Monday, July 18, 2016

Edward R Murrow on McCarthy - March 9, 1954

David Mindich reminds us, For journalists covering Trump, a Murrow moment

After months of holding back, modern-day journalists are acting a lot like Murrow, pushing explicitly against Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. To be sure, these modern-day Murrow moments carry less impact: Long gone are the days in which a vast majority of eyeballs were tuned to the big-three television news programs. But we nonetheless are witnessing a change from existing practice of steadfast detachment, and the context in which journalists are reacting is not unlike that of Murrow: The candidate’s comments fall outside acceptable societal norms, and critical journalists are not alone in speaking up.

I'm not sure I agree that journalists are speaking up. Nancy LeTourneau adds in the Washington Monthly, Why Journalists Should Be Concerned About the Trump/Pence Ticket:

Trump began his attempts to silence the media by throwing Jorge Ramos out of a news conference for asking a question he didn’t like. That eventually turned into a blacklist of media outlets that were banned from his events. The list eventually grew to include Univision, Buzzfeed, Politico, The Daily Beast, Huffington Post, The Des Moines Register and the Washington Post.

Perhaps even more disturbing is Trump’s proposal to loosen libel laws in order to make it easier for him to sue media outlets for reporting he doesn’t like. Callum Borchers explains how that could happen.

Finally, we add Mike Pence to the equation. As Governor of Indiana, he set up his own state-run news outlet to compete with the media.

This is a ramping up of what we saw from the last Republican administration – which brought us everything from Jeff Gannon as part of the White House Press Corp (how the hell did that happen?) to the “payola scandal” of taxpayer-funded commentators like Armstrong Williams, Maggie Gallagher and Michael McManus.

Regardless, Murrow's moment is worth remembering...

No one familiar with the history of this country can deny that congressional committees are useful. It is necessary to investigate before legislating, but the line between investigating and persecuting is a very fine one and the junior Senator from Wisconsin has stepped over it repeatedly. His primary achievement has been in confusing the public mind as between the internal and the external threats of communism. We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law.

We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men -- not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular.

This is no time for men who oppose Senator McCarthy's methods to keep silent, or for those who approve. We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of a republic to abdicate his responsibilities. As a nation we have come into our full inheritance at a tender age. We proclaim ourselves, as indeed we are, the defenders of freedom, wherever it continues to exist in the world, but we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.

The actions of the junior Senator from Wisconsin have caused alarm and dismay amongst our allies abroad, and given considerable comfort to our enemies. And whose fault is that? Not really his. He didn't create this situation of fear; he merely exploited it -- and rather successfully. Cassius was right. 'The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.'

Good night, and good luck.

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