November 18, 2005
WAS ANYONE FALSELY ACCUSED?:
'Romantic Radicals' (Lauren Weiner, 11/17/2005, Tech Central Station)
[Edward R.] Murrow's March 9, 1954 "See It Now" salvo was a pre-emptive strike against "Tail Gunner Joe," who was poised to go after the newsman in retribution for covering him critically on CBS. The threat of imputing Red associations to Murrow was based on his work during the 1930s for a New York-based organization called the Institute of International Education, which promoted exchange visits for foreign scholars, including Soviet scholars.
The name of this institute is bandied about several times by the characters in "Good Night and Good Luck" -- to indicate that McCarthy was digging into Murrow's past -- but there is no mention of the people who ran it. They were Murrow's mentor, Stephen Duggan, and Duggan's son, the late Laurence Duggan. [..]
Edward R. Murrow wasn't a communist. He took umbrage on behalf of both himself and the Duggans -- particularly Laurence, whose death six years earlier was a raw wound for the East Coast establishment of which Murrow was a part. They had lost one of their own when Duggan jumped or fell from the 16th floor of his Manhattan office in 1948 in the midst of the legal and political maelstrom of the Alger Hiss spy case.
Larry Duggan, former chief of the State Department's Latin American division, a charming, smart, and warm-hearted Ivy Leaguer who strived to bring about world peace, had a lot in common with Hiss. Murrow, justifiably angry that America's loudest counter-subversive was trying to intimidate him and sully his friend's memory, did not know that that friend was, like Hiss, a dedicated communist who passed sensitive information to Stalin's agents in the United States. The FBI interviewed Duggan in connection with the Hiss prosecution in December 1948. His shocking death days later at the age of 43 preserved his secret, for the media and his friends and family made him into a martyr -- a liberal destroyed by right-wingers who enjoyed impugning respectable citizens without due process. For decades afterward, those interested in the history of this period generally viewed the Duggan affair in the same way as the literary lion Archibald MacLeish, who wrote a poem upon Duggan's death that began:
"God help that country where informers thrive! Where slander flourishes and lies contrive."
He did. Posted by Orrin Judd at November 18, 2005 1:04 PM