“Ask the Answer-Man, the Man Who Knows Everything”: Broadcasting the Marshall Plan in the Netherlands through De Antwoordman

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The European Recovery Act, commonly known as the Marshall Plan, was a comprehensive fouryear aid package from the United States (US) that was meant to support the recovery of European states after the devastation of World War II. With the Marshall Plan also came comprehensive public diplomacy campaigns, which were meant to inform and convince European publics and show Congress and the American taxpayer that their money ultimately benefit US national interests. The European-wide campaigns, coordinated from the American side by the European Cooperation Agency (ECA), included various forms of media, from the printed press to film, events, pamphlets, and radio. This thesis examines the role of the Dutch radio program De Antwoordman as part of the Dutch and American Marshall Plan public diplomacy campaign in the Netherlands. While this program aired under the flag of the Dutch broadcaster AVRO, the ECA covertly sponsored and commissioned the program. This thesis shows that Antwoordman was part of a state-private network which enabled the ECA to directly implement its public diplomacy purposes in the Netherlands. However, the notion that the ECA covertly sponsored Antwoordman rather than publicly, was at the heart of the frustrations of the Dutch press and government with American public diplomacy. It was specifically the ECA’s covert sponsorship of Antwoordman, which made the show counterproductive to the shared goals of the American and Dutch governments with regard to the Marshall Plan. Keywords: Cold war; Marshall Plan; public diplomacy; propaganda; information; radio; broadcasting; state-private network; covert; the Netherlands; United States.
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