Cold War, Cool Medium: Television, McCarthyism, and American Culture

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Columbia University Press, 2003 - History - 305 pages
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Conventional wisdom holds that television was a co-conspirator in the repressions of Cold War America, that it was a facilitator to the blacklist and handmaiden to McCarthyism. But Thomas Doherty argues that, through the influence of television, America actually became a more open and tolerant place. Although many books have been written about this period, Cold War, Cool Medium is the only one to examine it through the lens of television programming.

To the unjaded viewership of Cold War America, the television set was not a harbinger of intellectual degradation and moral decay, but a thrilling new household appliance capable of bringing the wonders of the world directly into the home. The "cool medium" permeated the lives of every American, quickly becoming one of the most powerful cultural forces of the twentieth century. While television has frequently been blamed for spurring the rise of Senator Joseph McCarthy, it was also the national stage upon which America witnessed -- and ultimately welcomed -- his downfall. In this provocative and nuanced cultural history, Doherty chronicles some of the most fascinating and ideologically charged episodes in television history: the warm-hearted Jewish sitcom The Goldbergs; the subversive threat from I Love Lucy; the sermons of Fulton J. Sheen on Life Is Worth Living; the anticommunist series I Led 3 Lives; the legendary jousts between Edward R. Murrow and Joseph McCarthy on See It Now; and the hypnotic, 188-hour political spectacle that was the Army-McCarthy hearings.

By rerunning the programs, freezing the frames, and reading between the lines, Cold War, Cool Medium paints a picture of Cold War America that belies many black-and-white clichés. Doherty not only details how the blacklist operated within the television industry but also how the shows themselves struggled to defy it, arguing that television was preprogrammed to reinforce the very freedoms that McCarthyism attempted to curtail.

  

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Cold War, cool medium: television, McCarthyism, and American culture

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Doherty (American & film studies, Brandeis Univ.) makes his third contribution to the publisher's new but already voluminous series, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of TV's first great reality ... Read full review

Contents

VIDEO RISING
1
A Television Genealogy
3
Red and Other Menaces
6
Man Ism and Television
13
THE GESTALT OF THE BLACKLIST
19
The Blacklist Backstory
20
Pressure Groups and Pressure Points
24
Institutional Practices
34
Starring Bishop Fulton J Sheen
153
EDWARD R MURROW SLAYS THE DRAGON OF JOSEPH MCCARTHY
161
TVs Number One Glamour Boy
163
Murrow Versus McCarthy
168
The Good Tuesday Homily
172
To Be PersontoPersoned
177
Annie Lee Moss Before the McCarthy Committee
180
McCarthy Gets Equal Time
184

CONTROVERSIAL PERSONALITIES
37
I Love Lucy The Redhead and the Blacklist
49
HYPERSENSITIVITY THE CODES OF TELEVISION CENSORSHIP
60
Faye Emersons Breasts Among Other Controversies
64
Blacks in Your Living Room
70
FORUMS OF THE AIR
81
Egghead Sundays
83
Direct Address
90
The Ikeonoscope
96
ROMAN CIRCUSES AND SPANISH INQUISITIONS
105
The Kefauver Crime Committee Hearings of 1951
107
HUACTV
116
The McCarthy Committees Voice of America Hearings 1953
126
COUNTRY AND GOD
134
Watch Yourself Philbrick
140
Religious Broadcasting
149
THE ARMYMCCARTHY HEARINGS APRIL 22JUNE 17 1954
189
Backstory and Dramatis Personae
190
GaveltoGavel Coverage
195
Have You Left No Sense of Decency?
204
Reviews and Postmortems
210
PIXIES HOMOSEXUALITY ANTICOMMUNISM AND TELEVISION
215
Red Fades to Pink
219
Airing the CohnSchine Affair
224
THE END OF THE BLACKLIST
231
The Blacklist on Trial
240
The ArmyMcCarthy Hearings the Movie
244
EXHUMING MCCARTHYISM THE PARANOID STYLE IN AMERICAN TELEVISION
249
Notes
261
Index
293
Copyright

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About the author (2003)

Robert Kandel is a senior scientist of the C.N.R.S. (National Scientific Research Agency of France). He is a member of NASA's Earth Radiation Science Team and chief scientist for the French-Russian-German ScaRaB radiation mission and is currently working on a joint European-Japanese satellite project to observe clouds, aerosols, and radiation. He is the author of several books, including Earth and Cosmos and Our Changing Climate. He was born in Brooklyn and now lives in Paris, France.

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