Senator Joe McCarthy's 'shameful vendettas' (letter)by Dr Susan Reibel MooreNews Weekly
, March 4, 2006
Your review of the movie Good Night, and Good Luck
(in News Weekly
, February 4, 2006) is gravely misleading.
The fact that trustworthy observers like Malcolm Muggeridge saw through Senator Joseph McCarthy is beside the point, since it was the media, particularly major television stations like CBS, that shaped US public opinion in the 1950s. Edward R. Murrow's role in this context was key.
It was a decade earlier that the dangers of communism were not well known in America. All too frequently in the 1940s, the intelligentsia denied that anything terrifying was happening in Russia or its satellites. That Stalin's activities were familiar to those who valued truth, Lionel Trilling's 1948 novel, The Middle of the Journey
Comparing denial of the evils of the smear campaign with denial of the evils of communism, as if this were or should have been the issue in Clooney's film, is inexcusable.
Countless honourable individuals lost their livelihoods through McCarthy's guilt-by-association attacks. Gullible McCarthy supporters excused his shameful vendettas on the grounds that any
tactic was legitimate if it uncovered "reds under the bed". If the individuals whose lives were ruined by false smears were not really reds, bad luck to them.
Clooney's movie is a faithful depiction of unscrupulous power-mongers who were prepared to impugn the integrity of decent human beings by capitalising on public ignorance. The duty of Murrow and Fred Friendly, which they discharged with exemplary courage, was to educate that public.
At the time I was a young teenager who watched See It Now
weekly with my parents. They were strong anti-communists on the Old Left, as were all their decently educated friends who watched CBS.Dr Susan Reibel Moore,
Castle Hill, NSW