Journalism’s finest TV moment happened March 9, 1954


It’s hard to imagine a time when we were not face-deep in some screen, whether it computer, tablet, phone, whatever, being pounded with, well, everything. I think studies show we spend 90000 minutes a day looking at a screen.

Even now as you read this.

Yet, and you might want t sit down for this, there was a time when TV, never mind the internet, didn’t exist. Right? Catch your breath. It’s ok.

No news, no broadcast sports, no ahem, adult content, no weather on the 5s, nothing.

Then in the 1920s the technology for television broadcasts was developed and by the 1940s TV sets were available. Yet in the late 1940s only one out of every 20 households had a set – we had a war to contend with you see, and there was a profound lack of programming.

But by 1954, nearly HALF of all households had one. Honestly, that really isn’t that long ago.

But again programming was the issue.

Quiz shows, variety shows, live comedies and even broadway musical style shows hit the airwaves. Producers threw everything at the wall to see what would stick.

And in that vacuum a certain style of programming hit the airwaves. The news magazine.

And it was the magazine See it Now, hosted by famed journalist Edward R. Murrow that got the ball rolling.

On air from 1951 to 1958, the show grew with the boom in post war TV ownership. And see if this sounds familiar – it was a tremendous influence on people’s opinions.

Its impact probably hit its peak with the March 9, 1954 broadcast of See it Now, a Murrow take down of Commie fighter and spirit animal of the modern GOP, Senator Joseph McCarthy.

The effect was tremendous. McCarthy, who had led Senate hearings into the Red Scare and basically ruined the lives of countless Americans was exposed as well, a maniac. He saw red everywhere. He investigated the Army, the political class, Hollywood, everywhere lurked an enemy.

And he did it on TELEVISED Senate hearings, leading to the quite public destruction of people’s reputations, and lives.

Yet, in great comeuppance, the 1954 See it Now broadcast essentially neutered Tail Gunner Joe, and by 1957 he had been formally censured in Congress, and passed away at the age of 48 to a host of health problems.

(I have no idea how he didn’t take down Bernie, who must have been wandering around somewhere)

Fighting commies is hard on you. I’m sure he was probably surprised when the place he ended up in the afterlife was painted red.

Oh and the population at the time agreed 15-1 in favor of Murrow and his assessment of old Joe.

But that show, and its impact, led to producers adding more news-talk in depth shows like say 60 Minutes, which birthed countless, crappy, news magazines.

Yet the genre did what anything that grows does – it split cells and mutated. And now we have Sean Hannity, the 21st century McCarthy, seeing threats, demons, commies and nation destroyers everywhere. Yet he will never be censured. He is loved. His demented, cater to the base fear mongering has made him rich and the people that watch him agree with HIM 15-1.

Let’s be CLEAR. He has become quite wealthy pumping FEAR. It’s the Rush Limbaugh model and they are masters at it.

Same goes for Rachel Maddow, who could research facts and be smart and literate, well, liberal, yet attempt to strike a reasonable tone and point out abuses and lies by our leaders. She could be a modern Murrow, with people believing her 15-1.

Yet the Hannity viewers despise Maddow and vice versa.

It’s 15-15. And that is an immovable object, well, just crashing into an immovable object.

So at one point TV news moved the needle, and in its finest hour took down a man wreaking havoc on America.

Now it’s little more than background static.



**Side note, look how Murrow and Brian Williams cock their heads while gravely reporting.