When I finally got around to seeing “Good Night and Good Luck,” George Clooney’s attempted apotheosis of Edward R. Murrow–a little late, I’ll admit–I noticed two problems that bothered me throughout the film:
a) The movie assumed that a single member of the Senate (in this case, of course, Joe McCarthy) somehow possesses the power to terrorize a networkd news division (in this case, that of CBS), when of course the actual correlation of power is just the reverse, and
b) Murrow’s dialog, reproduced from the actual transcripts of his broadcasts, proved so purple and ornate–so thoroughly overwritten–that Murrow seemed just as much of a pompous windbag as McCarthy himself.
Now I see that Andy Ferguson, writing over at Bloomberg, has pointed out yet another problem: To anyone who has actually examined his record, Murrow comes across as–well, as just another journalist. An excerpt:
“Early in his career he [Murrow] padded his resume, claiming a degree he didn’t have from an institution he didn’t attend. He offered to pay for interviews from newsmakers, and many of his broadcast interviews were scripted. He and his staff routinely received side payments and perquisites from their broadcast sponsors. During the Korean War he deliberately mischaracterized film footage on the air for dramatic effect. More generally, he shamelessly mixed the values of entertainment and news, foreshadowing the infotainment success of Oprah.”
George Clooney, call your office.