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Ed Murrow

(1908—1965) radio and television broadcaster


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(1908–1965), radio and television journalist. Born in North Carolina and raised in Washington State, Edward R. Murrow gravitated toward broadcasting without prior newspaper or magazine experience. Employed by the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), he reported from Europe on the advance of Nazism in the 1930s; his resonant and harrowing accounts of the Battle of Britain and other aspects of World War II made him famous. Returning to the United States after the war, Murrow became a vice-president of CBS and its director of public affairs. His shift from radio to television coincided with the intensification of the Cold War, which haunted See It Now, the public-affairs program he produced in partnership with Fred W. Friendly beginning in 1951. When they directly attacked Senator Joseph McCarthy in a See It Now episode broadcast on 9 March 1954, television journalism conveyed liberal revulsion at the Wisconsin Senator's unscrupulous demagoguery, but the ideal of objectivity was weakened. Murrow's delayed but emphatic anti-McCarthyism (and disappointing ratings) may have led CBS to drop television's most-honored weekly public-affairs program four years later, despite his effort to downplay controversy by interviewing celebrities on an entertainment program, Person to Person (1953–1959). Disillusioned with television, Murrow directed the United States Information Agency from 1961 to 1964, when lung cancer forced his retirement. An exemplary professional reputation enabled Murrow to push a temperate liberalism about as far as the mass medium of television would permit; his frustration and disaffection suggested the power of the new medium's commercial and regulatory constraints.

From The Oxford Companion to United States History in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: United States History.


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