In a meeting between President Ronald Reagan and Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, when the friends were both in high office, the president asked Mulroney, “Brian, did you read that article in the Reader’s Digest that trees cause pollution?” Mulroney was exasperated. “I knew him and liked him well enough that I didn’t get into an argument. I just said, ‘I gave up reading Reader’s Digest, Ron,’” he later told a journalist. 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.
more from Jordan Michael Smith at Dissent here.