Skip to comments.Clooney film not high on facts
Posted on 10/08/2005 4:09:11 PM PDT by wagglebee
There are few facts on display in "Good Night, and Good Luck," actor George Clooney's liberal version of CBS-TV news commentator Edward R. Murrow's 1953 feud with Joe McCarthy, the fiercely anti-Communist senator from Wisconsin.
The movie, which opened yesterday, presents the feud as an emotional battle of political rhetoric, with the loser, of course, being Sen. McCarthy. The real historical facts, however, are not so clear.
"Good Night, and Good Luck" opens with Murrow giving a speech in the late 1950s warning about the confusion of TV news with entertainment.
Cut to 1953 at the height of McCarthy's war against Communist and left-wing security risks in the United States government. The newsmen working with Murrow on his "See it Now" news commentary show are itching to confront the senator.
At the height of McCarthy's campaign warning about potential security risks in the U.S. Army, Murrow does a show about a young lieutenant mustered out of the Army because of the allegedly left-wing activities of two family members. Murrow does another program on McCarthy's own speeches, ending with a strong editorial commentary against the senator and offering to give him a whole half hour to respond. McCarthy's response includes an attack on Murrow's own left-leaning political background.
The next week, Murrow responds by castigating McCarthy further and claiming that McCarthy got one of his facts wrong. In the wake of the controversy, Murrow's show loses its sponsor and CBS cancels it, claiming that the show's ratings are not good enough.
Filmed in black and white, "Good Night, and Good Luck" is well-produced and well-acted. Of course, the movie does not tell viewers that McCarthy had nothing to do with kicking the young lieutenant out of the Army. Nor does the movie show that McCarthy's response to Murrow's attacks included a lot more details about protecting America from Communist infiltration than just questioning Murrow's own leftist political motives.
Furthermore, in researching this controversy, MOVIEGUIDE® could find no support for Murrow's claim in the movie that McCarthy got one of his facts wrong, namely that, contrary to what McCarthy claimed, Murrow was never a member of a radical, pro-Communist, Marxist union group called the Industrial Workers of the World. In fact, Wikipedia on the Internet lists Murrow as a famous member of the group, but Wikipedia apparently is not always reliable. Be that as it may, MOVIEGUIDE® could not find a second source for the movie Murrow's assertion about Murrow and Industrial Workers of the World.
Thus, "Good Night, and Good Luck" sticks mainly to the radical liberal, pro-Communist, revisionist version about the controversy surrounding Murrow's programs and McCarthy. As such, it offers mainly emotional, bombastic arguments and lots of style, but not much substance.
Despite some minor problems with her book, MOVIEGUIDE® recommends people read Ann Coulter's bestseller "Treason" instead. It offers a more detailed, better-researched and more well-rounded look at McCarthy's career. Despite Coulter's rhetorical flourishes, her book is a good, informative read. It's easier, however, to have a rational argument supported by many facts in a non-fiction book like "Treason" than it is in a 90-minute movie like this.
The new visual medium of TV was not kind to McCarthy's campaign-stump style of delivery, but the poor man was repeatedly vilified in the national liberal press, which instigated a congressional investigation of McCarthy's probe of security risks in the military. Murrow was definitely a better communicator on TV than McCarthy, but Murrow's tactics, as shown by this movie and tapes of his actual work, are just as emotional and bombastic, if not more so.
I've always been puzzled by the national news media's fascination with these McCarthy programs by Murrow and his team. They show a tendency to editorialize rather than use hard facts and rational arguments, and an inclination to avoid honest debate. Ironically, the same journalists who extol Murrow seem to look down their noses at Bill O'Reilly of Fox News, whose news commentaries and editorials are far more journalistically and factually sound, though perhaps just as bombastic (in their own way) as Murrow's.
We now know, of course, that McCarthy was mostly right the United States government and many left-leaning organizations in the United States were indeed infiltrated by Communist spies and pro-Communist stooges sponsored and/or supported in one way or another by the Soviet Union. For example, at least one person that Murrow and American liberals defended, Laurence Duggan, was indeed a Communist spy and later worked openly in leftist, Neo-Marxist circles. We also know that a black woman, Annie Lee Moss, working in the Code Room of the Pentagon, whose famous testimony is featured in George Clooney's movie, was indeed a Communist Party member in the mid 1940s. Also, Annie Lee Moss really did receive a Daily Worker at her actual address in Washington, D.C., despite her demure, intentionally humorous protestations.
It should also be pointed out that McCarthy's usual strategy was not to openly identify someone as a Communist spy or a security risk, because he wanted the government authorities to investigate such matters themselves and decide, one way or another, by legal means, whether or not a particular person was indeed a Communist spy or a security risk. In fact, in the case of the Army lieutenant mustered out of the Army, the lieutenant's lawyer, working within the law and with the authorities, was able to acquit his client fairly quickly. It is good that the news media brought the man's case to light, but the fact remains, McCarthy had nothing personally to do with the man's case, one way or another! Thus, the liberal, elitist news media tried to use the man's case to conduct its own witch hunt of McCarthy and his colleagues and supporters.
Finally, please note that Murrow's reports on McCarthy include little, if any, contrary arguments, facts or interviews from McCarthy or any of McCarthy's strongest supporters. Neither, regrettably, does George Clooney's revisionist movie. That hardly strikes MOVIEGUIDE® as honest filmmaking, much less as objective, fair-minded, fact-finding journalism.
We also know that George Clooney and his ilk are communists who hate America and think nothing of making a movie which distorts history.
facts what the heck are those
But Clooney is high on something (coke or communism; it's hard to tell, both make people extremely irrational).
I haven't read much Ann Coulter, and I probably won't in the future unless she gets off her "Impeach Bush" kick, but I did learn a lot about McCarthy from her book "Treason".
I do have questions, though about McCarthy's taking on the military and Eisenhower shutting him down.
Apparently some leftist loons have complained that the
McCarthy scenes are too sympathetic to the Senator ...
... not realizing that the movie used actual footage
of the real hearings for those scenes.
I think Clooney is just dumb. I don't think he can even define a communist. He is just a flake like Streisand or Martin Sheen, albeit dumber than even them : )
All anyone has to do to learn about McCarthy is read the Venona Intercepts and the FOIA FBI file on Owen Lattimore.
As to the charge that Clooney's film is revisionist history, who is surprised by that?
Perhaps it can start another dialogue about McCarthy, and we can once again bitchslap Hollywood.
It's a MOVIE...selling whatever brings in the bucks....
I heard a review of the movie on TV this morning that began, "What's black-and-white and boring all over?" Hopefully, audiences will stay away in droves.
ROTFLMAO George Clooney stuned by the beeber!
LOL. The reviewer on NPR thought the movie was FAAABULOUS.
"... not realizing that the movie used actual footage
of the real hearings for those scenes."
ROTF.....I luv this thread.
The release of the Venona documents has proven that McCarthy was absolutely correct. And it has proven beyond any doubt that Alger Hiss was a Soviet agent.
your pretty smart for a rookie welcome to free republic
WorldNetDaily wouldn't know a fact if it bit them in the ... hey, hey!
The last page of the latest Weekly Standard has a photo from the film where there's a freakin' water bottle on the guy's desk!
Yep. I learned more about the politics of the second half of the twentieth century from "Treason" than any other book. Not that I didn't already know Democrats are a bunch of Commies, it was just startling to see that belief validated by cold hard fact after cold hard fact.
If ANYONE is unclear on their opinion of Tailgunner Joe, they must read it.
I read her book. It was factual. And it made more sense than Looney Clooney.
Thanks Al. Smart people, and great wit too!
Didnt FDR laugh and say that he didnt care that soviet agents were in his administration?
It just shows you-- if the lied about McCarthy going that far back, what ELSE did they lie about? Don't answer that...you could fill a library with all the lies have been told by the Enemy Within.
It wouldn't surprise me if Murrow has a "No Smoking" sign on his desk!
Now THATS a revelation!
I think you can bank on it...the bulk of the movie-going demographics just ain't that interested in "ancient political history", let alone a B/W 'art film'...
Clooney's this decade's version of that actor (See - I can't even remember his name*) that decided he was smart enough to 'produce' and came up with things like "Waterworks".
*(Costner...finally popped in)
I've got the picture, but I don't know how to post it. I'll gladly e-mail it to someone who can - firstname.lastname@example.org
"Clooney film not high on facts"
Since when did liberals ever believe in facts?
The world according to Hollywood. There are never any facts involved.
In other words, it's more of the same quintessential drivel from the Left. Why bother with facts when one can present flashy fiction and pass it off as facts?
It really does seem counterproductive, from the lefts perspective to stimulate discussion about McCarthy. They couldn't possibly demonize him any further than they have already succeeded at doing.
Do they feel the need to impose the myth upon the younger generations that may not have yet assimilated the McCarthyism myth? I don't see them sitting still to watch this movie and those youths who would be curious enough to watch this movie probably will have a more jaundiced eye than their parents in that they have likely had some exposure to the truth, being internet aware, and be more aware of the Ratheresque tendencies of the media, especially the network that employed Morrow.
The water bottle slays me!
That's H'weird--someone's fantasy. Anyway, don't plan on seeing Clooney the Tooney in anything anymore.
Lots of movies have errors like that, some are very funny. One famous one is the electric bulb in the Atlanta street-lamp in Gone With the Wind.
One would think though, that nowadays set people wouldn't make such a mistake in a period piece.
i'd say that its worth seeing, even if innacurate. its fiction remember.. I don't buy any of the crap, but it doesn't mean I ddin't enjoy JFK.. then again, I liked Scarface too...
George Clooney's career...uh, what career?
The central question of the McCarthy investigation was never answered: Who promoted Irving Peress?
Shakespeare had those sort of mistakes. There are clocks in Julius Carsar.
It's a clever picture, but not actually an error. The photograph was taken, as all promo photos are, during a rehearsal.
The water bottle's not in the film.
"Shakespeare had those sort of mistakes. There are clocks in Julius Carsar."
And doublets - my personal favorite.
Oh yes? McCarthy accused President Eisenhower of being a Communist dupe. Do you agree with him? You can agree that the Communists were a threat to the United States without believing that McCarthy was anything more than a dishonest snivelling alcholic.
In 'Troilus and Cressida', Hector (the one from the Illiad) makes a reference to Aristotle.
"You can agree that the Communists were a threat to the United States without believing that McCarthy was anything more than a dishonest snivelling alcholic."
I certainly agree with that.
McCarthy only loved power. The fact that he chose to gain and exercise that power in the name of a legitimate cause doesn't make him any less a scumbag.
I believe that after WW II Eisenhower's foreign policies left a whole lot to be desired. Why did we not finish the North Koreans? Why did we allow Castro to take control of Cuba? Why did we allow the Soviets to strengthen their stranglehold over Eastern Europe?
What exactly do the release of the Venona papers have to do with McCarthy's character?
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