The Rise and Fall of McCarthyism

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more of a media essay than a politics one -

The Rise and Fall of McCarthyism:

An explanation of how the Media created

and then destroyed Joseph McCarthy.


The U.S. Senator Joseph Raymond McCarthy, was born in Grand

Chute, Wisconsin, Nov.14, 1908, and died May 2, 1957, (Grolier, 1996) was best known for his attacks on alleged Communist subversion most notably within the administrations of the Presidents Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower. The activities of McCarthy and his followers gave birth to the term McCarthyism. This term is used in reference to 'sensational and highly publicized personal attacks, usually based on unsubstantiated charges, as a means of discrediting people thought to be subversive.'(Grolier, 1996)

McCarthy, before February of 1950, was by no means a distinguished legislator. He held the attention of the United States by arguing that the State Department was 'riddled with card-carrying members of the Communist Party.'(Rovere,1959,p.128)

McCarthy was shrewd in his manipulation of the media, and well recognized for his skills in Public Relations. He used these abilities to take advantage of the growing public frustration with the eastern Communist movement, and moved from one charge to another. McCarthy barraged his opposition with accusations and evaded demands for tangible proof as he developed a loyal following. With the support of many Republicans, he accused the administrations of Roosevelt and Truman with 'twenty years of treason.'(Grolier, 1996)

After his reelection in 1952, McCarthy directed similar accusations at the Eisenhower administration from a new post as head of the Senate's Government Operations Committee and it's permanent investigations subcommittee. Eventually he was discredited by the lack of substance in his claims of Communist penetration in the U.S. army, through the nationally televised Army-McCarthy hearings in 1954. On December 2,1954 the Senate voted to...