What does this exchange reveal about McCarthy's methods and McCarthyism?
At a Senate hearing held on June 9, 1954. Joseph Welch was a lawyer for the U.S. Army who was called to testify before the Senate's Subcommittee on Investigations, which was investigating accusations made by the Army and Senator Joseph McCarthy. The Army accused Roy Cohn, one of McCarthy's associates, of pressuring the Army to give preferential treatment to a former McCarthy aide. McCarthy claimed that the accusation was made in retaliation against his aggressive investigation of suspected Communists in the Army. The hearings received national media attention and were broadcast live on television.
The account that you give shows us two important things about McCarthy’s tactics and McCarthyism.
First, it shows that McCarthy himself was willing to use his power to bully people. He was able to intimidate many people because they feared what the public would think of them if McCarthy denounced them. He was willing to bully Welch in reaction to the charges against McCarthy.
Second, it shows that McCarthyism was built on accusations that lacked evidence to substantiate them. McCarthy was willing to make wild allegations about communist plots without actually proving them to be true. This is what he did against Welch and the army in these hearings.