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

Cold War, Cool Medium : Television, McCarthyism, and American Culture - 03 edition

ISBN13: 978-0231129527

cover of Cold War, Cool Medium : Television, McCarthyism, and American Culture 03 (ISBN 978-0231129527)
ISBN13: 978-0231129527
ISBN10: 0231129521
Cover type:
Edition/Copyright: 03
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Published: 2003
International: No

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Cold War, Cool Medium : Television, McCarthyism, and American Culture - 03 edition

ISBN13: 978-0231129527

Thomas Doherty

ISBN13: 978-0231129527
ISBN10: 0231129521
Cover type:
Edition/Copyright: 03
Publisher: Columbia University Press

Published: 2003
International: No
Summary

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.

Table of Contents

I. Video Rising

A Television Genealogy
Red and Other Menaces
McCarthy: Man, Ism, and Television

II. The Gestalt of the Blacklist

The Blacklist Backstory
Pressure Groups and Pressure Points
Institutional Practices

III. Controversial Personalities

The Goldbergs: the Case of Philip Loeb
I Love Lucy: the Redhead and the Blacklist

IV. Hypersensitivity: The Codes of Television Censorship

Faye Emerson's Breasts, Among other Controversies
Amos 'n' Andy: Blacks in Your Living Room

V. Forums of the Air

Egghead Sundays
Direct Address
The Ike-onoscope

VI. Roman Circuses and Spanish Inquisitions

"Kefauver Fever": The Kefauver Crime Committee Hearings of 1951
HUAC-TV
Wringing the Neck of Reed Harris: The McCarthy Committee Voice of America Hearings of 1953

VII. Country and God

I Led 3 Lives: "Watch Yourself Philbrick!"
Religious Broadcasting
Life Is Worth Living: Starring Bishop Fulton J. Sheen

VIII. Edward R. Murrow Slays The Dragon of Joseph McCarthy

TV's Number One Glamour Boy
Murrow Versus McCarthy
The "Good Tuesday" Homily
To Be Person-to-Personed
"A Humble, Poverty Stricken Negress": Annie Lee Moss Before the McCarthy Committee
McCarthy Gets Equal Time

IX. "The Speaktacular": the Army-McCarthy Hearings, April 22-June 17, 1954

Backstory and Dramatis Personae
Gavel to Gavel Coverage
Climax: "Have You No Sense of Decency?"
Denouement: Reviews and Post-Mortems

X. Pixies: Homosexuality, Anti-Communism, and Television

Red Fades to Pink
Airing the Cohn-Schine Affair

XI. The End of the Blacklist

The Defenders: The Blacklist on Trial
Point of Order!: The Army-McCarthy Hearings, the Movie

XII. Exhuming McCarthyism: the Paranoid Style in American Television

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