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Joe McCarthy and the Press

Edwin R. Bayley

Publication Year: 1981

This is a book for historians, journalists—and for all of us who need to remember this turbulent time on our nation's past, and its lessons for today.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press

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pp. vii-x

Most of the reporters who covered American politics from 1950 through 1954, and especially those of us who were fortunate enough to work for papers opposed to Wisconsin's Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, regard the "McCarthy years" as the most dismal and the most exciting of our lives. As those years receded, however, I realized that...

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1. When It All Started

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pp. 3-38

NEWSPAPER HEADLINES in February 1950 depicted a nation on the verge of hysteria. A banner headline on the front page of the New York Journal-American on February 12 said "Plan Wartime Roundup of 4,000 Reds," and another story quoted a Catholic priest telling an American Legion group that "Communists...

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2. The Floundering Press

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pp. 39-65

EVENTS MOVED swiftly in Washington in the month following McCarthy's speech at Wheeling as President Truman and the senator exchanged accusations, while Democrats in the Senate maneuvered toward a strategy to silence McCarthy's intolerable attacks and Republicans schemed to exploit McCarthy without taking...

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3. The Wire Services, McCarthy's Conduit

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pp. 66-87

REPORTS FROM the three wire services were the source of almost 85 percent of the news published by newspapers about McCarthy in the first month after his Wheeling speech. The 15 percent that did not originate with the wire services came from Washington bureaus of individual papers or groups of papers, from local...

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4. The 1952 Election

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pp. 88-124

FEW OF the questions about McCarthy and the press are subject to measurement. We can guess at the effect of an editorial campaign against McCarthy by the trend of letters to the editor, or at the effect of a critical television program by the number and nature of the ensuing telephone calls and telegrams. We can speculate that...

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5. The "Camp-Following, Mocking-Bird, Bleeding-Heart, Left-Wing" Press

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pp. 125-175

OUTAGAMIE COUNTY Judge Urban Van Susteren says that he and one other man, the late Otis Gomillion, knew McCarthy better than anyone else. Whenever McCarthy returned to Appleton from Washington, he and Van Susteren would hole up for a long talk. What did they talk about? The press, always the press...

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6. Four Crises in Television

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pp. 176-213

McCARTHY'S RISE to national prominence coincided with the explosive growth of television in the United States. In February 1950, when he spoke at Wheeling, there were only 98 television stations and 3,700,000 receivers, and radio was by far the most prevalent form of broadcasting; there were 2,029 stations and 83 million...

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7. Summing Up

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pp. 214-220

THE DURABILITY of the term McCarthyism is a testament to the depth of the conflict that centered on McCarthy. Hardly a week goes by that some public official does not declare himself a victim of the dread "ism." The popular concept of McCarthy's activities has expanded so that the senator is given credit for...

Appendix: Tables and List of Stories in the Last Week of the 1952 Campaign

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pp. 223-235


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pp. 237-243


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pp. 244-254


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pp. 255-270

E-ISBN-13: 9780299086237
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299086244

Publication Year: 1981