The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes
Sunday, February 27, 2005
Lyndon Johnson and the FCC - a 'family' connection
The allegation that Johnson secured his broadcasting fortune in corrupt collusion with the FCC I've discussed before (July 27 2004). The facts as presented are so neat as to suggest a set-up. But I've yet to close the case in my own mind.
Then, re-reading Master of the Senate, I find a reference, casually slipped into a description of LBJ's life in the Senate in early 1950 (p305), to
the lunches and dinners to cultivate Rayburn's nephew, FCC Chairman Robert Bartley...
Well, well, well. As Mr Punch would say, That's the way to do it!
House Speaker Sam Rayburn is, of course, notorious as being one of Johnson's Daddies - Franklin Roosevelt and Richard Russell being two others  - and what more natural than that one's Daddy should smooth the regulatory path for one's little hobby?
(Johnson - Lady Bird, on the books - bought KTBC Austin as a radio station (at a knock-down price). But 1950 was the ground floor of TV - which Johnson was pretty soon into. An excellent time to have the ear of the FCC Chairman...)
Did this Bartley exist? His net footprint is minimal; there's reference here to
n a senior FCC commissioner, Robert Bartley, our national defense expert. Bartley was the nephew of former House speaker Sam Rayburn.
And this 1961 Time article includes
"This," Rayburn told a great-nephew, Robert Bartley Jr., "is the damnedest thing that ever got ahold of me."
But you have to take Google's word for it: it's not in the sliver of text provided outside the pay-wall.
The FCC's own site does not seem to have a section dealing with its history.
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