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President Nixon on "massive busing" 3-16-72 - CBS

by Matt Delmont

In this speech and through the 1972 campaign, President Nixon referred to school desegregation orders as “massive busing” and television news commentators repeated this phrase regularly in their busing coverage. Reporters used “massive busing” as a politically neutral handle, but busing opponents understood it as an epithet to denounce what Nixon described as “courts [that] have gone too far” and have produced “anger, fear, and turmoil in local communities.” With “massive busing” opponents of school desegregation framed white families and neighborhoods as the victims of overreaching social planners, and the news media’s casual use of “massive busing” helped to establish this frame as the commonsense understanding of the busing debate. More importantly, however, anti-busing politicians and parents made busing “massive” through their savvy use of television news. Busing did not emerge as a hot button national political issue because the majority of American families experienced it, but rather, television news helped conservatives make busing into a recognizable issue that was easily vilified. From this perspective, it is impossible to understand busing as an urban/suburban political issue without understanding how television news framed the subject.

President Nixon on "massive busing" 3-16-72 - CBS

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President Nixon speaks on "massive busing" 3-16-72 - CBS

from CBS News Special Report (1972)
Creator: CBS
Distributor: CBS
Posted by Matt Delmont