Edward R. Murrow - Army/McCarthy Hearings - March 9, 1954

Joe McCarthy on TV rebutting Ed Murrow

AntiCommunist crusader Joseph McCarthy entered the public consciousness on February 9, 1950 when he began attacking President Truman's foreign policy agenda. He charged that the State Department harbored Communists. McCarthy was a spellbinding speaker and critics hesitated to challenge him openly for those under McCarthy's knife faced loss of work and damaged careers. When the Republicans took control of Congress in 1952, McCarthy became even more powerful as head of the Committee on Government Operations. When McCarthy's aide G. David Schine, who had been drafted, was to be posted overseas and the Secretary of the Army refused to intercede, McCarthy went after the Army. Thus began the Army/McCarthy hearings which were televised.

Sensing the time was right, Edward R. Murrow and Fred Friendly decided to go ahead with a broadcast decrying McCarthy. The broadcast was televised on March 9, 1954 and this clip is from Murrow's closing speech. The broadcast had enough of an impact on McCarthy that he agreed to appear three weeks later. Because it was in a studio and not before a live audience, McCarthy did not come off very well. Thus his decline began and finally ended when Congress decided to punish him for conduct unbecoming a member of Congress.

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