I finally saw the film Good Night and Good Luck last night, and it made me nostaligic for the days of responsible Fourth Estate journalism, the days when a journalist could make a principled stand against demagogery and fascism, and by fearlessly making that stand, actually make a difference.
Edward R. Murrow has always been a hero of mine, and he was my inspiration to study journalism in college. Even though I was a small child in the early 50s, I was raised in a politically liberal family (rural Oklahoma was way different then, let me tell you), and my parents encouraged me to be aware of the world and what was going on in it. They had been fans of Murrow since his WWII broadcasts from London and we always watched him on television, even the excrable Person to Person.
In the famous McCarthy broadcast of See it Now, Murrow said the following:
"We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason if we dig deep in our history and doctrine and remember that we are not descended from fearful men, not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes which were for the moment unpopular. We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of the Republic to abdicate his responsibility."The film resonates with a 21st Century audience because the times in which we live are scarily reminiscent of the "you're either with us or you are with the Communists" days of the early 1950s.
But this time, Helen Thomas aside, we just don't have journalists who feel a responsibility to a higher calling other than being willing whores for the White House puppetmasters. And that bodes ill for the future of the republic.
History has a way of repeating itself, and we are eyewitnesses to what is in many ways a repeat of the collapse of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire. All of us, from the Senate to the House to the Fourth Estate to the average citizen, have abandoned our duties -- our solemn responsibilities -- to keep the Boy King in check and accountable. As Murrow said (quoting from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar) in closing that famous McCarthy broadcast: "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars; it's in ourselves."
We have allowed The Chimperor to become as destructively insane as Caligula, but without all that messy sex.