8. Memorandum From the Acting Director of the United States Information Agency (Wilson) to President Johnson1

In response to a request from Ted Sorensen, the facts about Voice of America broadcasting at the time of President Kennedy’s assassination were contained in my December 3 weekly memorandum to you.2

However, for the record I will repeat them here.

VOA broke into its normal programming as soon as the first reports were received. One line, which read “Dallas, of recent months, has been the scene of extreme right-wing movements,” was included in a single newscast in English and Arabic which went on the air at approximately 2 p.m. EST.3 Within eleven minutes it had been seen by a senior news editor and was immediately deleted because of the implications it left.

Neither this line nor any similar line was used again in English or any of the 37 foreign-language broadcasts of the VOA.

Any suggestion that this isolated line could have given rise to the Soviet propaganda campaign alleging right-wing involvement seems highly improbable to us. In all its output, Radio Moscow4 has not cited [Page 20] the VOA, but has quoted extensively from the AP, UPI, New York Times, and other sources.

We have furnished the facts to the members of Congress who have inquired, including copies of the script in question and examples of our round-the-clock reporting over the five-day period. Upon seeing the scripts, we have had no kickbacks from any of the members of Congress.

I attach a copy of the script in question.5

In my report to you of December 3 I stated the item was included only in a single English-language newscast. Information from VOA disclosed that it was contained in a single Arabic broadcast also at approximately 2 p.m.

Donald M. Wilson
  1. Source: Johnson Library, White House Central Files, Subject Files, EX FG 296–1, Box FG–317, FG 296–1 Voice of America. No classification marking. In the upper left-hand corner of the first page of the memorandum an unknown hand wrote “For Pres. desk.”
  2. Not found.
  3. The issue of VOA airing text referring to Dallas as “the scene of extreme right-wing movements” was also discussed at the November 26 USIA Director’s staff meeting; see Document 2.
  4. Reference is to the chief international radio station of the Soviet Union, which started broadcasting in the 1920s.
  5. Attached but not printed is the one-page “Transcript of VOA Special English Newscast Beginning at 2:00 PM Fri 11/22.”