Watch: West, Murrow, McCarthy

  • submit to reddit

In this week’s Bill Moyers Essay, spurred by Rep. Allen West’s recently professed belief that 78-81 members of Congress are members of the Communist Party, Bill recalls the early days of the Cold War, when Senator Joseph McCarthy “seized on fear and ignorance to announce his discovery of a conspiracy within: Communist subversives who had infiltrated the government.” Moyers also remembers how legendary broadcaster Edward R. Murrow bravely exposed McCarthy’s tactics on the CBS program, See It Now. Below, watch at greater length those historical and recent moment to which he refers, and which should never be forgotten.

At a town hall meeting in Jensen Beach, Florida on April 10, 2012, an audience member asked Rep. Allen West how many members of the Congress are “card-carrying Marxists or International Socialists.”

Later, Rep. West explained his response to CNN’s Soledad O’Brien — and stood by it.

Edward R. Murrow dedicated a full episode of his CBS program, See It Now, to McCarthy. “This is no time for men who oppose Senator McCarthy’s methods to keep silent, or for those who approve,” Murrow told his audience. “We can deny our heritage and our history but we cannot escape responsibility for the result.”

Later that same year, for 36 days on live TV, during Senate hearings on charges McCarthy had made questioning the loyalty of the U.S. Army, Boston lawyer Joseph Welch famously asked: “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”

  • submit to reddit

BillMoyers.com encourages conversation and debate around issues, events and ideas related to content on Moyers & Company and the BillMoyers.com website.

  • The editorial staff reserves the right to take down comments it deems inappropriate.
  • Profanity, personal attacks, hate speech, off-topic posts, advertisements and spam will not be tolerated.
  • Do not intentionally make false or misleading statements, impersonate someone else, break the law, or condone or encourage unlawful activity.

If your comments consistently or intentionally make this community a less civil and enjoyable place to be, you and your comments will be excluded from it.

We need your help with this. If you feel a post is not in line with the comment policy, please flag it so that we can take a look. Comments and questions about our policy are welcome. Please send an email to feedback@billmoyers.com

Find out more about BillMoyers.com's privacy policy and terms of service.

  • Mayanspacecadet

    I’m sorry for being rude, but Rep. West is truly a disgrace to America in many ways (while somehow simultaneously being a darling of the Tea Party).

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/4N7WFSPNKZZVTAC3QM2TJQGVDE Janet

     sometimes you forget what it is like to hear a truly intelligent person speak.  Mr. Moyer’s essay on allen west/mccarthy was brilliant.    how did this crazy west guy ever get elected?

  • Vera Webb

    Bill, you are my hero.  Thanks once again for connecting the dots and sharing it with the world.  When I saw the news story about the Florida Congressman’s comments, my thoughts went immediately to the McCarthy era, but I tend to keep my comments in the living room.  Thanks again.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.g.woodward Jennifer Gopinathadasi Woodwar

    The “have you no decency” question cannot be asked today.  The relentless 30+ year propaganda barrage from the GOP has made sure of that.  Certainly not if the likes of liberal Clinton campaign adviser turned journalist George Stephanopoulos can be humiliated and silenced on the air by Mitt Romney who countered a question he did not like with a personal attack of Mr. Stephanopoulos.   I remain dumbfounded at the so-called journalists who continue to be intimidated and deflected by such GOP tactics.  Maybe by September-October 2012 the 1950s question will be asked much more often.  JGW CAGreenIDEAS.org, SF CA

  • Scott

    Bill,
    Thank you for having the courage for speaking out on the disgraceful comments of Congressman West. I too saw these comments on the TV and shuddered with disgust and contempt. Such fear mongering is disgraceful but not surprising in this day and age. Hopefully he will be held to task for these comments. Does anyone really think the “Communists” are taking over?” I’m more worried about the marginalization of the citizenry with the increased influence of corporations in the political process. “We the people” seem to have less and less control over the government. With the complete control of the process by only two parties, you can’t “throw the bums out” because the other “bum” is last “bum” you threw out last time. Could you imagine running a sports team where you only have the choice of two managers?
    Thank you for lifting the veil on this Congressman’s attempt to use fear and ignorance to persuade to retain power. I hope this and many of your other messages get widely circulated.  

  • Joseph Upton

    Thank you Congressman West for having the courage to speak out against “progressivism”.  Communism, fascism, socialism and progressivism all sprung from the same collectivist well.  There are some excellent books on the subject (Liberal Fascism by Goldberg is one of the best).  Many early “progressives” were also supporters of eugenics…although that is a chapter the modern “progressives” want to forget.  The progressive philosophy is a philosophy of big government, opposed to natural rights, opposed to constitutional limitations on government and supporting central planning over markets.  Teddy Roosevelt and Wilson were both “progressives”…both racists to the core.

  • Shamus

    West is a loony, what he has to say  is about as important the commentary from a professional wrestling match. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lynda-Mott-Andrews/100003797564682 Lynda Mott Andrews

    I  agree Vera, the next day I researched the McCarthy ERA LEST WE FORGET

  • Joe Shoe.

    In a recent interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN, President Clinton suggested that there may be less than 78 communists left in the world, let alone in the U.S. Congress.

  • Vincentgthomas

     There is a difference between “big government” and “good government.” Do you want the Pentagon with its bloated $700 billion budget to be independent of government?

  • Zavalamelissa76

    Thank you, Bill Moyers, for being precisely the sort of courageous, intelligent, and historically in tune voice we need during these dark times.  The way you have been working hard to counter the toxic political climate and extraordinary Right-wing propaganda machine is commendable.  I don’t know what I would do without you.  Thank you for all you do.  I’ll leave it at that this time.

  • Johnnybgood2525

    THANK YOU Rep. West for having the courage to point out to all of America that many liberals belong to leftists organizations that although not illegal, can accurately be described as anit-American.  Lets not forget that despite McCarthy’s over zealousness there were in fact liberal democrats who worked in the state dept. who were proven to be communist spies, and who betrayed America. Alger Hiss is just one of those traitors proven to be gulity.

  • Sociamedic

    Fascism is a RIGHT WING movement whose manifesto was published in Italy at the turn of the last century in response to what fascists (capitalist industrialists) believed was the threat of communism to their money squandering, labor abusing enterprise. There are some excellent books on the subject including the writings of the Frankfurt School, Walter Benjamin, Karl Kraus and Theodore Adorno and other members of the Frankfurt School who (but for Benjamin) managed to escape RIGHT WING Nazi Germany and found The neo-Marxist New School of Social Research in New York. Letters from Nazi prisons are also enlightening, such as those written by Bohoeffer, one of the pathetically FEW Christian leaders with enough balls to resist Hitler (and who was hung right before Hitler was defeated for his part in an assassination attempt) and notably those of Antonio Gramsci, a communist imprisoned by the Nazis. Your right wing, fascist, misinformation machinery is fooling NOBODY.