Friday, March 9, 2012

See It Now - March 9th, 1954

On March the 9th, 1954 (my God, 58 years ago!), I was 3 and a half years old. I certainly can't tell you what day of the week it was. But something happened that day that brought change to the United States and affected the world.

While there are memories I have from that age, I can't say that I remember that day's broadcast of a CBS News journalism program called "See It Now". I do remember the show's host, Edward R. Murrow. I liked him, and often watched his programs when I was a little older. "See It Now" was a sort of investigative news report with commentary. Today it would be called a News Magazine.  My memories of the show itself are very vague. I do remember specific Murrow programs, like "Harvest of Shame", a documentary on the lives of migrant workers in the US. I grew up in a farm area that depended on migrant workers. When a program is that immediate, you tend to remember it.

In 1953, Murrow and his producer, Fred Friendly, reported on the case of an American soldier by the name of Milo Radulovich. Radulovich was an Air Force lieutenant who was stripped of his rank and discharged for his continued association with suspected Communist sympathizers - his father and sister. His father had subscribed to several Serbian newspapers to keep track of events in his native Yugoslavia. One of the papers was "associated" with a Communist organization. His sister was known to have "liberal" tendencies.  As a result of the program, Radulovich was reinstated. The episode aroused the ire of Senator Joseph McCarthy, who began to focus on Murrow.

Murrow and Friendly responded by putting together a "See It Now" broadcast that was comprised of clips of McCarthy in action, accusing and interrogating Senate witnesses and making speeches. Today is the anniversary of that program's broadcast. It gave voice to the doubts of millions of Americans, and started the downfall of McCarthyism. In 2005, the story of that broadcast was told in the motion picture "Good Night, and Good Luck". I've long been familiar with the final comments made that night by Murrow. All these years later, here in our modern world, his words still have resonance.


klahanie said...

Oh my, Edward R. Murrow. That brings back memories of when I was a little boy living in Vancouver, Canada. Very nostalgic. I note that sort of 'voice' is not heard these days. Think it changed somewhere in the mid sixties. If you know what I mean.
Have a peaceful weekend and thanks for this.
With respect, Gary

Austan said...

Here's to you, Mr. Murrow. Thanks for this, Stevil. We must all hang together, or surely we will all hang separately.