203. Editorial Note

Facing Congressional attacks on USIA, President Eisenhower in his April 17 press conference defended the agency. The House of Representatives had already cut by $40 million the President’s request for $140 million for the original 1958 USIA budget plus $4 million for a new transmitter in the Middle East, and Senate hearings were scheduled to begin May 3. In an April 26 request to C.D. Jackson, USIA Deputy Director Washburn cited the anti-USIA campaign by Roy Howard and criticism by the Information Chief of NBC as contributing to the USIA Congressional problems. In a memorandum of May 14, USIA Director Larson asked David G. Briggs, IPS, to investigate complaints from the United Press and Associated Press about USIA press file competition. Larson was especially concerned over the charges made by Frank J. Starsel, General Manager of the Associated Press, to Senator Lyndon B. Johnson, Senate Democratic leader and Appropriations Committee Chairman, that USIA was carrying on unfair competition against private United States press agencies. The transcript of the President’s [Page 589] press conference is in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1957, page 290; the April 26 letter is in Department of State, USIA/I Files: Lot 60 D 322, Reel 2; the May 14 memorandum is ibid., Reel 3.

After the conclusion of Senate hearings on the USIA budget, President Eisenhower at a May 14 meeting urged Republican Congressional leaders to fund his USIA budget request. Senator Knowland, however, warned the President that Senator Johnson and other Democrats might reduce the USIA budget even more. The Republican Senators explained that part of the USIA problem concerned the difficulty they experienced in trying to develop specific information from Larson’s testimony. (Legislative meeting, May 14; Eisenhower Library, Whitman Files)

On May 16, several Democratic Senators, led by Johnson, offered to restore substantially the 1958 USIA budget if the Secretary of State and President would agree to placing USIA in the Department of State. (Memorandum of a telephone call from Assistant Secretary of State Robert C. Hill to the Secretary of State at 5:28 p.m.; ibid., Dulles Papers) After hearing opposition to the proposal by his staff, Secretary Dulles on May 17 expressed his objections to the President of any absorption by the Department of State of USIA. The President, who initially voiced some support for the measure, authorized Dulles to maintain his stand against a merger of USIA with the Department of State. (Department of State, Secretary’s Staff Meetings: Lot 63 D 75, 1957; Eisenhower Library, Dulles Papers, Memorandum of conversation with the President, May 17)

On May 29, Congress sent to the President a bill providing $96.2 million for the USIA 1958 budget. Part of the bill included a provision barring USIA from competing with or duplicating the services of private agencies in news or pictures. (New York Times, May 30, 1957, page 6) In a letter of July 3 to Secretary of Defense Wilson, USIA Deputy Director Washburn wrote that the reduced budget would not allow USIA to continue supporting troop-community relations in Europe at the 1957 level. (Department of State, USIA/I Files: Lot 60 D 322, Reel 4) For summary of the effects of the reduced budget, see Document 207.