Readers Digest won the Cold War for Ronald Reagan
I LOVED Readers’ Digest. It was a pocket-sized slice of mid-Americana. Jordan Michael Smith notes:
Reagan was a lifetime reader of the Digest. He once used an article from the magazine to slur the nuclear freeze movement as being comprised partly of Soviet agents. It was terrifying to contemplate the most powerful man in the world getting foreign policy ideas from a pocket-sized general-interest family magazine, but Reagan was not alone. For decades, Reader’s Digest was the primary source of information and opinions about international affairs for tens of millions of Americans. The magazine did not just run any articles about foreign policy, however; the Digest had a clear right-wing perspective, which had a tremendous, though often ignored, influence during the Cold War.
Life’s like that…
The Digest became rabidly anti-Communist and never relented until the fall of the Berlin Wall. The magazine was single-mindedly obsessed with the threat the Soviet Union posed to America. At a time when television was becoming the medium of choice for Americans, the Digest overcame the electronic competition to reach the apex of influence in American journalism.
It’s still going. But who read it now?