Good Night, and Good Luck
- PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
- 3,180 Views
Edward R. Murrow:
This might just do nobody any good. At the end of this discourse, a few people may accuse this reporter of fouling his own comfortable nest, and your organization may be accused of having given hospitality to heretical and even dangerous ideas. But the elaborate structure of networks, advertising agencies, and sponsors will not be shaken or altered. It is my desire if not my duty to try to talk to you journeymen with some candor about what is happening to radio and television, and if what I say is responsible, I alone am responsible for the saying of it. Our history will be what we make of it. And if there are any historians about fifty or a hundred years from now, and there should be preserved the kinescopes of one week of all three networks, they will there find, recorded in black and white and in color, evidence of decadence, escapism, and insulation from the realities of the world in which we live. We are currently wealthy, fat, comfortable, and complacent. We have a built-in allergy to unpleasant or disturbing information - our mass media reflect this. But unless we get up off our fat surpluses, and recognize that television, in the main, is being used to distract, delude, amuse, and insulate us, then television and those who finance it, those who look at it, and those who work at it, may see a totally different picture, too late.
Edward R. Murrow:
No one familiar with the history of his country, can deny that congressional committees are useful. It is necessary to investigate before legislating. But the line between investigating and persecuting is a very fine one, and the Junior Senator from Wisconsin has stepped over it repeatedly. His primary achievement has been confusing the public mind as between the internal and the external threats of communism. We must not confuse dissent from disloyalty. We must remember always, that accusation is not proof, and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another, we will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason. If we dig deep into our history and our doctrine, we will remember we are not descended from fearful men. Not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular. This is no time for men who oppose Sen. McCarthy's methods to keep silent or for those who approve. We can deny our heritage and our history but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of the republic to abdicate his responsibilities. As a nation we have come into our full inheritance at a tender age. We proclaim ourselves as indeed we are, the defenders of freedom where ever it still exists in the world. But we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home. The actions of the Junior Senator from Wisconsin have caused alarm and dismay amongst our allies abroad and given considerable comfort to our enemies. And who's fault is that? Not really his; he didn't create this situation of fear, he merely exploited it, and rather successfully. Cassius was right: the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves. Good night, and good luck.
Edward R. Murrow:
I began by saying that our history will be what we make it. If we go on as we are, then history will take its revenge and retribution will not limp in catching up with us. Just once in awhile, let us exalt the importance of ideas and information. Let us dream to the extent of saying that on a given Sunday night, a time normally occupied by Ed Sullivan, is given over to a clinical survey on the state of American education. And a week or two later, a time normally used by Steve Allen, is devoted to a thorough-going study of American policy in the Middle East. Would the corporate image of their respective sponsors be damaged? Would the shareholders rise up in their wrath and complain? Would anything happen, other than a few million people would have received a little illumination on subjects that may well determine the future of this country - and therefore the future of the corporations? To those who say people wouldn't look, they wouldn't be interested, they're too complacent, indifferent and insulated, I can only reply -- there is, in one reporter's opinion, considerable evidence against that contention. But even if they are right, what have they got to lose? Because if they are right, and this instrument is good for nothing but to entertain, amuse and insulate, then the tube is flickering now and we will soon see that the whole struggle is lost. This instrument can teach, it can illuminate - and yes, it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it towards those ends. Otherwise, it is merely wires and lights in a box. Good night, and good luck.
Wouldn't you guess that the people who have seen the contents of that envelope might have a better idea of what makes someone a danger to his country, or do you think it should just be you, sir, who decides?
Who? Who? Who are these people, sir? Who are the people? Are they elected? Are they appointed? Do they have an axe to grind? Is it you?
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