The liberal media have been screaming about federal departments or agencies sponsoring or buying news here and abroad. But they were strangely silent when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced on December 13 that the State Department would launch an Edward R. Murrow Journalism Program to influence foreign journalists. It seems that a federal program honoring an icon of the liberal media is considered an acceptable mix of journalism and state.
The Rice announcement buys into the myth perpetuated by the George Clooney movie, “Good Night and Good Luck,” that Murrow, a CBS journalist who became director of the U.S. Information Agency in the Kennedy Administration, had put anti-communist Senator Joseph McCarthy in his place. As journalist Wes Vernon notes in a forthcoming AIM Report on this matter, the facts were on the side of Senator McCarthy but he didn’t come across well on television. Murrow, on the other hand, was smooth, polished and had a large audience. He was largely a showboat. In fact, he was oblivious to the sinister problem―communist influence in government―that McCarthy dared to uncover and expose.
The State Department decision to sponsor a journalism program in the name of Edward R. Murrow, in association with the Aspen Institute and U.S. journalism schools, reflects extremely poor judgment on Secretary Rice’s part and a disregard for the lessons of history. But it’s a big hit with the media elite and the Hollywood glitterati.
The Aspen Institute is headed by Walter Isaacson, the former Time magazine managing editor who served as chairman and CEO of CNN. It is supported by such figures as billionaires Ted Turner and George Soros and its board includes Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, the former Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. The Saudi connection is worth noting because one purpose of the Edward R. Murrow Journalism Program is to reach out to the Arab/Muslim world and teach foreign journalists about America. The Aspen Institute has already been conducting a “U.S.-Arab media dialogue.” Other financial backers of the Aspen Institute include the Viacom Foundation, associated with the Viacom media conglomerate, Time Warner and NBC.
As the Rice announcement shows, it is still politically incorrect to defend Senator McCarthy in any way, even though he uncovered real communist agents such as Owen Lattimore in the critically important Amerasia case, and it’s far more fashionable to honor his enemies, such as Murrow.
Ann Coulter, however, does a very good job of defending McCarthy in her book Treason, and M. Stanton Evans has a book coming out, Blacklisted by History, that will set the record straight about his anti-communist campaign. Evans has written several authoritative stories in Human Events about the real McCarthy record.
Allan H. Ryskind of Human Events wrote an important article examining the many flaws in the Clooney movie, including its failure to mention Murrow’s own na?vet? about communist influence in the U.S. Government. Reviewing the Clooney film in the liberal Washington Post, Stephen Hunter notes that Murrow was motivated to go after the Wisconsin Senator because his good friend, Laurence Duggan, who turned out to be a Soviet spy in the State Department, had been questioned about his communist ties and committed suicide. It’s clear that Murrow let his personal friendship with this secret Soviet spy cloud his judgment about the reality of Soviet espionage in the U.S. This was bad journalism, not worthy of being emulated or honored.
Yet, at a press conference with Isaacson, Secretary Rice said the Edward R. Murrow journalism program would emphasize “many of the democratic principles that guided Mr. Murrow’s practice of his craft: integrity and ethics and courage and social responsibility.”
It was to be expected that CBS News and the Hollywood left would continue defending Murrow for his assault on McCarthy, but for the State Department to honor him with such misleading language is an embarrassment bordering on a disgrace.
To cite another example of how the State Department continues to ignore the documented communist influence that continues to taint this bureaucratic institution, consider that the State Department historian has posted a document on the founding of the U.N. that completely ignores the role played by Soviet spy and State Department employee Alger Hiss. Equally strange, the document makes a passing reference to the role played by Harry Hopkins in creating the U.N. but ignores the evidence that Hopkins, too, was a Soviet agent.
The U.N., by contrast, is more forthcoming about Hiss’s role, having posted a lengthy interview with the Soviet spy that was conducted in 1990. Hiss worked on the founding of the U.N. while he was in the State Department, organized the Dumbarton Oaks conference that laid the groundwork for the U.N., and became the acting secretary-general of the founding conference that drafted the U.N. Charter.
In their book, KGB: The Inside Story, Christopher Andrew and Oleg Gordievsky note that, “Hiss’s career appeared to offer the NKGB [the then-communist intelligence service] a remarkable opportunity within the new United Nations.” As we know, however, his career was derailed by a Congressman named Richard Nixon, based on evidence provided by communist defector Whittaker Chambers.
But the U.N. evolved into a reliable anti-American vehicle, just as Stalin and his agents Hiss and Hopkins had hoped for and planned.
The latest evidence emerged just before Christmas when the U.S. was forced to abandon its proposal for a three-month interim U.N. budget. The proposal had been pushed by the tenacious U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton as a way to put pressure on the world body to reform its operations. However, in the face of opposition from the Group of 77, which is actually a 132-nation group led by Communist China, the U.S. proposal “failed to attract any support,” in the words of the New York Times, and the State Department eventually went along with the traditional two-year budget approach, albeit with a $950 million “spending cap” that could also be breached under pressure from the anti-American bloc. Once again, the U.S. went down the road of appeasing its critics and enemies.
These developments, if properly understood, suggest that Secretary Rice, rather than hobknob with the liberal media elite, honor their heroes, and play ball with a corrupt and hopeless U.N., might want to consider cleaning out the State Department and withdrawing from the world organization. Ambassador Bolton is the right man to carry out that plan.
In order to rectify the damage already done by announcing the ill-conceived Edward R. Murrow Journalism Program, it would also be wise for Rice to launch an effort to recognize the work of John Barron, the late Reader’s Digest journalist who exposed the activities of communist agents in numerous books and articles. He did the kind of investigative reporting that Murrow had no interest in doing.
George Clooney and the Hollywood left would not be happy if Secretary Rice took this new approach, but it would be the right thing to do.