At the recent conference on “Rethinking McCarthy,” veteran journalist M. Stanton Evans disputed a number of myths about the Senator that have been accepted by leading historians and media figures. Evans, the director of the National Journalism Center who is writing his own book on Senator Joseph McCarthy, said one of the most notorious myths is that the Wisconsin Senator never named any names of suspected communists in government. Holding up a file of material, Evans said, “Here are the names. Right here. Anybody who wants to can look at them.” He produced a letter that McCarthy sent to Senator Millard Tydings in 1950 in which he listed the names.
The original list, which included numbers of cases and not names, was obtained by McCarthy after it was put together by congressional staffers. It was drawn from the files of the State Department itself. But McCarthy provided the cases to Tydings with the names attached. Critics have said over the years that the list was either outdated, blown out of proportion, that the individuals named were cleared by congressional committees, or that they were just mildly leftist. But none of that was true. Evans quoted from some of them: “…he furnished material to a known Soviet espionage agent…” and “…He is a known Communist Party member.”
Evans said the biggest piece of disinformation was that these cases had been cleared by congressional hearings. This was false. The chairman of one committee said the information showed “a large number of communists on the rolls of the State Department.” He added, “It makes me wonder if there is any representation of the United States in the State Department.”
McCarthy also had access to information about Amerasia, a pro-Communist magazine, and State Department diplomat John Stewart Service, who was arrested for passing classified information to its editor. In a major speech, McCarthy called the Justice Department failure to prosecute the case a massive cover-up. “We now know that he was 100 percent correct,” Evans said of McCarthy?s charges. The FBI wiretapped the meeting where the cover-up was planned and the case was fixed to get Service off. Playing a role in the cover-up was Soviet agent Laughlin Currie in the White House. He was a key adviser to President Franklin Roosevelt.
Another McCarthy target, Owen Lattimore of the Institute for Pacific Relations, was supposedly investigated by the Tydings Committee, which found nothing incriminating in his FBI files. But Evans read from that file, page one, which said back in 1941 that Lattimore was a communist who should be detained in the event of a national emergency.
All of this mattered for two reasons. One, some of these people engaged in espionage for the Soviet Union. Two, they manipulated U.S. foreign policy to the benefit of the communists. For example, they maneuvered to cut off aid to the Chinese nationalists in order to betray China to the communists. This betrayal left mainland China in the hands of the Communists and the nationalists fled to the island of Taiwan. More than 50 years later, the betrayal continues under the Clinton Administration. But Senator Joe McCarthy tried to prevent it.