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Howard Drummond Smoot (October 5, 1913, in East Prairie, Missouri – July 24, 2003, in Tyler, Texas), better known as Dan Smoot, was an FBI agent and a conservative political activist. From the 1950s to 1971, he published The Dan Smoot Report, which chronicled alleged communist infiltration in various sectors of American government and society.
In 1970, he opposed the selection of a future U.S. President, George H. W. Bush, as the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate from Texas. He claimed that Bush's political philosophy was little different from the Democrats that he sought to oppose. Bush lost the Senate election that year to Lloyd Bentsen, of Houston and McAllen.
Departure from the FBI
Rather than accept assignment to the Savannah, Georgia office, Smoot resigned because he wanted to rear his family in the Dallas area. Smoot said that several fellow agents had complained to him about the supervisor's management decisions. Smoot said that he related to the inspector what he had heard from colleagues. Then, according to Smoot, the colleagues would not back up what they had told Smoot. The supervisor hence believed that Smoot had been disloyal to him.
After Smoot left the FBI, he became a commentator and began producing Facts Forum newsletters in conjunction with Dallas oil billionaire H. L. Hunt. His salary doubled with his new assignment. From 1953-1954, Facts Forum was the source for the ABC public affairs television series, Answers for Americans.On November 15, 1956, however, Hunt withdrew his financial subsidy to the monthly Facts Forum News because the publication was not financially self-sustaining.
In 1954, Medford Evans, a sometime college professor (who had been dismissed amid a controversy at Northwestern State University (then State College) in Natchitoches, Louisiana) and a conservative critic of American Cold War policies, was described as "News Editor" and "Editor" of Facts Forum News. Mary Helen Brengel was identified as an "Associate Editor". She later worked for the Independent American, the conservative newspaper of Kent Courtney, and his wife, Phoebe Courtney.
Spreading his conservative message
Thereafter, Smoot published his weekly The Dan Smoot Report. He also carried his conservative message via weekly reports over radio and television. The Report started with 3,000 paid subscribers; at its peak in 1965, it had more than 33,000 subscribers. Each newsletter usually focused on one major story. One issue, for instance, was devoted to the Alaska Mental Health Bill of 1956, which Smoot claimed was a communist conspiracy to establish concentration camps on American soil. Another issue lionized Douglas MacArthur after his death in the spring of 1964, and a later 1964 issue opposed a proposal by President Lyndon B. Johnson to transfer sovereignty of the Panama Canal to the Republic of Panama. Johnson failed in his attempt, but President Jimmy Carter in 1978, with bipartisan support, convinced the Senate by a one-vote margin to give Panama control of the Canal Zone. It was liberal Republican support for many Democratic proposals that particularly angered Smoot, who gave up on the Republicans as a viable alternative to the majority Democrats of his day.
In 1962, Smoot wrote The Invisible Government concerning early members of the Council on Foreign Relations. Other books include The Hope of the World; The Business End of Government; and his autobiography, People Along the Way. Additionally he was associated with the John Birch Society and wrote for the society's American Opinion magazine. (Source: Smoot's autobiography and review by Jane Ingraham (1994).)
- The Invisible Government (1962)
- The Hope of the World (1958)
- The Business End of Government (1973)
- People Along the Way: The Autobiography of Dan Smoot (1993)
- "MacDonald & Associates: Facts Forum press release". jfredmacdonald.com. Retrieved June 13, 2011.
- Hendershot, Heather. What's Fair on the Air? Cold War Right-Wing Broadcasting and the Public Interest (University of Chicago Press; 2011) 260 pages; covers the rise and fall of prominent far-right radio hosts: H.L. Hunt, Dan Smoot, Carl McIntire, and Billy James Hargis.
- Copies of the Dan Smoot Report collected by the FBI, liberated under the FOIA and hosted at the Internet Archive: