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Good Night & Good Luck

In: Historical Events

Submitted By jacob1sr
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The threat of Communism created an air of paranoia in the United States during the early 1950’s. Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin was the man who exploited those fears. CBS reporter Edward R. Murrow and his producer Fred W. Friendly decided to take a stand by challenging McCarthy. They chose to expose him for the fear monger he was. Even though their actions took a great personal toll on both men, they stood by their beliefs. In turn, they helped bring down one of the most controversial senators in American history. This important story in American history and politics is shown in the film, “Good Night and Good Luck.” It is directed by George Clooney, written by George Clooney and Grant Heslov, and stars David Strathairn, George Clooney and Patricia Clarkson. As mentioned before, "Good Night, And Good Luck" takes place during the early days of broadcast journalism in 1950's. It chronicles the real-life conflict between television newsman Edward R. Murrow and Senator Joseph McCarthy and the Permanent Sub-committee on Investigations. With a need to report the facts and enlighten the public, Murrow, and his dedicated staff - headed by his producer Fred Friendly and Joe Wershba in the CBS newsroom – rebel to corporate and sponsorship pressures to examine the lies and fear mongering tactics carried out by McCarthy during his communist 'witch-hunts.’ McCarthy claimed that there were over two hundred card carriers in America. An awfully public argument develops when the Senator responds by accusing the anchor of being a communist. In this atmosphere of fear, the CBS crew carries on and their tenacity will prove historic and monumental. The way that they attempted to show McCarthy’s true colors was to run a story on navy pilot, Milo Radulovich, who United States government called a security risk. Radulovich was said to be a risk because his father had attended meetings that could have been in contact with communistic acts. Without having a trial he was said guilty and asked to deface his father and sister to prove what was said to be their communist acts. He stood on his family’s side and refused to denounce his family. This story was so controversial that Murrow was asked not to run the show, but he did it anyway. Sig Mickelson was begging him not to run it in the fear of putting a bad name on CBS because they are all in the same boat and there is no way that the advertising companies would pay for time during a stand against the senator. Murrow proposed that in that case he and Friendly would split the three thousand dollar advertising bill to run the program because they knew that a stand needed to be taken against the accusations that were being made. In the end Murrow’s air time gets cut down and moved so not such a popular night because of the controversies. He knew that someone had to make a stand for the senator’s accusations whether they were true or not, he knew enough to know that the Air Force was wrong in the way that they imprisoned Radulovich and that if it was not brought to the public’s attention that nothing would ever be done about it. Many topics that were discussed in class or in our readings were brought up throughout the film. Each story that Edward Murrow Dealt dealt with had its own issue. One being segregation; this relates to our readings and lectures because we learned about the Supreme Court case, Plessey vs. Ferguson, which set “separate but equal” into effect. Separate but equal was in effect until the Supreme Court case Brown vs. The board of education of Topeka. It stated that separating blacks and whites was denying black children an equal education. Another issue that Murrow dealt with is the exploitation of migrant workers. This plays into what we have learned in class because we have learned that no one has the right to take away someone’s human rights because they cannot change that someone from being a human. An example of how we learned this would be Standing Bear’s trial. Milo Radulovich, as mentioned above, was jailed without a trial. This relates to class because he was put in prison without a fair trial which was not following the Writ of Habeas Corpus. Habeas corpus, Latin for "you have the body," is the name of a legal action, or writ, by means of which detainees can seek relief from unlawful imprisonment. The Suspension Clause of the United States Constitution specifically included the English common law procedure in Article One, Section 9, clause 2, which demands that "The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it." Joe Wershba was a reporter at CBS studios along with Murrow. They were given “Loyalty offers.” These offers stated that they had always followed the laws and says that they were not communists. Murrow signed his along with the other reporters at the studio, Wershba on the other hand was married to a coworker secretly. This act was forbidden. If he were to sign this document it would expose him and his wife. That would result with putting them both at risk to lose their jobs. If he did not sign it he would be a suspected communist. This is a blatant violation of his first amendment rights. It is telling someone, in this case, if they do not sign a document saying they are not a communist then they are a communist. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights. The amendment prohibits the making of any law "respecting an establishment of religion," impeding the free exercise of religion, infringing on the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances. This is specifically a violation of freedom of speech: telling someone that they cannot say the truth without putting their job, personal reputation, or their truthful word on the line. The most recent thing in the today’s times that I can think of that we discussed in class is Julian Assang and the wikileaks. It is one of those things that we as a nation have to ask, “is what he did right or wrong?” Personally, I feel this is an issue that you can compare perfectly with the McCarthy trials. Assang should be proud of himself for what he has done. He has shown the government the power of the people. It is our right to know what is going on in our nation. Sugar-coating and creating scapegoats or even hiding the truth to the public, is blatantly disrespectful to not only the citizens of our nation and world, but to all those men and women who died to allow us the freedoms we have today. After watching this film a few times, I realized how thankful I should be to be living in today’s society. More than that, it made me thankful to be an American citizen. I feel that in the time and age of today, my civil liberties are more protected. At the same time, I feel as though many people do not realize this and misuse and do not appreciate their civil liberties. In many other nations in the world, the first amendment is not even an option. People are jailed for speaking their minds or expressing their opinions. This is a shame. I wish more people understood their nation’s history. More than that, I wish people realized the struggles that those before us went to give us the freedoms that we now have today. Good night and Good Luck is a movie that, in my opinion, is both hopeful and cynical. I truly believe that people sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but it is in the darkness that only ones beauty shows if there is a light from within. This film shows the worst in people when they are in darkness. People did not feel safe being able to speak their own mind, or do as they please. Therefore, people were cynical for many reasons. For example, because people were not allowed to work together because they were married, or they were accused of being a communist because they stand up for their Constitutional rights, or one’s television broadcast was cut because it displayed a public action of standing up for one’s rights that were infringed. On the other hand, it shows the hope because there are people standing up against Senator Joseph McCarthy and his accusations. They said what they believed, whether it was right or wrong, even if it put them in jeopardy. This film was certainly realistic. It was based off a true time period in history, so everything that happened in this film did or easily could have happened. In all honesty, I did not truly understand the movie after my first time seeing it. Nor did it spark a fire in me. After watching it twice more, I understood what was going on more thoroughly. Not only did I understand, but I started thinking about similar issues in today’s world. I am glad I was assigned this movie because I did learn more than I thought I would. All in all I thought this was a very good film. It does an amazing job of showing how risky certain topics are to bring on the television. People believe a lot of what they hear without knowing now days. That by itself is an issue. Not only is it risky to bring certain topics up, but wording is key as well. Another thing I never thought about it how much the ratings mean to companies. Also, how one mistake willingly or unwillingly made can make one lose their position or job as a whole. Anyone who is interested in history, the television industry, or just looking to learn something new is recommended to watch this movie.

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