George’ Clooney’s 2005 film ‘Good Night, and Good Luck’, a tribute to the great journalist, Edward R. Morrow, who signed off with those words, should be shown again.

Edward R. Murrow

Edward R. Murrow

Morrow was CBS’s star newsman.  His boss William Paley, did not interfere with editorial decisions, but would “not allow editorial decisions’ to bring down the network.  When Morrow denounced Joseph McCarthy, for conducting a veritable witch hunt against supposed Communists, Paley riled but stood behind him.

Morrow felt compelled to break with the media’s uncritical coverage of Congress’s anti-communist crusade when the Air Force dismissed a pilot on grounds that his immigrant father had subscribed to a foreign newspaper, supposedly making the young man a security risk. His principled stance eventually led to McCarthy’s downfall, and the film closes with a shot of President Eisenhower reminding Americans that “we have habeus corpus’ and no one can take that from us.

A year after Clooney’s film was released, in 2006, President George W. Bush signed into law the Patriot Act, eliminating habeus corpus for those suspected of terrorism – or, in an eery throwback to the airman’s father – of associating with terrorist suspects. Seven years later, the corporate media maintains an obedient, united front against Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden and a growing cohort of whistle-blowers.

In the films’ final take, Morrow maintains that television could be a powerful educational tool, but he was not heard in the big three boardrooms.  CNN came on the scene in 1980 with the desire to do better, but with Ted Turner’s ouster, it became just another spin machine.  Neither the print media nor mainstream telelvision acknowledge the existence of foreign networks such as Al-Jazeera, France 24 or RT, hence most Americans haven’t a clue as to what the rest of the world is thinking, doing or wanting.

Publlc ignorance has led to a situation that even the most astute observers would have deemed impossible just six months ago: Edward Snowden is weighing whether to swap his Moscow asylum for Berlin, or testify remotely about NSA spying on the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel.   The arrow of time, combined with the acceleration of energy within the world system is moving it toward a bifurcation point that signals a change of era.  Notwithstanding Morrow’s fervent wishes, our luck is running out.

Photo from cliff licensed under Creative Commons