In the Cold War years, there was a tremendous surge in right-wing broadcasting in America. Hendershot explains how radio and TV extremists feigned a “balanced” presentation of their ideas in the 1950s; in the 60s, those same broadcasters switched to an overtly right-wing line. Ultraconservative broadcasting was eventually shut down by the IRS, citizen activists, and the FCC. The Fairness Doctrine was the most powerful tool used against the extremists, and, thus, right-wing broadcasting was reborn when Reagan suspended the doctrine in 1987, enabling the rise of Rush Limbaugh, and Fox News shortly thereafter. Hendershot’s work thus provides useful context for understanding not only the history of the conservative movement but also the contemporary landscape.
Heather Hendershot’s research centers on regulation, censorship, FCC policy, and conservative media and political movements. She is the editor of Nickelodeon Nation: The History, Politics and Economics of America’s Only TV Channel for Kids and the author of Saturday Morning Censors: Television Regulation before the V-Chip, Shaking the World for Jesus: Media and Conservative Evangelical Culture, and What’s Fair on the Air? Cold War Right-Wing Broadcasting and the Public Interest. She is also editor of Cinema Journal, the official publication of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies.