The Army-McCarthy Hearings

 

**Occurs within two interrelated contexts:

 

1.  the cold war

 

2.  the rise of television as a documentary medium

 

 

The Cold War context

 

1.  the deterioration in US/Soviet relations after WWII

 

          a.  "loss" of  the A-bomb and the trials of Alger Hiss and the Rosenbergs as spies

          b.  increasing Soviet influence in Europe

          c.  fear of Communist infiltration in the US

 

2.  chronology

 

          a.  1945--Yalta conference (end of WWII)

          b.  1946--McCarthy; Nixon elected to Congress

          c.  1947--J. Parnell Thomas continues HUAC hearings

          d.  1948--Soviets invade Czechoslovakia; Truman reelected

          e.  1950--Korean war

          f.  1952--US "loses" H-bomb to Russia

         

 

Television and documentary

 

1.  inherited programming concepts from radio

2.  the industry and the blacklist

3.  TV's role in public affairs and the pressure the medium was under in the very early 1950s came to a head with its coverage of the McCarthy "phenomenon"

          a.  M. a media creation   

          b.  ultimately exposed by the same media that created him  

                    1.  extensive coverage of his committee's investigation into the influence of Communism in the Army

          c.  CBS, Murrow/Friendly and "See It Now"

         

 

The Army/McCarthy Hearings

 

1.  M. and charges of Communist "presence" in various sectors of government

 

2.  Chaired the Senate Committee on Government Operations, and its subcommittee, the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations

 

3.  M. charged that the Army was infiltrated with Communists;

          Army countercharge:  favoritism sought for D. Schine

 

4.  Eisenhower uncooperative

 

5.  Tactics during the hearings--eventually backfired

 

6.  exposure on national TV

 

Discussion:

1.  what are the issues that emerge in the hearing?

 

2.  what kinds of tensions are evident?

 

3.  what is the role of the coverage in bringing these tensions to light?  What is the effect of the medium?

 

4.  how do these films suggest that M. was both raised up and brought down by the media?