Academic journal article Journalism History

Covering McCarthyism: How the Christian Science Monitor Handled Joseph R. McCarthy, 1950-1954

Academic journal article Journalism History

Covering McCarthyism: How the Christian Science Monitor Handled Joseph R. McCarthy, 1950-1954

Article excerpt

Strout, Lawrence N. Covering McCarthyism: How the Christian Science Monitor Handled Joseph R McCarthy, 1950-1954. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1999. 171 pp. $55.

Cultural villains, such as Joseph McCarthy, tower in the collective imagination. Their names become icons. In fact, today, McCarthy and the witch hunt for communists are synonymous. That simplification reduces both McCarthy's impact on society and the context for his extreme actions to cartoon dimensions.

Lawrence N. Strout, Gibbons Distinguished Professor of Journalism at Mississippi University for Women, recreates the historical milieu in which the Republican senator from Wisconsin rose to power. Other writers have focused on the big picture--how McCarthy controlled the press and the public.

In his case study of the Christian Science Monitor, Strout analyzes how one newspaper resisted the charismatic apostle of the far right. His in-depth analysis examines the Monitor's struggle to balance the conservative mandates set by the Mother Church Board of Directors with its goal to stop McCarthy's groundless character assassinations.

The book begins and ends with the cultural backdrop that enabled McCarthy to rise to prominence in a tidal wave of accusations fed by Cold War angst. Strout asserts that the greatest irony of McCarthy's grim career of shredding reputations may be that, ultimately, his rhetoric proved ineffective. McCarthy did not cause anyone to win any races in the 1952 elections, and not one single individual whom McCarthy branded a traitor was found guilty. The Senate censured him in 1954. …

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