In an era of closely divided elections and partisan polarization, a powerful, popular but insecure president resolved to silence hostile media voices by abusing IRS audits, pushing the Federal Communications Commission to launch a campaign of harassment, and even blocking broadcast licenses in a bid to ensure his iffy reelection.
These chilling developments bear no connection to the controversial term of Donald Trump; they all happened during the tenure of John F. Kennedy. Despite his reputation as a thoughtful, pragmatic liberal, JFK resorted to distinctly illiberal measures that, as it turned out, proved uniquely successful in censoring his most strident radio critics. That’s the conclusion of The Radio Right, an important new book by Paul Matzko, once a teacher of history at Penn State and now at the Cato Institute.
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