Monday, October 10, 2005

Good Night, and Good Luck

This account of the struggle between groundbreaking journalist and host of "See It Now" on CBS for almost twenty years Edward R. Murrow is as pertinent today ass the topic it covers was in its day.

George Clooney does a masterful job of weaving David Straitharn's Murrow with actual footage of Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy. At certain times, this movie seems a little too real, not to mention a little too current. I had entered the packed theater expecting to see a historical triumph of truth over control and manipulation. I was sadly mistaken.

I left the certain that I had seen a terrific film, but horrifically aware that our country may be losing the very battle I thought Murrow won almost fifty years ago. His words seem truer today than they were then, in fact.

The movie begins at a 1958 dinner in honor of his tremendous career and contributions, and to his credit, Murrow used the platform not to trumpet himself, but to call out the very media that had only just begun to melt into corporate lackeydom and had only started to cater to and apologize for government and the powers that be, instead of questioning and challenging as has once been its roll.

Murrow began his speech, "I doubt this is going to do anyone any good..." and went on a roll where he constantly challenged national media to stay true to seeking truth and holding accountable, of challenging, always challenging not only the officials that represent Americans, but to challenge themselves to remain journalists, forever seeking truth and not celebrity.

A particularly chilling observation, more current than any others in this film, was the accusation that television had become a mere distraction, a means to delude us and take out eyes off the ball, and "filler" in lieu of any real message. Murrow took a shot at America in general, noting that we were becoming complacent, even lazy.

And this was before Fear Factor and the slew of "reality" based television programs that are anything but realistic, and couldn't possibly have any value except to take us out further from reality.

I am as a-political as anyone I have ever met, but I have always been addicted to the truth. I could care less what party a person represents, or even really what his or her views may be on a given topic, but when you hear the truth, it cuts through fog like a hot knife through butter. When you hear truth, you don't have to think so much, or "figure things out", because the truth seems to speak for itself.

Perhaps the most powerful evidence of Murrow's belief in truth was the courage it took to give Senator McCarthy the opportunity to speak his piece without rebuttal after Murrow's scathing and courageous indictment of McCarthy's beliefs, and more importantly, his practices. Murrow believed so firmly and so completely in the ultimate victory of truth that he fearlessly pushed for McCarthy to make his statements unencumbered on Murrow's own program.

Ultimately, it was more McCarthy's defense itself of his insane witch hunt that brought him down than than the expose' shown on "See It Now".

Murrow's brief reply to the plethora of baseless charges launched by McCarthy spoke volumes and spelled the end of McCarthyism.

Oh, do we ever need an Edward R. Murrow today. What would we do, if a Murrow appeared, amid the teleprompter-reading prettyboys and misguided infomercial escapees that populate newscasts today?

My guess is that we would run him out of town.


Blogger stella said...

I agree that truth is most important. I wonder how many people are willing to face and accept certain truths about society... that would mean we could no longer hide in denial.

Even still, I prefer truth to ignorance.

p.s I've read the Alchemist too, a long time ago...but a week ago, I found a quote I jotted down from the story, next to the scribbled note that sparked my recent post. Random coincidences. Nice to read your blog. ;)

5:46 PM  

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