1950 June 22

“Red Channels” Report Names Alleged Communists, Leads to Blacklisting

 

Red Channels: The Report of Communist Influence in Radio and Television was a notorious anti-Communist report on alleged Communists and Communist sympathizers in the broadcast and entertainment industries. The report was published on this day by American Business Consultants, Inc., founded by two former FBI agents. The report named 151 actors, writers, musicians, journalists, including such notable figures as Orson Welles, Leonard Bernstein, Pete Seeger, Edward G. Robinson, as well as many others. Many people named in the report were blacklisted from employment in their respective fields.

The Red Channels report operated on the principle of guilt by association, naming people because of groups they had once belonged to or meetings they had once attended, or friends they had. People were listed, for example, because they once signed a letter or petition sponsored by a group that was associated with the Communist Party. Naming people as being Communists or Communist sympathizers did not take into account individuals’ current political views or associations.

In a successful challenge to Red Channels, John Henry Faulk, host of a radio talk show, was blacklisted but eventually won a damage suit due to losing his job (June 28, 1962). Red Channels provided the basis for some of the events in the film Good Night, and Good Luck, (2005) one of the best films about the Cold War.

Learn more about Cold War blacklisting: David Everitt, A Shadow of Red: Communism and the Blacklist in Radio and Television (2007)

Learn more about Counterattack, the American Business Consultant’s newsletter: http://library.bloomu.edu/Archives/SC/RadicalNewsletters/Counterattack/counterattack.htm

Read the NPR story on Red Channels: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128005395

See the movie that features Red Channels, blacklisting, Joe McCarthy and Edward R. Murrow: Good Night, and Good Luck (2005)

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