Friday, July 13, 2007

Lady Bird Johnson’s Legacy

I was amazed when I read and saw the media coverage of the death of Lady Bird Johnson. The media accounts talking about her life mentioned her concern for beautification but the reports I read and saw left the impression that this mostly took the form of wanting flowers and trees to be planted. I am old enough to remember the Johnson presidency and I remember that her biggest push was for highway beautification and that this took the form of seeking to ban billboard advertising along highways. The federal laws passed as a result of Lady Bird Johnson’s beautification campaign are still in place and that is why there are no billboards along our federal interstate highways, except for the occasional large billboard back far enough from the highway to be beyond the scope of that law. I remember well how much more billboard advertising there was along the highways before the Johnson Administration. The relative lack of unsightly advertising along the highway since then is Lady Bird Johnson’s legacy.

Why was it not reported in the media the way I remember it? I suspect this is just one more example of the true bias of the media – not a liberal or a conservative bias but a bias for advertising and for the interests of advertisers.

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