Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Edward R. Murrow vs. McCarthyism

By the year 1954, in America, McCarthyism had begun to run its course and the Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy who was once an extremely influential voice in America was coming under fire. McCarthy was at the time the face of the House of Un-American Activities Committee.

This Committee was created in 1937 mostly in response to the Ku-Klux-Klan. However, as the Cold War came the focus had shifted to fighting communism on the home front. By 1937 the committee had compiled names of people in Hollywood and accused them of being affiliated with the Communist part. The list was known as the Hollywood Ten and it was the mark of the beginning of the Communist hunt in America.

McCarthy joined this scene on Feburary 9th 1950. He made a speech to the committee claiming to have a list of 205 names of members of the State Department who were involved in the Communist Party. Although this list was not a secret and was not soley based on members of the Communist Party, his speech contained the right amount of shock value to catch the attention of the American public. For the next few years McCarthy began crusading against many members of the State Department and created what many call a modern day witch-hunt.

McCarthy's rhetoric was not just about homefront protection against Communism. He was a member of the Republican party and many of his attacks happened to be people that fell into the left-wing. Many believe that his attacks against the Democratic party was influential in the election of Eisenhower. He was tough on what he called "liberal media" also. He wanted to make it seem that the left-wing was attacking him instead of the other way around.

On March 9th, 1954, respected journalist Edward R. Murrow took to his CBS show See It Now and refuted many of McCarthy's claims. Murrow basically exposed the Senator's lies and did it in a way that used McCarthy's own words against him. He began the report by revealing two contradicting quotes made by the Senator in regards to his beliefs on starting trouble between the two political parties. In one quote he believes it would be detrimental to our society to eliminate the two-party system and in another quote he believes that it is inevitable and that the democratic party is guitly of treason. These two conflicting views allow Murrow to illustrate McCarthy as a flip-flopper who does not hesitate to divulge misinformation.

The Report than continues on to reveal comments McCarthy had made about Eisenhower who just so happened to be the candidate he was backing. McCarthy had critisized Eisenhower for expressing hope that Communism would become a thing of the past and not at the forefront of our political concerns. McCarthy clearly believed Communism was the largest threat to our society and he made many strides to ensure the issue would not just fade away. Murrow then moves on to reveal a statement McCarthy made in regards to a respected member of our army General Zwicker. Although this type of behavior was not uncommon of McCarthy it struck a chord with many American's that were uncomfortable with seeing the soldiers that protect our Country attacked. This was a huge reason for McCarthy's downfall.

An important piece of McCarthy's claims is that he was not the attacker and the liberal media was performing a smear campaign on him. In an effort to be forthcoming with that information Murrow lists certain headlines from newspapers around the United States on the subject of McCarthy's attack on the American army. Murrow than moves the subject along to McCarthy's campaign against Aldai Stevenson. Stevenson was the Democratic candidate up against Eisenhower the both times he was elected. The report reveals a statement made by McCarthy accusing Stevenson of connection to a communist hide-out in a barn in Massachusetts. McCarthy begins his statement by saying "Strangely, Alger -- I mean, Adlai." This reference is too Alger Hiss, a government official who was convicted of being a spy for the Soviet Union. This already sets the tone for where McCarthy is going with his statement. Once the statement is finished Murrow brings out a piece of information that cuts completely at McCarthy's argument. His claim that Stevenson is named on a piece of paper in this Soviet hide-out is irrelevant because he does not expose that there are also three others from the state department that just so happened to be Republican were named in the capacity.

Lastly, Murrow reveals a hearing the McCarthy headed against a man named Reed Harris. Harris was a writer and United States government official. He was accused by McCarthy because of a statement he made in a book he wrote in 1932. After hearing the testimony of Harris and the accusations of McCarthy it becomes clear that McCarthy is really just fighting views that oppose his own rather than fighting for American safety. At the close of the report you know where Murrow stands on the subject and you are made aware of many of Senator McCarty's blunders. McCarthy's response to Murrows clear message was to disregard it as "liberal-media" and then go at Murrow personally and accuse him of ties to the Communist Party. Shortly after that McCarthy was completely exposed for what he was. His continued attacks on members of the American army crossed the line and McCarthyism came to an end.

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