Interview of THEODORE C. STREIBERT
Rebuttal of Critic's Charges
Approaching the area of questioning
related to .■hinges made by Mr. Eugene Castle on an earlier Reporters'
Roundup program (reported in Facts
Forum Xews, August, 1956) as well
as before the Senate Appropriations
Subcommittee, Mr. O'Connor asked:
Critics have said since the separation
°f the U. S. Information Agency from
the State Department in 1953, that it
snould not exist as a separate agency.
They have said that its — I'll use the
Word 'propaganda,' since I think we
ire in a battle of semantics — that its
Propaganda is not effective, and is
having, if anything, an adverse effect.
Obviously," he presupposed, "you
Would heartily disagree with the argument that the USIA should be again
merged with the State Department.
"Ut will you tell us why you would
disagree with that?"
"We operate many media of communications," Mr. Streibert outlined.
such its all the broadcasting stations
and motion picture production. We
"Penile a press sendee, publish books.
translations, conduct libraries. And we
"ave an operating function which is
""t normally the function of the State
department, which is really a policy -
"■aking body. We can acquire the nec-
'"-Vm skills, whereas the State Department is operated primarily by for-
'"'"n service officers alone."
Charges Labeled "irresponsible"
One of the arguments of one of
Vour — probably your chief critic, Eu-
tene Castle, who has written a book
r<'cciitK criticizing your agency," stat-
(,(' Mr. O'Connor, "and I am quoting
r°m an interview on this program recently - he said, 'We have already
■Pent 700 million dollars for worthless
Propaganda. We arc no better off to-
-*>' (linn the day we spent the first
™llar!' lb- was speaking of money
Appropriated for and spent bv the
Well. I think that is wholly irre-
sl"»isil>le." said Mr. Streibert.
Mr. Prina mentioned that Mr. Castle
als<) had said that the USIA was a
«Uge for Madison Avenue hucksters
**i>d pitchmen and that consequently
•* agency was trying to merchandise
America abroad like they would try to
Af-Ts Forum News, September, 1956
(Continued from page 17)
sell soap here. "What is your comment
on that?" be asked.
"I think we do feel that the United
States has a great success and experience in communication techniques.''
stated Mr. Streibert. "Now, we obviously are fully aware that you don't
sell ideas and foreign policy the way
you sell soap, so there is nothing to
that. We feel that we fully understand
the distinction and we are promoting
our policies and promoting understanding of the United States in the
field in a way that i.s well adapted to
the particular circumstances of each
Mr. Prina referred to the recent
USIA plan to distribute 200,000 copies
abroad of the book Profile of America.
"You once said," he pointed out, "that
you were not afraid of congressional
criticism, yet when one or two congressmen objected to a picture in the
book, in a poem by Thoreau. USIA
backed away very meekly. Do you
cue to comment on that?"
Congressional Report — A Mandate
"I am glad to have the opportunity,"
stated Mr. Streibert forthrightly, "because we feel we should be sensitive
to congressional criticism, although we
should not be at all timid about it. We
took the statement in the House Appropriations Committee report, that
this should not be used, as a mandate.
We feel that it would be foolhardy
rather than courageous to defy the
stated wishes of a congressional appropriations committee."
Mr. O'Connor asked if Mr. Streibert
felt thai any lack of confidence in the
USIA program was exhibited bv Con
gress in "hacking up" 1'SIA's requested budget for the next fiscal year from
a requested 135 million to about 110
or 115 million dollars.
"On the contrary," replied Mr. Streibert, "we feel that the part of Congress that traditionally has the closest
examination of the agency's expenditures is in the House. The House
voted a little over a 30 per cent increase over last year, and this we felt
to be a very fine warranty of their
belief in our operations, particularly
since there was no critical comment on
the floor when the bill was passed."
"There is another area of criticism in
which the USIA is involved," pointed
out Mr. Prina. "Recently a Dallas
patriotic group objected to the inclusion of several paintings by Mr. Leon
Crowe, an artist, in a package of art
being sent abroad on exhibition. Now,
isn't it true that two of Mr. Crowe's
murals hang in the Attorney General's
office, who is our chief officer for internal security? And I wonder what
the thought was in blocking Mr.
Mr. Streibert pointed out that there
had been "no intent to block Mr.
Crowe as an individual."
"Someone said they were painted
nineteen years ago," he continued,
"but we are not concerned with him
as an individual."
Moderator Hurleigh introduced the
subject of President Eisenhower's recommendation that a new diplomatic
program be explored. "Mr. Streibert,"
lie sidd, "the President has invited a
group of Americans representing many
fields of activity to meet here in Washington at the White House to explore
the possibilities of a program for what
is being known at the present time as
a 'people-to-people' contact and partnership throughout the world. What is
this all about?" he asked. "And what is
behind this meeting the President lias
"We think this is a wonderful development," replied Mr. Streibert, "because in the struggle we are engaged
in the government cannot do the job
alone. It is too big a job. In fact, even
in a democracy, part of tbe element of
the democratic system is that the people themselves participate. Now. all
kinds of activities in this country have
connections abroad of one nature or
another. Ancl if the whole nation, as
it presents itself to foreigners in various countries around the world is
try ing to make America better understood, trying to interpret our policies.
trying to display the friendship which
we feel, and trying to convince others
that this countrv really stands for
peace, we think it will have a great
effect over all on the ultimate course
of our relations with the rest of the
"This is that personal ambassadorship we were discussing earlier0"