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Howard "Dan" Smoot
|Born||October 5, 1913|
East Prairie, Missouri, U.S.
|Died||July 24, 2003 (aged 89)|
Tyler, Texas, U.S.
|Alma mater||Southern Methodist University|
|Occupation||Federal Bureau of Investigation agent|
Journalist; Conservative political activist
|Spouse(s)||Mabeth Evans Smoot (divorced)|
Virginia McKnight Smoot (married 19??-1996; her death)
|Children||Bernard Evans Smoot|
Lawrence Edward Smoot
|Parent(s)||Bernie and Dora Allbright Smoot|
Howard Smoot, known as Dan Smoot (October 5, 1913, in East Prairie, Mississippi County, Missouri – July 24, 2003, in Tyler, Smith County, Texas), was a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent and a conservative political activist. From 1957 to 1971, he published The Dan Smoot Report, which chronicled alleged communist infiltration in various sectors of American government and society.
This section relies largely or entirely on a single source. (April 2018)
Smoot was born into poverty in a log cabin in Mississippi County in southeastern Missouri, to Bernie Smoot, a sharecropper, and Dora Smoot, née Allbright. As a six-year-old, he picked and hoed cotton. He cultivated corn with a one-mule plow at the age of eight. He had a sister, Virginia Ruth, and a brother, Jewell, who predeceased him. Despite the lack of material resources, Bernie Smoot taught young Dan how to read the classics.
When he was orphaned at eleven, Dan was sent to live with an uncle who forbade scholarly pursuits. He ran away from the uncle's home at the age of fourteen with a dime in his pocket but determined to make a life of his own. At the age of twenty, Smoot married Betty Evans, his 16-year-old childhood sweetheart, who became the mother of his two sons, Barney and Larry. Later divorced, he married his secretary, Virginia McKnight who preceded him in death by some seven years.
Relocated to Dallas, Smoot graduated from high school and attended Southern Methodist University and later Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, from which he dropped out prior to receiving a PhD in American Civilization to enter the United States Army after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. However, the Army rejected Smoot for flat feet.
Departure from the FBI
This section relies largely or entirely on a single source. (April 2018)
Smoot instead became an FBI agent, a position he held until 1951, when he resigned for what he cited as professional reasons: namely, the desire to go into the field of political pamphleteering and commentary.
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 to 1954, Facts Forum was the source for the ABC public affairs television series, Answers for Americans.
In 1954, Medford Evans, a conservative critic of American Cold War policies and a college professor who was dismissed in 1959 amid a controversy at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana, 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 then wife, Phoebe Courtney.
Smoot dismissed Evans from Facts Forum for "financial irregularities". On November 15, 1956, Hunt withdrew his subsidy to the monthly Facts Forum News because the publication was not financially self-sustaining.
Spreading his conservative message
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Thereafter, Smoot published his weekly syndicated The Dan Smoot Report. He also carried his conservative message via weekly reports over radio. The Dan Smoot 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.
A subsequent 1964 issue opposed a proposal by U.S. 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 U. S. Senate support led by Moderate Republican Howard Baker of Tennessee, prevailed by a one-vote margin to extend control of the Canal Zone to Panama. It was Moderate Republican support for many Democratic proposals that particularly angered Smoot, who gave up on the national Republican Party 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 Robert W. Welch, Jr.'s John Birch Society and wrote for the society's American Opinion bi-monthly magazine.
In 2000, Conservative activist Peter Gemma wrote a biographical sketch of Smoot in The New American. Gemma recounts that Smoot, among his other aberrant positions, challenged Barry Goldwater during the 1964 presidential campaign for the nominee's embrace of NATO, which Smoot called a globalist organization of questionable value.
In 1970, Smoot opposed the selection of a future U.S. President, George Herbert Walker Bush, as the Republican nominee for the United States 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 M. Bentsen of Houston and McAllen. Oddly, eighteen years later, Bush would head the Republican presidential ticket, and Bentsen would be the unsuccessful Democratic nominee for vice president.
Smoot was a victim of the Federal Communication Commission's Fairness Doctrine which prior to 1987 mandated "equal time" for opposing sides in political debate. As Smoot's critics demanded equal time to reply to his broadcasts, station after station dropped The Dan Smoot Report. His last broadcast was issued on March 1, 1971. Smoot told his viewers
... Now I am forced to make a change — or I will be forced to quit. The unrelenting weekly deadlines have taken their toll. I have been plagued with bad health of late. Robert Welch, head of the John Birch Society, has generously offered to incorporate The Dan Smoot Report into [his] The Review of the News. Through that splendid weekly magazine, [I can] fulfill my obligations to you whose subscriptions have not expired. ... I hope you will give The Review of the News the same loyalty and support you have given my Report.
In 1972, Smoot opposed the reelection of President Richard M. Nixon and served as campaign manager for American Independent Party presidential candidate John G. Schmitz, a departing Republican U.S. representative from California's 35th congressional district.
- 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)
- Book review in The New American, March 7, 1994, People Along the Way: The Autobiography of Dan Smoot (Big Sandy, Texas: Tyler Press, 1993)
- "MacDonald & Associates: Facts Forum press release". jfredmacdonald.com. Archived from the original on January 12, 2011. Retrieved June 13, 2011.
- Smoot's autobiography and review by Jane Ingraham (1994)
- Peter B. Gemma (2000). "Dan Smoot: The Man and His Message". The New American. Archived from the original on June 5, 2016. Retrieved May 21, 2016.
- 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.