At another tense time in American-Russian relations, the summer of 1974, journalists from all the major American television networks traveled to Moscow to cover a presidential summit -- but Russia tried to censor the broadcasts they sent back to American audiences. The trip in June and July of 1974 marked the third in President Richard Nixon’s series of talks with Soviet Union leader Leonid Brezhnev attempting to secure their mutual policy of detente. On July 2nd, NBC Nightly News anchor John Chancellor reported that Americans had in fact not been seeing the full coverage of the trip. Chancellor revealed that Russian authorities had been blocking American journalists’ attempts to report on dissidents to the Soviet regime, particularly focusing on interviews or coverage of famous physicist and activist Andrei Sakharov. Chancellor played a striking series of videos showing how the network’s reports looked as they came into America from Moscow throughout the day: Every time a correspondent mentioned Soviet dissidents, the satellite feed would go dark. The same thing happened when the journalists tried to report on the censorship. Chancellor grew clearly frustrated throughout the segment, and ended with a blistering condemnation of the censorship: “What it adds up to is that the Russians are delighted to get stories out on the summit, but any stories about life in their country that they don’t happen to agree with, we can’t report, and you can’t see.”
You can watch the full 1974 report in the clip above. And stay tuned for more NBC Politics weekly trivia from Betsy Fischer Martin (@BetsyNBC), Managing Editor of Political Programming.
First published September 6 2013, 3:47 PM