Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Reprinted with permission of Lancaster Voice
Where's OUR Murrow

I took advantage of a "Snow Day" on December 9th. Actually, I managed to run out of hours at my job at FedEx Ground, and they told me not to come in at all.

I had figured that at least my evening would be free, since I'd been keeping track of my hours. I had planned to go out to dinner and see Good Night, and Good Luck. This film, directed(?) by George Clooney, tells of Edward R. Murrow's successful efforts in exposing Senator Joe McCarthy's campaign against "Communists".

The film itself was excellent. It began with Edward R. Murrow giving a scathing indictment of television circa 1958. I can only imagine what he would think of the landscape now, where programs like Survivor and Smackdown are among the top-rated shows. Then begins to tell the story of what many may have seen as one of television's finest hours.

The battle with McCarthy began with an Airman in the Air Force Reserve who had been ordered to leave the service after being accused of associating with a "Communist"--his father. That lead to a look at Senator McCarthy's tactics, and later a direct criticism of the Senator. All the while Murrow battled the head of CBS news; who was under pressure from advertisers.

In the end, Senator McCarthy, in an attempt to rebut Murrows accusations, basically buried himself. But this would come at a price, a colleague committed suicide and the program "See It Now" that had been so crucial in bringing down Sen McCarthy was cancelled.

But I saw a lot of similarities between today and that time. The same "Us or them" mentality; to McCarthy, you were either with him or a "Communist". With Bush, you are either behind the war, or a "terrorist". Many of the same tactics are being used as well. Of course, the media has become even more consolidated and more tied to advertisers.

But there was one question I left the theater with. "Where's our Murrow"? Who from the media will take on Bush and the war party. I hate to say it, but I don't think it will come from the mainstream media. The mainstream media has become too embedded, too bound to advertisers, to get at the truth. The rise of AM-Radio and FOX News has likely forced the mainstream media to "Toe the [Bush] Line" more closely.

But there are people working to get at the truth, one simply needs to know where to look for them. The Internet seems a fertile ground; CommonDreams, BuzzFlash, AlterNet, and IndyMedia all bring "unfiltered" views to an audience. Air America is a growing effort to counter the "War Drums" echoing from the AM-Radio dial. Of course, there is also Al-Jazera, which has seriously agitated Bush and Blair to the point that bombing the station was discussed.

McCarthy managed to create a climate of fear. Bush has managed to do the same. The question is, can we somehow bring the truth up through the fear.

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