McCarthyism and the Red Scare Questions and Answers

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Describe the impact of McCarthyism on American political life. How did the anti-Communist campaigns affect the media? What were the sources of Senator Joseph McCarthy's popularity? What brought about his downfall?

The anti-Communist campaigns affected the media by largely cowing them into silence. Journalists didn't want to be tarred with the Communist brush and so tended not to criticize McCarthy. Besides, those working in the media knew that McCarthy was popular among the public, whom they didn't wish to alienate. McCarthy was popular because most Americans hated Communism and wanted to see it challenged. McCarthy's downfall came after he overreached himself by launching investigations into the Army.

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With a few honorable exceptions, such as Ed Murrow and Don Hollenbeck, most people working in the American media didn't exactly cover themselves with much glory during the McCarthyite witch-hunts. For the most part, this was out of fear. McCarthy had already shown the ability to destroy people's careers if there was the slightest suggestion that they were sympathetic to Communism. Most journalists refrained from criticizing McCarthy, as they didn't want to suffer the same fate.

Besides, many of the big media owners were staunch supporters of McCarthy, whom they saw as a redoubtable crusader against the evils of Communism. McCarthy was a hugely popular figure among the American people, and newspaper owners and media companies didn't want to alienate their readers, listeners, and viewers by attacking a politician with such a...

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