was that it was 12 o'clock. [Laughter.]
Senator CLARK of Idaho. Suppose, then, that we recess until 2 o'clock.
(Whereupon, at 12 noon, a recess was taken until 2 p. m. of the same day.)
The subcommittee resumed at 2 p. m., on the expiration of the recess.
Senator CLARK of Idaho (chairman of the subcommittee). The subcommittee will please come to order. Unless there are some questions by the committee to start with, Senator Nye may now proceed.
Senator NYE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
STATEMENT OF HON. GERALD P. NYE, SENIOR SENATOR FROM
NORTH DAKOTA Resumed
Senator NYE. At the risk of perhaps repeating a few words let me say that there has been argument, and I expect it will be presented in a larger way to this committee, that there may have been a little propaganda creeping into the pictures. But that it has been insignificant, that if there are only 12 or 15 or 20 pictures that can be classified as carrying propaganda, after all, that is a very small percentage of the hundreds upon hundreds of pictures that are being turned out of the production studios annually. For my own part, am not going to be misled by any such contention as that. The truth of the matter is that we go to pictures, we Americans, to see features, outstanding features. Except for them you wouldn't get as many people into the theaters as go there weekiy now. The truth is that there are only between 200 and 225 of what are called "quality" pictures produced by American producers annually. A so-called “quality" picture is one, I am told by the trade, costing $250,000 or more to produce. It is in that field of production that any percentage of propaganda ought to be estimated. Not in that field made bulky by reason of the "shorts" and the so-called western pictures or comedy or slapstick production. If out of 200 quality pictures, 15 or 20 or more of them should be proven to be propaganda pictures, it could hardly be said that the percentage was low. Nor could it be said, as one trade journal editor put it, namely, that this percentage was the result alone of a “bottleneck of blurred judgment.
These alleged propaganda pictures, if they were conceived and produced for a purpose, would seem to have in mind a purpose growing out of knowledge that you can't take the American people to war until you can make them hateful toward something. These alleged propaganda pictures do promote a larger will and larger reason for going to war. They have served to drive some Americans under their very beds for fear of Hitler and his minions. They have served, these propaganda pictures, to change if not warp, a lot of clear thinking in American minds. I have talked to many Americans, those without a prejudice, those who detest the whole Nazi showing, but who nevertheless are determined that our country cannot afford to let itself become involved in the European wartalking with such Americans again and again and again I have found them confessing an influence, for a moment at least, upon them
by these propaganda pictures. And more and more every day I find the Americans bitterly charging that the pictures seem to be in control of men entertaining vengeful spirits, born in the pain being visited upon their own people abroad.
We cannot shut our eyes to these facts, gentlemen of the committee. They cannot be rubbed out by any undertaking to show that a request for an investigation or for a check upon this production is occasioned by causes that do not exist at all. I insist that this whole motion-picture program of propaganda should be most thoroughly and earnestly investigated and the findings made public whether the findings be adverse to my contentions or in support of them.
The news reels must of necessity be a part of any study which your committee may choose to undertake in furtherance of the purposes expressed in the resolution.
A news reel can so easily be made an instrument of progaganda inspiring hate, however actual the pictures themselves might be. The order in which pictures are presented on the news reel, the verbal narration that may accompany the showing of the picture, the titles that might be flashed upon the screen to attend a picture, the excessive portion of a whole news reel that might be devoted to the instruments of war, all can be cleverly woven into propaganda of the first magnitude. In other words, live, true moving pictures can be perverted into instruments of propaganda with ease.
In this connection permit me to suggest that this regular feature entitled The March of Time is not a news reel. It is part actuality, part fiction, part scenic, part faked, and part acted. Which sums up in some instances to the purest kind of manufactured propaganda of a most brutal nature. No one realizes how brutal this feature can be as well as the producers themselves. The more recent portrayal of The March of Time was bad enough to scare even its own producers. When their job had been done and they had viewed the result of their effort, they themselves became frightened over what might be the public reaction and reception of the picture. Indeed, Louis de Rochemont, one of the producers, under date of July 28, 1941, wrote on his letterhead the following letter, to how many people I cannot know, but to far more than one, a letter inviting friends to stand ready to defend The March of Time against what they feared might be the need for the helping hand of friends. I quote his letter in its entirety:
The Hitler peace offensive is on, and lots of good well-meaning people will be taken in by it. We at The March of Time are not. We know the record of Nazi Germany and know that Hitler means war, not peace, and war against America at the end of it all.
I have had our staff put the whole thing down in film, and called it "Peaceby Adolf Hitler.” It will be the next issue of The March of Time.
It isn't pretty This is the producer speaking: and it's no fun to see, but in it is the essence of what we've been saying for years, and must say again now-stop Hitler.
This film is so vital and brutalThis is still the producer speaking: it will need friends who will talk about it to put it across to the American people. May I count on you?