WASHINGTON (Jan. 25)
The Defense Department’s information agency has transmitted to its network of 492 radio and television stations serving American armed forces all over the world the text of a broadcast by the notorious anti-Semite and racist Gerald L.K. Smith in which he alleged that the “controlling powers” were besmirching Christian holy places in Israel.
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency learned from Hoyt Wertz, chief of the broadcast service of the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS), that the 25-minute broadcast by Smith was obtained from the Mutual Broadcasting System which produced it in cooperation with the radio and television department of the New Jersey Council of Churches. It was broadcast by MBS on Jan. 21,and was transmitted by AFRTS on Jan. 23 to the armed forces stations for use in their areas.
An aide to Sen. Jacob K. Javits (R. NY) who had received complaints about the program said the Senator had called the Defense Department for a transcript, a copy of the department’s rules and regulations governing AFRTS materials, and a full explanation of why Smith was allowed to use the Department’s services for his purposes.
The broadcast was apparently in promotion of Smith’s shrine at Eureka Springs, Ark., a tiny Ozark mountain town he is trying to promote as a tourist attraction. Smith touted Eureka Springs in the broadcast as a new Christian sanctuary that would replace the holy places allegedly besmirched in Israel. Wertz told the JTA that Bill Bertenshaw, described as an official of the New Jersey church group who served as master of ceremonies in the program, offered listeners brochures of the shrine. Wertz denied that funds were solicited on the program.
PROGRAMS NOT SCREENED
He told the JTA, “I know this man (Smith) is a notorious bigot–at least he was–but no such element was in this program.” He said Smith stated on the program that he made no profits from Eureka Springs. Smith has a long record as a professional anti-Semite and rabble rouser dating from the 1930s.
Wertz informed the JTA that all AFRTS programs are taken from the three major national networks–CBS, NBC and ABC–and from Mutual which has radio and tv outlets in New York and several other cities. He said that AFRTS “relies on the judgement of the networks for the usefulness of the programs.” He admitted, however, that some features of the networks are not used. He mentioned specifically that the 15-minute commentaries by Fulton Lewis Jr., an ultra conservative commentator, are not re-broadcast.
Wertz said that “no screening is done on the programs” because “as soon as you screen, the military people are charged with censoring and news management.” Asked why Jewish programs produced by the networks are not broadcast by AFRTS, he replied that they did not “fit in” the AFRTS programming. He said the same applied to the Fulton Lewis program.
A little more than a year ago protests by Jewish organizations led the federal government to cancel funding for a highway Smith wanted built to make his shrine at Eureka Springs more accessible to the public. The main attraction was a large stone statue of Jesus erected by Smith.