1963 January 7

ACLU Protests Senate Investigation of Pacifica Radio


The Senate Subcommittee on Internal Security planned an investigation of the Pacifica Foundation, which owned and operated independent radio stations KPFA in Berkeley, California; KPFK in Los Angeles; and WBAI in New York City. The Pacifica stations’ programming included a lot of liberal and left-wing social and political commentary. ACLU Executive Director Jack Pemberton on this day called the planned investigation a “gross violation” of the freedom of the press.

Pacifica Radio eventually had a controversial civil liberties history. It went to the Supreme Court after it broadcast a monologue by comedian George Carlin, which included what the Court deemed seven dirty words (Federal Communications Commission v. Pacifica, decided on July 3, 1978).

The Senate Internal Security subcommittee had also threatened freedom of the press on January 4, 1956, when it investigated alleged Communist influence at The New York Times. (The Internal Security Subcommittee was the Senate equivalent of the notorious and more famous House Un-American Activities Committee.)

Visit the Pacifica Foundation web site here: http://www.pacifica.org/

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