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Conventional wisdom holds that television was a co-conspirator in the repressions of Cold War America, that it was a facilitator to the blacklist and handmaiden to McCarthyism. But Thomas Doherty argues that, through the influence of television, America actually became a more open and tolerant place. Although many books have been written about this period, Cold War, Cool Medium is the only one to examine it through the lens of television programming.
To the unjaded viewership of Cold War America, the television set was not a harbinger of intellectual degradation and moral decay, but a thrilling new household appliance capable of bringing the wonders of the world directly into the home. The "cool medium" permeated the lives of every American, quickly becoming one of the most powerful cultural forces of the twentieth century. While television has frequently been blamed for spurring the rise of Senator Joseph McCarthy, it was also the national stage upon which America witnessed — and ultimately welcomed — his downfall. In this provocative and nuanced cultural history, Doherty chronicles some of the most fascinating and ideologically charged episodes in television history: the warm-hearted Jewish sitcom The Goldbergs; the subversive threat from I Love Lucy; the sermons of Fulton J. Sheen on Life Is Worth Living; the anticommunist series I Led 3 Lives; the legendary jousts between Edward R. Murrow and Joseph McCarthy on See It Now; and the hypnotic, 188-hour political spectacle that was the Army-McCarthy hearings.
By rerunning the programs, freezing the frames, and reading between the lines, Cold War, Cool Medium paints a picture of Cold War America that belies many black-and-white clichés. Doherty not only details how the blacklist operated within the television industry but also how the shows themselves struggled to defy it, arguing that television was preprogrammed to reinforce the very freedoms that McCarthyism attempted to curtail.
Columbia University Press
— Douglas Gomery
— John Shelton Lawrence
— Brenda Murphy
— Michael C. C. Adams
Doherty succeeds in illuminating both the history of television in the US in the 1950s and television's relationship to the era's anticommunist crusade.... this volume carefully examines the often-overlooked political side of 1950s television. Essential.
— Jennifer Frost, University of Auckland
— Adam Piette
— Michael Curtin
— Megan Mullen
— Vincent Brook
— Christine Becker
I. Video RisingA Television GenealogyRed and Other MenacesMcCarthy: Man, Ism, and TelevisionII. The Gestalt of the BlacklistThe Blacklist BackstoryPressure Groups and Pressure PointsInstitutional PracticesIII. Controversial PersonalitiesThe Goldbergs: the Case of Philip LoebI Love Lucy: the Redhead and the BlacklistIV. Hypersensitivity: The Codes of Television CensorshipFaye Emerson's Breasts, Among other ControversiesAmos 'n' Andy: Blacks in Your Living RoomV. Forums of the AirEgghead SundaysDirect AddressThe Ike-onoscopeVI. Roman Circuses and Spanish Inquisitions"Kefauver Fever": The Kefauver Crime Committee Hearings of 1951HUAC-TVWringing the Neck of Reed Harris: The McCarthy Committee Voice of America Hearings of 1953VII. Country and GodI Led 3 Lives: "Watch Yourself Philbrick!"Religious BroadcastingLife Is Worth Living: Starring Bishop Fulton J. SheenVIII. Edward R. Murrow Slays The Dragon of Joseph McCarthyTV's Number One Glamour BoyMurrow Versus McCarthyThe "Good Tuesday" HomilyTo Be Person-to-Personed"A Humble, Poverty Stricken Negress": Annie Lee Moss Before the McCarthy CommitteeMcCarthy Gets Equal TimeIX. "The Speaktacular": the Army-McCarthy Hearings, April 22-June 17, 1954Backstory and Dramatis PersonaeGavel to Gavel CoverageClimax: "Have You No Sense of Decency?"Denouement: Reviews and Post-MortemsX. Pixies: Homosexuality, Anti-Communism, and TelevisionRed Fades to PinkAiring the Cohn-Schine AffairXI. The End of the BlacklistThe Defenders: The Blacklist on TrialPoint of Order!: The Army-McCarthy Hearings, the MovieXII. Exhuming McCarthyism: the Paranoid Style in American Television
Columbia University Press