1954 March 9

Edward R. Murrow Exposes Sen. Joe McCarthy


On his See it Now program, CBS television journalist Edward R. Murrow broadcast a stinging report on Senator Joe McCarthy that exposed his abusive anti-Communist tactics of bullying and guilt-by-association. Murrow’s method primarily relied on presenting video footage of McCarthy himself. The program is widely credited with beginning McCarthy’s downfall and is regarded as one of the most famous programs in television history.

McCarthy burst onto the political scene with a speech in Wheeling, West Virginia on February 9, 1950, in which he claimed to have a list of Communists in government. The number of people on the “list” kept changing, however, and he never identified a single person. McCarthy dominated American politics for five years between 1950 and 1954. The term “McCarthyism” was created by the cartoonist Herblock (for Herbert Block) in a cartoon published in the Washington Post on March 29, 1950).

The Senate censured McCarthy on December 2, 1954, and his influence quickly evaporated — although McCarthyism, reckless and unreasoning anti-Communism, survived long afterwards.

In 1964 President Lyndon Johnson awarded Murrow the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Watch an excerpt from the program: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anNEJJYLU8M

Read: Alexander Kendrick, Prime Time: The Life of Edward R. Murrow (1969)

See the movie based on Murrow’s famous program: Good Night and Good Luck (2005)

Sing Joe Glazer’s Folk Song, “Joe McCarthy’s Comin to Town,” (to the tune of Santa Claus is Comin to Town): http://www.antiwarsongs.org/canzone.php?id=8168&lang=en

Learn more about the show at the Museum of Broadcasting’s Web Site:

Find a Day

Abortion Rights ACLU african-americans Alice Paul anti-communism Anti-Communist Hysteria Birth Control Brown v. Board of Education Censorship CIA Civil Rights Civil Rights Act of 1964 Cold War Espionage Act FBI First Amendment Fourteenth Amendment freedom of speech Free Speech Gay Rights Hate Speech homosexuality Hoover, J. Edgar HUAC Japanese American Internment King, Dr. Martin Luther Ku Klux Klan Labor Unions Lesbian and Gay Rights Loyalty Oaths McCarthy, Sen. Joe New York Times Obscenity Police Misconduct Same-Sex Marriage Separation of Church and State Sex Discrimination Smith Act Spying Spying on Americans Vietnam War Voting Rights Voting Rights Act of 1965 War on Terror Watergate White House Women's Rights Women's Suffrage World War I World War II Relocation Camps


Tell Us What You Think

We want to hear your comments, criticisms and suggestions!