Edward R. Murrow: God or not?

Here are my probably contrarian views of Good Night, and Good Luck, the beautifully made movie about Edward R. Murrow’s confrontation with Sen. Joseph McCarthy:

As courageous and laudable as Murrow’s stand against American tyranny was – and it was – I also wonder whether it helped lead to the downfall of Dan Rather, the downsizing of CBS News, and perhaps even the decline of mainstream journalism itself.

For Murrow’s triumph led to a half-century-long era of haughtiness, self-importance, and separation from the public in the news. That may not be his responsibility – though he is shown at the start and end of the film dismissing the decadence, escapism, distraction, and amusement of television and America’s mass tastes (either out of snobbery or more likely out of shame, since he, too, catered to them on his own celebrity slather show). His disciples came to believe that the wattage of their broadcast towers entitled them to equivalent power in society. They thought they were no longer hacks looking out for the common man – as common men themselves – but instead the saviors of society (and rich ones at that). They were the ones who dubbed themselves the Tiffany Network. They thought they could do no wrong.

And then along came Dan.

Ain’t Edward R. spinning in is grave now?

These founding fathers of TV news could convince themselves of their invincibility because they came into journalism just as television itself destroyed competition in local newspapers and established an age of monopoly news, of one-size-fits-all mass media, of fewer voices and less diversity of views. And so CBS News pulled the rest of TV – and print journalism, too – up on a pedestal, above it all. The age of the oracles began, an age that – thanks to the internet – is just now ending, as declared by no one less than the current president of CBS News, Andrew Heyward.

Isn’t that ironic: The most mass medium in history gave birth to a class of media snobs. And the until-recently-exclusive medium (for the technologically sophisticated at the start) cuts them down to earth and once again empowers the little guy.

It’s equally ironic that after Murrow, we also came to find ourselves wrapped in an ethic of objectivity in news. Murrow was hardly objective, not in his finest moment. He was highly opinionated. He was on a crusade, God bless him. Yet soon after his triumph, we came to believe that objectivity was the highest virtue of journalism and of journalism school.

I’ve long ascribed that idolotry of the objective to our one-size-fits-all marketplace of media, from the mid-’50s to the mid-’80s (when the remote control reached 50 percent penetration in America) and beyond: If you had to be everything to everyone, you tried to offend no one and serve no side over another. It kind of made sense, given the circumstances.

But in the film, I think I got a glimpse of another root of the objectivity era. Murrow’s CBS News colleague and friend, Don Hollenbeck, was himself under whisper attack by the blacklisters and a dark, conservative Hearstian columnist: a proto’reilly. He committed suicide under the pressure.

And then they started talking about how the news was or was not slanted. The critics accused the journalists of slanting and the journalists denied it – the self-same journalists who had just slanted bravely against McCarthy and his fellow travelers. It struck me as a certain sort of pandering to the pressure: Instead of proudly standing up and saying, you bet we’re biased in favor of that little guy and against the tyranny of power, they cowered and said, ain’t no slanters here, just us chickens.

As much as I celebrate the exploding of media monopoly via the internet, Good Night did make me wonder whether we might end up longing for the power of the huge platform, for that power allowed Murrow to stand up to McCarthy and survive and help put the nation back on its democratic course. Well, he didn’t do it alone. But the power of major, mainstream, mondo, monopoly media helped, didn’t it?

In our new, distributed world, we have to re-aggregate ourselves into a powerful chorus of voices. We don’t have Cronkite finally disapproving of the Vietnam war. We have Porkbusters instead.

I don’t think I’ll miss the overpowering platform. But I wonder.

Another thing the monopolization of media did was insulate journalism from the pressures – and wisdom – of the marketplace.

That, I think, has proven to be every bit as damaging as the haughtiness. And this may, indeed, be Murrow’s fault. For we hear him lecturing CBS founder Bill Paley that news should not be subject to business realities.

We hear that same refrain today when reporters whine about cuts in the newsroom even as newspapers suffer the loss of audience – who no longer like or need their product – and of classified, retain, and circulation revenue, which have fled to better marketplaces elsewhere. If newsrooms had been more attuned to their marketplaces – not prostituting themselves, just listening and serving – they may have tried to update news and not leave it as it was that half-century ago.

If we take the atmosphere of the film as accurate, it’s striking how much the nation has changed, how much fear has stopped dominating public life. The reporters and the people were afraid not just of McCarthy but of government: of senators and the FBI and the military. And the people also feared the reporters: Murrow and company anxiously awaited the criticism coming out in the papers’ first editions; Hollenbeck killed because of the power of the press.

Today, we ridicule government and dismiss the power of the press. We have come a long way, baby.

And though the movie tries to draw parallels with today – “We cannot defend freedom abroad by abandoning it at home,” Murrow preaches to ironic (Iraqi) cackles in the New York screening room – it’s hard to paint red-baiting and terrorist-hunting with the same brush. For many reasons – some ethnic, some religious, some politically correct – we’re not likely to fear our neighbors wondering whether we are now or have ever been a member of al Qaeda or an Islamic fundamentalist fascist.

It so happens that I ran into my friend Nick Denton, founder of Gawker Media, and dragged him along to the screening (yes, they’re inviting bloggers to screenings) of Good Night.

The dramatic parallels are just too beautiful to pass up: I was watching the invention of one electronic medium as we live through the invention of the next. Nick had just finished saying that a reporter who wrote an article on the phenom he denies founding missed the real angle of the story, namely: “We don’t give a fuck.” And then I saw on the screen the genesis of journalistic haughtiness, which was very much about giving a fuck. I complimented Nick on the barbed and blunt coverage, of sorts, given Bush’s latest Supreme Court nomination by Wonkette: hardly fearless, just fearsomely snarky. And then I saw the journalists on screen refuse to cower under government’s power.

Yes, you could cut the irony – just like the smoke on the screen – with a knife.

This isn’t a movie review but if it were, I’d tell you to see Good Night, and Good Luck. I’d blurb it. This is a compelling story of courage and a brilliantly produced period piece that portrays its heroes with both admiration and wit. And though there are a few grandstanding speeches, there could have been more. David Strathairn as Murrow is remarkable and so is Clooney as the film’s producer. My grade: B+

  • http://www.elflife.com/cgi-bin/txt.cgi/ Carson Fire

    The movie sounds a bit too fictionalized. A good review at Slate points out that Murrow himself admitted that they were late coming to the table to confront McCarthy. The “See It Now” piece also was not substantive, but simply held McCarthy up as a buffoon.

    Because the essence of drama is conflict, it’s odd that Clooney ignores the turmoil the McCarthy program caused Murrow. Biographer A.M. Sperber (Murrow: His Life and Times) writes that Murrow “was always uneasy about” the McCarthy attack, “almost anxious at times to disown it.” When See It Now published its greatest hits as a hardcover book in 1955, Sperber writes, it did not include “A Report on Joseph R. McCarthy.”

    You’ll hear this characterized a lot as “right wing spin”, but it’s hard for those not as sympathetic to Hollywood and the fourth estate to see Clooney’s film as anything but modern liberal myth-making.

  • Mike G

    If we take the atmosphere of the film as accurate, it’s striking how much the nation has changed, how much fear has stopped dominating public life… Today, we ridicule government and dismiss the power of the press.

    They did then, too.

    Well before Murrow went after McCarthy, the great radio comics Bob and Ray would spoof every morning with material drawing on what McCarthy had done in hearings the day before in their soap opera parody “Mary Backstayge, Noble Wife.” Mary and Harry Backstayge were low-rent Broadway stars who had a home in Skunkhaven, Connecticut; in this storyline they had built a 10-story addition onto their house. Enter “Building Commissioner Carstairs,” who held hearings on the addition (with Ray doing a perfect imitation of the slurring, insinuating McCarthy), using doctored photos and every other trick in McCarthy’s book to smear the Backstayges. It was infinitely more timely than Murrow’s attacks on McCarthy, and funnier, too. I’d love to see Hollywood make a fearless movie about THAT.

  • Lynn

    Good Night did make me wonder whether we might end up longing for the power of the huge platform, for that power allowed Murrow to stand up to McCarthy and survive and help put the nation back on its democratic course. Well, he didn’t do it alone. But the power of major, mainstream, mondo, monopoly media helped, didn’t it?

    But didn’t McCarthy, in the end, turn out to be correct?

  • mrbill

    The trouble with the movie and the standard Hollywood left take is that after reading through the Venona papers…..McCarthy was right.

  • Eileen

    Ok, maybe it’s just me? Do I need new contacts all of a sudden?

    Jeff, perhaps you could choose a font size about mid-way between the last one and this one? This is so small I don’t even see complete letters.

  • http://francispage.blogspot.com Chris Francis

    About the Venona papers… there are questions about their validity (hmm, sounds familiar):

    More in this FAQ (scroll down): http://www.rosenbergtrial.org/faqtxt.html

  • John

    McCarthy’s sin was in taking an actual problem of Communist sympathizers within the government (and after the Hitler-Stalin pact of 1939, there was no excuse for being a Communist sympathizer anymore), and trivializing it by making broad brush claims without any concrete documentation. Nixon may have been demonized by the same people who hated McCarthy, but at least he knew where the typewritters were.

    With Murrow and the objectivity problem ,remember TV and radio unlike newspapers were under the watchful eye of the FCC and the fairness doctorine, due to the fact that at the time, the airwaves were limited and the government felt licencees should reflect a wide spectrum of opinion. While biases did end up in news broadcasts, the idea of openly proclaiming yourself to be an supporter of advocacy journalism in an era of just three national networks would have just been asking to bring the wrath of Congress and te FCC down on Mr. Paley, or Mr. Sarnoff at NBC or Mr. Goldenson over at ABC. Nowadays, if Fox News wants to be the Red State network or CNN targets Blue Staters more, its in their power because of the overall number of options, but we still haven’t gotten to the point where either is willing to openly admit that’s who they’re going after, because their corporate parents are still wary of government scrutiny.

    As for the movie itself, Clooney grew up with the Hollywood blacklist meme of McCarthy: Wrong About Everything. Opponents: Right On All Issues, and that’s the kind of movie he turned out, down to the point of seeing similarities to the war on terror today and sticking snarky refereence into the script to please the people most likely to actually go see the movie.

    I really can’t think of any Hollywood film dealing with the blacklist and the 40s-50s Red Scare in general that has yet to show any nuiance at all on the overall issue. The story’s good guys and bad guys are always black & white when it comes to the core story (though Murrow can smoke like a chimney and treat a female underling like a go-fer), which makes it approprate that Clooney chose to film his movie that way.

  • http://www.oliverwillis.com Oliver

    I see you’re attracting the Ann Coulter-style “McCarthy was right” types nowadays, Jeff.

  • http://www.elflife.com/cgi-bin/txt.cgi/ Carson Fire

    …and so much for the famous “open mind” of the left.

    The problem with the standard view of McCarthy, as promulgated by Clooney and the left is that it is such an extreme cartoon that it invites closer investigation; this curiosity increases when those promulgating the cartoon start shoving their hands over it (as Willis does here) when you try to actually look at it.

    Whenever we hear the famous line “have you no shame, sir?” we never ever hear it in any context whatsoever; the left cheers at the gotcha, and the rest of us are left wondering what the man was referring to in particular. Oh, he’s McCarthy. Shame on that.

    Whenever the subject is broached, the first item on the agenda seems to be denying that communists even existed, *especially* in the 50s when the Soviet was at its most active and powerful. Wow. The same goes for the current anti-war demonstrations; extremist socialist organizations run the show, communists stand in little booths selling t-shirts and pamphlets promoting communism, protesters walk around with Marxist gear, but if anybody mentions that there are communists at the anti-war protests, they are immediately branded delusional and extremist right wingers.

    McCarthy might have imagined a communist hiding under every bed, but the left delusionally imagines a bizarro world of duality where communism doesn’t really exist but hooray for my favorite Marxist dictator!

    Communism isn’t a political party, after all. It’s a complete societal system that is anathema to democracy because it demands complete totalitarianism in order to function (i.e., it’s never been allowed to be done right!). It is anti-democracy, which is why the moderate left, the center and the right abhors it and those who defend it. That is at least open for debate, isn’t it?

    Why, no. According to the far left, it never is. Get those minds closed now.

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    Hey, McCarthy fans: Go find a pumpkin to hid under. Good God, he was the worst of America. And I’m not debating that here. Let’s not turn this into a 1956 screaming match. That could not be more off topic.

  • Mike G

    Jeff, I think it’s unfortunate that one McCarthyite smear from Oliver– of all people for you to be listening to suddenly– and you have the urge to silence an interesting, if a tad cranky, debate just because it’s not proper in certain social circles to even think for a second that there could have been anything valid about anti-communism. (My feeling is that John’s first paragraph sums it up well– Nixon was semi-right and McCarthy was a Nixon stuck on stupid. Too many people can’t even accept the first, the guilt of Hiss, the presence of real Communists in government like Harry Dexter White, etc.)

    It’s particularly ironic because you started out by talking about wanting to take Murrow down a peg. But in the end you don’t want to brook any dissent about St. Edward and the events of that time either. Go read the Shafer piece in Slate to see why Murrow himself was uncomfortable with how the See It Now takedown happened. Read more about the Army-McCarthy to see why, though Welch was in the right and McCarthy was in the wrong, the “have you no shame” moment was a sleazy bit of demagoguing designed to shut McCarthy up about one thing he actually had a handle on. (It’s not like Welch hadn’t spent half the hearings gay-baiting Cohn and Schine in exactly the same way.)

    This is important because there are people who deny that al-Qaeda is a real threat on the grounds that hey, Communism was no real threat either. (Just go read the Kossack response to Bush’s latest speech– as far as they’re concerned Al-Qaeda only exists to serve as a distraction from the Miers nomination fiasco and Karl Rove’s Imminent! Indictment!) I have to say I’m really surprised, Jeff, that for all your talk about citizen’s media yadda yadda, you would stop a discussion so quickly out of your own distaste. Maybe you’d be better off learning more about the era, and recognizing that Murrow’s story isn’t the only part that’s not as black and white simple as you’ve thought.

  • Lynn

    A local Pastor came here from South Africa. Extremely interested in our history, as he delved into it he writes what he discovered in an article posted at :
    http://www.healthy-elements.com/McCarthyism.html

    He writes that he got:

    “the idea that we are to believe McCarthy was a bad man.

    A liberal writer said of him: “in the realm of ideas he was a species of nihilist; he was an destructive force, a revolutionist without any revolutionary vision, a rebel without a cause.”

    As I asked around I was misinformed that the senator stumbled on the cause of anti-communism. He realized could use it to bully his intellectual betters and falsely accused a host of well-connected politicians, movie makers and journalists of being communists.

    On February 9, 1950, in a shocking speech in Wheeling, West Virginia, he said that the Department of State was full of Communists and that he and the Secretary of State knew their names. For 30 years he was pilloried for making absurd claims like: Communists “known to the Secretary of State” were “still working and making policy.”

    So that’s how the term McCarthyism became the catch phrase to reject anything that exposed or resisted American liberalism.

    I would have believed Senator Joe to be a doofus, were it not for the fall of the Soviet Union. What does that have to do with it? With the collapse of the Evil Empire the CIA gained access to secret files.

    Sifting through these they came upon the Vernona Project, a Communist code name for an extensive US spy ring. The highest-ranked Soviet source was Harry D. White, an Assistant Secretary in the Treasury Department.

    He became the US Director of the International Monetary Fund.

    By 1995, the decrypted Soviet cables and the Soviet records disclosed 349 Soviet spies in top UK and U.S. government posts in the 1940s and ’50s. (Wikipedia Encyclopedia.)

    Oh, oh, after all the articles written to mock him Joe McCarthy turned out to be right. That’s why you saw all those months of apologies by college professors and our top newspapers – yeah, right!

    For a former foreigner, he seems to have gotten more of a clue than most Americans about our history!

  • John

    Jeff, here’s the problem with disussing a Murrow-McCarthy movie without discussing the situation as it existed: To do that leaves McCarthy’s rise to power as a complete enigma.

    Why was a showboat with a poor work ethic and a drinking problem able to gain so much power in the early 1950s instead of being treated as just another pontificating windbag in Congress? Because he took what was a legitimate issue, based on not just things like the Hiss and White revelations, but other incidents like the Warner Bros. studio riot of 1945 over Communist unionization efforts in Hollywood, and turned it into a travesty. And his irresponsible accusations wouldn’t have carried the power they did at the time if they hadn’t been built of responsible allegations made by others in the 1940s, including the hated (on the left) Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.

    Hollywood’s blacklist films always come into the story at mid-point, where you have a ready-made villian in Joe McCarthy and ready-made heroes in people like Murrow and Welch. In a way it’s the same thing George Lucas did with the original “Star Wars” — he just came into the story at mid-point and didn’t have to explain why Darth Vader was evil or Princess Leia was good — they just were, and the audience could go with it or not. That’s fine for a fiction story, but Hollywood has yet to deal with the reason why McCarthy was able to take the Communist issue and run with it so succssfully, since that would move the story into a lot of gray areas that make figuring out all the good guys and bad guys a lot tougher to determine (as Mr. Lucas has found out while trying to flush out his own science fiction epic over the past decade).

  • http://oodja.blogspot.com Jersey Exile

    The irony of the Venona intercepts is that had they been more widely shared with those in power at the time, we could have avoided an opportunistic fearmonger like Senator McCarthy by going after the real spies and not branding anyone who ever thought the little guy should get a fair break every once in a while a Communist infiltrator.

    Those of you who think Venona somehow “vindicates” the actions of McCarthy are off your rockers. So the decrypts revealed there to be 349 spies in the U.S. and U.K. governments — how many assets do you think *we* had in the Soviet Union? Proof of espionage in postwar America is hardly proof of a liberal/communist conspiracy to overthrow the government, no matter what Ann Coulter and her acolytes of ignorance tell you.

    The lesson of McCarthy is one of hysteria. Jeff, I have to respectfully disagree with you when you say this:

    “For many reasons – some ethnic, some religious, some politically correct – we’re not likely to fear our neighbors wondering whether we are now or have ever been a member of al Qaeda or an Islamic fundamentalist fascist.”

    But do we not fear our neighbors if they should been to be immigrants from Morocco, Egypt, or the Middle East? By our best estimates al-Qaeda numbers only in the tens of thousands worldwide, and yet our fear inclines us to regard any dark-skinned man with a wife in a hijab as a potential terrorist.

    Fear and hysteria get in the way of due diligence: just as McCarthy wasted precious governmental resources hunting down suspected Communists in the arts and entertainment industries while the real Soviet spies did their damage, so too do we bog down our law enforcement agencies with searching the turbans of Sikh men (who are not Muslims) and other such nonsense motivated by ignorance and incompetence while the actual terrorists are free to plot future acts of mayhem.

    McCarthy made us weak by making us afraid — so too does any modern-day fearmonger who follows in his footsteps.

  • http://oodja.blogspot.com Jersey Exile

    Communism isn’t a political party, after all. It’s a complete societal system that is anathema to democracy because it demands complete totalitarianism in order to function (i.e., it’s never been allowed to be done right!). It is anti-democracy, which is why the moderate left, the center and the right abhors it and those who defend it.

    Bullshit. European nations have had functioning Communist parties for decades and somehow their democracies have survived. Only after a painful and bloody civil war did the Greeks allow Communists to participate in the machinery of government — and despite all of the dire predictions of the U.S. and the U.K. (who unnecessarily prolonged the conflict by intervening on the anti-communists’ behalf), Greece did not suddenly go “red”.

    Communism and democracy are no more antithetical than corporatism and democracy. And yet democracies exist across a spectrum of economic systems from Scandinavian-style socialism to American laissez-faire capitalism. Get a grip. The world isn’t nearly as starkly defined as your red-baiting 6th-grade teacher made it out to be.

    (Okay, it was *my* sixth grade teacher, but you get my point…)

  • http://oodja.blogspot.com Jersey Exile

    And Jeff,

    As for the whole “objectivity in journalism” idea, it’s hard to study such a phenomenon without examining what was going on in the social sciences at the same time. The triumph of the hard sciences in the first half of the 20th century lead to a movement towards the idea of the neutral and unbiased observer in the so-called “softer” disciplines as well, whereby scholars increasing modeled their research and analyses on their counterparts in physics, biology, and chemistry. As journalism has been the kissing cousin of history ever since the days of Herodotus, it is only natural that the postwar period should give rise to the notion that journalists could be as objective as historians and other social scientists in obtaining “just the facts” in their quest for “truth”.

    Postmodernism may have muddied up this ideal somewhat, but only insofar as truth-seekers must now deal with the fact that bias is unavoidable. One can cynically pretend that it doesn’t exist (Fox News: “We report, you decide”) or take a good hard look in the mirror and admit the imperfections in the lens of our mind’s eye.

    I’d like to think Murrow would do the latter, if he were alive today.

  • Martin Ostrye

    The final downfall of the recent anchors was their support for the Iraq War. See “What Was Their Role?” at http://www.editorialpaintings.com

  • Ravo

    By our best estimates al-Qaeda numbers only in the tens of thousands worldwide, and yet our fear inclines us to regard any dark-skinned man with a wife in a hijab as a potential terrorist.

    Perhaps that is because Islam REQUIRES ALL Muslims to be potential terrorists upon request.

    Those are HUGE numbers.

    Are you Muslim JE? If so, you must be willing to do jihad by order of Islam. If you are not willing to convert or kill someone upon demand, you will be considered an apostate….subject to be killed yourself.

    Now the CAIR factor of this story chimes in. Ahmad al Akhras, who is named in the column as the ‘president of the council,’ was apparently singing the same old drab, predictable CAIR melodies, stating the following: ‘our biggest enemy is ignorance.’ ‘We need the larger community to feel they have Muslim brothers and sisters living among them.’ ‘Personal relationships enable intercultural education and help promote the notion that the face of America is not just Judeo-Christian, but Judeo-Christian-Islamic.’

    Judeo-Christian-Islamic? Since when? What of our nation’s culture and values are Islamic in origin? What contribution has Islam made in the United States to deserve such a distinction? The spokespersons for this small religious minority in America have, over the past decade, done nothing but succeed in creating controversy and making a screeching racket over far too many ridiculously petty issues. The unmitigated gall of al Akhras’ remarks are the perfect example of undermining and freeloading, and indicate a desire to jump on the American bandwagon without lifting a finger to earn their spot.

    Jumping on the bandwagon not with the intentions to join it, but with intentions to change it. Do we ever hear of Hindu or Buddhist organizations in America admitting that their goal is to change the face of America from Judeo-Christian to Judeo-Christian-Hindu, or Judeo-Christian-Buddhist?

    Nevertheless, as millions already know, this is merely a smoke screen. CAIR has publicly made its intentions very clear before. They want a Judeo-Christian-Islamic nation alright, minus the Judeo and the Christian.

    “Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faiths, but to become dominant. The Koran, the Muslim book of scripture, should be the highest authority in America , and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth.” – Omar Ahmad co-founder: Council on American Islamic Relations

    “I wouldn’t want to create the impression that I wouldn’t like the government of the United States to be Islamic sometime in the future…” – Ibrahim Hooper spokesperson: Council on American Islamic Relations

    These words have been heard around the world, but bear repeating at every opportunity.

    http://faithfreedom.org/oped/DCWatson51008.htm

  • penny

    Hey, McCarthy fans: Go find a pumpkin to hid under.

    That’s a cheap shot as no one was defending McCarthy’s excesses rather attempting to fill out the historical context a little better than Hollywood is capable of doing.

    There were communist agents active in this country – the Rosenbergs cravenly handed to Stalin our atomic bomb formula which added nuclear bomb drills to my years in grade school. Labor unions were pro-communist and, yes, there were plenty of sympathizers in Hollywood. With labor unions and Hollywood the leftist legacy lives on. The NYT’s Pultizer prize winner of that era, Duranty, lied blatantly about Stalin’s mass murder in the Ukraine.

    McCarthy made us weak by making us afraid

    The Constitution still stands. The Fifth Amendmant still stands. We won the Cold War hands down by the weight of our economy powered by our freedom. And our “weakness” is? I’m not afraid. Are you?

  • http://oodja.blogspot.com Jersey Exile

    The Constitution still stands. The Fifth Amendmant still stands. We won the Cold War hands down by the weight of our economy powered by our freedom.

    Yeah, no thanks to scumbuckets like McCarthy who would turn us into a looking-glass version of the Soviet Union, where the slightest innuendo could ruin your career and perhaps your life. We won the Cold War by *not* surrendering to the fear and warmongers.

  • http://oodja.blogspot.com Jersey Exile

    Are you Muslim JE? If so, you must be willing to do jihad by order of Islam. If you are not willing to convert or kill someone upon demand, you will be considered an apostate….subject to be killed yourself.

    B-U-L-L-S-H-I-T.

    Islam is not a centralized religion like Catholicism. Not only does no one imam speak for the billion-plus Muslims souls in the world, but rarely do you find one that can command the loyalty of an entire mosque. One imam’s fatwa can be and is routinely ignored by others. Contrary to what you moonbats believe, there is no giant “JIHAD” switch that the Muslim world is forced to obey when flipped. Learn something about your supposed enemy (that hasn’t been written by Daniel Pipes, that is), why don’t you?

    If a billion Muslims really wanted to kill us as much as you and others fantasize that they do, guess what? We’d all be dead.

  • http://oodja.blogspot.com Jersey Exile

    Judeo-Christian-Islamic? Since when? What of our nation’s culture and values are Islamic in origin? What contribution has Islam made in the United States to deserve such a distinction?

    The person who wrote this is a moron. Any practical knowledge that came to our nation’s culture from the Greeks passed through Muslim hands along the way. If not for the great translation project in Baghdad between the 8th and 10th centuries under the Abbasid Caliphate (whereby *every* significant nonfiction Greek work was translated into Arabic), the Renaissance sparked by the reintroduction of these texts into Europe via Muslim Spain would never have happened and we Anglos would still be painting ourselves blue and running around naked in the forest.

  • http://oodja.blogspot.com Jersey Exile

    p.s. Ravo,

    Have you ever even met a Muslim?

  • penny

    …..where the slightest innuendo could ruin your career and perhaps your life.

    See any symmetry with Dan Rather before an election using the public airwaves to smear Bush with phoney documents?

    Ironic isn’t it, the press broke the grip of McCarthy’s excesses then, but now they are so often the biggest purveyors of innuendo and falsification.

  • Eileen

    Yes, Jersey, we read you loud and clear. Islam is clearly the Religion of Pieces. We Westerners owe it all to a DEAD and Never to be Resurrected Caliphate for translating something into Arabic. Laughing all the way. Taquiyya trash talk is alive and well at Camp Buzz, as ever. Moronic, isn’t it?

    “Learn something about your supposed enemy (that hasn’t been written by Daniel Pipes, that is), why don’t you?

    If a billion Muslims really wanted to kill us as much as you and others fantasize that they do, guess what? We’d all be dead.”

    Your problem, Jersey, is that we *have* learned all about our ACTUAL enemy, Islamofascist radical jihadists by any name, along with their taquiyya talking points. And no matter how much 1.5 billion Muslims want to see us dead or dhimmified it ain’t gonna happen because there are FOUR billion of us, Jersey. Never forget.

    Death to radical Islam.

  • Tomi

    Wha? I thought I had stumbled on to Lileks by mistake when I first saw your post.

  • http://robertdfeinman.com/society Robert Feinman

    I haven’t seen the movie, but I did see the original. I wonder if there is a copy of the actual broadcast. That would be more interesting that the Hollywood treatment.

    Jeff, I think your issue is with broadcast news. In those days the major networks (NBC and CBS) were owned by their creators. They had a sense of public responsibility and were not looking over their shoulders for what Wall St. thought of their bottom line.

    When NBC became part of a military contractor, ABC part of a mouse empire and CBS a maker of billboards there was no longer interest in news. It’s just a profit center. Don’t blame the anchors. No matter how self-important, if they were in an environment where hard-hitting news gathering was prized they would do better, or be replaced by those who could.

    Observers need to realize that the “MSM” are now industrial enterprises with the same interests as other large corporations. They won’t risk their profitability by taking on government.

    The only independent voices are the small magazines and parts of the blogosphere. What was the quote about owning the printing press?

  • penny

    Have you ever even met a Muslim?

    And just what conclusion in meeting a nice generic Muslim of the not homicidal Islamofascist type is Ravo expected to draw? That some Muslims of the not homicidal Islamofascist type are nice? Is that where you are going with you challenge?

    And your point?

  • Ravo

    Islam is not a centralized religion like Catholicism.

    JE, Catholicism is merely a sect of Christianity, along with Presbyterian,Lutheran,Baptist and too many more to mention.

    All Christians, no matter the sect, follow Jesus and the New Bible Testament – neither of which teach jihad, a “convert the world or kill” doctrine, or violence against other humans.

    All Muslims are bound to follow the teachings of Mohammed and the Koran. which does teach those doctrines are a good Muslim’s duty if called upon, does it not?

    And yes, JE, I’ve met and known quite a few Muslims. Nice folks. That doesn’t change the fact that the “convert or kill directive” is a part of their ideology they can be called upon for at any time, whether they realize it at this point in time or not.

  • penny

    Any practical knowledge that came to our nation’s culture from the Greeks passed through Muslim hands along the way

    Big deal. The Arabs did nothing more than act as mailman, my friend.

    They never incorporated the wisdom of the Greeks into their own culture/societies. Western culture is built on the Greeks. The Greek culture that capriciously portrayed their gods as fools therein fostering human empowerment wasn’t compatible with Islam. Greek concepts like democracy and scientific inquiry ended under Islam. Spain in one year publishes more books than Arab countries have published in the past 1000.

    Nothing has happened in literature, science or human development in the past 1000 years in the Arab world.

    Being the mailman to Europe counts for nothing. What counts is how you respond to the letter. The Arabs treated the Greeks as junk mail. End of story.

  • Ravo

    we Anglos would still be painting ourselves blue and running around naked in the forest.

    A hellva lot more enticing than enduring 90 plus degree heat in a hijab!

  • Ravo

    JE, it’s really odd that you would make that analogy. Muslims live a
    700BC lifestyle.

  • Bob

    Oliver: “I see you’re attracting the Ann Coulter-style “McCarthy was right” types nowadays, Jeff.”

    Yeah… I lived through the McCarthy days and poo-poo’d his allegations. Now, after seeing what has become of the TSM, and the Dems, I’m starting to think that he was hitting the nail squarely on the head. We should have paid him much more serious attention than we did. Live and learn.

  • Hallelujiah

    >All Christians, no matter the sect, follow Jesus and the New Bible Testament
    >- neither of which teach jihad, a “convert the world or kill” doctrine, or
    >violence against other humans.

    No they just teach that if someone does not accept Christ then God will do the dirty work on their behalf and slaughter the heathens himself.

    Let’s not kid ourselves most fundamentalist christians have utter contempt for most other religions including their “Judeo” brothers, 2000 years of history has proven that to be the case.

  • http://sisu.typepad.com Sissy Willis

    Thanks, Jeff, for your intellectual courage as a man still firmly of the left worth listening to, unafraid to follow truth wherever it may lead:

    a href=”http://sisu.typepad.com/sisu/2005/10/clooney_knows_e.html”>”A half-century-long era of haughtiness”

  • http://sisu.typepad.com Sissy Willis
  • penny

    Let’s not kid ourselves most fundamentalist christians have utter contempt for most other religions including their “Judeo” brothers, 2000 years of history has proven that to be the case

    Any chance with a such an innane and ridiculously blanket statement that you would like to give us over the past 20 years the body count by Islamic terrorists versus Christian “fundamentalists”?

    Let’s start with 9/11 – 3000 plus. Beslan? London? Madrid? Bali? Darfur?

    Or are you just too stupid to punch up a few facts to support your rant? Contempt versus murder? Can’t see it? Spare us your 3rd grade dribble.

  • Ravo

    Hallelujiah writes: most fundamentalist christians have utter contempt for most other religions

    Muslim activities in just the 20th century alone:

    http://savedbygraceministries.injesus.com/Groups/ViewMessage.cfm?MessageId=3B006ZER&UCD=60h

    1. Muslim Turkey has expelled approximately 1,500,000 Greeks from its empire in the east and replaced them with Turks. They have massacred approximately 2 million Armenians and replaced them with Turks in the west.

    2. Muslim Turkey has invaded and occupied northern Cyprus, displacing the Greeks living there.

    3. Muslim northern Sudan has conquered much of southern Sudan, literally enslaving its Christian and pagan population.

    4. Indonesian imperialism has occupied all of non-Islamic western New Guinea and incorporated into Indonesia.

    5. Muslim Indonesia has invaded and conquered Christian East Timor with horrible loss of life.

    6. This very day, Muslim Indonesia is attempting to destroy Christianity in what used to be called the Celebes.

    7. A half-dozen Arab countries have fought two to four wars (depending how you count) in an attempt to destroy Israel and occupy its territory, and is currently continuing the attempt this very day with the publicly voted consent of 55 of the world’s 57 Islamic nations.

    8. For no good reason, Muslim Libya has blown up western aircraft, killing many civilians.

    9. Muslim Iraq, in an imperialist war of aggression, invaded and occupied Muslim Kuwait.

    10. Muslim Iraq, in an imperialist act of aggression, invaded Muslim Iran with a resulting (some estimates say) death of 2 million people.

    11. Muslim Albania, this very minute, is attempting to enlarge its borders at Christian Macedonia’s expense.

    12. Muslim Northern Nigeria has been (and is currently) an aggressor against the Christian south.

    13. Muslims expelled approximately 800,000 Jews from their homelands between 1947 and 1955.

    14. During Jordan’s occupation of the West Bank, the kingdom undertook an unsuccessful attempt to make Jerusalem a Muslim city by forcing out approximately 10,000 Christian inhabitants.

  • Hallelujiah

    >over the past 20 years

    Since Bin Laden and Saddam were our allies 20 years ago should they be counted pro or anti U.S.?

    >Ravo Says:
    >10. Muslim Iraq, in an imperialist act of aggression, invaded Muslim Iran
    >with a resulting (some estimates say) death of 2 million people.

    Rummy didn’t have much problems with this at the time, neither did Ronnie as I seem to recall.

  • Ravo

    Hallelujiah, You won’t find the above kind of activities in the TEACHINGS of Jesus. Are they in Islamic teachings?

  • Ravo

    Hallelujiah,

    apples and oranges

    (all men are sinners) What does the ideology – Koran or Bible actually TEACH or requirethem to do….(such as jihad)

    ….and, it’s a pretty safe bet that the yearly death toll in Iraq is LESS than it was when Saddam ran rampant with his killing fields, killing ????millions

  • http://www.elflife.com/cgi-bin/txt.cgi/ Carson Fire

    JJ: Hey, McCarthy fans: Go find a pumpkin to hid under. Good God, he was the worst of America. And I’m not debating that here. Let’s not turn this into a 1956 screaming match. That could not be more off topic.

    But, Jeff, how many of us were around in 1956? I was born almost ten years later, and imagine that all I have to go on for historical context for the “worst of America” are insults and yelling “bullshit”.

    There is no question that one particularly ideology “owns” the McCarthy story, but it uses it badly. I am told that McCarthy was practically as bad as Hitler, but Hitler I know because we *talk* about Hitler. We know about his hatred of the Jews, we know of the extermination camps, etc. When there is a question about Hitler, we don’t yell at each other, but go to research and facts.

    McCarthy, on the other hand, I know only from people endlessly quoting “have you no shame, sir” (spoken presumably by a political opponent — which means that in itself, this quote has about as much import as any random senatorial hot air) and that a few Hollywood types were blacklisted. Blacklisting is bad; but it is not unique to “McCarthyism”, anti-communism, or the right by any means. Yet Hollywood types pump the blacklisting up to be something worse and more inhuman than the worst of Soviet gulag.

    As far as I can tell, compared to the Hollywood blacklistings, Japanese internment had a far more delibitating effect, and ruined a lot more people, but it’s almost as if we’d like to forget about that because that was the act of a popular liberal icon instead of a besotted right wing senator.

    This isn’t the impression hyped up by political opposition — this is the face of McCarthyism deliberately presented by the left. Amorphous, ill-defined, seemingly overblown… and when a new movie on the subject arrives (and by no means the first) it doesn’t appear to help define those issues any better, but simply continues to mythologize the parts of the story that are already hazy.

  • penny

    Rummy didn’t have much problems with this at the time, neither did Ronnie as I seem to recall.

    Like they could have done anything about it. What did the UN do about Iraq’s invasion of Iran, by the way? Or Britian? Or France? Or Russia?

    Since Bin Laden and Saddam were our allies 20 years ago should they be counted pro or anti U.S.?

    You really didn’t ask that? And by that implication all of the civilian deaths brought about in the past 20 years by those two get negated, right?

    Germany and Japan were our mortal enemies 60 years ago. Paradigms change. History is full of paradox. A wise person can handle that and arrive at reasonably moral conclusions about the present unless they are stuck on playing games.

  • Hallelujiah

    >You won’t find the above kind of activities in the TEACHINGS of Jesus.

    The teaching of Jesus have very little to do with the practice of christianity historically speaking. Go ask the American Indians and African Slaves how the Golden Rule was applied to them.

    >it’s a pretty safe bet that the yearly death toll in Iraq is LESS than it was
    >when Saddam ran rampant with his killing fields, killing ????millions

    One innocent life lost is one too many. I seriously doubt you cared one iota that Saddam was killing Iranians in the 80′s. Let’s not forget that the Iraqi’s supported the war against Iran as did the Republican administrations. Iraqi’s also supported the war against Kuwait and would have been happy to take on the Saudi’s.

    Do you really think only the Sunnis were in Saddam’s army? Shiites and Kurds were also raping Kuwaiti women and killing their babies if we are to believe Poppa Bush’s lies.

    >all men are sinners

    what about the women?

  • Ravo

    Hallelujiah …you don’t get it.

    We are not talking about the conduct of the believers but the teachings of the founders.

    Someone else wrote: The core of Christianity is not violent. It is love and forgiveness. This does not mean that Christians have always lived up to that standard. People have done horrendous things in the name of all religions. But when you look at Islam you see that violence and terrorism is part of the teaching.

  • penny

    Go ask the American Indians and African Slaves how the Golden Rule was applied to them.

    And just how many Christians, motivated by a repulsion toward slavery, made up the Union Army in the Civil War? Again, your game is to take one piece of 2000 years of Christianity and try to make that fit as the whole story. Officially slavery was banned in Saudi Arabia only a few years ago. It is still practiced in the Arab world – see Chad and Sudan.

    You unrelentingly take isolated factoids and try to globalize all issues with them. The Golden Rule with Native Amerians when it came to warring among themselves didn’t exist. Ask a Hopi what he thinks of Navajos? Ask a Pueblo Indian historically who marauded their crops yearly ? Find out the literal translation of Anasazi. In my part of the world there was always conflict among Native Americans historically. There was no Golden Rule.

  • Eileen

    Hal, (mispelled): Do you taqiyya tag teams pass around a memo based on time zones or what?

    Regarding those ‘sinful’ women. We know very well what Islam thinks of *them*. Those dogs! (yes, we know how you feel about THEM, also). Clitorectomies, black burkas in 100 degree heat, musn’t see the light of day except through peepholes without daddy Islam along, no driving, voting, socializing with the men, must walk behind the men, it’s ok to beat any woman – there are even treatises on how to not leave bruises), HONOR KILLINGS/GANG RAPES/BEING BURIED TO THE NECK AND STONED TO DEATH…and shall we get into required sexual practices and axioms related to Muslim women and how they must service their men?

    BAH!!! The sooner Muslim women are saved from the depravity of their men the better.

    DEATH to radical Islam. DEATH to barbarism. DEATH to shariah law.

  • Eileen

    And TaqiyyaHal? Do NOT expect me to engage in little taqiyya parlor games and asides with you. Your wretched bile, not even thinly disguised as intellectual debate or purportedly ‘civilized repartee’ is only more of your TAQIYYA TRASH. YOU are my enemy! The name you have chosen to use tonight is ‘choice’. I see you quite clearly. You don’t warrent the breath I breathe or the time it has taken to even type these words.

    DEATH to radical Islam!!! It’s dying, sinking in its own quicksand, and for that I rejoice. Now there’s a real Hallelujah moment, Hal.

    There are FOUR BILLION of us vs. your putrid, barbaric few. It might behoove you to remember that little fact, Hal. Now, better run for your cave and further into the deepest, darkest recesses of your own black hell.

  • MrBuddwing

    Robert Feinman Says:
    I haven’t seen the movie, but I did see the original. I wonder if there is a copy of the actual broadcast. That would be more interesting that the Hollywood treatment.

    Me:
    If you’re referring to the “See It Now” broadcast, it most certainly does exist. An obvious place to look would be the Museum of Television & Radio.

  • http://francispage.blogspot.com Chris Francis

    >>I wonder if there is a copy of the actual broadcast. That would be more interesting that the Hollywood treatment.

    I’ve seen it at the Musuem of TV and Radio in Beverly Hills — you have to request it, but it’s simple and doesn’t take long. BTW, it’s a great place to view other hard-to-find pieces of broadcast history…

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    You know, I love having comments and defend them to media people who are scared of them and the people behind them.
    But this thread depresses me because it got hijacked by some (not all) of the same folks with their same old, tired rants said over and over and over again.
    I spent a lot of time writing this post. I was looking forward to a discussion about — with lots of disagreement — about the topics in it.
    Instead, it starts off with in inane, one-dimensional, simplistic “McCarthy was right” and what came out of that.
    And then we have the same old crowd doing its same old dance around its same old topic.
    One of the basic courtesies of blogs is to stay on topic.
    I’m disappointed at those who can’t figure that out.
    I like having comments and I like having the people behind them here. But really: Are you that frustrated that you can’t say what you want to say that you have to say it everywhere? If you are, there is a very simple solution: Get a blog.
    Among the rules I have here is that I can kill any comment and that comments should stay on topic and I may just go on an on-topic enforcement rant just because I feel like it. Don’t be surprised if you start seeing comments killed. It could happen.
    Now does anybody else have anything to say about the state of journalism in the last half-century?

    And I thank those with on-topic comments; sorry I didn’t join in but I was on a plane all day yesterday.

  • http://stevesilver.net Stephen Silver

    Please, people-

    McCarthy was a drunken buffoon, who never actually uncovered a single real communist, who accused countless innocent people of treason, and who all in all did more to discredit the noble cause of anti-communism than he did to help it. He was, indeed, the worst of America.

  • Pingback: CaNN :: We started it.

  • Lynn

    Not so Stephen. The media gave McCarthy the “New Orleans” treatment, – only back then we didn’t have blogs to interrupt their strangling of the truth.

    With the collapse of the Evil Empire the CIA gained access to secret files.

    Sifting through these they came upon the Vernona Project, a Communist code name for an extensive US spy ring. The highest-ranked Soviet source was Harry D. White, an Assistant Secretary in the Treasury Department.

    He became the US Director of the International Monetary Fund.

    By 1995, the decrypted Soviet cables and the Soviet records disclosed 349 Soviet spies in top UK and U.S. government posts in the 1940s and ’50s. (Wikipedia Encyclopedia.)

    Oh, oh, after all the articles written to mock him Joe McCarthy turned out to be right. That’s why you saw all those months of apologies by college professors and our top newspapers – yeah, right!

  • kat

    Murrow claims in the movie that McCarthy got one of his facts wrong, namely that, contrary to what McCarthy claimed, Murrow was never a member of a radical, pro-Communist, Marxist union group called the Industrial Workers of the World. However, Wikipedia lists Murrow as a famous member of the group.
    {If a billion Muslims really wanted to kill us as much as you and others fantasize that they do, guess what? We’d all be dead.} No, Jersey, you’ll all be dead–not us, them and you.

  • http://www.billingsnews.com David Crisp

    OK, here’s something more or less on point. I think Jersey Exile is right about how the social sciences influenced journalism, but I also think that it’s easy to overlook how different TV is as a medium from print. Early TV journalists came from newspapers, where there was room to develop stories and document assertions with sources. That’s the pattern TV tried to follow, but it didn’t work. There just isn’t time in TV for all that, so sourcing quickly became truncated to “administration sources,” “many people say,” “critcs say,” etc.

    Maybe those assertions are backed by lots of solid reporting and maybe not. The listener has no way of knowing. Public trust of media has been in decline ever since.

    Yes, I know, that’s a simplistic explanation. But trust me; I’ve got sources.

  • penny

    There just isn’t time in TV for all that

    I don’t buy that, David. A daily newspaper has the same short deadline as an evening news hour for verifying facts.

    If you want to examine the sorry state of journalism today watch a Presidential news conference with the journalist herd in their most rabid mode of gotcha grandslaming interspersed with some of the most stupid questions imaginable. Stupid questions because a grasp of economics, history, science by far too many journalists is missing.

    In fact, re-evaluate assembled journalists firing off questions at any event ranging from the DC sniper killing spree, the Iraq war military briefings, the NO hurricane, a local bank robbery. It’s breathtaking to watch their incoherence, biases and shear stupidity on display. So many of them are annoying idiots.

  • John

    My father, who worked in the NYC newspaper business, had a great story about covering a story in 1956 and having some women bystanders at the scene almost swooing because Gabe Pressman from Channel 4 was on the scene. If you’ve lived in New York and seen Gabe, you’ll understand the irony in this, but it does go a long way towards showing why TV coverage so many times degenerates into the focus on the reporter, and not the story nowadays.

    That was already developing in the Murrow era, but in no way was it as bad as it would be when transmission capablities became much better by the end of the 1960s and consultants and others found the style of broadcast personality who played best with the Nielsen families. It is possible that the rise of the Internet will serve as a check on the worst forms of style-above-substance, so that reporters will not only have to look good, but also get their stories right or risk being fact-checked to death by 1,000 websites, or we could end up in the future with the people with the best blow-dried hair becomming the most popular video bloggers.

  • Mike G

    Yeah, this is almost as bad as Kinsley’s wiki for LA Times. The nerve of ordinary folks not thinking neatly within the lines we laid out for them! No wonder you’re pissed that the citizens acted like, well, citizens.

    Really, Jeff, some of this may have gone off in dubious directions, but I have a hard time seeing why you even made the post if you object to any talk about Murrow’s own subject.

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    Well, Mike, explain to me the straight-line connection between Murrow and Islam. I’ll be eager to see those degrees of separation.
    Just because I’m a populist it doesn’t mean I lose all sense of quality in a conversation. Some of these folks come in and cut-and-paste the same stuff no matter whether it has anything to do with the topic ruining it for those who, indeed, would like to and are talking about the topic.
    Think of a blog as a cocktail party. Those are the folks who think that everybody has bladder problems because they’re always hearing the people they’re talking to excuse themselves to go to the bathroom.
    Don’t try to make this PC.
    To further the analogy: If you are at that cocktail party and you walk up to people who are talking about, oh, say, journalism and you barge in, ignore what they are saying and what they are talking about, and just start spouting what people know you to spout about all the time — whether that right v. left or christian v. islamic, it doesn’t really matter — then you will be seen as rude and a boor and a fool and all those people will have a sudden urge to go take a piss because it’s more polite than pissing on you.
    It’s just rude.
    If you want to talk about anything you want, get a blog. If you want to talk about a different topic, at last have the courtesy to recognize it’s off topic; people do that. But it is the generally accepted etiquette of blogs that people stay on topic and don’t hijack conversations with their own all-too-damned-predictable rants.

    John: I’m reminded of a quasi job interview I once had with the late Jerry Nachman, who was then head of WNBC and, when he died (or when he turned ill), was head of MSNBC. Jerry was a, big man. No, he was fat. That matters because Jerry talked about the power of being on TV, especially local TV, and said: Look at me. And I have a hot wife. How? Local TV.

  • Fred

    I saw Ebert and Roeper yesterday heap praise on this film prefaced by Roeper’s comment that neither Rush Limbaugh nor the people at Fox News will like his review. I think they need to read Jack Shafer’s column at Slate.
    Sophisticated movie critics falling for ahistorical hagiography again. Have they no shame?

  • http://www.bloodandtreasure.com Noel Guinane

    Here’s something one American President said on the subject of the media (no prizes for guessing which President):

    “Before the era of Vietnam and Watergate, the media’s neglect of “kernels of truth” in favor of salaciousness and rumor-mongering was somehow more tolerable because it was at least not obscured by a veneer of sanctimoniousness. Journalists have always been an arrogant breed. Bert Andrews of The New York Herald-Tribune, who worked with me on the Alger Hiss case, once told me that the problem with some of his colleagues who covered the State Department was that “instead of writing about the Secretary of State, they write as if they were the Secretary of State.”

    A bygone era’s ink-stained wretches, as depicted in the classic film The Front Page – amiable, scandal-mongering slobs sitting around the courthouse pressroom playing cards and waiting for the next hanging – have become our era’s self-certified saviors of the republic. A productive evening spent peering through a politician’s bedroom window can be the key to a prestigious editorship and even someday a shot at the Chair in the Media and Public Responsibility at any number of universities.

    The result of the media’s appointing themselves as a de facto branch of government, a sort of non-taxpayer-supported team of surrogate special prosecutors, is that they have become even more immune to criticism than ever before, even less willing to admit their errors and excesses. And that will inevitably hurt a profession whose only restraint is what it manages to impose upon itself.

    The media would not have physicians certify themselves, politicians investigate themselves, or even auto mechannics license themselves, but we are taught to expect that editors, reporters, and broadcasters have a unique capacity to ensure that they themselves act responsibly. The fact that they err just as often as other human beings but atone almost never cannot be good for their professional souls; and it has been demonstratably bad for their public standing.”

  • http://www.billingsnews.com David Crisp

    Penny, It’s not the deadline; it’s the air time problem. TV journalists can’t quote six or eight or 12 people they talked to in a two-minute report. They have to condense and summarize — and in some cases can get away without doing the reporting at all.

    I’ve watched quite a few press conferences and don’t routinely hear the kind of stupidity you seem to find. Sure, there are dumb questions now and again, but no big deal. Sometimes when you’re a reporter you have to ask dumb questions just to get people on the record.

    As for the arrogance issue, I don’t see how anybody who writes daily for the public — whether blogger or journalist — can get by without a certain amount of arrogance. Whenever I start feeling humble, I have to step away from the keyboard. Arrogance keeps me typing.

  • http://www.elflife.com/cgi-bin/txt.cgi/ Carson Fire

    From what I know of the facts of that age, I’m inclined to agree with Stephen Silver up to a point:

    McCarthy was a drunken buffoon, who never actually uncovered a single real communist, who accused countless innocent people of treason, and who all in all did more to discredit the noble cause of anti-communism than he did to help it. He was, indeed, the worst of America.

    McCarthy seems to have been an opportunistic buffoon who used a serious issue badly. But the *worst* of America? Ahead of *segregationists*? Ahead of the Ku Klux Klan? Ahead of the idiots behind the Oklahoma City bombing? Ted Bundy? Charles Manson?

    Sorry, but this is only the “worst” of America to white liberals because it offends more leftist inclinations. White liberal America simply does not harbor the same degree of outrage over modern blacklisting in academia and Hollywood today. The left never complains about blacklisting that targets other groups. In fact, Kerry’s old saw about “outsourcing” work was a blacklisting appeal of sorts, albeit evil fereigners takin’ away ‘murican jobs!

    I would also revisit the internment of American Japanese. It’s occurred to me since earlier that there is also the distinction that Hollywood blacklisting was actually the practice of the Hollywood bosses, who were also anti-communist, even if they were hyped up by government inquisitions. Internment, on the other hand, was an atrocity actually officially committed by the government.

    Some of you may be (and Jeff certainly is) irritated at the bold “McCarthy was right” statements, but by countering with an extremely hyperbolized history, you risk being no better yourselves.

    And back to Stephen’s point… Did McCarthy “discredit the noble cause of anti-communism”? Did he really? If so, why are his modern critics so intent on demonizing him to the point of caricature? Why does communism continue to be discredited in the American political system, despite the existence of communist political parties within failed European socialist-democratic countries? Why is it that leftists always complain on internet forums that failed socialist states don’t count because “they’re not done right”, meaning that more complete totalitarian control is required to pull off a pure and perfect communist state?

    Clooney certainly didn’t make a film about how McCarthy screwed up the noble cause of “going after commies”. He produced the standard fare: OMFG there’s never been a darker time in history than McCarthyism, not even the Spanish Inquisition!!!

    Jeff especially should be sensitive to this if he wants the real story to be carried on, and for the right lessons to be learned. The overblown story presented by Clooney and the left is simply not credible to succeeding generations.

  • http://www.geniusnow.com Greg Burton

    I know y’all don’t remember the McCarthy era much. Heck, I was just a little kid. But I remember the fear in our little house in Los Angeles over whether or not my Dad would keep his security clearance. He was being investigated, as he said, for belonging to two subversive groups – the Democratic Party and the Unitarian church. He kept it, but it was a near thing.

    After he died, I found the transcript he’d kept of the FBI interview. It was, and is, chilling to read. They didn’t ask him much, really, about what he’d joined or belonged to. Most of the interview was “Do you know person X?” “Have you ever discussed politics with person X?” “What can you tell me about person X?” And person Y, and person Z, and person A…. It seems, reading it, that the operative phrase was “guilt by association”, and yes, instilling fear about using your first amendment rights.

    Eventually that fear leads to paranoia, and can lead to a complete breakdown. I saw it in my own family.

    So Murrow is a hero to me, no matter his flaws. He stood up for the people with no pulpit, and he stopped the harrassment. I don’t know the historical accuracy of the film, and it doesn’t much matter. What matters is that, eventually, my parents started to breathe easier, and the cloud of suspicion and paranoia dissipated.

    And that’s whats important to a five and six year old kid.

  • joe

    Seriously now, wouldn’t the peope who betrayed this country in favor of the Soviet Union be the worst of America?

  • chaneu

    Just a note of levity: I saw the movie this evening, and afterwards, as I was walking out of the theater, I overheard a fragment of conversation between a man and a woman. The woman had said something, I don’t know exactly what, but the man’s response can give us a clue: “No, no,” he said, “Charlie McCarthy was a [i]puppet[/i].

  • http://www.bloodandtreasure.com Noel Guinane

    More like a tyrant.

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  • Tim

    I am wondering whether the problem with McCarthy was not that he was demogaging about something that was really true, but he was doing it from a government platform and Hollywood was the target. Hollywood has fought back for the last 50 years. This movie is just another battle.

    We saw the same problem when performers were making anti-war statements and some people stopped buying tickets. They raised a ruckus about “McCarthyism” and censorship. Their charges did not erally stick because it was not the government.

    They don’t seem to have the same problem with other modern day demogages, government or not, when they are not attacking media outlets.

  • HA

    Jeff,

    Instead, it starts off with in inane, one-dimensional, simplistic “McCarthy was right” and what came out of that.

    McCarthyISM (his demagoguery and witch hunting) was wrong. But there was a kernel of truth behind McCarthy. There was in fact Communist infiltration in America, including within the government. The “simplistic” argument is not that McCarthy was right. On the contrary, the truly simplistic argument is that just because McCarthyISM was wrong, so too was McCarthy.

    The lesson that we fail to learn from McCarthy is if there is a REAL problem, it better get addressed by serious, rational people. If ethical people fail to address a real problem, then demagogues will rise to the occasion. It wasn’t the anti-Communists that gave rise to McCarthy. It was the apologists for Communism on the left who made a serious and rational approach to dealing with Communist infiltration politically impossible.

    And so we see history repeating itself today. Apologists for Islamic terrorism on the left with their simplistic, mindless, and, yes, McCarthyistic charges of racism and xenophobia levelled at anybody who dares raise legitmate criticism of Islam and Islamic penetration of American society are laying the groundwork for the next McCarthy.

    Just one anecdote, but do you think that maybe the people of Red House, Virginia might one day find themselves receptive to the appeals of a demagogue?

    http://gatesofvienna.blogspot.com/2005/10/jamaat-ul-fuqra-in-virginia-part-1.html

    P.S. Oliver is an idiot.

  • HA

    Jersey Exile,

    Yeah, no thanks to scumbuckets like McCarthy who would turn us into a looking-glass version of the Soviet Union, where the slightest innuendo could ruin your career and perhaps your life.

    And no thanks to those who based on slightest innuendo are trying to ruin the careers of Tom DeLay and Karl Rove. Normal politics in this country is being criminalized.

    The cooked up Plame “scandal” in particular should send chills down the spine of every freedom loving citizen. The real story here is that a CIA operative and her proven-liar husband can conduct a free-lance operation to undermine the national policy of our elected President. Plame and Wilson used all the tools of the media to make proven false charges against the administration, and the administration cannot respond to these charges without fear of political persecution.

    The end result of the Plame “scandal” will be to entrench the CIA as a shadow government with the KGB like power to make or break national policy and democratically elected administrations with legally protected impugnity. A “looking-glass” Soviet Union indeed. It looks to me that the Soviets are getting the last laugh as the left continues to drive us down the Road to Serfdom.

  • http://http:thunderpigblog.blogspot.com Thunder pig

    Face it, McCarthy is a hero. He exposed HollyWeird for what it was, and continues to be…socialist. Wothout McCarthy, Alger Hiss would have continued to work with the Soviets. The left have never forgiven him and since they cannot exhume his body, put it on trial, and burn him at the stake…they do it, any any who support him, in effigy.
    The sad thing is, our society has become more Sovietized and even Democratic, having lost our Republic.

  • http://www.thegantry.net/blog Casey Tompkins

    Great. Just great. After some intelligent, nuanced (oohhh, used a naughty word!) comments about the history of the 1950s, including differentiation between McCarthy and the “ism,” some goober has to jump up and make anti-communists look stupid. Thanks, Thunder pig…

    McCarthy was right. Sort of. In a bass-ackwards kind of way. I mean, there really were communist agents in the federal government.

    On the other hand, “Tail-gunner Joe” was, in fact, a drunk and a buffoon; but one with actual political power. Hell, he even had Eisenhower treed at one point.

    On the gripping hand, recall that Hitler was “right” about the communist challenge in Germany at the time, and he was once seen as a buffoon as well.

    Food for thought.

    I disagree with (one of) Jeff’s premises, in that CBS News really was (at one point) the “Tiffany network,” with 60 Minutes its proud flagship.

    What really killed the news -or was at least the final straw- was the commercialization of the news. Not in the sense of pandering to special interests, but in the sense that more readers (hence more income…) became the primary goal, instead of reporting what happened, in context.

    I, myself, trust the “overpowering platform” far less than does Mr. Jarvis. In fact, he presents a truly horrific example: Cronkite’s condemnation of the Vietnam war during the Tet Offensive. At that point, Cronkite went from reporter to participant. What’s worse is that he got the story completely wrong. Tet was a terrible disaster for Viet Cong and North Vietnam, and the offensive had strong parallels to the Ardennes Offensive (Battle of the Bulge) of December 1944.

    Instead what we got was the birth of “advocate journalism,” wherein the reporter is an actor, not an observer.

    Cronkite serves as a good example here. I used to have a tremendous respect for him, considering his WW2 experience. Most folks these days don’t know that “Walter” flew several missions in B-17s over Europe as a reporter in 1944. This was not something designed to reduce your life-insurance premiums… He was a brave man.

    But consider his work at the time: did he use his reporting as a way to influence the news? Did he deliver commentary about how well or poorly the administration was doing?

    Or did he just report what happened?

    That’s the difference between the 1944 “Walter” and the 1968 version. The latter (by this time a talking head) felt no compunctions about telling the viewing public what he thought was going on. What made this so powerful was the degree of trust felt for him across America.

    My analysis is that his abuse of this trust was the first slip into the abyss which eventually devoured Dan Rather; someone else who used to be considered a trustworthy reporter, from his time on the original 60 Minutes.

    Perhaps it was a combination of commercilization and arrogance which fatally damaged the MSM; the need to put the most sensational story on the air, and the self-assurance that the participants were still journalists, and not erzatz entertainers.

  • Joe Cortina

    I have had the privilege to travel in several countries under siege by Marxist ideologues – Communists – Socialists – pick your favorite description – they all translate into horror and death on a scale unprecedented in the modern history of mankind. These criminals are the ultimate real life nightmare – been there seen that. – AND I DON”T MEAN AS A TOURIST!

    Most of my heroes are dead. Sen. Joe McCarthy was one of them. there have probably been more leftist lies about this great patriot than any other American figure in our history.

    I did radio and TV talk shows for several years and have had some 20 years experience as a geo-political analyst. My associates and contacts ranged from Defected KGB to CIA station chiefs to some of our top decorated vets – and beyond.

    According to my former wife – there are more Marxists( sympathizers etc) in America today than there are in her native Russia. But then I have known that for decades.

    One of the bits of fun I had on the air was to start a ‘caller dialogue’ by stating that I wanted to talk about the ” late great Senator Joseph McCarthy”

    The ‘lights on the board would light up all the way across! Then the fun started. Some leftist dirt bag would predictably call in and was fuming about how I could say that. ( I’m a former Spec Ops commander from the 60s and these types of anti-American scum killed a lot of my comrades so I enjoyed this small ‘payback’)

    I would start the trap by saying in an innocent disappointed tone; ” well I take it that you don’t approve of the late great Sen. McCarthy?” Then he would predictably rant and rave about ‘red baiting’ ( a fishing term?) or “witch hunts’ – ( my God – do you children still believe in make believe witches?).

    Now I put out the bait. ” Well , so what is it that you dislike about the great Sen. McCarthy?” ANS. ” He ruined the lives of lots of innocent people!”

    Now I set the hook. ” well – can you name one/” ans. “ONE!! – hell – there were lots of them!” ” OK – I see what you mean. Tell you what I’ll do – I’ll give you a crisp $ 100 bill for EVERY name you can provide me with”. Ans.” One! – heck- there are lots of them!”.

    “OK – I’ll make it easy on you – just give me one name – BUT it has to be an American that has NEVER been a stinking Communist or has NEVER EVER associated himself with these scum that want to destroy us – by their OWN word. Now when I say RUINED – that does NOT mean someone got their feelings hurt. It means this – and listen carefully.

    “It means that the person that was accused of this horrible treason – AND SIR: THAT IS THE MOST DESPICKABLE KIND OF TREASON – BY DEFINITION – THAT AN AMERICAN CAN COMMIT AGAINST HIS COUNTRY – that person has had his career – and life ruined by charges that had no basis in TRUTH at all. Supply me with a name – AND EMPIRICAL or documented evidence as to his or her innocence. Got your money right here ready for you to donate to your favorite America hating cause – OK?”

    The guy usually goes on ranting and raving and maybe even comes up with one of those bogus names who had records that made Benedict Arnold look like Paul Revere! If he did that – I would promptly come back with time dates and statements by credible agencies of their UNQUESTIONABLE guilt. Having done this stuff professionally for so long – it was like the proverbial shooting fish in the barrel.

    I would tell him – sorry – no cigar and ask for another choice. By now he had completely lost it and was incoherently swearing and railing against the fact that I had just made a fool out of him. Then I would ‘twist the knife” and tell him that he was welcome to call back any time and would not be cut off and try again. Of course it never happened.

    In fact – I made it a point to taunt these perfidious reprobates by offering the same prize every time I was on the show. In the remaining YEARS that I was on WFLA in Tampa with my host Tedd Webb – nobody ever claimed the reward.

    Why? – simple. The point I was trying to make to the other 99.9% of the listening audience, was that this whole bash McCarty thing was AND IS a big fabricated lie and the caller AND his ilk were NOT the kind of people that you would want your daughter to bring home to meet the parents! The left is very good at this kind of disinformation and since they cannot exist in the light of the truth ( they would be clubbed in the streets) – they MUST pervert the truth with a bigger lie!.

    McCarthy was 100% on track. MY country – the one I had risked my life in uniform to protect SPECIFICALLY against our COMMUNIST enemies – was EATEN UP WITH MARXISTS AND THEIR FELLOW TRAVELERS – ALL THE WAY UP TO THE HIGHEST LEVEL OF GOVT!

    SO lets get it right class — OK? Murrow was the BAD guy and McCarthy was the good guy. Remember – God does NOT like lies or liars. He said so.

    And by the way – you treasonous maggot infested leftist pukes out there. THE OFFER STILL STANDS! The smear is a LIE . The movie is a LIE and the people who perpetrate these lies are liars as well. That includes any of the Hollywood scum who in any way have attempted to continue or have participated in this disgrace. ANY PLACE – ANY TIME comrades

    MAKE MY DAY!

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  • http://Healthy-elements.com Lynn

    Your are so correct on this Joe.

    Clooney—who directed and helped write the movie—doesn’t show a single person who was done in by the senator’s supposedly reckless charges. Not one!

    What’s stranger still is that Clooney dwells at some length on the case of Lt. Milo Radulovich, on the verge of being ousted as a security risk from the Air Force Reserve because two of his relatives were radicals, possibly Communists.

    The movie shows Murrow, the star of CBS’s “See It Now,” publicizing Radulovich’s plight. Weeks later, we find that he’s been reinstated and the charges dropped. Cheers all around at CBS.

    A major anti-McCarthy victory for Murrow? Well, only in the eyes of CBS and Murrow and other anti-McCarthy zealots. For Radulovich was never a McCarthy case.

    Indeed, the Clooney film—but just barely—acknowledges this far from insignificant fact, yet it suggests that the “ambience” of McCarthy’s Red hunting was somehow responsible. Clooney, it seems, couldn’t discover a single bona fide McCarthy victim, so the closest he gets to it is a “victim” McCarthy had nothing to do with!

    http://www.humaneventsonline.com/article.php?id=9669

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  • Mike

    Lynn, you are so biased it is hysterical to read your comments. Clooney’s movie mentions early on that MCCARTHY did not have anything to do with Lt. Milo Radulovich’s hearings with the Air Force. I guess you missed that part.

    The point was that the whole entire government was petrified of communism, probably because of the outlandish behavior and statements from men like Cohn and McCarthy and others. It showed it did not take any proof to adjudge someone to be a communist.

    The point of the Clooney movie wasn’t to show the victims of McCarthy. But it did show two victims-Murrow and Hollenbeck.

    I encourage you to study history, there are hundreds of victims, directly and indirectly victims because of McCarthy. If you tell me that you cannot find one, I will get back on her and provide names and proof of these victims.

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