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Title: Oral History Interview with Clifford Durr, December 29, 1974. Interview B-0017. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Durr, Clifford, interviewee
Interview conducted by Tullos, Allen
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Kristin Shaffer
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2008
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Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
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2008-00-00, Celine Noel, Wanda Gunther, and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2008-02-18, Kristin Shaffer finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Clifford Durr, December 29, 1974. Interview B-0017. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series B. Individual Biographies. Southern Oral History Program Collection (B-0017)
Author: Allen Tullos
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Clifford Durr, December 29, 1974. Interview B-0017. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series B. Individual Biographies. Southern Oral History Program Collection (B-0017)
Author: Clifford Durr
Description: 229 Mb
Description: 70 p.
Note: Interview conducted on December 29, 1974, by Allen Tullos; recorded in Wetumpka, Alabama.
Note: Transcribed by Joe Jaros.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series B. Individual Biographies, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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Interview with Clifford Durr, December 29, 1974.
Interview B-0017. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Durr, Clifford, interviewee

Interview Participants

    CLIFFORD DURR, interviewee
    CANDACE WAID, interviewer
    ALLEN TULLOS, interviewer


Page 1
We thought that we would begin by your telling us how you came to be a member of the FCC and when that was some of the issues you dealt with.
Well, as to how I happened to be, that was a political accident. I took my seat the first of November, 1941. Before that, I had been for six and a half years with the Reconstruction Financial Corporation, on the financial side. My first job was trying to put the busted banks back together and then I was general counsel for the subsidiary that financed the plant expansion getting ready for World War II, but the way that these things happen, it is not exactly the way that you are taught in political science classes. You might be interested, this is a little digression, about how this came about. I had no qualifications for the job at all. I got a call one day from Jim Rowe, who was one of Roosevelt's White House assistants at the time and he asked how I would like to be a member of the Federal Communications Commission. I said, "What in the hell is that?" He tried to explain to me, in a general way that it was the agence that licensed the broadcasting and regulated the rates and services of interstate and international telephone and telegraph. I said that was something that I knew nothing about and I thought that I had better stay where I was. I said that we were pretty important, trying to get some plants

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built and so on. This was before Pearl Harbor. He said, "Well, we are in a hell of a fix. You've got to help us all." Then he proceeds to tell me the predicament that they are in. My predecessor was also from Alabama, a man named Frederick I. Thompson, who had owned a chain of newspapers in Alabama and then sold out and got a pretty sizeable amount of money. Then, he got the political bee in his bonnet and decided that maybe he would make a good Senator. Well, Lister Hill was our senior Senator at the time and I think that he could have beaten Thompson, but he didn't like this idea of a well heeled political opponent in a campaign. So, he went to see Roosevelt. It happened at the time that there was a vacancy on the FCC, somebody had resigned or died. So, Lister asked Roosevelt to appoint Thompson to this FCC vacancy, to get the Senatorial bee out of his bonnet. Well, Roosevelt agreed to do it and he was appointed him and that suited him, he decided that he wouldn't run for the Senate. So, at the time that Rowe approached me, Thompson's time was just about to run out and he was sort of the bull in the china shop and didn't do his homework too well and messed things up generally and Roosevelt just said, "I'm not going to reappoint that man." Well, Lister Hill was a stalwart of the New Deal at that

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period and was a whip of the Senate and had been very helpful in getting through some New Deal legislation. In the public eye, Frederick I. Thompson was Lister Hill's man. So, if Roosevelt had refused to reappoint Frederick I. Thompson, it would look as if there was a split between Roosevelt and Hill, which would have spoiled or impaired Hill's effectiveness in the Senate and also, Roosevelt's name was one to conjur with even in Alabama at that time. It might mean that he would have some trouble in his next campaign. So, as Jim told me, "Some of us over there got our heads together and we decided that if we could get another Alabama man on the Commission, that would take off the curse and here is Cliff Durr right here in Washington. He is not only from Alabama, but from Lister's home town and they even went to school together." So, he said, "We are in a spot and you have to help us out." Well, I said, "I know nothing in the world about the Federal Communications Commission and it's work. I feel what I'm doing is far more important and I know what I'm doing here, I set up this organization." But there were battles going on between Jesse Jones, who was the top boss, and a man named Emil Schram, who was chairman of the board of the RFC. Schram was very much of a conservative, but was loyal to Roosevelt. Jones was trying to stick the

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knife in Roosevelt at every turn and Roosevelt was desperate to get our plants expanded and get some airplanes built in aluminum and steel and so on. That's what I was working on and Jones was trying to sabotage him at every turn. So, I was working through Schram. I said to Rowe, "Jim, you know what is going on here with the battles between Schram and Jones." Jones was too powerful a man politically for Roosevelt to fire. He wanted to get rid of him, but he couldn't. So, I said, "As long as Schram is there, I feel like I would be far more effective with the Defense Plant Corporation, this RFC subsidiary which was financing the plant expansion." I said, "But if Jones ever succeeds in getting Schram out, then I think my effectiveness will be over and I will be ready to go." So, he said, "We'll just let things ride awhile." Well, in newspaper stories about every week or so, Schram was being offered the big job, the presidency of the B&O Railroad and this, that and the other thing. Jones was getting these offers of jobs to try to get him out. The public could see the carrot at his nose, but they couldn't see the club at Schram's rump. So, one morning about three months after our first conversation, the Washington Post had a front page story that Schram had accepted the presidency of the New York Stock Exchange. About ten o'clock that morning, the phone rang and it was Jim Rowe.

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He said, "How about it now?" I said, "I'm ready to go." So, that was my qualification for membership on the FCC. I was a refugee from Jesse Jones' Organization where I had been for about eight and a half years. I'm digressing there for a little background that I thought might be amusing, because you get these things about how things work in government from textbooks and they don't always work that way.
And how do you get qualified people for these jobs? Well, about the time of the Kennedy Administration, when Kennedy first came in, there was a great deal of excitement about the regulatory agencies, some scandals that had developed and about how they had become mere arms of the industries that they were supposed to regulate. So, the Fund for the Republic, one of the early Ford Foundation outfits and Bob Hutchinson, the University of the Chicago president, asked Larry Fry, who had been chairman of the Commission when I first went on, and myself to come to New York for a day's interview on what to do about the regulatory agencies. So, among those questioning us was this fellow Goldman, the historian at Princeton. You know, he was briefly Lyndon Johnson's intellectual in residence. He knew nothing about regulatory agencies, but he kept asking about the type of people that you should get on these regulatory agencies. He asked

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me, "Isn't experience important?" Well, I said, "Of course, it is always helpful, but you do have a problem when you get a man from … disassociating a man when he comes to work for the government, from the organization in which he got his experiences, and that creates problems, particularly when he thinks that he will go back to that same organization when his time in government is over. Generally, you have pretty good staff members, lawyers, accountants and engineers and you can pick their brains and feel your way along." "Well, what was your experience?" I said, "Absolutely none." "How did youhappen to get appointed, then?" "Political accident." Then, he kept on. I tried to get on to something else and he said, "Well, how do you get the right kind of men for these regulatory jobs?" I said, "The only way that I can answer that question is in terms of a remark that I once heard my father-in-law make, who was a colorful gentleman of the old school. He said there were two kinds of folks that he didn't have any use for. One was men that scared easily and the other was women that raped easily." I said, "If you can get on these regulatory agencies people that neither scare or rape easily and you've got it made, but I can't tell you how to select them." [Laughter] Well, I've digressed on that, you go ahead with your questions.
Well, maybe you could tell us something about

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the makeup of the Commission when you came on.
Well, when I came on the chairman was a man named James Lawrence Flagg. As a matter of fact, he had been a navy man. He had gone to Annapolis, but he had retired from the navy because of incipient tuberculosis and then he went into law. He had been in the inner trust division of the Justice Department for awhile and then he became general counsel of the Tennessee Valley Authority and he came from there to the Commission. The next man … you see, under the law, there are seven Commissioners and not more than four can be from the same political party. So, there was a man named Paul Walker from Oklahoma who had been chairman of the state public service commission in Oklahoma. Then, there was a man named Wakefield, who was a Republican, but a great friend of Earl Warren and Warren had appointed him chairman of the California regulatory agencies. He was very much of a liberal. Then, a man named Caius, who had been governor of Rhode Island and was a very conservative Republican, a decent guy, honest, but very conservative. Then, a man named George Henry who boasted when he came to see me at the time that I was appointed and told me what a great liberal he was, because he had been a Bull Mooser. He turned out to be one of the most reactionary on the Commission, I think. The other one was a man named Clayton,

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whose background was in communications, but he had been in the navy in that field, the technical side of it. Did I name seven? That gives you the general background. There is no pattern for the type of people that you have on there. It's sort of a general mixture of people with some engineering background. The last chairman that we had that year, I think, was actually a man named Wayne Coy, who was a publisher of a weekly newspaper out in Indiana and he had come into the government and then become one of Roosevelt's White House assistants and then had briefly run the Washington Post station. This was before t.v. in Washington. His background was government and newspaper work. [unclear] had never been a newspaper man, he had always plugged himself as a journalist. He had written for some high level magazine from time to time.
F.M. radio and t.v. were beginning to come in during the middle forties, I guess.
Yes. Well, when I went on the Commission, the only thing that you had in the way of broadcasting was A.M. That was the standard system of broadcasting and there were only about nine hundred stations on the air when the war broke out. Well, everything was brought to a standstill because all the communications equipment had a freeze on it. All the manufacturing capacity was turned over to the war

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effort, the army and navy and so on. F.M. had been started just before World War II and it had shown its potentialities and I think that there were about forty stations on the air, they were small stations. There were so few sets of them, there were only about 300,000 F.M. sets in the entire country, so these were generally run by people with licenses for standard broadcasting stations and there were a lot of duplications in the programs where they could do it rather inexpensively. Well, the great developments in the field of electronics came during the war. When I first went on the Commission, anything in the spectrum above 30,000 kilocycles was unknown territory. Then, with … the British were sort of pioneers in that, with the development of new "valves" as they called them, not tubes. As a matter of fact, most of these things did look like plumbers valves and with them, they began to get way up into the higher spectrums, the higher frequencies and all like that. So, F.M. was licensed, it was changed through another range in the spectrum where you could get more stations and sort of operate more effectively, but it really began after World War I. Now, if you want to get a little background on educational t.v., shall I digress? … I mean educational broadcasting.
I'd love to. One of the things that I remember in

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some of the reading that we did, was that you worked to try to encourage the Commission to set aside certain frequencies so that people coming back after the war could get them and people who were not already on an A.M. station could have the opportunity at some later time to form a group to have an F.M. Station.
Well, if it won't take up too much time, I'll go ahead and give you my background on this thing and how I got into it. As I told you, when I went on the FCC I knew absolutely nothing about it, but at the time we were monitoring all the Axis broadcasts because we had the facilities to do it. The Germans and the Japanese and we had the linguists and propaganda analysts and quite a staff to pick up these propaganda broadcasts and see what meaning we could get out of them. So, I began to read their daily reports. I wasn't interested in broadcasting, I was more or less a refugee from the RFC. Then, I began to read these daily reports of these Axis broadcasts and only all at once I thought, "My God, this is a terrific medium here. This can be magnificent or it can completely ruin you if you get this thing in the wrong hands." So then I began to take a look at American broadcasting. Well, I got pretty discouraged about the commercialization. Not that every hour was filled with commercial broadcasts, but

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the dominant theme was making money. So, that discouraged me and just by chance, I heard about some educational stations. You see, the educational institutions, our universities and colleges, were really among the pioneers in broadcasting when it first came on. So many saw it as only something for their electrical engineering and physics students to play with and they didn't fully appreciate the potential. The KVKA, the Westinghouse station in Pittsburgh, boasts of having been the oldest broadcasting station on the air, but there is a big dispute between KVKA and WHA, the University of Wisconsin station as to which really went on the air first. It was a matter of just a few days one way or the other. I don't know who wins the battle. So, I was invited out to come out to a meeting of the Institute for Education by Radio at Columbus and met some of the people who had held on to their stations. Generally, a group around the midwest, WHA was one of the leading ones. I believe Minnesota held on to one, but they had been shelved back to inadequate frequencies, many of them daytime only, because they didn't have the money to operate on. I got pretty excited about the potentialities of these things and then I began to discover that in the areas served by these educational stations, the level of commercial broadcasting was considerably higher. The people began to demand something a little better, better music, a little more

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news and things of that sort. We began to think that if we could really get some educational stations on the air, this would not only be in value of themselves, but as a yardstick. They could contribute greatly to the broadcasting throughout the country. But there was no possibility. What had really happened, when the present frequency was available, and as I said, many of the educational stations were among the pioneers. WAPI at Birmingham, the big station there, was at one time jointly owned by the University of Alabama and Auburn. Georgia Tech had a station which is now completely commercial. What happened as the commercial advertising potential began to develop, was that the broadcasters, commercial broadcasters, would go to these university stations and say, "Look here, you are not using but three hours a day sitting here on this frequency. You step aside and let us come in and apply for that frequency and we will pay all the expenses of operating the transmitter and we'll give you free time, as much as you have now, and we'll bear all the expense of it." Well, a lot of them fell for the deal and so they began to step aside and let the commercial stations get their licenses. Well, what actually happened was this. As the commercial potential developed, maybe a university would have a program at eight o'clock at night. They were aiming to an adult audience who

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would get into the habit of turning to a certain frequency or station that they liked. So, maybe this thing had been going on for years, at this eight o'clock hour and then the station would come and say, "We'll awfully sorry, but the network says that they've got to have that eight o'clock hour. Now, we can give you seven o'clock." So, they would nicely go along and take the seven o'clock hour and then of course, they would lose their audience until people found it again and then they would build up their audience and then the station would come around and say, "We're awfully sorry, but the network wants that seven o'clock hour. How about four o'clock in the afternoon?" Well, you don't get any kind ofaudience at four o'clock in the afternoon. So, that process continued until the universities were pretty well broken down, except the handful. But rather interestingly, educational broadcasting had warm support in Congress. You know, the licenses used to be issued in the Department of Commerce. When it started out, shipping came under Commerce and there was the same thing with licenses for the safety of ships at sea and they were concerned only that the equipment was efficient and they had good operators. Then, DeForrest came on with his audio tube and the sound began to develop and they began to steam in on Commerce, who had no

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organization for handling the thing. So, in the this grand confusion, largely from under the pressure of the industry, the Radio Act of 1927 was adopted, mainly aimed at better allocation of frequencies to avoid the interference problem. But also, they did put some standards for programming in the public interest. Then when the Communications Act came on, that was 1934. The Communications Act took over and incorporated with some modifications, the basic provisions of the old Radio Act, but then they brought telephone and telegraph into that same setup. Telephone and telegraph had by accident gotten under the hands of the Interstate Commerce Commission and they were interested in regulating buses and railroads and so on and paid very little attention to it. But here, when they were debating the Communications Act of 1934, there was quite a group of Congressmen that were interested in educational broadcasting and they introduced a measure … I believe it was the Logan-Wagner Act, requiring 25%, maybe 20%, I can't recall right now, of all radio frequencies to be set aside for use of non-profit educational broadcasters. It came close to passing but there was a stalemate and finally they wanted to get this thing through, so a compromise was adopted in which the supporters of this act agreed to go along with the act as drawn if it had a provision. Now, the first provision of the Communications Act of 1934 directs the FCC to make

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a study and report back to Congress within a year as to whether or not frequencies should be set aside for non-profit educational broadcasting. Well, the Commission wasn't too much on its toes at the time and of course, the stations and networks, to make everybody feel good, started being very generous to the educational stations for awhile. They set up an advisory commission consiting of broadcasters and some educators to see to it, sort of police the operation and see to it that education got its fair share of the time, but nobody paid any attention to them. When I got on the Commission and got interested, I found that this commission was still in existence and they had lunch once a year and that was all they ever did. But the Commission made its study and a lot of pressure was on them and they came back with a report that the commercial stations had so much free time that they could make all this time available that the educators would need and so, they turned down or recommended against the setting aside of certain frequencies. That goes back to 1933, when the debate was going on, '33 and '34. So, after I went to this first meeting at Columbus, I got excited about it and I began to work pretty closely with the fellows in this educational field. That seemed to me about the only hope that we had of getting a yardstick and

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getting out of the complete commercial domination. So, as the war developed and looked like it might be coming to an end and we seemed to be moving into this area of what we were going to do about FM, I told them that they hadn't got a chance of getting frequencies taken away from commercial stations and given to them, but I said, "You have these F.M frequencies and you should come in with a petition for the Commission to set aside x number of frequencies for educational broadcasting." So, we got up a pretty good head of steam on that. I carried the ball in the Commission and some of my colleagues were reasonably enthusiastic, but most of them were in the position that being against education was like being against God and Mother and Country and so on. So, I got them sold on the idea and then time came on and we had to have the hearings to justify the setting aside of these frequencies, but who was going to come in and make the claim, testify? Well, the fellows who had been doing the job around the universities were generally at the associate professor level and the average salary of a full professor in those days except around Harvard and Yale and Princeton was around $6500 and these guys hardly had railroad fare to Washington. They had no prestige at all, but you couldn't get the administrators interested. They were just completely apathetic. So, here was a hearing coming on and nobody of any standing in the

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educational field would come in and testify to the use that they would make of it. I was feeling pretty discouraged. But we went to the hearing and it opened up and there was a group of presidents of land-grant colleges. You know, they are the ones who have the political clout and they took the stand one after the other and gave very excellent statements about the importance of this thing to education and the long and short of it was that we set aside, I think, 15% of all the frequencies that were available. I discovered the next day what had happened, and this is the way that government operates that you don't get in your government administration classes. There was a guy named Ed Brecker, who is now a freelance writer, but he was then working for the Commission. Interestingly enough, his background was in philosophy, but he was the kind who could pull things together when you wanted a report in a hurry. If Congress demanded a report, he could go through records and pull them together and come out in a report, he was just a genius at that kind of thing. So, I used to take Ed with me to a lot of these meetings of educational broadcasters and he got pretty much interested in it. So, I found out the next day after the hearing when these presidents of land grant colleges came in, that Ed Brecker pulled out on his own and got on a private

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telephone outside the Commission. He was about four levels down in the staff than I was and ….


…after they went on the air experimentally, they found that the frequencies didn't behave exactly like they said they ought to. There were serious problems and they had to do the allocation job all over again and that was not completed until I got off the Commission. My successor was a woman, a gal named Frieda [unclear] from New York, quite a character. Truman appointed her and I had met her and she was a good hearted gal. She didn't know too much about what was going on, she didn't know anymore than I did when I first went on the Commission. So, I made a point to sort of cultivate her. I was practicing law in Washington for a couple of years and I had an opportunity to go to bat for following through on the FM allocations and doing the same thing for t.v. and a good many other members of the staff had been working on her also, so she carried on the battle for the t.v. allocations and succeeded in getting them through. That's how it came about.
Besides the allocation of frequencies and this controversy that was going on over ownership, what other sorts of issues were going on?

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Well, when I first went on the Commission, the Communications Act was anti-monopoly oriented, the idea— [Recorder is turned off and then back on.] When I first went on the Commission, the Commission had already adopted what was called the Chain Broadcasting Regulations. It was trying to maintain a degree of independence of the local stations, a protection from the networks. You know, thenetwork contract was the most valuable assest that a station could have economically. You see, the network was providing your revenue. They were the ones who had access to the big advertisers and they provided the programs. So, more and more time was going to network time and less and less time devoted to the development of local programs, news discussion or forums for art and music of the community. So, the network regulations, in the first place, NBC had one network … there was NBC, CBS and Mutual and NBC was the biggest one and they were required to divest themselves of a lot of their stations and that was when you had the NBC and ABC. ABC was carved off of NBC because NBC's powers were getting too great. Also, there were limitations on the amount of time, in particular prime time, that the networks could contract for. Now, they had a way of getting what they called option time. They would say to a station. "Well, this nine to ten o'clock

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hour, you've got to give us an option on it, so if we do have a program we want to put in, you can… we can demand that time." Which mean that the local station that may have built up a program of its own would have to cancel it if the network wanted to use that time. So, that was the big issue and the regulations had been adopted. Well, the National Associations of Broadcasters and the networks moved into Congress to get that legislation nullified. Meanwhile, they were challenging the constitutionality of the regulations in the courts. But Frye was a pretty tough character. Again, an illustration of how government works, talk about Congressional pressure. So much power is vested in men on the key committees, the Corporation Committee or the Interstate Commerce Committee, which then had jurisdiction over the FCC. The networks would get to these key guys and win them over, buy them over or what have you, but Frye was tough enough that he continued to fight this thing and we had our appropriations cut two or three times and the battle went on for two or three years. Then, we found that we had more support in Congress than we ever thought. Some of the other members of Congress who were not on the key committees began to understand what was going on, so not only was the case won in the Supreme Court, but Congress

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ultimately defeated all of the legislation attempting to nullify the Chain Broadcasting Regulations. I don't think that turned out to be too effective, but it helped some on the monopoly standpoint. It was about this time, because of the attacks on the Commission and the chiseling away at appropriations … and they were cut several times to impair our effectiveness … I got interested in trying to meet this … talking about political control and free speech and government intervention and so on, to show where the controls really lay, I began to go into the economic controls and we had a very good guy who was head of the economic section named Dallas Smythe. I wrote an article which was carried in the Public Opinion Quarterly at Princeton, I think the title was "Freedom of Speech for Whom?" I said that we talked about government control, but let's see who really is running the show. Well, here with nine hundred stations on the air, you would think that you would have enough diversifications and controls to get some diversification in programming and ideas. But you take a look at it and 85% of the coverage of these stations was by stations that had a network affiliation contract and the networks not only controlled the times that they used for network programs, but they could bring a lot of pressure to

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bear on the stations as to other programs they would carry. Let's say for example that one station might have a local program that didn't have too large a listening audience or rating, but it was an enthusiastic audience. Well, "We don't want all the sets turned off when our program comes on. You've got to put a more popular program in there." So, they were doing a lot of dictating of the programs. You had this seemingly diversification between nine hundred stations. There were limitations about ownership. I don't think anyone could own more than seventy-five stations, but 85% of the coverage was coming through the networks. Then, you take a look at the networks and you find that they were not such free agents themselves. Network advertising is per se, national advertising. You take a local newspaper at that time, I don't know what the figures are now, but the advertising revenue was about 85% local and about 15% national or regional. You had the reverse situation in the case of the networks and broadcasting stations generally. You take a look at the revenues of the networks and at that time, as I recall, something like 20% in the case of each network, 20% of the revenues came from one national advertiser and something like six national

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advertisers provided more than 50% of the revenue. Well, you follow that through into the advertising agencies and you will find even more concentration, because advertising agencies might handle quite a number of accounts and the concentration got even greater. Well, that created some consternation, but it was still on the economic side. I suppose that programwise, the most significant development came with the so called "blue book" from the Public Service Responsibility of Broadcast Licensees, which was issued in a blue cover. That's the reason it was called a blue book and it created quite a bit of consternation. Well, the way these things came about again, Paul Porter was chairman prior to I had left the Commission, he was a very likeable guy but quite a politician and ordinarily, renewals of licenses were brought up by the engineering department in batches of anything from ten to twenty at a time. If we had no interference problems or technical problems with this station, we would recommend that their license be renewed and the Commission would say, "renewed." That was about all there was to it. Well, I had gone along with this, this was the way they did things, for quite awhile and then I just happened to take a look at the Communications Act one day and it said that all renewals shall be governed by the same

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considerations as original grants. The Commission traditionally, going back to the days of the old Radio Commission, had considered proposed program service as a very important element. They had to be financially, technically, morally qualified and all in their proposed program service. Very often, you might have several applicants for one station and the grant had turned on the proposed program service. The applicants would make a survey of the community, at least they said that they had, and if this was an agricultural community with a good agricultural school, they would try to tie in with them and have farm programs and not just give them the weather reports and market reports, but bring to them the newest developments in seed and fertilizer and so on. Here is a university that has a good music department there would be a proposal giving them time for concerts for their students there or if there was a little theater group that was interested in radio drama, they would give time available for that. It sounded great. So, after I took a look at the provisions of the Act, the next batch of applicants that came along presented by the engineering department, I said, "Well, wait just a minute here, we haven't got enough information. We are entirely acting on engineering reports." The Commission also had required every

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station once a year to present a composite program log. It was sort of like the comptroller's office requiring a statement from a bank and not letting you know exactly the time. But these composite logs had gone right in the files and nobody had even taken a look at them. So, I said, "We haven't got enough information." Well, the response was, "This is the way that we have always done it." I said, "But that's not what the act says and I want the record to show that I am refraining from voting because of lack of information." So, then everytime a batch of renewals appeared on the agenda, [unclear] was one that I worked with closely and several other members of the staff, well, when a station would come up for renewal, I would say, "Got down and get me the original application and see what their proposed program service was and dig out their latest program log and see if they have any relationship between promise and performance." There was none whatsoever. The one that had promised all these things about the agricultural programs and the music programs and disucssion programs, well, 85% of their time was devoted to nothing but network programs or plotters, this kind of thing. So, I laid the promise and performance beside each other and said. "Look here, here's what we are doing. In this case, there were three competing

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applicants and we granted the grant on this proposed program service and look what this guy is doing. We are granting it not to the best applicant, but the biggest. This is not fair to the public or to the competing applicants who may make more modest promises but go about it in a more responsible way."
So, this thing began to build up for months. Everytime, I would be ready with the dossiers, the promise in the application and the latest log. So finally, you know, in government, when the evidence builds up to a point where you've got to do something but there are going to be repercusions from doing something, you have a study. So, I said, "Well, I think that we ought to have a study." The rest of them said, "Well, Cliff, you head up the study and be the Commission man on it." I had a little money so I was able to hire two or three people from the outside. Well one man from the outside, a fellow named Charles Sieckman, who was a neighbor of mine, he was an Englishman but he was naturalized and had married an American girl, had been director of talks for the BBC in the early days and had helped set the thing up and he come to this country on a study of Canadian broadcasting corporations, the educational potentialities and how fast or how well they were doing the job. So, he married this American girl and I think that

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he had made a similar study of American broadcasting. So, we were in a carpool and everyday he sat there and was working for Voice of America during the war and we would talk about this thing. So, when the time to make the study which I headed up, I pulled in Ed Breckner, this fellow from the staff, Dallas Smythe, the head of our economics department and I hired Charles Sieckman. Well, instead of this study dragging on for a couple of years, in a month it was ready and that really baffled them. So, there was nothing to do about it but go along. Paul Porter, meanwhile the study was underway, he had been appointed head of the Office of Price Administration and he had resigned at the Commission the day before the report came out. Well, everybody thought that there was going to be hell to pay and fireworks, but from the public standpoint, it was actually remarkable. "This is great. If the Commission would just live up to this and make the stations live up to this, we will have good broadcasting." So, Paul saw what the reaction was and he came over to the Commission and said, "Well, I wasn't actually on the Commission when the report came in, but would you mind saying in your public statement that former chairman Paul Porter said that had he still been on the Commission, he would have gone along with

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this report with considerable enthusiasm." Well, we talked about the responsibility for a balanced points of view and the commercialization … not specific programs, but we would avoid saying that one particular program was lousy and another good, but the types of programs. So, we said that these stations that didn't live up to their own promises were going to be set at a hearing. I think that I am the only member of the Commission that ever voted not to renew a license and that took a few very extreme cases. You are not going to do any good just renewing these licenses [unclear] . So, when Charlie Denny was then chairman, he would go around all over the country making these speeches, "The blue book will not be breeched." He was all for it, but then whenever a station came up for renewal, they would give them a lecture and saythat this station had been doing this and that but then say that it had promised to do better and that after all, the death penalty was too severe and so on and they would renew it. So gradually, the thing began to drift back into the old pattern. Then about the same time, the [unclear] case was one of the cases that attracted a great deal of attention. I had made a few gestures, I knew that I wasn't going to get anywhere with it but I wanted to get some consideration

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and I think it was a power company that I wrote a dissenting memorandum against them in a hearing, that they were acquiring a radio station. My position was that broadcasting ought to be run by broadcasters and not be permitted to become a mere adjunct of large business concerns, that they wouldn't be fair competitors from the business standpoint, but I thought you have to have [unclear] there at all times to consider the problems. This was a pretty complicated business that was dealing with the minds and emotions of people. I tried to get some discussion on it. Well, one of the biggest stations in the country, a fifty kilowatt station, WLW, operating out of Cincinnati, it blanketed the whole Mississippi Valley, owned by the Corporation. It was pretty much of a family affair, but he had other manufacturing interests. So, they came to the Commission and wanted to sell the station and for the Commission to approve the transfer to the Aviation Corporation of America. Well, I insisted that that be set down for a bearing, it was one of the most important stations in the entire country. So, they agreed to go along with the hearing and the APCO people came in, Paul Porter was still chairman at the time. So, this was a little bit before. We get the high officials of AVCO in the station and they said, "Well, we are buying the broadcasting properties as part of

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the package. We are more interested in their manufacturing facilities." They hadn't the slightest idea of what the responsibilities of a breadcasting license was and how much time they were going to devote to this kind of program and the other. They just had a complete unawareness of what broadcasting was about. But they had a board of directors and on it was a fellow named George Allen. He was a lobbyist a round Washington and told good stories and he had access to most anywhere. So, they put him on and he made some wisecracks and I knew right then what was going to happen. Paul Porter was going along with it. The transfer was approved and I wrote a dissenting memorandum that went into this thing at great length and Wakefield and Walker also went along with me and wrote separate memorandums not going quite as far as I did. But that occassioned one of the key policy decisions. Then after the blue book, I think the one that attracted the most attention, got me in the most trouble, was the Scott case. You know, nobody can be more devout than a devout atheist. Scott was a retired court reporter out in San Francisco and he was an atheist and he made it his lifetime cause to see to it that the atheist point of view was broadcast. So after the blue book came out,

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we had talked about the responsibility of the stations to present all points of view and so on, and so he had approached the three leading stations in San Francisco and asked them for time to present the atheist argument and they had all turned him down. Well, he then preceded to draw up a formal complaint asking that the licenses of these stations be set down for a hearing at renewal. And it was a pretty intelligently done job. He said, "I'm not the kind of fellow that goes around throwing bricks in church windows or scoffing at people kneeling in prayer. I respect the idea that persons may have the religious views that they want, but where the point comes in is where they say I can't present the atheist point of view. I don't want to berate anybody, I just want to make a rational presentation of the atheist argument. As far as are concerned, these stations are giving free time to religious broadcasters or churches and so on. Not only are they giving them free time, which puts the whole thing out of balance, but they are letting a lot of these preachers who get on devote themselves to attacks on atheists, saying that they are irresponsible and criminally inclined because they don't have the sanction of a belief in God and I think

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that I am entitled to be heard." So, then the Commission, what it normally did, we sent the complaint to each of the three stations and asked what they had to say about it. Well, one of the stations came back with a very intelligent response. They said it was all a degree of interest and that "unlike a newspaper that can add another page, we can't add another hour to the day and if every single viewpoint was presented, we would have to be giving time to people to prove that the earth is flat and all of that." But they said that in the showing of enough interest and that if there was a responsible presentation, it ought to be considered. The other two stations were very righteous about it. "It would be contrary to the public interest to ever permit the cause of atheism to be presented on the air. We would not present that or permit it." So, the Commission was sort of on a spot. They said, "Well, let's just dismiss his complaints. If we go into a hearing, we would have to put the licenses of nine hundred stations in it because they are all doing the same thing and we are certainly not going to revoke the licenses without some warning of responsibility. I said, "We aren't going to revoke licenses but we said in the blue book that all points of view should be expressed and there is some interest in this area, but if

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we just dismiss this with a simple order, in the public mind, it will be taken as a confirmation of the position of these two stations, that the presentation of the cause of atheism would be contrary to the public interest." So I said, "I am not going to vote for a revocation of license or even a hearing, but I want my views to go out as a notice to the broadcasters and the public generally about their responsibility. Then we can be specific about it and next time we can take more drastic action." So, they agreed to pass a week and I spent my time writing a dissenting memorandum. Well, I wouldn't say, "dissent", because I was not voting to revoke the licenses or anything of that sort but I said, "Here is the position that I think the Commission should take." So, I took the First Amendment and I went back to Lincoln and Jefferson and said that they wouldn't be allowed on the air because one of them was accused of being atheist and their ideas of God were so varied that one man can say, "Well, he's an atheist. He says that he is for God, but his God is entirely different from mine." There was a lot about free speech and all, but I must have hit the right balance, that they didn't want to be against God, but they didn't want to be against free speech, either. So, much to my surprise, Denny began to stir around and when it came up at the next meeting, they

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agreed to adopt my memorandum as a unanimous statement of the Commission's position. Well, ordinarily, the Commission's decision was issued over the name of the Secretary unless there were areas of dissent and the name of the dissenter would go on, but this was a majority position. But it got out and my memorandum had to be rewritten to fit into the context of the situation. Sol Teschoff of Broadcasting Magazine, somebody on the staff leaked to him that I had written it. And he came out with an editorial … well, when I was on the Commission, he began every other week to regularly have an editorial going after me, but in any event, he came out strongly for God in his editorial. Then I began to hear from the good religious folks. Some of them were telling me how hot hell was and others were saying—


Running through this whole business was the Red hysteria. We came through the war with the thing pretty well intact except for this thing out in California. Again, we didn't get worked up as much as we did during World War I when anybody that had a German name was in danger of his life. During World War I, it was

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pretty awful, but I did get involved, I won't go into that in detail, I had just been appointed to the Commission when Martin Dies, the Dies Committee, made an attack on the Commission employees, a man by the name of Godwin Watson, who had come down from Columbia. He was a social psychologist and was there to head of the propaganda analysis section. Well, I had nothing to do with hiring him, he had been on the job for several months and done an excellent job when Martin Dies writes to the Commission and says, "This man is socialistic and belongs to the following Communist front organizations and I demand that he be fired forthwith." This was about December of 1941, right after Pearl Harbor. He didn't call us quietly and say, "I've got some information and you'd better check into it," but he hands the letter to the press before he puts it in the mailbox. So, we hear about it first in the Washington Post and then we get complaints. Because I had had nothing to do with hiring the man, the other members of the Commission asked me to check into it, the charges. I didn't even know this man, so first I sent for his personnel folder and he had some very strong recommendations from solid people, at least in the academic field. We were doing this propaganda job as a service, it wasn't going out to the public, we were doing it for the White House and the State Department and the military. He

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had been commended a number of times from the military. He had even culled some general military moves from their propoaganda that were issued. He had put things together and done quite an effective job. So, then I said, "Maybe I had better see what this guy is like before I go any further," so I gave him call and he came over and said that he knew nothing about these Communist front organizations. So, I started questioning him quite seriously for five or six minutes and then I began to suspect that I had something funny going on here and maybe I had better know something about these Communist front organizations. This fellow impressed me as being a pretty substantial character, I wouldn't say the ordinary run of the mill person, because he was a hell of a lot brighter. So, I sent for some of the staff and said, "Bring me in some of the literature of some of these organizations." The cause sounded good and there were respectable people on the letter head and you could give them two or three dollars and that would constitute membership. I said, "Let's see who else are members and if their cause is what the purport to be." Well, the next day they were back with their first Communist front organization, The League for Non-Participation in Japanese Aggression. The chairman was Henry L. Stimpson, the vice-chairman was Admiral Yarnell. It was an outfit that was setup right after Japan

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invaded China and the general idea was to put an embargo on oil and scrap iron going to Japan because if we didn't, she was going to be throwing it back at us, which of course she did. The next was the Council Against Intolerance in America. The co-chairmen were William Allen White of the Emporia Gazette … have you ever heard of that small town newspaperman who attracted a good deal of attention? He was a Republican but wrote a very lively editorial page. The other was, I believe, Senator Warren Barbour of New Jersey, a very conservative Republican, on the national board was Al Smith, who was still alive, you know the one who ran for President. Then Tom Dewey, William Green of the American Federation of Labor, Senator Carter Glass of Virginia, who was a little to the right of Senator Taft and about every religious leader who had a national reputation, Protestant, Catholic and Jewish. The best I could figure out, their function was to sponsor Brotherhood Week. Well, the long and short of it is that I got this little list and went down the list and it ended up that when I reported back to the Commission, I said, "I don't know, these Communists are supposed to be such liars that you can't trust them and even if they tell you they are Communists, they may be lying. Let's just check the membership." Well, I had among the members of these organizations twelve senators, every member of

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the cabinet, twelve senators led by Carter Glass of Virginia who was about the most conservative man in the Senate, thirty-six members of the House, in cluding Jerry Voorhies, a member of the Dies Committee, who was a Communist on three counts, five members of the U.S. Supreme Court, led by Charles Evans Hughes … on the Marian Anderson Concert Committee. You remember old Chief Justic Hughes and how the Daughters of the American Revolution had Constitution Hall, that was the only hall big enough for a Marian Anderson concert, the great Negro singer, and they wouldn't let her have Constitution Hall because she was black. So, old Hughes got annoyed about that and got busy and organized the Marian Anderson Concert Committee and staged a concert for her on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial where she had about twenty times the capacity of Constitution Hall. That was supposed to be a Communist front organization. Well, the long and short of that was that the Commission refused to fire this man by a four to three vote. We issued a public statement giving answers to these charges and we said that we could not be consistent with our oaths of office to support and uphold the Constitution of the United States and fire a man on charges such as this. The other three's attitude was, "Well, this is all absurd, this man is doing a good job, but we will have a

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hard time finding someone to take his place, but what does one man matter anyway? We've got to consider our relations with Congress. Let's fire him." So, we refused to fire him by a four to three vote and the next thing we knew, a rider was on our appropriation bill, "no part of this appropriation may be used to pay any compensation to Godwin Watson." Well, I got busy with this thing and you know, it was pretty well oiled in the rules committee, Cox from Georgia and Howard Smith from Virginia, [unclear] I believe was chairman, but he was pretty well in his dotage and an old man. So, I got busy and got all the information together and began to lobby in the Senate, including Harry Truman, whom I knew well and had done some favors for, and Alvin Barkley, the majority leader and young Bob La Follate and old George Maurice and a few of that type. When this bill hit the Senate, the Senate rejected it unanimously. Senators were making speeches and saying, "We don't know what this man thinks, that's not our business and when the Congress of the United States began to concern itself with a man' politics and what he thinks, we are going down the sroad of Nazi Germany and we will have no part of that." So, they rejected it unanimously and the next thing I knew, I was being investigated by the FBI and in the EBI report, I was

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respectable, but my wife, according to the Communist Daily Worker, had appeared before a committee of Congress and made a speech, given a statement in opposition to the poll tax as a prerequisite to voting in national elections. According to the Washington Post, the Washington Star, the Baltimore Sun, the New York Times, well, it wasn't according to them, it was according to the Daily Worker and no FBI agent was paying attention to what the capitalistic press had to say. So, that made me very conscious and the next year they tried it again and this time, House conferees refused to receive it and the thing finally went to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court held … well, seven said that it was unconstitutional to fire this man and two of them said that you don't even have to reach the constitutional issue, but the majority opinion was that this ex post facto bill of attainder, and due process and about everything that you could think of should be applied here. So, we relaxed and thought that things were fine throughout the rest of the war. Then, President Roosevelt died and the a tom bomb came along and again hysteria began to build up. Well then, Hoover started sending us … not exactly little dossiers, but items applicable to radio stations or news commentators and that sort of thing. He would pass it on and when I saw them, I began to fret about that a little bit.

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Then finally, it came to a head, this thing had been going on. You know, Hoover had his key men on Congressional committees. Congress was scared of him. They didn't like him. Now, we had been in a constant battle ever since I had been on the Commission over wiretapping, the wire tapping legislation came under the Communications Act and every year, almost, he would try to get some legislation through there authorizing him to wiretap. He would put in about national security and emergencies and all that. Frye was a good tough civil libertarian, if nothing else and we licked it in Congress every time.
So finally, these pressures began to build up on me. The newsmen and the commentators and then in time, it went on to some of the actors and performers and musicians and everything else. But it came to a head with the application of the Hollywood Radio Corporation, the Hollywood Radio group. This was a group out in Los Angeles made up of a large number of stockholders drawn from the University there at UCLA and University of Southern California and quite a number of people in the movies and radio field, writers and actors, people of that sort. The whole idea was that this was going to be a commercial station, but it wasn't big enough …nobody had enough investment in it to worry about his investment too

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much. The general idea was "We'll let advertising support it, but let's see what can be done with a station that is program oriented." People were primarily interested in the broadcasting. Well, a letter comes to the Commission addressed to the chairman from Mr. J. Edgar Hoover saying that it has been brought to his attention that this corporation applied for a license on frequency so-and-so, a frequency that didn't exist in the broadcasting band at that time, and this was to advise that information in his files reflected that a majority of the stockholders were Communists, or actively engaged in Communistic activities. So, we write him back and said, "If you've got any evidence that these people are not qualified to operate a radio station, we will set the application down for hearing and you can come with your evidence under oath and subject to cause of examination.' It came back, "Of course I couldn't do that because that would disclose my confidential sources." [Laughter] "But here are some areas of information, I've got that in my files." Here was the one that I thought was the classic. "This individual, in 1944, was in contact with another individual who was suspected of possible pro-Russian activities." Well, this was when Russia was an ally and Russian relief was the thing. And on another university professor, he had made a Phi Beta Kappa

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address urging that we try to set up a cultural exchange with the Russians after the war was over … it was unbelieveable. But what happens, the Commission had visions that no one would talk about these things openly. Hoover won't come in with his evidence. So, we sent a couple of lawyers. We didn't have any investigative staff as such. We sent them out to Los Angeles to see what they could find about the Communist activities and they came back and came with a report that the ma in activity was that most of them were members of the Hollywood Democratic Club and had been very active for Roosevelt in both '40 and '44 and that they could see nothing wrong with it. Their investigation found a lot of rather amusing things, but the Commission didn't act at all. They had visions of going before the appropriations committee and some Congressman saying, "Didn't you grant an application to Hollywood Radio Corporation?" "Yes." "But didn't you have derogatory information from J. Edgar Hoover." "Well yes, we did, but we checked into it as best we could and gave him an opportunity to come in with the evidence and he wouldn't do it and we couldn't find any basis for denying the application and under the law you can't deny an application without a hearing." Well, so off go $500,000 of your appropriations just to show you. So, they just sat on this thing and finally I decided that this thing had to be brought out in the open. I was invited to make a speech to an educational group out in Chicago on the potentialities of FM as an educational medium

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and trying to stir up some interest. So, about this time, Tom Clark was attorney general and we sent the Freedom Train a round the country with cars painted red, white and blue with the original Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and all these documents so that the schoolkids could see it. Then about the same time, Parnell Thomas was the chairman of the House Committee on Un-American Activities and they began to move into Hollywood and of course, you get the Hollywood characters and the big press. I had decided that I had to blast this thing out someway, because we were really in violation of the law, by denying an application by non-action. So, I had already written my speech on FM as an educational medium, but I decided that I would blast, take this occasion to sound off on this Hollywood business. So, I digressed from the main thrust of my speech and said that while the Freedom Train was going around the country carrying all these documents, there were things going on in Washington that reputed every document on that train. I said, "Don't get the idea that this Hollywood a ffair of Parnell Thomas's is just a one-time Hollywood show. What is happening there is going to permanate the broadcasting industry and be in our schools and universities and is going to wreck the country." I said, "Moreover, I think that as bad as

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it is, I think that these klieg lighted lynching ventures are not as dangerous as the secret dossiers that go into the government files when the applicant doesn't even know that they are there. It will haunt him for the rest of his life." I said, "If you could see some of these FBI reports, as I have done, I think that you would have to agree with me that much of it is little more than a baseless gossip." Well, the press was not very concerned and was more interested in what all I said about education. But [unclear] Mark Charles heard about it somewhere and a couple of days after I got back to Washington, he said, "I understand that you made this crack out there. Will you give me a copy of your speech?" I said, "That wasn't in my prepared text, but if you are interested, I don't remember exactly what I said, but I'll call my stenographer and dictate it to you." Which I did. Well, in a couple of days, he came out with an article saying that he thought that I was a responsible public official and if this kind of thing had been going on, this was Nazi stuff and he just had a very powerful large article. The next thing which came about was that Mr. Hoover writes the Commission and says. "Unless all the other members of the Commission repudiate Commissioner Durr, I will assume that it is no longer interested in any political information

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from me." Well, they were all scared to death. My relations, with one exception, were always good with them on a personal basis. So, I said, "Look here, if you don't want to repudiate me and there are any of you that want to get in the fight with me, you are welcome, but you know that I've got the reputation of being something of a dissenter anyway and I wasn't purporting to be speaking for the Commission, I was expressing my own views. I realize that if you do feel like you have to repudiate me, there is nothing personal in it." So, they sweat over this thing and they couldn't bring themselves to repudiate me, but they came out with this letter saying that they had the utmost confidence in the FBI and they wanted to continue the have this information and so on. So, I could take this occasion, the public had never seen an FBI report, the crap that goes into them is unbelieveable. So, I thought that this would give me an opportunity to bring these things out in public. So, I said, "Since this letter is a Commission letter, I want my views to go out." So, I wrote a little memorandum in which I said that the Commission should certainly welcome any source of information that aids in the performance of its duties, but the information must be accurate and under oath and subject to cross examination as in a courtroom. I

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said that here was the type of information that I just can't see would ever be helpful to the Commission. I then proceeded to paraphrase all this crap in this FBI report. Well, then the fat was really in the fan and Hoover and I had a slugging match for the rest of the time that I wason the Commission. I opposed the loyalty oath and I wrote a dissenting opinion on that. However, Truman offered reappointment, but I turned him down on this and said that I couldn't be part of this thing. I would have to administer this loyalty program and I just couldn't go along with it. His response was, "Well, I've got to take the ball away from Parnell Thomas. If he was his way and gets legislation through, we will have the damndest Gestapo any country ever had and I don't want J. Edgar Hoover running this country. What I want is to protect these people." I said, "Mr. President, I don't think that you realize the effect that this is having on the morale of government employees whose loyalty has been demonstrated in war and peace. Some of them have left their jobs for four years and gone into the army and navy and come back and then they are accused in FBI reports by anonymous informers. You don't have any power to supboena witnesses of your own or anything of that sort. The mere charge against a man can ruin him. You don't realize how the

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morale has gone to pieces. The more serious thing, to my way of thinking, is that Parnell Thomas is having his that's true, but I think that most people just see him as a local demagogue capitalizing on this Red hysteria, but you come along with this loyalty board. People will look at that and say, ‘My God, Parnell Thomas is right. Here is the government, according to the President himself, so infiltrated with dangerous subversives that every employee of government, no matter how insignificant his job might be, or how far removed it might be from any consideration of national security has got to be checked by a secret police.’ That is going to destroy confidence in government." He said, "This is all a bunch of crap. Government employees are as loyal a bunch of people as there ever was. All I want to do is to protect these people. I'll amend this order, if necessary. I'll repeal it." So, he issued a very nice statement expressing regrets that I wouldn't take the appointment. He was about to enter the '48 campaign and had enough problems, so I just let him issue the statement and after taking his … he had been magnificent in the Senate and good in the Watson case, but he got caught up in the '48 campaign. You can go back and read the Truman-Dewey speeches, "I'm a bigger anti-Communist than you are, so there," and this thing just built up. Well, that's

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about pretty much my FCC background.
So after that, you stayed in Washington?
I stayed in Washington. I thought that I was going to have a fairly good law practice. I wanted to teach. I had received a number of feelers, including the Yale Law School, but after I had had my last battle with J. Edgar Hoover, all these things just died out. I started practicing law and the day I opened my office, this guy came in, he was waiting for me. He had worked over at Labor Statistics. He had a wife and a couple of kids and he had been found disloyal under Truman's loyalty program and fired. No job and a wife and two kids to support. He wanted to have it appealed, which I did and from them on, I got that out in thepublic and blasted it as best I could. My clients would meet me on the street corner and tell me, "Well, I admire what you are doing, but I've got to get a more conservative lawyer." [Laughter] The first thing that I knew, I was representing nobody but the victims of these loyalty cases, the loyalty program and the House Un-American Activities Committee, particularly a lot of the young scientists. I represented Oppenheimer's brother at his request. I knew Robert pretty well, and David That ended my possibilities of making a living practicing law

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in Washington.
So, you went out to Colorado?
I went to Colorado and then I had an operation ….
Why did youmove to Colorado?
Why did I leave Colorado? You can get Virginia's view on that. I went out there for the farmer's union because they were the liberal's organization and they asked me to come out and counsel for them. I had hardly gotten to work before my back went bad on me. I had had trouble a long time and I had to have spinal fusion which laid me up. But meanwhile, Truman had been taking them into the camp and they began to change their whole line. The Korean War broke out while we were on the way to Colorado and while I was lying in the hospital, I knew nothing about it, but a petition had been circulated by such dangerous people as Linius Pauling, Fred Morrison, a top physicist at Cornell, and I've forgotten who else was on there, urging that we not bomb above the Yalu River, which would bring China into the Korean War as sure as hell. Virginia just automatically signed it, didn't even think about it. Iknew nothing about it. This was in line with the farmer's union policy when I had gone out there. Six weeks later, an article came out in the Denver Post, "Wife of

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counsel for farmer's union signs Red petition." So the farmer's union told me, I was going back to work but still in a cast up to my knees and they got Virginia on the phone and they have a statement for her to sign in which she has to crawl and say that she was just a poor ignorant woman taken in by these dangerous people like Morrison andPauling. Another man in the group was Judge Wolfe, who was Chief Justice of the Utah Supreme Court. Oh, it was the damndest thing that I ever saw. Virginia tried to call me. Our money was gone, we had three kids, the oldest daughter had a job then, but we had three that we still had to support. I didn't have any hospital insurance and it was obviously going to be a long time before I could really get to work again, but they told Virginia that unless this statement of hers was in the Post when it went to press on Sunday morning, "your husband's usefulness will end." Meanwhile, Virginia tried to get me, but they told the switchboard operator not connect it and in the meanwhile they tried to work on me. I said that I wouldn't let my wife sign any such thing. Well, the long and short of it is that I got fired and my mother was still alive and well on in her years and she had a house and I was sick and she asked us to come back until I got well and we came back to Montgomery. I was laid up and it was about three years before I got into full action again. So, I determined to

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be respectable and I started practicing law and it looked like I was going to do all right, until this damn bus boycott came on and I was in trouble again. [Laughter]


… Alabama and the civil rights work ….
I wasn't doing civil rights work. You see, I never was a member of any kind of an organization at all, I didn't like organizations. I was uncomfortable. Finally, I did, after I got out of the government, the Lawyer's Guild was the only group of lawyers that was standing up against this group hysteria and my friend, I was a very good friend of Tom Emerson, who was the Yale Law School dean and he was battling the thing and I thought that he had taken his share of the punishment and they asked me to join and be president at the same time. I thought that Tom ought to have a year off and I took that, but that is about the only organization that I belonged to. Well, I belonged to the American Bar Association briefly, but I quit that. I belonged to the Presbyterian Church, but I got out of that, too. I was determined and Virginia severed her connections, it was a question of making a living and supporting these children. I

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gradually eased into a law practice and my first year, it looked like I was going to do all right. It was dull, but the bread and butter kind of thing, real estate clauses, wills and automobile accident cases and things of that sort. Then, the first thing that happened, the Supreme Court had under consideration, Brown vs. the Board of Education. They hadn't acted on that. So, I was also representing among my clients, I had two corporate clients, the Durr Drug Company, which was the family business and the Southern Farmer, run by Aubrey Williams. I don't know whether you know of that character or not. He is one of the great men of this country, he was sort of the [unclear] of the New Deal. He was Harry Hopkins right hand man under the WPA and later, Roosevelt made him head of the National Youth Administration. In fact, he gave Lyndon Johnson a job that launded him into politics, he was National Youth Administrator from Texas. Aubrey was an old Alabama character, had a country place north of Birmingham, a very poor family, but a book has got to be written about Aubrey. Then, Roosevelt wanted to keep him in Washington and so the Rural Electrification administrator's job came open and he appointed Aubrey to that. Well, Aubrey had refused to allow any discrimination in the National Youth

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Administration and also, he had very quietly backed up the FEPC, the Fair Employment Practices Commission, and put a little pressure on the manufactures who had war contracts and tried to avoid hiring black labor. So, a fight was waged against Aubrey on his confirmation and the confirmation was defeated. So, then Marshal Fields admired him and brought him south with a paper, I think it was a little weekly to try and get some liberal ideas across in the South. So, he had quite a plant there and I represented him.
Well, one day, Aubrey came around, one Saturday morning and he had a subpoena from the internal security subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Eisenhower was still president and he was to appear in New Orleans to tell all he knew about subversive activities of the Southern Conference for Human Welfare. Well, Virginia had been very active in that when it first started. Part of it sloughed off for tax purposes and became the Southern Conference Educational Fund and Aubrey became president of it. It was about the only organization in the South that was for integration. So, Aubrey had this subpoena for New Orleans and almost instinctively I got to work on the thing and we began to discuss strategy and how to handle h himself and Virginia was taking calls, acting as my secretary

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then. It's a bad idea to have a man's wife working for him, but I needed a secretary and trieda lot of others but she was the only one that could spell, so I was stuck with her. [Laughter] Well, this was a rather amusing story. I had been trying to catch up and had been under terrific strain and I was under treatment for a heart condition at the time, not a heart attack but a coronary insufficiency, they called it, angina. So, when we left home Saturday afternoon, Virginia said, "Cliff, I know how you feel about all this and Aubrey, but you just can't go down there with your heart condition." I said, "Nobody else in Montgomery will go with him and I know the ropes, so let's stick by Aubrey." Well, by the time I got home, she had gotten in touch with the doctor and he had me on the phone and said, "You just can't go down there." So, I argued with him some, but on Monday morning, the problem was solved because when we went to work that morning, the marshal was waiting with a subpoena for Virginia. So, I called the doctor and said, "Listen hear doctor, you may as well be sensible about this. You know that it is going to be a strain on me sitting up here in Montgomery with Virginia down there going through all that business and I want to go down with her." Well, he could see that and there were a number of other people subpoenaed, Myles

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Horton and Jim Dombrowski and quite a number of others. Virginia got busy on the phone meanwhile and started playing politics. First she called Lyndon Johnson. The sub-committee consisted of McClellan of Arkansas, who had some prestige, then Jenner, the Republican, who was chairman and Jim Eastland. That was to be the committee. Well, Virginia decided that we could handle Jim Eastland all right, but McClellan and Jenner might be a little tough, so she gets busy on the phone and called Lyndon. He was on the floor and finally Virginia called their home and gets Byrd and she said, "Well, Lyndon has gone to bed." Virginia says, "Get him up," and she proceeds to tell Byrd what has happened, that we have all been subpoened down there, including Aubrey. Well, Byrd in her sweet way said, "I know you and Aubrey are as fine Americans as there ever were and I'll just get Lyndon up." She got him up and Lyndon got on the phone, "Honey, what you calling me about?" Virginia said, "I'm calling you because I'm as sore as hell." She told him about her and Aubrey being subpoened down there. Well, he said, "I didn't know a thing about it." "Do you mean that you are the majority leader there and you don't know what is going on in the United States Senate." "Well, what in the hell should I do?" She said, "You just see to it that

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no other Democrat comes down with Eastland." "Well, I'll see what I can do." Then, there was a guy from Ohio, George Bender. He was a colorful character, pretty much of a and he was later Senator. I think that at thetime, he had been elected Congressman at large. They had had some reapportionment. But George had been for this abolition of the poll tax because of the Negro votes in a few cities of Ohio and it was good politics for him to be for it. So, one Sunday afternoon, Virginia gets on the phone and locates him at Chagrin Falls, Ohio. George was a little to the right of Bob Taft politically, but the poll tax was a different issue for him. So, George says, "Well, Virginia, you must love me as much as ever, calling me up long distance to talk to me." Virginia said, "Well, George, I do love you just as much as I ever did, but I didn't call you up to tell you how much I loved you." She proceeded to tell him about this hearing. "Well," he said, "you've got nothing to worry about. You haven't done anything wrong. Just answer the questions and you'll be all right. You haven't done anything wrong." Virginia said, "That's just it. You never do know what they might ask you and if they ask about this poll tax fight, you know that we used your office and we used your memeograph

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machine and you sent out a lot of the stuff over your name. If they ask me this question, I've got to answer them." "Oh, isn't there some constitutional amendment that you can invoke?" [Laughter] Virginia said, "I'm not going to invoke the Fifth Amendment and have people think that I have something to hide." "Well, what can I do for you, honey?" She said, "You see to it that no Republican comes down with Jim Eastland." The long and short of it was that we got down there and Jim Eastland was by himself. [Laughter] Well, that's a long story. The main witness was a guy named Paul Crouch and he was an informer and obviously a psychopath and he admitted that he didn't know Aubrey or Virginia. You see, I wasn't subpoenaed, I was just down there as the laywer for them. He had met Aubrey once after he had met a speech and had been introduced to him as "Comrad Williams." [Laughter] Then Virginia, well, she was in with the White House and kin to Justice Black, and he was the mastermind who really started the Southern Conference for Human Welfare …well, the first day, I told them that they were going to be held in contempt and wind up in jail and they said that they were not going to invoke the Fifth Amendment, but they said that they would answer any questions about themselves, but they weren't going to give them names.

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That's what they wanted, to get names of other people. I told them that the Fifth Amendment was to protectyou and if you don't answer the other questions, you can be held in contempt and go to jail. The first day, the two characters were on who none of us knew before. One of them was a contractor who had been very successful and had a Polish name. I think that his parents had come to this country when he was eighteen months old and the other was born in Brooklyn andwas a laywer. He had practiced law in New York for awhile and then he had come to Miami. Well, they went after them. Whether they had ever been Communists, I don't know, it turned out that what happened, there had been some Jewish synagogues bombed down in Miami and Jim Dombrowski, who was secretary of the Southern Conference, had gone down to see if he could help organize some protest and they had been in this local group. He had pretty well forgotten about that. Well, anyway, Crouch began to testify. One of them was all prepared, he was going to meet the Russian navy when it launched its landing craft on Miami Beach and all this. Well, you couldn't believe the treatment that these guys got. They were just reated….they protested and finally the marshals were all ordered to drag them out of the room. I woke up in the middle of the night to the banging away of a typewriter and there was Virginia. I said, "What in the hell are

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you doing?" She said, "I'm getting up a statement." I said, "Everybody agrees what you are going to do, you're going to end up in jail because you are going to be held in contempt." She said, "From what I have seen today, I'm not going to have anything to do with this outfit at all." Well, she started off in this statement by saying that she had the highest respect for the investigative role of Congress and from what she had seen, this was no legitimate exercise of Congressional powers and this was nothing but a kangaroo court and she refused to be any part of it. She ended by saying, "I stand in utter and complete contempt of this committee." [Laughter] When they got her on the stand the next day, she just refused to answer any questions. She admitted that she was my wife and wasn't a Communist and never had been, but the rest of the time, she just stood moot. Well, there is another aspect of the story, John Cone from Montgomery volunteered to go down there as a lawyer, he is George Wallace's speech writer. That's another story. I'll digress and come back to that. [Laughter] She just refused to answer any questions at all. She wouldn't reply. It just drove them frantic.
Then they would put Paul Crouch on the stand and he would go on about Virginia's activities and then

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followed that with Aubrey Williams. Eastland had announced at the very beginning that the cross examination of witnesses would never be permitted. Crouch was vouched for, he spent about two hours telling us his qualifications, how he had been a private in the Army back in the twenties and had been courtmartialed and sentenced to thirty years for causing subversion in the ranks or something, but after three years, his sentence had been commuted and he got busy with his Communist activities. He went to Russia and having been in the army, he said the General Staff let them sit in on their war plans against the Panama Canal and all this. They guy was just completely nuts. But Eastland announced that there would be no right to cross examination. Well, I had run across this guy's trail very briefly. When McCarthy made his famous Wheeling, West Virginia speech, I got pretty disgusted with Dean Acheson running like a scared rabbit instead of slugging at him. You know, he started on the State Department. "I have in my hands a hundred and nine or ninety-two hundred card carrying Communists …" all this numbers game. Instead of slugging him. Acheson was rushing around trying to get statements from Bryne and Marshal, ex-secretaries of State that one of these so named had never been on the State Department payroll. Well, at the State Department, this man was oneof the

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greatest experts in the world on China. He had written these books at John Hopkins. Outer Mongolia and all were all his home ground. At one time, Roosevelt sent him over as advisor to Chaing Kai-shek, but they couldn't get along and he pulled out. I was just disgusted that the State Department was doing this, whether Vladimir was pink, yellow brown or blue, that the State Department hadn't been picking his brains. If they didn't have him on the payroll, there was something wrong with their intelligence. I wrote a ltter to the Washington Post saying that this wasn't the way to deal with this thing. The next day, a Congressman from California named Waddell was all ready with a speech. He had a dossier on me and the Washington Post. [Laughter] They said we were Reds. But anyway, he said in this, "A former Communist by the name of Paul Crouch had testified that he had seen Durr frequently in meetings of the top Communist echelon in New York." Well, Woods was then chairman and I so I wrote Woods and said that I was issuing a statement to the press and said, "Look here, this is what Waddell has said and if Crouch or anybody else has been testifying this about me, I want to come over and see it." I couldn't get a reply to the letter. So, several years later, this was '51

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when McCarthymade his speech. No, '50. And as I recall, it must have been six or eight months later that I was representing Frank Oppenheimer, who had been subpoenaed before the committee and I saw this couple while I was waiting around the room, they looked like a couple of lost dogs. I said to one of the secretaries there, "Who are they?" "That's Paul Crouch and his wife and he is an ex-Communist." I wneton my way and didn't pay any attention to it. So, after the first day's hearings when they took these two guys from Miami, the first recess. I went up to Crouch and motioned to some newspaper men to follow and I referred to this Waddell article and I said, "Man to man, I want to know if this is Waddell's lie or yours?" Well, about that point, the counsel moved up to Crouch and whispered in his ear and he said, "What I have to say, I'll say under oath." So, we go ahead thenext day and I am representing Aubrey Williams and Eastland had announced firmly that the right of cross examination would not be permitted. When Aubrey gets through, he said that anything they wanted to know about him was o.k., but he wasn't going to give any names. Eastland smiled beningly and said, "Mr. Williams, because you have been such a cooperative witness, I'm going to waive the rules and permit your lawyer to cross examine Mr. Crouch." Well, I knew nothing

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about the guy except his own testimony about himself. He was obviously a psychopath. It was like putting a dime in the juke box when you asked him a question. he just ran through the record. I decided the best thing to do, since he was enjoying himself so much, was just to go ahead and let him tell about his nefarious about his activities while a member of the Communist party. So, I asked him about his training in Russia and how he was trained to blow up airplanes and railroads and so on. I said, "You were trained to lie, too, weren't you?" "Oh, yes." [Laughter] Finally, I said, "Why did you get out of the Communist party?" "I got out to save the lives of my children and of yours if you have any." "What happened to change you so quickly?" "Out there in California, I saw atomic secrets being handed out to members ot hte Communist spy ring and then I saw all at once the horror of this thing that I had participated in for so long." I asked him when this was. "In 1941." "Well, when did you first report this to the FBI or an agency of government?" "1948." "You saw all this back in '41 and you waited seven years." Well, you would just get more speeches. Finally, I said, "How do you prove that you are not a Communist? Are you still one?" At that point, the counsel leaned over and said, "Mr. Crouch,

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is Mr. Durr a Communist?" "I don't whether he still is." Eastland begins to get a little uneasy. Crouch says, "I saw him several times at meetings of the top Communist echelon in New York." Eastland gets a little more uneasy and said, "Mr. Durr is not a witness." I said, "He started this testimony Let's get it all in the record." So, Crouch goes ahead. For everybody else, he had learned his speech and he had said that Aubrey Williams had spoken at such as place and time. It would be years before, but he would give them dates and everything. But the best he could do on me was "it was between 1939 and 1941." O tried to pin him down as to the year or time or month and all he could remember was that. "Well, who else was present?" He named all the top Communists. "Where did it take place." "Well, we changed our meeting places everytime and I can't remember." "What went on?" "Well, speeches were made." "Well, what did I do?" "You just sat there." "Did I ever make a speech?" "No." "Did you ever meet me and get my name?" "No, but you are one of those distinctive looking people like Dr. Robert Oppenheimer and once you see their faces, you never forget it." I turned to Eastland and said, "Senator, I want to be put under oath." I said that ever word that he said about me was a complete lie. I had never been to A Communist

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meeting in my life. I said that I wouldn't think that there was anything wrong with it if I had and wanted to see what was going on. But I said that I had neverbeen a member of the Communist party and had no idea of being one. I said, "Both of us are under oath and it is your job as chairman of this committee to see that one or the other of us is indicted for perjury." Of course, nothing ever happened. But rather interestingly, the last day, Viriginia was out of the room, Myles Horton had been called up and he was a rough tough quick tempered Tennesse mountaineer and she was afraid that he would get in trouble and tried to calm him down. Crouch took the stand again and was summing up. Now, Mrs. Roosevelt had been very active in this anti-poll tax bill, she would have Virginia over to the White House quite often to discuss strategy and so on. Crouch testified that he published a Communist paper in the South and the word was passed on to him, he had never met Justice Black, but he heard that Black wanted to subscribe to that paper and it couldn't be sent to him since he was on the Supreme Court, so "send it to Cliff Durr and he will see that it is sent to Justice Black."



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…Mrs. Roosevelt was passing on cabinet secrets to Virginia who was passing them on to the Communist spy ring. I'm very slow and don't usually lose my temper very often, but it builds up and it keeps going once it gets started. There was a fellow named Jennings Perry, who used to be editor of the National Tennessean, who was covering this thing, an old friend of ours and an awfully good guy. I must have shown that I was getting a little tense in this crazy testimony about Virginia and he just reached over and patted me on the shoulders and it showed that nobody was going to pay attention to this damn guy, it was so crazy that nobody would pay attention to it. I quited down, I thought. But then, when Crouch got up to leave the witness chair, all I know is what I read in the paper, that I valuted over the rail of the jury box and started toward him and said, "You goddamned son of a bitch, lying like that, I'm going to kill you." I can remember a couple of themarshals grabbing me and they were holding me firmly, but my recollection is that it was rather gently, like, "We don't blame you, but we can't have this kind of thing going on in a federal courtroom. Well, we finally got me over the excitement and I said, "Let's go around to the little park by the Federal Building, I want to get calmed down." So, I take a walk with

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Virginia and we walk around for ten or fifteen minutes and then there was a little coffee shop there and I guess we got a cup before we went back. So, we have the cup of coffee and the hearing was on the third floor of the Federal Building and as we were going back into the Federal Building, I noticed that there was an ambulance parked in front of the building. I couldn't see a sign of an accident or anything and wondered what an ambulance was doing there. The elevators were down at the far end and closed off, so we walked up three flights and I was going down the hall way toward the hearing room and here was a young doctor rushing toward me with a stethoscope in his ear and saying, "Be still, be still." I said, "What in the hell is going on?" "Be quiet, be still." I was just completely baffled. Well, then he starts saying, "I think that you are going to be all right, I'll get you a prescription," and about that time, here comes an older doctor down the hallway. The younger one turns to him and says, "I think that he's going to be all right, but I've written a prescription for a sedative." The older doctor says, "Weren't you in my class in part of Tulane Medical School?" He said, "Yes, sir." He said, "Didn't I teach you a damned thing?" He said, "A man with an experience of a heart condition going through something like this andyou are going to dismiss him with a

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sedative?" He said, "You are going to the hospital with me right now. I have an ambulance waiting for you downstairs." I said, "What is going on here?" Well, there was a young lawyer from New Orleans there and I had told him that the doctor had asked me to take things a little lightly and I had asked him to take over one of my cases, so he had gotten a little concerned about it and it happened that one of the top heart men there was a good friend of his and he had called him. So, in any event, I finally said, "O.K., you let me go back in that hearing room for just three minutes and I'll come on back and go to the hospital." He said, "Why do you want to go back?" I said, "I just want them to see me still standing on my own two feet." "Does that mean a lot to you?" "Yes, it does." "Well," he said, if I let you go back in there, you are likely to blow your top again and we'll be hauling you away in ice instead of an ambulance. You're going to the hospital." I finally said, "O.K., you send the ambulance on and I'll get in a taxi and go to the hospital." So, they hauled me off to the hospital where they kept me for about a week and longer before they let me come back home. In any event, whether you would say this was an amusing matter, I don't know, but while I am lying up in the hospital and they are giving me all these tests and rigged and wired up for these

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electrocardiograms and all, I pick up the afternoon paper and see that Paul Crouch has demanded a police guard to protect him from me while I am lying up in the hospital. Three policemen from the New Orleans police force were assigned to protect Crouch from me and damned if one of the policemen didn't drop dead of a heart attack one night….