“Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America’s Enemies”
26 Mar 2012 6 Comments
Mr LaRochelle is spot on with this article. I had originally posted this at The Hive and I thought it a good idea to repost it again, due to a lot of false information that is given when it come to the great Joe McCarthy.
“Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America’s Enemies”
Joe McCarthy has recieved a bum rap by those who like to rewrite history.
Evans’ 663-page work, “Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America’s Enemies” (Crown Forum, $29.95), is the result of six years of reading primary sources. Evans proves that almost everything about McCarthy in current history books is a lie and will have to be revised.
It’s now well known that Communist agents imbedded in high-ranking positions included White House confidant Lauchlin Currie, State Department official Alger Hiss and Treasury Department official Harry Dexter White. Evans quotes FBI files identifying atom bomb scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer as a secret Communist as early as 1942.
Taking on the anti-communist mission locked McCarthy in mortal combat against powerful forces: two U.S. presidents, the vast federal bureaucracy, malicious adversaries in Congress, left-wing lobby groups and the left-wing media who made him their daily target.
McCarthy was concerned only with Communist security risks who influenced U.S. policies. He never targeted Communists in Hollywood or academia.
Recording of Mr. McCarthy. If you use a dial-up service it may not play.
Senator McCarthy compares the Capital Times newspaper of Madison, Wisconsin with the New York Daily Worker newspaper published by Communist Party USA. McCarthy claims that the Capital Times voices the official Communist Party line, and he challenges the newspaper’s founder, William Evjue, to carry out his threat to sue McCarthy for libel. McCarthy also accuses the newspaper’s editor, Cedric Parker, of being a communist. These remarks were made at the annual convention of the Wisconsin Federation of Young Republicans in Janesville, Wisconsin.
Blacklisted by History
by MarkLaRochelle .
Not all revisionism is false, nor is all conventional wisdom true. When Zola wrote that Count Esterhazy was a spy and Dreyfus the victim of a miscarriage of justice, that was revisionism of the conventional wisdom of the day. In Blacklisted by History, M. Stanton Evans argues that the U.S. had quite a few Esterhazys of its own and that McCarthy’s condemnation by the Senate was a similar miscarriage of justice.
Regarding (name removed) reference to Hollywood blacklisting, that was done not by McCarthy but by the Hollywood studios. The congressional investigation of the Communist attempt to seize control of those studios was conducted by the House of Representatives, not the Senate, where McCarthy served. That investigation occurred in 1947; McCarthy did not even enter the fray until 1950. As Evans shows, such errors are common in discussions of McCarthy.
Evans disproves the charge that McCarthy lied about his notorious list by–for the first time ever–photographically reproducing the lists of cases and corresponding names McCarthy submitted to the Senate. These documents had mysteriously vanished from official archives, but Evans tracked them down through dogged detective work.
Evans similarly shows that the charge (orginally made by Sen. Benton) that McCarthy changed the the number of names he said were on the list was disproved by an investigation of the matter carried out by the Democratically-controlled Senate. The Senate investigator’s memorandum on this issue concluded: “The newly unearthed evidence demolished Senator Benton’s charges in all their material respects and thoroughly proved Senator McCarthy’s account of the facts to be truthful.” The charge was dropped and this memo quietly buried by the investigating committee, but again, Evans managed to dig it up.
“name removed” says that McCarthy claimed to have a list of “57 card carrying communists in the State Dept.” In fact, as Evans shows, McCarthy actually said he had in his hand “57 cases of individuals who would appear to be either card-carrying Communists or certainly loyal to the Communist Party, but who nevertheless are still shaping our foreign policy.” (Not all of the suspects were in the State Department: some were at the Treasury, the UN, etc.) Another quietly-buried document Evans unearthed was a State Department report confirming that there were actually 58 such cases (“disapproved” by the loyalty-security screening board, but cleared by higher-ups) in the department at the time.
As Evans documents, McCarthy submitted these lists to the Senate in executive session, rather than publicly, in order to protect those who might have been mistakenly identified by security screeners under the Truman loyalty program.
There is much else of interest in the book. McCarthy emerges as, not a hero perhaps, but not the ogre he is popularly presented as, either. While Evans highlights McCarthy’s occasional bloopers, he finds no evidence for the conventional view that he lied–something that cannot be said of McCarthy’s antagonists.
Accusing an author of falsifying history without supporting evidence is a textbook example of “McCarthyism.” That’s one reason why it’s a good idea to read a book before trashing it. As Library of Congress Cold War historian John Earl Haynes wrote, “So comprehensive is Evans’s research that it will be a foolish historian who does not consult Blacklisted by History when a question arises over some person or event that comes into the McCarthy story.”
I hope everyone interested in the subject reads the book, and blogs his or her reaction, positive or negative.
The Education and Research Institute
Blacklisted by History
I was hoping to discuss issues, and keep personalities out of this. It’s instructive that rather than address the substance of my comments, (name removed) turns to the ad hominem fallacy: If you can’t answer the argument, attack the arguer. Let’s assume that I am guilty of whatever it is he thinks sourcewatch convicts me of. So what? Is what I wrote true or false?
In addition to its irrelevance, Sourcewatch is notoriously unreliable. (See for example its entry on Alger Hiss, which presents as fact the Hiss defense’s claim that the evidence against Hiss was “bogus” and manufactured by the FBI, without even mentioning that this theory was rejected by the Supreme Court.) Regarding the entry on me: While I was once associate editor (and later editor) at the National Journalism Center, that information is several years out of date. I am currently manager of information services at the Education and Research Institute, as I indicated in my first comment.
While Sourcewatch provides a left-wing perspective on conservatives, DiscoverTheNetworks.com provides a conservative perspective on left-wingers. Its entry on Sourcewatch is a good example. It’s usually a good idea to get both sides of the story.
In the interest of full disclosure, I use my real name and affiliation in all my comments. It’s ironic to see someone who identifies himself only as “name removed” attack anyone else on the basis of identity.
As M. Stanton Evans shows in Blacklisted by History, Welch’s assistant Fred Fisher was in fact a former member of the National Lawyers Guild, which operated under the control of the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Under the Truman Loyalty Program, such a history would have disqualified Fisher from federal employment.
But if “outing” an Army lawyer as a former member of a Communist front — in a case investigating Communist infiltration of the Army, during a shooting war with the Communists in Korea — was an evil deed, the guilty party was not McCarthy, but Welch himself, who outed Fisher in no less public a forum than the New York Times, two weeks before McCarthy mentioned the matter. See Blacklisted by History, p. 568, on which a portion of the NYT story is photographically reproduced, with the relevant passage highlighted.
All this was of course known to (but unreported by) Edward R. Murrow when he aired the scenes above in his smear of McCarthy. Welch’s phony hystrionics aside, Murrow carefully edited out Welch’s unscrupulous antics, taunting Roy Cohn, asking if a photo came from “the pixies,” adding “A pixie is a close relation to a fairy,” finally saying, “May I add my small voice, sir, and say whenever you know about a subversive or a Communist or a spy, please hurry. Will you remember these words?”
It was this taunt that finally provoked McCarthy to come to the defense of his 26-year old subcommittee counsel, saying, “in view of Mr. Welch’s request that information be given once we know of anyone who might be performing work for the Communist Party, I think we should tell him that he has in his law firm a young man named Fisher, whom he recommended to do work on this committee,” etc., all of which was perfectly true.
Murrow’s dishonest editing left Welch’s provocative taunts on the cutting-room floor, making McCarthy’s response appear savagely aggressive and unprovoked, and Welch’s stage-hysterics sincere.
No wonder that, when Murrow rose to speak at an event honoring Robert F. Kennedy in 1955 — according to Arthur Schlesinger — Kennedy, who had served as assistant council to the McCarthy subcommittee, “grimly walked out.”
Education and Research Institute
And a follow up response by Mr. Mark LaRochelle:
Cronkite should know better.
In his program, “A Report on Joseph R. McCarthy,” Edward R. Murrow was wrong. His chief exhibit in his case against McCarthy was the case of Pentagon code clerk Annie Lee Moss, whom Murrow presented as an innocent victim of McCarthyism and a case of mistaken identity. Murrow was in error: as the Subversive Activities Control Board would make public in 1958, Moss was indeed a secret member of the Communist Party of Washington, DC, just as FBI undercover operative Mary Markward had testified before the McCarthy subcommittee. Despite claims to the contrary, subcommittee Democrats were fully aware of this at the time, as the FBI had briefed Sen. Henry “Scoop” Jackson (D-WA) on the matter. See M. Stanton Evans, Blacklisted by History, p. 534.
Other than this case — in which Murrow was wrong and McCarthy was right — Murrow’s program consisted of a series of cherry-picked snips dishonestly edited, taken out of context and cobbled together by Murrow to put McCarthy in the worst possible light. Andrew Ferguson called Murrow’s program “a compendium of every burp, grunt, stutter, nose probe, brutish aside, and maniacal giggle the senator had ever allowed to be captured on film.” (McCarthy may not be the only senator to have burped in the chamber, but he is the only one whose burp was not edited out, but preserved for posterity, repeatedly broadcast and featured in documentaries.)
Murrow targeted McCarthy in a misguided crusade to avenge the suicide (or perhaps SMERSH ‘liquidation’) of his close friend, a disgraced State Department official and Soviet agent named Laurence Duggan — even though McCarthy had nothing to do with Duggan, who was caught by the FBI.
During the Army-McCarthy hearings, the American public was largely unaware of the overwhelming media bias against anti-Communism, as demonstrated by the actual round of applause the attending Washington press corps gave the dissembling Army lawyer Robert Welch for his phony stage-hysterics — just as it had given Alger Hiss for his perjured testimony. As Saturday Evening Post writer Joseph Keeley revealed, such bias affected even the networks’ placement of lighting and microphones. Murrow was perhaps the worst offender, using what Jack Shafer of Slate calls “manipulative and partisan techniques.”
“Despite CBS’s pretensions,” agrees McCarthy biographer Arthur Herman, it “was not a report at all but a full-scale assault, employing exactly the same techniques of ‘partial truth and innuendo’ that critics accused McCarthy of using.”
“It is a peculiar work of journalism—there’s very little reporting in it, as the transcript shows,” observes Shafer. “Murrow makes no attempt to determine if there is any substance to McCarthy’s charges.”
The late William F. Buckley recounted how the television critic for The New Yorker made the point that there wasn’t anybody in the world you couldn’t demolish by doing to him what Murrow did to McCarthy: “If there were five million feet of film on St. Francis of Assisi, you could probably find a shot of him running away naked from his father’s house (he did), and Ed Murrow could prove he was an exhibitionist and a poseur (he affected to talk to the birds!).”
“Give a skilled editor 15,000 feet of film of Barney the purple dinosaur,” agrees Shafer, “and he could perform a similar demolition.”
Former Kennedy administration official Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. observed that “Even anti-McCarthy commentators criticized the technique of offering as a ‘report’ what was in fact a superbly calculated attack.” Two of McCarthy’s most hostile foes in the press, John Cogley and Gilbert Seldes (died-in-the-wool liberals both), agreed that Murrow’s attack on McCarthy “was not a proud moment for television journalism.”
Cogley, a consistent McCarthy critic, writing in Commonweal, “sharply attacked Murrow and his producers for their distorted summary and selected use of video clips,” to produce a “simplistic view … of a more complicated truth.” He observed that a different selection of footage could have easily portrayed McCarthy in an extremely positive light, warning against Murrow’s abuses: “Television is dynamite. Combined with selectivity, it could explode in any person’s or group’s face.”
Seldes, another McCarthy foe, writing in the Saturday Review, critiqued Murrow’s program as not a “report,” but “an all-out attack on McCarthy… the summing-up of a hanging judge… [T]he evidence and the argument” supporting McCarthy’s side, he wrote, “were copiously available, but were not used.”
“Telecasts openly sponsored by political groups might indulge in one-sidedness without harmful effects, because allowance for bias would be made,” wrote Lately Thomas (Robert V. Steele) of the Los Angeles Times. But for a news report like Murrow’s to inject such bias, he wrote, was utterly unfair, not just to the target, but to the audience.
Many insiders were disgusted by the dishonest attack on McCarthy, including his fellow Senator, the Democrat John F. Kennedy. According to JFK biographer Joyce Milton:
“JFK’s feelings became abundantly clear during a Spee Club reunion banquet at Harvard held in February 1952. When an after-dinner speaker remarked that he was proud Harvard had never graduated an Alger Hiss and even prouder that it had never produced a Joe McCarthy, JFK exploded in anger. Rising at his seat, he shouted, ‘How dare you couple the name of a great American patriot with that of a traitor!’ This was a rare outburst from a man who prided himself on his cool, cerebral approach to policy questions. The other diners lapsed into shocked silence, and JFK departed without hearing the rest of the program.”
Even Murrow himself “was always uneasy about” his attack on McCarthy, writes biographer A.M. Sperber, “almost anxious at times to disown it.” When See It Now published its greatest hits as a hardcover book in 1955, observes Sperber, it did not include “A Report on Joseph R. McCarthy.”