Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/428/5029

From The Socialist newspaper, 22 February 2006

The socialist review:

Good Night and Good Luck

Good Night and Good Luck arrives in Britain on the back of a wave of critical acclaim.

Bob Sulatycki

Set in the USA of the 1950s, it tells the story of an actual conflict between television reporter and presenter Edward R. Murrow and Joseph McCarthy, the arch-witch hunter who chaired the House of Un-American activities committee.

It is also a film about journalistic standards and ethics, with an implied commentary on journalism in the era of 'The War on Terror'.

Shot as a docudrama in black and white, and containing a large amount of contemporary news footage, the film conjures up an authentic picture of the television newsroom of the 1950s.

Brilliantly acted by David Strathairn as Murrow, and a fine supporting cast, including director and co-writer George Clooney playing the role of Murrow's producer, Fred Friendly, Good Night and Good Luck is a riveting and entertaining film.

From the early 1950s Senator McCarthy had been in the forefront in forcing out of public life, film and media and trade union activity anyone who had left-wing sympathies, or even tenuous connections with radicals and communists.

In 1953, McCarthy overreached himself, turned his attention to exposing 'red espionage' in the US armed forces. On March 9 1954, the CBS programme See it Now, fronted by Murrow, attacked McCarthy and his methods.

This in turn led to two further programmes in which both parties presented their case. It's widely held that McCarthy's political demise, culminating in a Senate condemnation of McCarthy's methods at the end of 1954, stemmed from his exposure by Murrow on See it Now.

Conflict

The film not only traces the history of these programmes, but also the conflict within CBS itself. On the one hand, the film shows how the company had attracted journalists such as Don Hollenbeck, who had come from an explicitly left-wing background, and who was subject to on-going attack from conservative politicians and newspapers.

On the other hand, the founder of CBS, Bill Paley, grows increasingly wary of See it Now as sponsors start to distance themselves from the programme. Eventually this leads to See it Now being moved from its prime-time slot. Later it was to be ditched altogether by CBS in favour of The $64,000 quiz.

The film also begins and ends with a speech given by Murrow in 1958 to the Radio and Television News Directors Association in which he condemned television as having become "fat, comfortable and complacent".

He also criticised the way in which television had become used to "detract, delude, amuse and insulate us". The 'Murrow Doctrine' has become a benchmark referred to by many who, seeing the rise of Fox News and 'embedded journalists', regret the passing of an apparent golden age of journalism.

For all its virtues, some of the underlying messages of the film are rather one-sided. Investigative journalism was not the determining factor in leading to McCarthy's downfall.

In reality, McCarthy was becoming far too much of a loose cannon for important sections of the American ruling class - the army chiefs in particular did not want him interfering on their own patch.

Moreover, journalism doesn't exist outside of an overall political and economic context. It would be splendid if honesty and integrity were the watchwords for all journalists.

However, they are employed by corporations that are dedicated to making profits and uphold a system, capitalism, that protects those profits.

As companies such as Murdoch's News Corporation (which includes the Fox companies) now extend their influence into cable television across the US, it isn't sufficient to believe in a 'return to Murrow'. Even if you could bring him back, would any of today's major news channels be prepared to give him a job?

Despite these caveats, this is an intelligent, thought-provoking film that gives an insight into the era of McCarthyism and the development of news television in the 1950s.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 22 February 2006:

Unite Save pensions, jobs and services

Fight for your future!

Campaign for a New Workers' Party conference

Gas price rise the biggest in history !

Daggers at NHS's heart

Why rural workers need socialism

Bush and Blair's total failure

Car workers fight layoffs

Trade wars and protectionism

Khrushchev: The Stalinist who denounced Stalin

Music industry: Do we only hear his master's voice?

Good Night and Good Luck

Get your May Day greeting into the socialist!

University staff vote to strike over pay


 

Home   |   The Socialist 22 February 2006   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Joseph McCarthy:

triangleFilm review: 'Trumbo' - from the red carpet to the blacklist and back again

Journalists:

triangleNorthern Ireland: killing of Lyra McKee

triangleWorldwide threat to journalists at worst for ten years

triangleAberfan disaster novel reminds us Grenfell was not an anomaly

triangleJournalists' union leaders defeat call for political fund, but potential for left grows

US:

triangleImperialist tensions escalate as world economy teeters

triangleProbation hostel rest room win

triangleMass movement topples governor of Puerto Rico

Black:

triangleCardiff East Socialist Party: The Black Panthers

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

18/9/19

Socialist Party

Donate to help us move our press by October

18/9/19

Ilford

Ilford: strike forces school management to back down

18/9/19

London

PCS members at BEIS maintain just fightback

18/9/19

The Socialist

Selling the Socialist

18/9/19

London

London: packed public meeting discusses political crisis

18/9/19

Worcestershire

Worcestershire campaigners plan march to save Bewdley Fire Station

18/9/19

CWU

Strike back to stop bullying Royal Mail bosses

18/9/19

South Yorkshire

South Yorkshire defeats fire cuts

18/9/19

Nottingham

Nottingham College UCU - more strike action planned

18/9/19

PCS

DVSA strike - employer asks for talks

18/9/19

PCS

PCS general secretary candidate: unions must mobilise to drive out Boris

18/9/19

Climate change

Climate protests: which way forward after 20 September?

18/9/19

Lincolnshire

Lincolnshire health visitors strike boost

17/9/19

Trade union

South Yorkshire FBU celebrates halt to cuts

17/9/19

London

Earth strike day in London

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07954 376 096

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


September 2019

August 2019

July 2019

June 2019

May 2019

April 2019

March 2019

February 2019

January 2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999