Council For National Policy, Ronald Reagan, David Durbar discussed on On The Media

On The Media


Trying to get voters out for anti abortion Senate candidates there. And it worked. From the NBC News election center in New York, decision 78. In a low turnout election, those candidates won. In Minnesota, an upset there are projections show Republican David durbar. So why Rick took a cue from the Catholics and tried the cause again with evangelicals. He and a few of his fellow conservative activists teamed up with an evangelical pastor, Francis schaefer, who was against abortion. Schaefer and his son made a series of films and showed them in churches and theaters across the country starting in 1979. We have killing potus for whales and porpoises, but it is always open season on unborn babies. While we can appreciate this protection of our environment, do you wonder why I ask whatever happened to the human race and to our sense of values? Schaefer's son recalled that by the end of the film tour, they were calling for an anti abortion takeover of the Republican Party. But though the abortion issue was getting more support among evangelicals, it's still wasn't crystallizing as the issue. In August of 1980, presidential hopeful Ronald Reagan gave a campaign speech to 10,000 evangelicals at the legendary reunion arena in Dallas. Often considered the first large gathering of the new religious right. I know this is a nonpartisan gathering. And so I know that you can't endorse me, but I want you to know that I endorse you and what you are doing. The candidate didn't mention abortion at all. But he did mention the IRS's censure of independent schools. The year of the elections 1980, you had a substantial vote in the south for Ronald Reagan. Against the Democrat who was an actual evangelical Christian, Jimmy Carter. In this burgeoning fusion of politics and religion, policies, trumped faith. Reagan was given a pass. A sports announcer, a Phil actor, governor of California, on this election night, we have projected Ronald Reagan the winner. Paul weyrich's work had come to fruition, and he wanted to be sure there was no going back. So in 1981, he helped found the council for national policy. The council for national policy was founded as a very secretive organization that networked big donors. Political strategists and media operators. The New York Times has described the CNP as, quote, a little known club of a few hundred of the most powerful conservatives in the country. In 2016, the southern poverty law center called it a key venue where mainstream conservatives and extremists mix. According to leaked rosters, recent membership in the CNP and its lobbying arm has included the likes of Ginny Thomas, Mike Pence, Martin Blackwell, who runs the conservative activist training hub, the leadership institute. And cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who worked with Trump to try to overturn the 2020 election results. And Salem cofounders, Stewart epperson, and Edward at singer. How did the Salem leadership come to be part of this exclusive network? It was all thanks to the power of radio. When Paul weyrich helped form the council for national policy, he knew that strategizing among elite leaders wouldn't be enough, they would need megaphones. And he knew how compelling radio could be. Before he was a political strategist, weyrich had been an on air host and program director at a Kenosha Wisconsin radio station, and news director at a Denver station. Radio was to be a crucial channel for the new religious right. And a way to help the CNP reach a very specific constituency. You could go after older, white, Protestant voters, and if you engage them through fundamentalist radio broadcasting, combined with their churches. And you mobilize them around certain issues. Then you could turn them into highly motivated, high propensity, voters, who could really make a difference in strategic elections. Strategic is the key word here. Not widespread get out the vote efforts. How many of our Christians have what I call the goo goo syndrome? Good government. They want everybody to vote. Why Rick explained his strategy in a speech he gave to evangelical leaders in 1980. I don't want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people they never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down. This was the goal of the council for national policy. To reach the right people. And around this time, a certain fledgling Christian radio network was doing just that. That's coming up after the break. WNYC studios is supported by the midnight miracle. Dave Chappelle's shack is packed with guests like Kevin Hart and Jon Stewart and you're invited. Listen to the midnight miracle on the luminary channel on Apple podcasts or by downloading the luminary app. This week on notes from America, meet a climate scientist who happens to be an evangelical. Our faith and work intersect. Plus, actor Omar Epps on his new novel, which imagines a world that did not address the climate crisis in time. So now wherever you get your podcasts. Listener supported WNYC studios. This is the divided dial. I'm Katie Thornton. When we left the Salem story, epperson and ad singer had developed a solid business model, unencumbered by audience preferences or the whims of advertisers. In the 1980s, their Christian radio stations were multiplying. And as more and more evangelicals became immersed in politics, Salem's cofounders were no exception. Stewart epperson ran for Congress twice in the mid 1980s. Meanwhile, the on air content was getting more political too. Their programs, though socially conservative from the start, had been Christian first politics second. But in 1987, there was a change on the national radio stage that let the political stuff run wild. The fairness doctrine required that you give their time to opposing views. Reporter Adam puri. Which, of course, limited Salem's ability to talk about abortion and homosexuality and many of the hot button issues that they care about. The decades old fairness doctrine had required stations to have a degree of ideological balance in their coverage and to present multiple sides of controversial topics. We'll talk about it more in later episodes, but the fairness doctrine was declared dead by Reagan's FCC. And once that was lifted, they were able to apply on those positions all the time. For an increasingly politicized Salem, the end of the fairness doctrine was a godsend. Terry fahey, who was the manager for kkl, the big LA station was telling me he recognized the power that they had

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