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Edward R. Murrow

April 8, 1956: CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow talking to reporters during a stop in Wiesbaden, Germany
Born April 25, 1908(1908-04-25)
Guilford County, North Carolina
Died April 27, 1965 (aged 57)
Pawling, Dutchess County, New York.
Alma mater Washington State University
Occupation Journalist
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Janet Huntington Brewster
Children Charles Casey Murrow

Edward Roscoe Murrow, KBE (born Egbert Roscoe Murrow;[1] April 25, 1908 – April 27, 1965) was an American broadcast journalist. He first came to prominence with a series of radio news broadcasts during World War II, which were followed by millions of listeners in the United States and Canada.

Fellow journalists Eric Sevareid, Ed Bliss and Alex Kendrick considered Murrow one of journalism's greatest figures, noting his honesty and integrity in delivering the news.

A pioneer of television news broadcasting, Murrow produced a series of TV news reports that helped lead to the censure of Senator Joseph McCarthy.


Early life

Murrow was born Egbert Roscoe Murrow near Greensboro, in Guilford County, North Carolina, the son of Roscoe C. Murrow and Ethel F. (née Lamb) Murrow. His parents were Quakers.[2] He was the youngest of three brothers and was a "mixture of English, Scots, Irish and German" descent.[3] His home was a log cabin without electricity or plumbing, on a farm bringing in only a few hundred dollars a year from corn and hay.

When Murrow was six his family moved to Blanchard, Washington, 30 miles from the Canadian border, where they began homesteading. He attended high school in nearby Edison, becoming president of the student body in his senior year and excelling on the debating team. He was on the Skagit County championship basketball team. By that time, the teenage Murrow was going by the nickname "Ed". During his second year of college Murrow changed his name from Egbert to Edward.

In 1926, he enrolled at Washington State College, now Washington State University, in Pullman, Washington, eventually majoring in speech. A member of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity, Murrow was also active in college politics. In 1929, while attending the annual convention of the National Student Federation of America, he gave a speech urging college students to become more interested in national and world affairs; this led to his election as president of the federation. He then moved to New York after graduating in 1930.

He worked as assistant director of the Institute of International Education from 1932 to 1935, serving as the Assistant Secretary of the Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Foreign Scholars, which helped prominent German scholars (mostly Jews) who had been dismissed from academic positions. He married Janet Huntington Brewster on March 12, 1935. Their son, Charles Casey, was born November 6, 1945, in West London.

Career at CBS

Murrow joined CBS as director of talks in 1935 and remained with the network for his entire career. CBS did not have news staff when Murrow joined save for announcer Bob Trout; his job was to line up newsmakers who would appear on the network to talk about the issues of the day. But the one-time Washington State speech major was intrigued by Trout's on air delivery and Trout gave Murrow tips on how to communicate effectively on the radio.

Murrow went to London in 1937 to serve as the director of CBS' European operations. The position did not involve on air reporting; Murrow's job was persuading European figures to broadcast over the CBS network which was in direct competition with NBC's two radio networks. Murrow recruited journalist William L. Shirer to take a similar post on the continent. The two men would become the forefathers of broadcast journalism.


Murrow gained his first glimpse of fame during the March 1938 Anschluss, in which Adolf Hitler engineered the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany. While Murrow was in Poland arranging a broadcast of children's choruses, he got word from Shirer of the annexation — and the fact that Shirer could not get the story out through Austrian state radio facilities. Murrow immediately sent Shirer to London, where he delivered an uncensored, eyewitness account of the Anschluss. Murrow then chartered a plane to fly from Warsaw to Vienna, so he could take over for Shirer.

At the request of CBS New York (most reference books say it was either chief executive William S. Paley or news director Paul White), Murrow and Shirer put together a "European News Roundup" of reaction to the Anschluss, which brought correspondents from various European cities together for a single broadcast. On March 13, 1938 the special was broadcast, hosted by Bob Trout in New York, and including Shirer in London (with Labour MP Ellen Wilkinson), reporter Edgar Ansel Mowrer of the Chicago Daily News in Paris, reporter Pierre J. Huss of the International News Service in Berlin, and Senator Lewis B. Schwellenbach in Washington, D.C. Reporter Frank Gervasi, in Rome, was unable to find a transmitter to broadcast reaction from the Italian capital, but phoned his script to Shirer in London, who read it on the broadcast.

Murrow himself reported live from Vienna, in the first on-the-scene news report of his career: "This is Edward Murrow speaking from Vienna... It's now nearly 2:30 in the morning, and Herr Hitler has not yet arrived."

Murrow, second from left, celebrates the opening of the infamous Tacoma Narrows Bridge (Galloping Gertie) on July 1, 1940.

The broadcast was considered revolutionary at the time. Featuring multi-point, live reports in the days before modern technology (and without each of the parties necessarily being able to hear one another), it came off almost flawlessly. The special became the basis for the World News Roundup — broadcasting's oldest news series, which still runs each weekday morning and evening on the CBS Radio Network.

In September 1938, Murrow and Shirer were regular participants in CBS's coverage of the crisis over the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia, which Hitler coveted for Germany and eventually won in the Munich Agreement. Their incisive reporting heightened the American appetite for radio news, with listeners regularly waiting for Murrow's shortwave broadcasts, introduced by analyst H. V. Kaltenborn in New York saying, "Calling Ed Murrow... come in Ed Murrow."

During the following year, leading up to the outbreak of World War II, Murrow continued to be based in London. William Shirer's reporting from Berlin brought him national acclaim, and a commentator's position with CBS News upon his return to the United States in December 1940. (Shirer would describe his Berlin experiences in his best-selling book, Berlin Diary.) When the war broke out in September 1939, Murrow stayed in London, and later provided live radio broadcasts during the height of the Blitz. Those broadcasts electrified radio audiences as news programming never had before. Previously, war coverage had mostly been provided by newspaper reports, along with newsreels seen in movie theatres; earlier radio news programs had simply featured an announcer in a studio reading wire service reports.

Two famous phrases

Murrow's reports, especially during the Blitz, began with what became his signature opening, "This is London," delivered with his vocal emphasis on the word this, followed by the hint of a pause before the rest of the phrase. His former speech teacher, Ida Lou Anderson, suggested the opening as a more concise alternative to the one he had inherited from his predecessor at CBS Europe, Cesar Saerchinger: "Hello America. This is London calling." Murrow's phrase became synonymous with the newscaster and his network. (The emphatic this would later become a catch phrase for the network — " CBS" — and for imitators, such as James Earl Jones's " CNN" and Ted Koppel's " Nightline.")

Murrow achieved great celebrity status as a result of his war reports. They led to his second famous catch phrase. At the end of 1940, with every night's German bombing raid, Londoners who might not necessarily see each other the next morning often closed their conversations not just with "good night," but with "good night, and good luck." The future British monarch, Princess Elizabeth, said as much to the Western world in a live radio address at the end of the year, when she said "good night, and good luck to you all." So, at the end of one 1940 broadcast, Murrow ended his segment with "Good night, and good luck." Speech teacher Anderson insisted he stick with it, and another Murrow catch phrase was born.

When he returned to the U.S. in 1941, CBS hosted a dinner in his honor on December 2 at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. There were 1100 guests in attendance with millions more listening via radio. Franklin D. Roosevelt sent a welcome-back telegram, which was read at the dinner, and Librarian of Congress Archibald MacLeish gave an encomium which commented on the power and intimacy of his war-time dispatches:

You burned the city of London in our houses and we felt the flames. You laid the dead of London at our doors and we knew that the dead were our dead ... were mankind's dead without rhetoric, without dramatics, without more emotion than needed be. You have destroyed the superstition that what is done beyond 3000 miles of water is not really done at all.

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor occurred less than a week after this speech, and the U.S. entered the war as a combatant on the Allied side.

Murrow flew on Allied bombing raids in Europe during the war, providing additional reports from the planes as they droned on over Europe (recorded for delayed broadcast). Murrow's skill at improvising vivid descriptions of what was going on around or below him, derived in part from his college training in speech, aided the effectiveness of his radio broadcasts.

As hostilities expanded, Murrow expanded the CBS news staff. The result was a group of reporters acclaimed for their intellect and descriptive power, including Eric Sevareid, Charles Collingwood, Howard K. Smith, Mary Marvin Breckinridge, Cecil Brown, Richard C. Hottelet, Bill Downs, Winston Burdett, Charles Shaw, Ned Calmer, and Larry LeSueur. Many of them, Shirer included, were later dubbed "Murrow's Boys" — despite Breckinridge being a woman.

After the war, Murrow recruited journalists such as Alexander Kendrick, David Schoenbrun, Daniel Schorr and Robert Pierpoint into the circle of the Boys, as a virtual "second generation," though the track record of the original wartime crew set it apart. (Schorr remains active in broadcasting as a commentator/analyst for National Public Radio.)

Murrow's report from the liberation of the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany provides an example of his uncompromising style of journalism, something that caused a great deal of controversy and won him a number of critics and enemies. He described the exhausted physical state of the concentration camp prisoners who had survived, mentioned "rows of bodies stacked up like cordwood" and he refused to apologize for the harsh tone of his words:

I pray you to believe what I have said about Buchenwald. I have reported what I saw and heard, but only part of it. For most of it I have no words. If I've offended you by this rather mild account of Buchenwald, I'm not in the least sorry.

—Extract from Murrow's Buchenwald report. April 15, 1945.

Postwar broadcasting career

Edward R. Murrow and Harry S. Truman, This I Believe series, 1951-1955.
Edward R. Murrow and William L. Shirer, early 1950s.


The relationship between Murrow and Shirer ended in 1947 in one of the great confrontations of American broadcast journalism, when Shirer was fired by CBS. He said he resigned in the heat of an interview at the time, but was actually terminated.[4] The dispute began when J.B. Williams, maker of shaving soap, withdrew its sponsorship of Shirer's Sunday news show. CBS, of which Murrow was then vice president for public affairs, decided to "move in a new direction", hired a new host, and let Shirer go. There are different versions of these events; Shirer's was not made public until 1990.

Shirer contended that the root of his troubles was the network and sponsor not standing by him because of his comments critical of the Truman Doctrine, as well as other comments that were considered outside of the mainstream. Shirer and his supporters felt he was being muzzled because of his views. Meanwhile, Murrow, and even some of Murrow's Boys, felt that Shirer was coasting on his high reputation and not working hard enough to bolster his analyses with his own research. Murrow and Shirer never regained their close friendship.

The episode hastened Murrow's desire to give up his network vice presidency and return to newscasting, and foreshadowed his own problems to come with his friend William S. Paley, CBS' boss.

Murrow and Paley had become close when the network chief himself joined the war effort, setting up Allied radio outlets in Italy and North Africa. After the war, he would often go to Paley directly to settle any problems he had. "Ed Murrow was Bill Paley's one genuine friend in CBS", noted Murrow biographer Joseph Persico.

Murrow returned to the air in September 1947, taking over the nightly 7:45pm (ET) newscast sponsored by Campbell's Soup and anchored by his old friend and announcing coach Bob Trout. (Trout left for NBC but returned to CBS in 1952.)

In 1950 Murrow narrated a half-hour radio documentary called "The Case for the Flying Saucers." It offered a balanced look at unidentified flying objects, a subject of widespread interest at the time. Murrow interviewed both Kenneth Arnold (whose 1947 report kickstarted interest in UFOs) and astronomer Dr. Donald Menzel (who argued that UFO reports could be explained as people misidentifying prosaic phenomena). [5]

From 1951 to 1955 Murrow was the host of This I Believe, which offered ordinary people the opportunity to speak for five minutes on radio.

Murrow continued to present daily radio news reports on the CBS Radio Network until 1959. He also recorded a series of narrated "historical albums" for Columbia Records called I Can Hear It Now, which inaugurated his partnership with producer Fred W. Friendly. In 1950, the records evolved into a weekly CBS Radio show, Hear It Now, hosted by Murrow and co-produced by Murrow and Friendly.

Television and films

As the 1950s began, Murrow began his television career by appearing in editorial "tailpieces" on the CBS Evening News and in the coverage of special events. This came despite his own misgivings about the new medium and its emphasis on pictures rather than ideas.

On November 18, 1951, Hear It Now moved to television and was re-christened See It Now. After the pre-title sequence and introduction, viewers saw and heard host Murrow explain with a knowing smile, "This is an old team, trying to learn a new trade".

In 1953, Murrow launched a second weekly TV show, a series of celebrity interviews entitled Person to Person.

Criticism of McCarthyism

See It Now focused on a number of controversial issues in the 1950s, but it is best-remembered as the show that criticized McCarthyism and the Red Scare, contributing if not leading to the political downfall of Senator Joseph McCarthy.

On March 9, 1954, Murrow, Friendly, and their news team produced a half-hour See It Now special entitled "A Report on Senator Joseph McCarthy".[6] Murrow used excerpts from McCarthy's own speeches and proclamations to criticize the senator and point out episodes where he had contradicted himself. Murrow knew full well that he was using the medium of television to attack a single man and expose him to nationwide scrutiny, and he was often quoted as having doubts about the methods he used for the report. Murrow and Friendly paid for their own newspaper advertisement for the program; they were not allowed to use CBS' money for the publicity campaign or even use the CBS logo.

Nevertheless, the broadcast contributed to a nationwide backlash against McCarthy and is seen as a turning point in the history of television. It provoked tens of thousands of letters, telegrams and phone calls to CBS headquarters, running 15 to 1 in favor. In a retrospective produced for Biography, Friendly noted how truck drivers pulled up to Murrow on the street in subsequent days and shouted "Good show, Ed. Good show, Ed."

Murrow offered McCarthy a chance to appear on See It Now to respond to the criticism. McCarthy accepted the invitation and made his appearance three weeks later,[7] but his rebuttal only served to further decrease his already fading popularity.[8]

In the program following McCarthy's appearance, Murrow commented that the senator had "made no reference to any statements of fact that we made" and contested the personal attacks made by "the junior senator from Wisconsin" against himself.[9]

Edward R. Murrow at work with CBS, 1957.

Later television career

Murrow's hard-hitting approach to the news, however, cost him influence in the world of television. See It Now occasionally scored high ratings (usually when it was tackling a particularly controversial subject), but in general it did not score well on prime-time television.

When a quiz show phenomenon began and took TV by storm in the mid-1950s, Murrow realized the days of See It Now as a weekly show were numbered. (Biographer Joseph Persico notes that Murrow, watching an early episode of The $64,000 Question air just before his own See It Now, is said to have turned to Friendly and asked how long they expected to keep their time slot).

See It Now was knocked out of its weekly slot in 1955 after sponsor Alcoa withdrew its advertising, but the show remained as a series of occasional TV special news reports that defined television documentary news coverage. Despite the show's prestige CBS had difficulty finding a regular sponsor, since it aired intermittently in its new time slot [Sunday afternoons at 5:00pm (ET) by the end of 1956] and could not develop a regular audience.

In 1956, Murrow took time to appear as the on-screen narrator of a special prologue for Michael Todd's epic production, Around the World in 80 Days. Although the prologue was generally omitted on telecasts of the film, it was included in home video releases.

Fall from favor

Murrow's reporting brought him into repeated conflicts with CBS, especially its chairman Bill Paley, which Friendly summarized in his book Due to Circumstances Beyond our Control. See It Now ended entirely in the summer of 1958 after a clash in Paley's office. Murrow had complained to Paley he could not continue doing the show if the network repeatedly provided (without consulting Murrow) equal time to subjects who felt wronged by the program.

According to Friendly, Murrow asked Paley if he was going to destroy See It Now, into which the CBS chief executive had invested so much. Paley replied that he did not want a constant stomach ache every time Murrow covered a controversial subject.[10]

See It Now's final broadcast, "Watch on the Ruhr" (covering post-war Germany), aired July 7, 1958. Three months later, on October 15, 1958, in a speech before the Radio and Television News Directors Association in Chicago, Murrow blasted TV's emphasis on entertainment and commercialism at the expense of public interest in his 'wires and lights' speech:

During the daily peak viewing periods, television in the main insulates us from the realities of the world in which we live. If this state of affairs continues, we may alter an advertising slogan to read: Look now, pay later.[11]

The harsh tone of the Chicago speech seriously damaged Murrow's friendship with Paley, who felt Murrow was biting the hand that fed him. Before his death, Friendly said that the RTNDA address did more than the McCarthy show to break the relationship between the CBS boss and his most respected journalist.

Beginning in 1958, Murrow hosted a talk show entitled Small World that brought together political figures for one-to-one debates.

After contributing to the first episode of the documentary series CBS Reports, Murrow took a sabbatical from summer 1959 to mid-1960, though he continued to work on CBS Reports and Small World during this period. Friendly, executive producer of CBS Reports, wanted the network to allow Murrow to again be his co-producer after the sabbatical, but he was eventually turned down.

Murrow's last major TV milestone was reporting and narrating the CBS Reports installment "Harvest of Shame", a report on the plight of migrant farm workers in the United States. Directed by Friendly and produced by David Lowe, it ran in November 1960, just after Thanksgiving.

Murrow portrayed himself in the British film production of Sink the Bismarck! in 1960, recreating some of the wartime broadcasts he did from London for CBS.[12]

Murrow resigned from CBS to accept a position as head of the United States Information Agency, parent of the Voice of America, in January 1961. President John F. Kennedy offered Murrow the position, which he viewed as "a timely gift". CBS president Frank Stanton had reportedly been offered the job but declined, suggesting that Murrow be offered the job.

On September 16, 1962, Murrow introduced educational television to New York City via the maiden broadcast of WNDT, which became WNET.

Summary of television work

  • 1951-58 See It Now (host)
  • 1953-59 Person to Person (host)
  • 1958-60 Small World (moderator and producer)

United States Information Agency (USIA) Director

Murrow, now USIA director, appears in a 1961 Cold War propaganda film.

Murrow's appointment as head of the United States Information Agency was seen as a vote of confidence in the agency, which provided the official views of the government to the public in other nations. The USIA had been under fire during the McCarthy era, and Murrow brought back at least one of McCarthy's targets, Reed Harris.[13] Murrow insisted on a high level of presidential access, telling Kennedy, "If you want me in on the landings, I'd better be there for the takeoffs." However, the early effects of cancer kept him from taking an active role in the Bay of Pigs Invasion planning. He did advise the president during the Cuban Missile Crisis but was ill at the time the president was assassinated. Asked to stay on by President Lyndon B. Johnson, Murrow did so but resigned in early 1964, citing illness.

Murrow's celebrity gave the agency a higher profile which may have helped it earn more funds from Congress. His transfer to a governmental position did lead to an embarrassing incident shortly after taking the job, when he was compelled to ask the BBC not to show "Harvest of Shame," which had been included in a collection of U.S. network television documentaries made available to other countries by the USIA.

According to some biographers, near the end of Murrow's life, when health problems forced him to resign from the USIA, Paley reportedly invited Murrow to return to CBS. Murrow, possibly knowing he could not work, declined Paley's offer.



Murrow was a heavy smoker throughout his life and was rarely seen without his trademark Camel cigarette,[16] smoking around 60 to 65 a day, or roughly three packs. See It Now was the first television program to have a report about the connection between smoking and cancer; Murrow said during the show that "I doubt I could spend a half hour without a cigarette with any comfort or ease". He developed lung cancer and lived for two years after an operation to remove his left lung.

Murrow died at his home on April 27, 1965 two days after his 57th birthday. His colleague and friend Eric Sevareid said of him, "He was a shooting star; and we will live in his afterglow a very long time." CBS carried a memorial program, which included a rare on-camera appearance by Paley.


After Murrow's death, the Edward R. Murrow Center of Public Diplomacy was established at Tufts University's Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Murrow's library and selected artifacts are housed in the Murrow Memorial Reading Room that also serves as a special seminar classroom and meeting room for Fletcher activities. Murrow's papers are available for research at the Digital Collections and Archives at Tufts, which has a website for the collection.

The center awards Murrow fellowships to mid-career professionals who engage in research at Fletcher, ranging from the impact of the "new world information order" debate in the international media during the 1970s and 1980s to, currently, telecommunications policies and regulation. Many distinguished journalists, diplomats, and policymakers have spent time at the center, among them the late David Halberstam, who worked on his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Best and the Brightest, as a writer-in-residence in the early 1970s. Veteran journalist Crocker Snow, Jr. was named director of the Murrow Center in 2005.

In 1971, the RTNDA established the Edward R. Murrow Award, honoring outstanding achievement in the field of electronic journalism. There are four other awards also known as the "Edward R. Murrow Award," including the one at Washington State University.

In 1973, Murrow's alma mater, Washington State University, dedicated its expanded communication facilities the Edward R. Murrow Communications Center and established the annual Edward R. Murrow Symposium.[17] In 1990, the WSU Department of Communications became the Edward R. Murrow School of Communication,[18] followed on July 1, 2008, with the school becoming the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication.[19] Veteran international journalist Lawrence Pintak is the college's founding dean.

In 1974, Saul Bruckner founded Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn, New York.

Murrow in popular culture

  • Good Night, and Good Luck., a 2005 Oscar-nominated film directed and co-written by George Clooney about the conflict between Murrow and Joseph McCarthy on See It Now. Murrow was portrayed by actor David Strathairn, who received an Oscar nomination. In the film, Murrow's conflict with CBS boss Bill Paley occurred immediately after his skirmish with McCarthy.
  • In 1986, HBO broadcast the made-for-cable biographical movie, Murrow, with Daniel J. Travanti in the title role, and Robert Vaughn in a supporting role.
  • Murrow played himself in the 1960 film Sink the Bismarck![12]
  • Keith Olbermann, host of MSNBC's Countdown program, considers Murrow his idol and closes his own show nightly with Murrow's trademark "Good Night and Good Luck." Olbermann has often even quoted Murrow, particularly his remarks on McCarthy.
  • In 1998, the final episode of Murphy Brown had Murphy meeting Edward R. Murrow while visiting Heaven. Computer editing was used to insert footage of the real Murrow into the show. On a number of occasions during the show's 1988-98 run, newscaster Jim Dial refers to Murrow and other news legends, suggesting that they would join him in lamenting the state of current television. Eventually, responding to his question of, "What would Edward R. Murrow say? What would Eric Sevareid say?"
  • On their 2003 album Say You Will, Fleetwood Mac recorded a song called "Murrow Turning Over in His Grave", referring to him as an icon of responsible journalism.
  • Murrow was parodied in the ABC sitcom Dinosaurs as a newscaster, Edward R. Hero.
  • The 1960 cartoon short Person To Bunny, featuring Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Elmer Fudd, is a parody of Murrow's Person to Person TV show. However, "Murrow" (identified as "Cedric R. Burrows") is only seen with his back facing to the audience.
  • In the BBC sitcom Goodnight Sweetheart episode "Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea", Murrow appears as the man who time traveller Gary Sparrow uses to tip off the Americans of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.


  1. ^ Edward R. Murrow
  2. ^ Hattikudur, Mangesh (2008-01-28). "What Richard Nixon and James Dean had in common". Retrieved 2008-01-31.  
  3. ^ "Edward R. Murrow, Broadcaster And Ex-Chief of U.S.I.A., Dies" (obituary). The New York Times. April 28, 1965. Retrieved December 11, 2007.  
  4. ^ William L. Shirer (1990). 20th Century Journey: A Native's Return. Little Brown.  
  5. ^ The documentary is available online.
  6. ^ "Transcript of "A Report on Senator Joseph R. McCarthy"". See It Now. CBS. March 9, 1954. Retrieved November 23 2008.  
  7. ^ "Audio for "Reply to Edward R. Murrow"". See It Now. CBS. April 6, 1954. Retrieved November 23 2008.  
  8. ^ "Edward R. Murrow", American Masters, PBS. Retrieved 03-28-2008.
  9. ^ "Response to Senator Joe McCarthy". See It Now. CBS. April 13, 1954. Retrieved November 23, 2008.  
  10. ^ Smith, Sally Bedell (November 1990). In All His Glory: The Life of William S. Paley : The Legendary Tycoon and His Brilliant Circle. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0671617356.  
  11. ^ "Edward R. Murrow Speech". Radio-Television News Directors Association. October 15, 1958. Retrieved November 23, 2008.  
  12. ^ a b Sink the Bismarck! at the Internet Movie Database
  13. ^ "Reed Harris Dies. Did Battle With Sen. Joseph McCarthy.". New York Times. October 21, 1982. Retrieved 2008-03-22. "Reed Harris, 72, a writer, publisher, and former State Department official who was driven from government for a time after a highly publicized confrontation with the late Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy (R-Wis.), died Oct. 15 at Holy Cross Hospital. He had a heart ailment and Alzheimer's disease."  
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ Robert L. Hilliard, Michael C. Keith (2005). The broadcast century and beyond. Elsevier. ISBN 9780240805702.  , p. 137: "And all the while, as he fought for social justice and understanding, he inhaled the Camel cigarettes that would kill him"
  17. ^ Murrow College History 1973-1980
  18. ^ Murrow College History 1980-1990
  19. ^ Austen Named to Lead Murrow College of Communication, June 30, 2008

External links and references

Exhibits and Monuments

Biographies and articles

  • "Murrow, Edward R." in Current Biography, 1942.
  • "Murrow, Edward R." in American National Biography (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), Vol. 16.
  • Edward R. Murrow and the Birth of Broadcast Journalism, by Bob Edwards (ISBN 0-471-47753-2)
  • Kendrick, Alexander "Prime Time: The Life of Edward R. Murrow" (New York).
  • Sperber, A.M. "Murrow: His Life and Times" (New York:Freundlich Books 1986) reprinted by Fordham University Press
  • Murrow, Edward R. and Ed Bliss, "In Search of Light: The News Broadcasts of Edward R. Murrow" (New York: Alfred A. Knopf)



Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Everyone is a prisoner of his own experiences. No one can eliminate prejudices — just recognize them

Edward Roscoe Murrow (25 April 1908 - 27 April 1965) was an American journalist; born Egbert Roscoe Murrow.



The newest computer can merely compound…the oldest problem in the relations between human beings, and in the end the communicator will be confronted with the old problem, of what to say & how to say it.
  • This... is London.
    • Lead in line to his broadcasts from London, England during World War II
  • Good night, and good luck.
    • Sign off line of his radio and TV broadcasts.
  • If we confuse dissent with disloyalty — if we deny the right of the individual to be wrong, unpopular, eccentric or unorthodox — if we deny the essence of racial equality then hundreds of millions in Asia and Africa who are shopping about for a new allegiance will conclude that we are concerned to defend a myth and our present privileged status. Every act that denies or limits the freedom of the individual in this country costs us the ... confidence of men and women who aspire to that freedom and independence of which we speak and for which our ancestors fought.
    • Ford Fiftieth Anniversary Show, CBS and NBC (June 1953)
  • No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices.
    • CBS television broadcast, on See It Now (7 March 1954)
  • He mobilized the English language and sent it into battle.
  • Everyone is a prisoner of his own experiences. No one can eliminate prejudices — just recognize them.
    • Television broadcast, (31 December 1955)
  • The politician in my country seeks votes, affection and respect, in that order…. With few notable exceptions, they are simply men who want to be loved.
    • Address at London Guildhall (19 October 1959)
  • The politician is … trained in the art of inexactitude. His words tend to be blunt or rounded, because if they have a cutting edge they may later return to wound him.
    • Address at London Guildhall (19 October 1959)
  • Difficulty is the excuse history never accepts.
  • If we were to do the Second Coming of Christ in color for a full hour, there would be a considerable number of stations which would decline to carry it on the grounds that a Western or a quiz show would be more profitable.
    • On receiving the "Family of Man" Award (1964); as quoted by Alexander Kendrick in Prime Time (1969)
  • The newest computer can merely compound, at speed, the oldest problem in the relations between human beings, and in the end the communicator will be confronted with the old problem, of what to say and how to say it.
    • On receiving the "Family of Man" Award (1964)
  • A satellite has no conscience.
    • On receiving the "Family of Man" Award (1964)
  • The speed of communications is wondrous to behold. It is also true that speed can multiply the distribution of information that we know to be untrue.
    • On receiving the "Family of Man" Award (1964)
  • We cannot make good news out of bad practice.
    • Response as director of the U.S. Information Agency to Senate critics who wanted him to ignore racial problems to promote a better public image abroad. As quoted in Life (7 May 1965)
  • Anyone who isn't confused doesn't really understand the situation.
    • As quoted in The Improbable Irish (1969) by Walter Bryan
  • We are in the same tent as the clowns and the freaks — that's show business.
  • The obscure we see eventually. The completely obvious, it seems, takes longer.
    • As quoted in Mad about Physics : Braintwisters, Paradoxes, and Curiosities (2001) by Christopher Jargodzki

Broadcast from Buchenwald (1945)

I have reported what I saw and heard, but only part of it. For most of it I have no words. If I've offended you by this rather mild account of Buchenwald, I'm not in the least sorry.
CBS radio broadcast from Buchenwald (15 April 1945)
  • As I walked down to the end of the barracks, there was applause from the men too weak to get out of bed. It sounded like the hand clapping of babies; they were so weak.
  • We went to the hospital; it was full. The doctor told me that two hundred had died the day before. I asked the cause of death; he shrugged and said, "Tuberculosis, starvation, fatigue, and there are many who have no desire to live."
  • It appeared that most of the men and boys had died of starvation; they had not been executed. But the manner of death seemed unimportant. Murder had been done at Buchenwald. God alone knows how many men and boys have died there during the last twelve years.
  • I pray you to believe what I have said about Buchenwald. I have reported what I saw and heard, but only part of it. For most of it I have no words. If I've offended you by this rather mild account of Buchenwald, I'm not in the least sorry.

This I Believe (1951)

Full transcript and audio recording at This I Believe.
  • This I Believe. By that name, we present the personal philosophies of thoughtful men and women in all walks of life. In this brief space, a banker or a butcher, a painter or a social worker, people of all kinds who need have nothing more in common than integrity, a real honesty, will write about the rules they live by, the things they have found to be the basic values in their lives.
  • We hardly need to be reminded that we are living in an age of confusion — a lot of us have traded in our beliefs for bitterness and cynicism or for a heavy package of despair, or even a quivering portion of hysteria. Opinions can be picked up cheap in the market place while such commodities as courage and fortitude and faith are in alarmingly short supply.
  • There is a mental fear, which provokes others of us to see the images of witches in a neighbor’s yard and stampedes us to burn down this house. And there is a creeping fear of doubt, doubt of what we have been taught, of the validity of so many things we had long since taken for granted to be durable and unchanging. It has become more difficult than ever to distinguish black from white, good from evil, right from wrong.
  • Except for those who think in terms of pious platitudes or dogma or narrow prejudice (and those thoughts we aren’t interested in), people don’t speak their beliefs easily, or publicly.
  • Perhaps we should warn you that there is one thing you won’t read, and that is a pat answer for the problems of life. We don’t pretend to make this a spiritual or psychological patent-medicine chest where one can come and get a pill of wisdom, to be swallowed like an aspirin, to banish the headaches of our times.
  • This reporter’s beliefs are in a state of flux. It would be easier to enumerate the items I do not believe in, than the other way around. And yet in talking to people, in listening to them, I have come to realize that I don’t have a monopoly on the world’s problems. Others have their share, often far bigger than mine. This has helped me to see my own in truer perspective: and in learning how others have faced their problems — this has given me fresh ideas about how to tackle mine.

Speech to his staff (1954)

No one man can terrorize a whole nation unless we are all his accomplices.
Widely quoted comments from a speech to his staff before the broadcast of the See It Now program on Joe McCarthy (9 March 1954); As quoted in "Edward R. Murrow and the Time of His Time" by Joseph Wershba
  • All I can hope to teach my son is to tell the truth and fear no man.
  • No one man can terrorize a whole nation unless we are all his accomplices.
  • If none of us ever read a book that was "dangerous," had a friend who was "different," or joined an organization that advocated "change," we would all be just the kind of people Joe McCarthy wants.
  • The only thing that counts is the right to know, to speak, to think — that, and the sanctity of the courts. Otherwise it's not America.

See It Now (1954)

The historic See it Now broadcast of 9 March 1954 on CBS TV; See also the transcripts of A Report on Senator Joseph R. McCarthy at Wikisource.
  • No one familiar with the history of this country can deny that congressional committees are useful. It is necessary to investigate before legislating, but the line between investigating and persecuting is a very fine one and the junior Senator from Wisconsin has stepped over it repeatedly.
  • We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. 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 our 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 that were, for the moment, unpopular.
    This is no time for men who oppose Senator McCarthy's methods to keep silent, or for those who approve. We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of a republic to abdicate his responsibilities. As a nation we have come into our full inheritance at a tender age. We proclaim ourselves, as indeed we are, the defenders of freedom, wherever it continues to exist in the world, but we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.

    The actions of the junior Senator from Wisconsin have caused alarm and dismay amongst our allies abroad, and given considerable comfort to our enemies. And whose fault is that? Not really his. He didn't create this situation of fear; he merely exploited it — and rather successfully. Cassius was right. "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves."
    Good night, and good luck.

RTNDA Convention Speech (1958)

Speech to the Radio and Television News Directors Association (RTNDA) convention in Chicago (15 October 1958)
  • This just might do nobody any good. At the end of this discourse a few people may accuse this reporter of fouling his own comfortable nest, and your organization may be accused of having given hospitality to heretical and even dangerous thoughts. But the elaborate structure of networks, advertising agencies and sponsors will not be shaken or altered. It is my desire, if not my duty, to try to talk to you journeymen with some candor about what is happening to radio and television.
  • I have no technical advice or counsel to offer those of you who labor in this vineyard that produces words and pictures. You will forgive me for not telling you that instruments with which you work are miraculous, that your responsibility is unprecedented or that your aspirations are frequently frustrated. It is not necessary to remind you that the fact that your voice is amplified to the degree where it reaches from one end of the country to the other does not confer upon you greater wisdom or understanding than you possessed when your voice reached only from one end of the bar to the other. All of these things you know.
    • A variant of part of this statement is often quoted: Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn't mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar.
  • I have no feud, either with my employers, any sponsors, or with the professional critics of radio and television. But I am seized with an abiding fear regarding what these two instruments are doing to our society, our culture and our heritage.
  • Our history will be what we make it. And if there are any historians about fifty or a hundred years from now, and there should be preserved the kinescopes for one week of all three networks, they will there find recorded in black and white, or color, evidence of decadence, escapism and insulation from the realities of the world in which we live.
  • During the daily peak viewing periods, television in the main insulates us from the realities of the world in which we live. If this state of affairs continues, we may alter an advertising slogan to read: LOOK NOW, PAY LATER.
    For surely we shall pay for using this most powerful instrument of communication to insulate the citizenry from the hard and demanding realities which must be faced if we are to survive. I mean the word survive literally.
  • If radio news is to be regarded as a commodity, only acceptable when saleable, then I don't care what you call it — I say it isn't news.
  • One of the basic troubles with radio and television news is that both instruments have grown up as an incompatible combination of show business, advertising and news. Each of the three is a rather bizarre and demanding profession. And when you get all three under one roof, the dust never settles. The top management of the networks with a few notable exceptions, has been trained in advertising, research, sales or show business. But by the nature of the corporate structure, they also make the final and crucial decisions having to do with news and public affairs. Frequently they have neither the time nor the competence to do this.
  • I have said, and I believe, that potentially we have in this country a free enterprise system of radio and television which is superior to any other. But to achieve its promise, it must be both free and enterprising. There is no suggestion here that networks or individual stations should operate as philanthropies. But I can find nothing in the Bill of Rights or in the Communications Act which says that they must increase their net profits each year, lest the Republic collapse.
  • I am frightened by the imbalance, the constant striving to reach the largest possible audience for everything; by the absence of a sustained study of the state of the nation.
  • Do not be deluded into believing that the titular heads of the networks control what appears on their networks. They all have better taste. All are responsible to stockholders, and in my experience all are honorable men. But they must schedule what they can sell in the public market.
  • The sponsor of an hour's television program is not buying merely the six minutes devoted to commercial message. He is determining, within broad limits, the sum total of the impact of the entire hour. If he always, invariably, reaches for the largest possible audience, then this process of insulation, of escape from reality, will continue to be massively financed, and its apologist will continue to make winsome speeches about giving the public what it wants, or "letting the public decide."
  • If we go on as we are, we are protecting the mind of the American public from any real contact with the menacing world that squeezes in upon us. We are engaged in a great experiment to discover whether a free public opinion can devise and direct methods of managing the affairs of the nation. We may fail. But we are handicapping ourselves needlessly.
  • Just once in a while let us exalt the importance of ideas and information.
  • We are currently wealthy, fat, comfortable and complacent. We have currently a built-in allergy to unpleasant or disturbing information. Our mass media reflect this. But unless we get up off our fat surpluses and recognize that television in the main is being used to distract, delude, amuse and insulate us, then television and those who finance it, those who look at it and those who work at it, may see a totally different picture too late.
  • We are to a large extent an imitative society.
  • This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and even it can inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it's nothing but wires and lights in a box. There is a great and perhaps decisive battle to be fought against ignorance, intolerance and indifference. This weapon of television could be useful.
    Stonewall Jackson, who knew something about the use of weapons, is reported to have said, "When war comes, you must draw the sword and throw away the scabbard." The trouble with television is that it is rusting in the scabbard during a battle for survival.
  • ...if what I say is responsible, I alone am responsible for the saying of it...

Quotes about Murrow

  • Last week may be remembered as the week that broadcasting recaptured its soul.
    • Jack Gould, TV critic for The New York Times after Murrow's See It Now broadcast of 9 March 1954.
  • One of those rare legendary figures who was as good as his myth.
    • David Halberstam in The Powers That Be
  • It was astonishing how often his name and work came up. To somebody outside CBS it is probably hard to believe...Time and again I heard someone say, "Ed wouldn't have done it that way."
  • What separated Murrow from the pack was courage.
    • Dan Rather quoted in Anchoring America: The Changing Face of Network News (2003) by Jeff Alan
  • He set standards of excellence that remain unsurpassed.
    • Inscription on a plaque dedicated to Murrow in the lobby of CBS headquarters in New York City.
  • He was a resolute and uncompromising man of truth.
    • CBS Chairman William Paley, in his eulogy of Murrow.

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Simple English

Edward R. "Ed" Murrow (April 25 1908April 27 1965) was an American journalist and television and radio figure. He first became known for a series of radio news broadcasts during World War II. These broadcasts were followed by millions of listeners in the United States and Canada. Many historians think he was one of journalism's greatest figures. Murrow hired the best war correspondents. He was known for his honesty and integrity in delivering the news. He was a pioneer of television news broadcasting.

Murrow produced a series of TV news reports that helped lead to the censure of Senator Joseph McCarthy. This was portrayed in the 2005 movie Good Night, and Good Luck.

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