179. Letter From the Secretary of State to the Chairman of the House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce (Harris)1
Dear Mr. Harris: I refer to your letter of July 9, 1957,2 in which you request the views of the Department of State on House Resolution 305, “To express the sense of the House of Representatives with respect to radio and television broadcasts of interviews with official representatives of Communist and Communist-dominated countries.”
After careful consideration of the Resolution the Department believes that the proposal for prior approval by the Secretary of State of questions to be put to an official representative of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or any other Communist or Communist-dominated government in a radio or television interview is incompatible with the traditional American principles of freedom of speech and of the press. While the Department concedes that there may be some advantage to control of propaganda content of such interviews, it holds the view that such an advantage is clearly outweighed by the undesirability of taking any action which runs counter to traditional American freedoms.
It is felt that over and above any question of censorship, it can be pointed out that the real propaganda line lies in the answer and not in the question.
The Department of State furthermore believes that active consideration by the Congress of House Resolution 305 would be particularly undesirable at the present time since the Resolution is in sharp conflict with the United States proposal of June 24, 1957, to the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics for a regular exchange of uncensored radio and television broadcasts. Such an exchange, in the Department’s view, would be worthwhile only if it is free of censorship both by the United States and the Soviet Union.
Acting Assistant Secretary
for Congressional Relations