ACLU Files FCC Complaint Over Radio & TV Blacklisting
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a formal complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on this day, charging that four radio and television networks were blacklisting employees and entertainers because of their alleged Communist associations. The ACLU was the first national organization to issue a full report that documented and condemned the blacklisting of people in the entertainment and news industries. The report, The Judges and the Judged, written by Merle Miller, was released two days earlier, on April 6, 1952.
Blacklisting in the radio and television industries became rampant after the release of the anti-Communist report Red Channels on June 22, 1950. Blacklisting in Hollywood had a different dynamic. See its origins in the famous “Hollywood Ten” hearings before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), which began on October 27, 1947.
In the most famous challenge to blacklisting, radio personality John Henry Faulk sued and on June 28, 1962 won a $3.5 million damage award (although it was later reduced to $500,000).
Read the ACLU report: Merle Miller, The Judges and the Judged (1952)
Watch the movie that covers blacklisting and Senator Joe McCarthy: Good Night, and Good Luck (2005)
Read John Henry Faulk’s story: John Henry Faulk, Fear on Trial (1964)
Learn more about Cold War blacklisting: David Everitt, A Shadow of Red: Communism and the Blacklist in Radio and Television (2007)