Home / General / Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 120

Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 120


This is the grave of Paul Harvey.

The famed radio host, voice of Middle America (TM), and right-wing crank was born in Tulsa in 1918. He was one of those people blessed with a good media voice and started working on the radio at the age of 14, recommended by this high school teacher. He attended the University of Tulsa but was already working full-time in radio, moving to Oklahoma City and then St. Louis to work on various stations. During World War II, he broadcast from Hawaii. He was briefly in the military but it seems quite likely that he intentionally hurt his heel to get out of combat. He angrily denied this accusation his whole life, but was always extremely vague about just why he wasn’t in the military. Given the brave wartime military service of various warmongers in the Bush and Trump administrations, you will be shocked that this shirker would later claim the greatest patriotism and supported any war, any time, especially if the hippies, or “beatniks” as Harvey continually referred to them, would be upset.

After the war, Harvey moved to Chicago, where he soon became a famed radio voice of the Midwest. Harvey became particularly known for his radio addresses hating on communists. He attracted the attention of a very nice, kind man named J. Edgar Hoover. They became good friends. Hoover actually had FBI agents help Harvey with his stories, providing him tidbits and the like to raise the war against the reds. Harvey wrote Joe McCarthy as late as 1956, letting him know about a communist conspiracy in Texas, which I’m sure was totally legit.

Harvey was obsessed about nuclear security and the communists and believed that security at Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago was lax. To prove it, he basically committed espionage by trying to breach its security himself. He drove out there and hopped the fence. Of course he was caught within a few seconds. He had already typed out a bullshit account of what happened there, claiming he had easily gotten into the lab and could have brought out nuclear secrets.. The security found it in his car. The U.S. Attorney for Illinois brought together a grand jury to consider an espionage charge against Harvey. There is some belief Hoover got involved here privately to convince the charges to not be filed. It’s unknown, but indeed, he got away with it. This did worry the FBI, for he already had a history of mental instability and his official discharge in World War II had been a psychiatric discharge. Yet Hoover and Harvey remained friends.

Harvey had various shows over the years and recorded right-wing editorials to be played on radio and television. What I and no doubt many of you remember him for his series The Rest of the Story, which premiered in 1976 and continued until his death. Here are a couple of his video essays. What a nice man.

Of course you know who loves them some Paul Harvey.

He would also lie with impunity. From a FAIR piece on him in 1997.

Here’s a typical story from his May 1, 1997 broadcast:

For what it’s worth, San Antonio, Texas, woman motorist, 45, arrested when a mechanic told police he found 18 bags of marijuana under the hood of her car. The woman is indignant. She asked that the mechanic only check her oil, not look under the hood.

A cute story, but one that set off my BS detector. I called the San Antonio Police Department and read the piece to a spokesperson for their public information office. “I have been here two years and never heard of that story,” he said. I also e-mailed the San Antonio News Express. The on-line managing editor, Jon Donley, replied, “I’ve been a journalist here for 14 years and I can’t believe I missed this story.”

Or this:

Take this shot at labor unions broadcast last April 16:

Would you agree to pay taxes to support labor union activity? Well, you do. Federal employees whose salaries you pay may also be labor union officials whose salaries you pay. Even when they are taking time away from their jobs for union activity.Heritage Foundation discovers that you are spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year on government workers performing non-government work. In just one agency of government, the Social Security Administration, it amounts to the total pay of 200 full-time workers. In the postal service, 838 workers. In the IRS, 253 full-time workers. If the employee is a union official, then he or she is allowed to collect full-time pay while off on union activities.

Unfortunately, here, as in many other cases, Harvey failed to tell the rest of the story. As anyone familiar with labor contracts would tell you, it is customary for union representatives to be paid for their work-related union activities, such as handling grievances or conducting collective bargaining talks. This would apply to both public and private sector unions. Hardly the scandal Paul Harvey would have you believe—leaving aside the fact that his biggest example of “taxes” paying for union activity is the postal service, which derives all its revenue from sales of postage.

I have a book I picked up at a used bookstore called “You Said It: Paul Harvey.” It’s edited by “Mrs. Paul Harvey,” who evidently did not have a name of her own. It’s from the early 1970s. Unfortunately, I don’t have it on me, but it is full of Harvey ranting against the “beatniks,” talking about how only Richard Nixon and Jesus can save the nation from its decline, and ranting about every change of the 1960s and 1970s. It’s kind of jaw-dropping how nuts these talks were. You can see why Hannity and Limbaugh and other conservatives love the man. He’s the kind of crank they aspire to be. He hated unions, he loved big business, went on and on about welfare mothers which was totally not racial… To his credit, he did support the Equal Rights Amendment. He also did finally turn against Vietnam because it was such a disaster. I guess everyone has some ways they aren’t horrible. Except maybe Harvey’s friends Hoover and McCarthy.

Harvey died in 2009, having never retired from radio.

Good day.

Paul Harvey is buried in Forest Home Cemetery, Forest Park, Illinois

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