Monday, March 26, 2007

When Words Were Important

25 March 2007

It has been perhaps decades since television programming was primarily about spoken language.

There was a time when what television personalities had to say was the single most important element of television programming.

If you find this incredible, then George Clooney has done you a favour. He has documented the story of
Edward R. Murrow’s almost single-handed media battle with Senator Joe McCarthy of Wisconsin in the mid-1950’s.

The story is told in
Good Night, and Good Luck.

Let us say that the odds were formidable.

Murrow’s weapon?

His carefully selected use of language to dismantle and ultimately refute Sen. McCarthy's campaign of fear against freedom of thought and association in the United States in the post-war era.

Here is a small sample of Mr. Murrow’s mastery of our language (referring to Sen. McCarthy):

“His primary achievement has been in confusing the public mind, as between the internal and the external threats of Communism. We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men.”

Congratulations, Mr. Clooney. This is a worthy tribute to Mr. Murrow’s pioneering work in television journalism.


  1. It was an EXCELLENT movie. I think we could use a Edward R. Murrow in the U.S. media today. A reasoned approach to current events would certainly help to temper the fear filled, passions inflamed by the current broadcasting networks.

    The Directors commentary, in the special features, was really entertaining. George Clooney is a very witty man.

  2. As Susan said, we need Murrow today....