Every single day, in Washington, D.C., and every other city in America, there are responsible journalists working hard to hold the powerful accountable, to serve the public by reporting stories that often serve as catalysts for positive change, and who strive to live up to the exalted Murrow’s standards: “To be persuasive we must be believable. To be believable, we must be credible. To be credible, we must be truthful.”
Sixty years ago, Edward R. Murrow performed one of the most famous acts of journalistic evisceration in American television history. On March 9th, 1954, Murrow—who was then perhaps the country’s most highly revered journalist—devoted an entire episode of his CBS program See it Now to the words and deeds of Senator Joseph McCarthy, who had already done much to earn his notorious place in history.
A proposal put forth by Edward R. Murrow 54 years ago that big corporations regularly sponsor primetime documentaries deserves a fresh look today. Why should all the corporate do-good money wend its way to PBS? If I were the commercial networks, I would target the likes of Google, Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, Facebook, Cisco and Verizon. They have been driving the never-ending media revolution and making billions without giving back much in the way of what actually passes through their devices, networks and apps.
When it comes to broadcast TV, little has changed since the CBS newsman’s critical 1958 speech to the RTNDA. While the evening news format still exists, coverage of the world has diminished. If a story cannot be summed up in a minute or two, odds are it won’t make the news. The more complex the issue, the less likely it will be explored.
Edward R. Murrow was born 104 years ago today in North Carolina. His legacy is abundantly prevalent in our industry. On this day, we like to take a few moments to reflect on Murrow’s contributions to our profession. There is perhaps no better way to do that than by listening to and reading Murrow’s 1958 “Wires and Lights in a Box” speech from the then RTNDA Convention.
I believe Rush Limbaugh is racist and hateful — attributes that don’t necessarily proscribe someone from standing on a broadcast soapbox and spewing venom. That’s why we need someone like the legendary Edward R. Murrow to thoroughly examine Limbaugh’s record. To show the extent to which his positions and viewpoints lack any evidence and then to do an engaging and scathing expose stating the case. Maybe then some of his loyal legions will wake up and at least find someone with a brain to worship.