Dating to 1951, WASHINGTON CLOSE-UP is the pilot episode of an an early public affairs television show that ran on the DuMont Network. Hosted by veteran radio broadcaster John B. Hughes, who holds up a plastic donkey and elephant to symbolize the Democratic and Republican Parties, the show was intended to present news fairly and impartially (so what else is new?).
This episode looks at world government, the threat to U.S. sovereignty, and a gag rule that emerged as part of the Cold War. At 1:27 the show gets going as Hughes discusses the Truman Administration's effort to classify government information and the "gag rule" that seemed to limit the power of the press and the public to gather information about government activities. At 2:00, printing presses are seen with newspapers, and press conferences are seen. At 2:17 Sen. John W. Bricker is seen commenting on Truman's executive order. At 4:26 Thomas Jefferson's statue is seen as Hughes quotes him regarding the importance of free speech. At 5:00, a royal visit is seen with leaders of Washington society signing guest books, making phone calls, etc. At 6:00, Hughes discusses the " World Government Constitution " or New Order, and shows the League of Nations, the 1939 book "Union Now" by journalist Clarence Streit calling for a federal union of fifteen of the world's major democracies, and the United Nations. At 6:55, Albert Einstein is shown speaking at the U.N. and Truman is seen at 7:00. At 7:21, Sen. Estes Kefauver is seen speaking about the unification of the Atlantic Union. At 8:16 a Senate Office Building is seen and then Sen. George W. Malone of Nevada is seen speaking about the loss of sovereignty that he believes will result from this type of maneuver. At 9:00, the United Nations building is shown as well as the NATO agency. At 10:21, William Jackman of the Investors League criticizes the tax code.
At 10:54 a similar program Washington Spotlight is shown, with a Republican and a Democrat discussing whether post-WWII Germany should be allowed to join the NATO alliance. At 11:45 "men on the street" interviews are featured at the Capitol Building. Senator William Knowland of California and Congressman Emanuel Celler of New York comment.
John B. Hughes (1904–82) had a regular news program on the Mutual Broadcasting Network in 1941–42 and is credited by several observers as being "the first widely heard newsman," "the most prominent early editorialist" and the "chief offender on the West Coast" to press for the exclusion of Japanese Americans from the West Coast beginning on January 5, 1942, and continuing through the month. He also corresponded with Attorney General Francis Biddle, claiming in a January 19 letter that "ninety percent or more of American-born Japanese are primarily loyal to Japan." His voice—soon joined by many others—helped shape West Coast public opinion to strongly favor mass removal. He was later fired by Mutual—for being too liberal according to Pacific Citizen editor Larry Tajiri—and later in the war, did a 180º turn, supporting the rights of minorities and decrying prejudice against Japanese Americans in his broadcasts for KFWB, an independent Los Angeles station.He continued to work in radio the television after the war, becoming a pioneering anchorman for the Dumont Television Network, later joining WTAE in Pittsburgh in 1958 as an anchorman and public affairs director, then working for KIRO TV and KXA radio in Seattle starting in 1962. He died in Pittsburgh in 1982.
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