Fall 2015

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108 SAG -AF TR A | Fall 2015 | Snapshot by Valerie Yaros F ifty years ago, Edward R. Murrow took his final breath two days after his 57th birthday. Lung cancer brought down this self-taught pioneer of broadcast news. Perhaps best known today for his attack on the communist-hunting tactics of Sen. Joseph McCarthy, chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Committee on Government Operations*, Murrow was so much more. Broadcast journalist Bob Edwards, a former AFTRA first vice president and acting national president, encapsulated Murrow's importance in his 2004 book Edward R. Murrow and the Birth of Broadcast Journalism: "Murrow set the highest standard for the reporting of news on radio and television. His facts were solid, his scope thorough, his analysis on target and his principles uncompromised. He was authoritative without being imperious … To this day he is cited as the example of how a broadcast journalist should function, although most people alive today never heard or saw him in a live broadcast." McCarthy was the subject of the March 9, 1954, episode of Murrow's weekly CBS TV program See It Now, and that appearance contributed to the senator's downfall. Murrow concluded the program with some of the most powerful words spoken on camera by a broadcast journalist: This is no time for men who oppose Sen. McCarthy's methods to keep silent, or for those who approve. We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of a republic to abdicate his responsibilities. As a nation we have come into our full inheritance at a tender age. We proclaim ourselves, as indeed we are, the defenders of freedom, wherever it continues to exist in the world, but we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home. The actions of the junior senator from Wisconsin have caused alarm and dismay amongst our allies abroad, and given considerable comfort to our enemies. And whose fault is that? Not really his. He didn't create this situation of fear. He merely exploited it, and rather successfully. Cassius was right. "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves." Good night, and good luck. * McCarthy's committee is often confused with the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC). MURROW: JOURNALIST BRAVE AND BOLD Snapshot by Valerie Yaros "I am frightened by the imbalance, the constant striving to reach the largest possible audience for everything; by the absence of a sustained study of the state of the nation." CBS/SAG-AFTRA ARCHIVES Edward R. Murrow in 1947.

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