I usually don’t write about politics. I find that the best political writing should employ (exploit?) a subtle and sophisticated hand, especially in these days of tightrope walks and frayed nerves that seem to deal better with cardboard emotions than sheets of facts and figures. I am seldom subtle and, unfortunately, never sophisticated. I’m better off subjecting readers to unintelligible flights of fancy and weirdness than operating a scalpel around the lesions of politics lessons.
But even after witnessing this long, never ending line of fear mongering from the right, I was simply bowled over by the most recent hysteria coming from Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachmann who suggested that major newspapers should investigate other members of Congress to "find out if they are pro-America or anti-America.” (Of course my first thought was, “I thought the media was controlled by the leftist elite, so how could such an investigation actually work … the left will protect their anti-American progeny!” Then again, I think it's only fair that we should start the investigation with Rep. Bachmann -- you know, she who throws the first stone...just to make sure her aim is true?)
Joseph McCarthy. Not exactly our finest moment as a nation. And now, well here we are ... But then out of nowhere, my rarely seen sunny-optimistic side crawled out from beneath my bleak crusty disposition, swatting away my pesky depression in one mighty blow. I suddenly remembered a quote from Edward R. Murrow’s show See It Now and the special episode entitled “A Report on Senator Joseph McCarthy” that aired on the evening of May 9, 1954.
This week marks the 50th anniversary of Edward R. Murrow’s seminal address about the future of radio and television, delivered in Chicago on Oct. 15, 1958, in what is now known as the “wires and lights in a box” speech. The legendary CBS newsman warned attendees at the Radio and Television News Directors Association convention to make the most of the new electronic media, and not allow only “escapism and insulation from the realities of the world in which we live.”
“This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box”
I suspect Edward R. Murrow would be deeply appalled at what passes as news and news commentary today. Then again, I think he probably had a premonition of it all crashing on down the turnpike. …
Below is a portion of that speech performed by David Strathairn as Murrow in the 2005 film Good Night, and Good Luck.
39 years ago today, light ceased radiating; the World stopped spinning, coughed up a hairball, then turned on its side and attempted to shake loose all the other furry dust berries clinging to its nipple-ly peaks. Fearful of this new creepy darkness, the World tried to catch the tail of a passing comet only to stagger badly and get singed by the fiery interloper.
But seconds before collapsing gloomily into one last catatonic stupor, the World accidentally stepped on the remote control, triggering a channel change and so discovered that there was in fact something worthwhile to watch on television.
October 5th 1969, Monty Python’s Flying Circus was unleashed onto the airwaves of the BBC … six rather handsome young gents (Terry Jones and Michael Palin from Oxford, Eric Idle, John Cleese and Graham Chapman from Cambridge and American born Terry Gilliam from a little school in Los Angeles called Occidental College) changed history itself by saving the World, and us, from sheer utter boredom.
THE END OF THE GOLDEN AGE
On this day (September 30) in 1962 CBS radio broadcast the final episodes of Suspense and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar and the Golden Age of Radio came to a close.
Radio Drama (also frequently referred to as Old Time Radio or OTR) really began in the 1920s. Before that, there was audio theater which consisted of plays performed for radio broadcast. It wasn't until August 3, 1922 at the Schenectady, New York station WGY that the in-house actors, The WGY Players, broadcast a performance that augmented the drama with music and sound effects, creating a vivid aural tapestry. The result was a worldwide explosion in what was an instantly popular new art form. Within months there were radio dramas being produced across the USA, as well as in Canada, Ceylon, France, Germany, India, Japan, and the UK.