Day 96: Real Reporting Could Help Get Us Out of This Mess

Reporting vs. Entertainment

DAY 96 ACTION: Stay informed. Engage your critical thinking skills. Support quality journalism.

This is what a watchdog reporter looks like. Murrey Marder of the Washington Post, with Ben Bradlee. Credit: New York Times

“We must not confuse dissent for disloyalty. … We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason.” – Edward R. Murrow

The past two days, we’ve turned inward to our communities, to share our time and skills. But at the same time, we must remain engaged in national news. As painful as it can be, we have to pay attention – and call attention – to actions taken by Congress and the Trump Administration. 

Justice Brandeis noted that sunshine is the best disinfectant. When we allow bad acts to go unseen or unacknowledged, they are the most dangerous.

This month in 1954, Senator Joe McCarthy held televised hearings into suspected Communists in the Army. Four years into a warped crusade, he had investigated hundreds of civil servants in the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). He was not alone; many in American leadership went after suspected Communists in the second Red Scare. For years, few questioned this. (In 2016, Newt Gingrich suggested reviving the HUAC to investigate ISIS sympathizers.)

Luckily, a few journalists dug in; in particular, Murrey Marder of the Washington Post and Edward R. Murrow of CBS (first radio, then TV).

** If you have 2 minutes (and you do!) watch this Edward R. Murrow clip about Joe McCarthy. **

In 1953, Murrey Marder learned McCarthy was quietly investigating an Army lab. Marder visited Ft. Monmouth for a week and reported on the weakness of the case. His stories forced the televised hearings (the first ever!) in April 1954, which turned the tide of American sentiment. The HUAC’s work and McCarthy’s career were over.

Today’s Action: Stay informed. Practice critical thinking skills when you read media reports. Support quality journalism


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