AMERICAN MASTERS: EDWARD R. MURROW: THIS REPORTER {PART 2 OF 2} (TV)

Summary

Continued from T:57500. One in this documentary series that explores the lives and achievements of America's most celebrated native-born and adopted artists, performers, and creative talent. Part two in this two-part program profiling the career of pioneering broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow. Included are interviews with Murrow's family, friends, and fellow news professionals; clips of radio and television news programs; and archival footage accompanied by narration. First, author David Halberstam discusses the divisive effects of the anti-Communist activities of Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-Wisconsin) on the broadcast industry and on American society in general. Ted Koppel points to the riskiness of Murrow's report on McCarthy, and Palmer Williams, production manager of "See It Now," describes the careful planning that went into the broadcast to protect the news team and network from attacks by McCarthy. Clips of confrontational broadcasts by Murrow and Senator McCarthy are then juxtaposed. Joseph Weshba, "See It Now" field producer, explains that the McCarthy report made Murrow a controversial figure, and his widow Janet Murrow recalls the threats made to her husband and family afterward. The McCarthy report coincided with the loss of Alcoa's sponsorship for "See It Now," and, as former CBS chief executive of news and public affairs Sig Mickelson suggests, the network began to focus on more conservative programming that posed no threat to the government, the advertisers, or the FCC. The documentary next features a discussion of Murrow's interview program "Person To Person," including comments by Barbara Walters and Lauren Bacall on its innovations and popularity. In contrast, Don Hewitt, "See It Now" studio director, and Edward Bliss Jr. of CBS News see the program as a source of shame for Murrow, representing a lowering of standards. Although "See It Now" lost its prime-time slot along with its sponsorship, Murrow continued to tackle controversial subject matter. "See It Now" producer Fred W. Friendly recalls the report on Alaskan and Hawaiian statehood that led to a rift between Murrow and CBS chairman William S. Paley. Excerpts of Murrow's speech at the 1958 Radio Television News Directors Convention follow; the journalist used the convention as a forum to express his concern about the integrity of broadcast news. Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather, and Diane Sawyer consider Murrow's speech a prophesy of market-driven programming to come. Murrow took a year-long sabbatical after his parting with Paley; Eric Sevareid of CBS News notes that his time off did not alleviate his exhaustion or depression, which were heightened by accusations that were made against "Person To Person" following the CBS quiz-show scandal. Mili Lerner Bonsignori, the film editor for "See It Now," remembers Murrow's return to CBS as anti-climactic, Hewitt explains that the rise of the "Huntley-Brinkley Report" heralded the end of CBS's journalistic supremacy, and David Brinkley comments on Murrow's uninspired coverage of the 1960 Democratic National Convention. The documentary then touches on the dangers of subjective reporting, politics within the management of CBS, Murrow's disillusionment with the broadcast-news establishment, and the journalist's failing health. The program concludes with excerpts of his report, "Harvest of Shame," to which students from the Edward R. Murrow High School respond, and with remarks by Murrow on the potential of the television medium.

Cataloging of this program was made possible by Rosalind P. Walter, 1999.

Details

  • NETWORK: PBS WNET New York, NY
  • DATE: August 6, 1990 Monday 9:00 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 0:58:05
  • COLOR/B&W: Color
  • CATALOG ID: T:57501
  • GENRE: Public Affairs/Documentaries
  • SUBJECT HEADING: Army-McCarthy Controversy, 1954
  • SERIES RUN: PBS - TV series, 1986-
  • COMMERCIALS:

CREDITS

  • For "American Masters":
  • Susan Lacy … Executive Producer
  • Harlene Freezer … Senior Producer
  • Diane Dufault … Producer
  • Jac Venza … Direction (Misc.), Executive Director
  • Jonathan Tunick … Theme Music by
  • For "Edward R. Murrow: This Reporter":
  • Susan Lacy … Executive Producer
  • Susan Steinberg … Producer, Director
  • Libby Kreutz … Co-Producer
  • Harlene Freezer … Co-Producer
  • Joy Conley … Researcher
  • Joy Birdsong … Researcher
  • David Batty … Researcher
  • Ed Apfel … Writer
  • Lauren Bacall
  • Edward Bliss
  • Mili Lerner Bonsignori
  • David Brinkley
  • Walter Cronkite
  • Fred W. Friendly
  • David Halberstam
  • Don Hewitt
  • Chet Huntley
  • Ted Koppel
  • Joseph McCarthy
  • Sig Mickelson
  • Eward R. Murrow
  • Janet Murrow
  • William S. Paley
  • Dan Rather
  • Diane Sawyer
  • Eric Sevareid
  • Barbara Walters
  • Joseph Weshba
  • Palmer Williams
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