Sunday, October 23, 2005

A Movie To Tell Us What is Wrong With TV

We watched Good Night, and Good Luck this weekend and gladly report that it was enjoyed by all. George Clooney's work has been hit or miss, so we were naturally skeptical. What's more, we were reluctant to shell out $10 for a civics lesson from Ed Murrow.

It is a civics lesson, of course: Murrow's reporting was responsible for reigning in Sen. Joe McCarthy's communist witch hunt, and we should all remember that an aggressive, adversarial news media is one of democracy's few protections against demagoguery. That being said, most people likely to see the movie are liberals who feel this way already, so Murrow's ghost will preach to the choir. The movie seems to know this; when the CBS team is cutting together clips of McCarthy's grandstanding, they remark that by reporting on him with only his own words, they will only further endear him to everyone who loves him and further disgust everyone who hates him.

As an aside, compare Ann Coulter's keynote, at the Ronald Reagan Black Tie and Blue Jeans barbeque, that she "was never a big fan of the First Amendment," which met with applause and prompted Republicans to describe her speech as "hard hitting, but sometimes the truth hurts." Not only does this make our point beautifully, but also demonstrates that not a damn thing has changed in 50 years.

David Strathairn obviously enjoyed playing Murrow, and who wouldn't? He gets to repeat Murrow's brilliant if obvious editorial: "...dissent is not disloyalty; accusation is not proof; conviction depends on evidence and due process of law; and finally, as defenders of freedom abroad, the United States cannot desert it at home." Last week, Jack Schafer at Slate wondered what the New York Times could do to save itself. There is your answer.

Movie web site
/ Trailer from Apple

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