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Studs discusses McCarthyism with journalist Fred J. Cook

BROADCAST: Jul. 27, 1971 | DURATION: 00:54:59

Synopsis

Studs discusses McCarthyism with investigative journalist Fred J. Cook. The recording opens with an excerpt from a speech by U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy. Cook then reads from his recent book "The Nightmare Decade: The Life and Times of Senator Joe McCarthy" (Random House, 1971). Studs and Cook discuss the history, consequences of Senator McCarthy's relentless pursuit of suspected communists and communist sympathizers in the United States throughout his term in office (1953-1955). They also discuss the possibilities for similar campaigns to emerge during the 1970s.

Transcript

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Joseph McCarthy The average American can do very little insofar as digging Communist espionage agents out of our government is concerned. They must depend upon those of us who might [stand?] down here to man the watchtowers of the nation. The thing that I think we must remember is that this is a war with a brutalitarian force as one to a greater extent than any brutalitarian force has won a war in the history of the world before. And you can talk about communism as though it's something 10,000 miles away. Let me say it's right here with us now, if we, unless we make sure that there is no infiltration of our government then just as certain as you sit there, in the period of our lives, you will see a red world. Anyone who has followed the communist conspiracy, even remotely, and who can add two and two will tell you that there is no remote possibility of this war which we're in today, and it's a war, war which we've been losing, nor a remote possibility of this ending except by victory or by death for this civilization.

Fred J. Cook "It was a time of national paranoia, in which the greatest power on earth expended its energies hunting for Communists under every bed, in which millions of average Americans looked fearfully over their shoulders, wondering whether they would be tapped next to explain themselves before the grand inquisitors. It was a decade of upheaval in the world. Age-old colonial dynasties were crumbling before a new wave of nationalism. Ancient regimes were toppling in revolution. And so it was a period when the experts and government were needed as never before, and it was precisely at this time in America that many of these experts were exiled from government.

Studs Terkel Two voices. The first, a celebrated one some 15 years ago, celebrated in the most nightmarish, horrendous ways. Senator Joe McCarthy, whose voice, whose nuance, whose lifted eyebrow terrified a nation. A cowardly moment. The second voice that of Fred J. Cook, one of the best investigative journalists in the country, reading the first passage from his book, "The Nightmare Decade: The Life and Times of Senator Joe McCarthy," Random House the publishers. In hearing Senator Joe's voice, Fred, I know you spent two years on this -- Mr. Cook by the way is remarkable. He's written a book -- "The FBI Nobody Knows, "The Warfare State," has won national newspaper guild awards, Heywood Broun Awards, for his very gallant and might I say very courageous work and, too little rewarded and recognized. So we come to "The Nightmare Decade," hearing the voice of Joe. These are the Army hearings in '54. The first thoughts come to your mind.

Fred J. Cook Well, the thoughts of this, you know, of this voice, the menace in it in a way, the timbre of the voice itself, I think explains something of the effect that this man had on the, on a whole nation. He made a nation believe what he wanted, what he wanted the nation to believe really.

Studs Terkel But didn't he come though at a certain time, the right time for him. Isn't this the point?

Fred J. Cook Oh, he did, yes. He came at a time when you know, when everything seemed to be going wrong, Studs. After World War II we had thought we could live in peace for a generation or more. Russia seemed to menace Western Europe. Russia suddenly had the atom bomb, which we thought we could keep our own secret for 10 or 15 years, and then China fell to the Communists, and it seemed that everything was going apart in the world, everything was going wrong, and many people who thought that this great powerful nation could not possibly suffer these defeats unless there was some explanation, unless we've been sold out. We've been betrayed. We have been sold down the river by subversives in our midst.

Studs Terkel Somebody had sold out China. It's ironic that this conversation taking place now as President Nixon is about to visit Peking and of course we think of the 25 years exposed by the Pentagon Papers. McCarthy used something of his way, 20 years of treason, meaning the FDR years.

Fred J. Cook That's right. He called the [junta? hunter?] Truman and Roosevelt administrations 20 years of treason, and even capped that at one point by saying that every member of the Democratic party bears with him the stain of a historic betrayal. I mean, this is, we were all traitors if we were Democrats.

Studs Terkel But Fred, don't we have to go deeper into this? How come McCarthy did it. Don't we have to go into the death of Roosevelt and the beginning of the Truman administration

Fred J. Cook -- I think

Studs Terkel As the PENTAGON, your, particularly your book is connected with the Pentagon Papers directly.

Fred J. Cook Studs, I think you have to go back beyond that. As a newspaperman, a young newspaperman, I remember very vividly the reaction in 19-- after the election in 1936, when Roosevelt carried every state in the nation except Maine and Vermont, and the very wealthy industrialists, the powers of the old order, the shock to them I think was incredible. It's hard to visualize. Immediately after this they began a great propaganda campaign to try to tar the Roosevelt administration with the red dye of Moscow. It was a campaign against what they call foreignisms, which was a catchword of that day. And this went on, it went on unceasingly. Millions of dollars were poured into this campaign. Some of the wealthiest people in America backed this kind of propaganda, and it went on through the entire period of World War II. Until finally, in the aftermath of the war while Roosevelt lived, little of it caught on. He had a matchless gift of ridiculing his opponents, making him look like pygmies, telling a joke about his little dog Fala, as if this was the only thing that they could criticize him for, you know, and so they could get nowhere while he lived. But after he died, and in the disillusion of the post-war era, then the fires began to catch, and the climate was built for McCarthy.

Studs Terkel I think we should point out the Truman administration played a role itself in the building of McCarthyism.

Fred J. Cook Yes. You see, the elections in 1946 were really pivotal elections. They were the election in which Richard Nixon ran the pink sheet campaign in California against Jerry Vorhees to elect -- and was elected to Congress. Karl Mundt was elected. There were some very strong right-wing people who were elected named in this election, and the cry of communism in government was being constantly raised. So in 1947 Truman instituted a loyalty program in which his purpose was to try and show that he was more vigorous than anybody else in chasing communism.

Studs Terkel This is the attorney general subversive list, and this include -- I don't know how many organizations that

Fred J. Cook Oh, anybody, any organization that the attorney general in his infinite wisdom decided was not was not entirely patriotic or was subversive in some way went on the list. And there was no legal recourse to this. There was no arguing with this order.

Studs Terkel In your book, Fred J. Cook my guest, and the book is "The Nightmare Decade," the story of Joe McCarthy, Random House published this. In your book you point out a very interesting conversations between President Truman and the then the FCC commissioner who was appointed by Roosevelt, a man I know, Clifford J. Durr, one of the few who stood up to McCarthy, and he says you're playing his game and it's not going -- see, Truman's excuse was it would stop Parnell Thomas, head of HUAC at the time.

Fred J. Cook That's right.

Studs Terkel And Durr's reply was

Fred J. Cook Durr went to the White House and saw as he wrote in a letter to me, he went to the White House and he saw Truman, he protested against this because he said, "Look, you're opening the door to all kinds of things here," and Truman said, "Well, if it gets out of hand at all, I'll stop it. But I just don't want -- I want to take it -- the play away from the opposition" in words. But as Durr wrote to me, he said after the -- of course after the 1948 election in which the cry was being so constantly raised and which he, it was raised to a new level, then there was no turning back. It just went on and on,

Studs Terkel Then you make McCarthy respectable. That's the very point.

Fred J. Cook That's right.

Studs Terkel Then you're in his ballpark.

Fred J. Cook You're right in his ballpark.

Studs Terkel You play

Fred J. Cook You see, as soon as you, as soon as you take the other guy's ammunition and you try to, you try to, you try to out-gun him with his own broadside, you're destroying yourself. You're admitting that there's some basis in what he's saying, you know, in essence this is what you're doing.

Studs Terkel It seems to me that your book, "The Nightmare Decade" is so directly connected with Pentagon Papers. It's remarkable, but it's direct connection.

Fred J. Cook Yes.

Studs Terkel At the loss of China, as though -- Owen Lattimore, who if anybody knew China it was Owen Lattimore, who was considered one of the number one spies for Joe McCarthy, we'll would come to that in a moment. But we listened to Lattimore. [Unintelligible] Isn't that the

Fred J. Cook Yeah. You know, Studs, when the Pentagon Papers came out, the question was raised, well how could our leaders have been so wrong, how could they have -- but another, the -- I think Carey McWilliams of "The Nation" answered this very well in a recent editorial in which he said, "How could they have done anything else?" They had created a climate in this country in which facts did not matter, in which experience and knowledge did not matter, in which the only thing that mattered was how strongly anti-communist you were, so we were boxed into a situation in which you dare don't go and only one direction.

Studs Terkel I think there's something that Fred Cook, you point out in your book that's terribly important. Just to pinpoint McCarthy as the villainous old villain is of no meaning whatsoever.

Fred J. Cook No.

Studs Terkel And you, you quote R.H.S. Crossman, the British journalist who became an M.P. I believe in 1954, and this is Mr. Crossman writing of America at the time: "It is only the joiners and opinion framers who supported the New Deal, Republican Spain and the Russian alliance that get it in the neck, when the Americanism of yesterday becomes the treason of today. Those who suffer are the civil servants, journalists, radio and television commentators, and trade union officials in exposed positions. And for them it was the Hiss case, not the activities of Joe McCarthy, which are the real disaster. Hundreds of thousands of American liberals felt themselves on trial along with Hiss, and all of them apart from the few who still believe [his? he's?] innocent share a sense of guilt now that he's been proved guilty, which inhibits not only free discussion, but free thought as well. This sense of guilt may partly explain the eagerness with which so many have jumped on the anti-communist bandwagon. Since they're no longer certain that their previous views were right, why not seek safety in conformism?" And then Crossman points out that leading liberal Democrats adopted the tactic of trying to outdo McCarthy, that Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey upstaged McCarthy introducing a bill -- we should point this out -- to outlaw the Communist Party, and that Sen. Paul H. Douglas, the Illinois Democrat who had fought so many valiant battles on behalf of the common man had given the measure of his fullest support to McCarthyism in a sense. Crossman interviewed Douglas, and here is the remarkable comment by the grey eminence of Illinois liberalism, quoting Douglas. Quoting Crossman: "When I asked Douglas about this measure, he replied very fiercely that the Republican Party does not really want to destroy the Communist Party. 'They keep it in existence,' he said 'And used it to smear Democrats like myself. We liberals must destroy the Communists if this dirty game is to stop.' And asks Crossmen, "Is it unfair to suggest that his attitude is not unlike that of the Germans in the late '20s who tolerated Jew-baiting order to preserve the Weimar Republic?"

Fred J. Cook Yeah. This is the point, Studs. And you know you come into the McCarthy era. After he spoke at Wheeling after he took the floor of the Senate on February 20th, 1950

Studs Terkel -- Suppose you give us the historical basis. Wheeling, West Virginia.

Fred J. Cook Wheeling, West Virginia, February 9th, 1950. Joe McCarthy was a little-known junior senator from Wisconsin. He had a very poor record in his first term in office, which was almo-- which was going to be over in two years. He'd become known as the lobbyist boy in Washington, the water boy of the real estate lobby, the boy from Pepsi-Cola.

Studs Terkel They called him the Pepsi-Cola kid,

Fred J. Cook The Pepsi Cola kid.

Studs Terkel You point out also his war record was a phony

Fred J. Cook His war record was not -- you know, he was in the war, but his war wound was not a war wound, it was -- occurred in an accident on shipboard. And so he needed an issue if he was going to be reelected in 1952, and in a conference in Washington, a dinner with some friends they latched on to communism, he said, "That's it." So he went off to Wheeling, West Virginia and he made this speech in which he said, "I hold here in my hand the names of 205 communists who are still active in making policy in the State Department." Well, this was a shocking figure and it was so specific, you see, 205 communists who are still active in making policy in the State Department. That seemed incredible that a senator of the United States would make it if he did not actually have in his hand. You know, 205 names. Of course McCarthy had nothing of the kind as became apparent, he didn't have any 205 names, he didn't have any list of names.

Studs Terkel Of course, your book becomes -- it's revelatory but horrifying. This issue right here, when he was in Wheeling with 205 and later on he said 57.

Fred J. Cook No, a couple of days later changed to 57, then he changed to 81.

Studs Terkel A horrible part is, nobody said, "You are an unmitigated liar and scoundrel." NO ONE said it! By this time, the anti-communist fears and psychosis overwhelming.

Fred J. Cook Studs, one of the most revealing things to me was the scene in the floor of the Senate on February 20th, 1950, when after the Wheeling speech. Now, the Democrats had had time, they'd had over 11 days in which to bring themselves abreast of what he had said. And he took the floor, and he said that he had 81 names. Well, he was all, he fumbled up his papers. He apparently had never really read what he had before he repeated some cases, some cases he said specifically were not communist cases. It was the most disorganized, you know, diatribe that was ever put on, but not a Democrat except the late Senator Brien McMahon of Connecticut really challenged him. McMahon challenged him on a real point, he said, "Look. I have, I was in the Justice Department. I read these records of informers and so forth, and it's perfectly easy to get the greatest garbage against an individual and then when you check it out, there's nothing to it. Isn't this possible that this is what you've got, you see?" But no one else. No one else really challenged him. Sit there in silence.

Studs Terkel You can turn to almost any page of Mr. Cook's book and you're just overwhelmed with shame of course. We'll come to the present moment too, toward the end of it now, whether it can be a recurrence of McCarthyism, but throughout he was -- in the early days in Wisconsin his buddies in the Army was considered something of a buffoon, didn't take him seriously. But on the psyche of a land of such, a buffoon becomes the mentor of our culture than the arbiter of our morality then.

Fred J. Cook Yes, Studs, unfortunately providing that buffoon has behind him the pressures of powerful money and powerful newspaper publicity, both of which McCarthy had. And with this kind of public relations gimmicks, you can you can you can you can change a buffoon into a statesman almost overnight.

Studs Terkel See, what's remarkable about your book is in the very beginning when you go into early days of McCarthy as being elected judge and as judge running for senator, which he could not do legally but did, you point he was able to play upon the cowardice of others, blackmail continuously, but even in his local campaigns, Wisconsin campaigns, and then and then later he was able to do this. This is the point, was

Fred J. Cook Yes, it is. The point -- well, I think I've made the point that we Americans like to think we're a great nation of stand-up guys, the courageous people. But when you when we start -- when you come up against a thing like this, we find all of a sudden that there are very few people who are willing to stand up, and I think Joe Rauh made that point, the Washington attorney who handled a lot of the loyalty cases of this period. He said, you know, you -- he said, "People tell me that the Germans were terrible for not having stood up to Hitler," and he said, "I find that very few people stood up to McCarthy when McCarthy could do a lot -- couldn't begin to do to them what Hitler could do to the Germans, but few people here stood up."

Studs Terkel Ed Murrow of course was

Fred J. Cook Ed Murrow was terrific.

Studs Terkel Was the exception among commentators and you say McMahon among senators, though I noticed later on after the army hearings there, a 54 to one vote to renew funds for McCarthy, only one dissenting vote.

Fred J. Cook Only one man stood up, and that was Senator Fulbright.

Studs Terkel It was Fulbright.

Fred J. Cook And this was in '54, you know, after the -- after he had done so much damage.

Studs Terkel But going back to the early days of McCarthy, and again this connected with our feeling of fear of the moment, the fear of that that menace, he's running for judge, and one of his opponents was a divorced guy, and McCarthy goes to him and says in this voice quite sincere, he says, "Divorced men make poor male candidates." Sorry he would have to heat of the campaign to bring up the details that matter, to have it spread over press and radio. He wouldn't want to do it, really. And of course the guy withdrew.

Fred J. Cook Sure.

Studs Terkel This is the basis

Fred J. Cook This is the basis of so much.

Studs Terkel And yet we have to come to our country and that time. The opposition to McCarthy was on the defense now.

Fred J. Cook Completely on the defense throughout the period.

Studs Terkel And so instead of challenging him and calling him a liar, there's no wait a minute, let's -- and they backtracked. And here you have a speech. This is before Truman appointed Senator McGrath as his attorney general, and McGrath loved this speech in 1949. Perhaps you should read this, by the president, the new president of Georgetown University.

Fred J. Cook Yes. This is a speech that you know, you know, if you believe in the Bill of Rights and you believe in the what do I call the American system, then the thing like this horrifies you. He said, "It is not surprising to note that states have found it necessary to control opinion exactly as they found it necessary to control economics. The state's thinking in this matter is much sounder than that not of the resentful individual whose opinion is controlled. Despite the dramatic but pure old dictum of Helvicius, that there is nothing essentially sacred about an opinion. In fact, in the field of religion, where God has been merciful enough to reveal the truth to mankind, opinion can be blasphemous. At best, opinions are blind groupings for the truth. At worst, they are stubborn, stubborn vaporings of ignorance. Actually, an opinion is grounded on nothing but the limited experience and personal interests of the individual. It is not supported by universal eternal immutable law as is truth. The state's opinion then, is just as good, just as sacred, and just as accurate as the individual citizen's opinion or the majority opinion of all citizens. With man's normal aspirations reduced by university training from a thirst for truth to the spawning of opinion, there is every reason to expect that the state for its own preservation will be forced to establish an opinion control bureau. There are definite forewarnings of such a necessity."

Studs Terkel That's pretty terrifying

Fred J. Cook You know, Studs, this is, I mean, good Lord, I think the framers of the Constitution would have to be whirling in their graves that a man

Studs Terkel This particular comment, though, was inserted in the Congressional Record by Senator Howard McGrath, who liked it.

Fred J. Cook Who liked it, he approved

Studs Terkel And that's when Truman appointed him Attorney

Fred J. Cook Truman appointed him Attorney General.

Studs Terkel To show that he could what, out-McCarthy McCarthy.

Fred J. Cook Yes.

Studs Terkel So obviously McCarthy could not have got as far as he did alone.

Fred J. Cook No.

Studs Terkel This is the point, isn't it?

Fred J. Cook The point is that he was, that the -- McCarthy, a junior senator from a little state like Wisconsin, state of little political clout, could not have done this unless he had powerful support across the spectrum of American establishment and American politics.

Studs Terkel And the irony is, McCarthy as a senator, I'm thinking of him as the lobbyist, the boy, the errand boy for Lustrun, you mentioned Allied Molasses, or the sugar lobby, and [Toby?] was furious with him, and his speculation, and no one challenged him, they were afraid because he could use the other technique.

Fred J. Cook You see, they -- all of this was on the record. And yet no one, no one took it up, and no one -- not on either on the Senate floor or even in political speeches they didn't attack today, they didn't attack him on these things.

Studs Terkel And come to his sources, as he held up those papers is of course a celebrated phrase, "I have in my hand."

Fred J. Cook "I have in my hand," he used that time and time again.

Studs Terkel "I have in my hand." By the way, that's a phrase it's -- just a moment ago you read that speech of that president of Georgetown University in '49, not to remove him -- General Maxwell Taylor saying as certain as we know, the public need not know.

Fred J. Cook That's right.

Studs Terkel And "I have in my hand" recently an Illinois senator used the same phrase, says "Welfare clients who do not merit welfare," he has in his hand the names of thousands of these clients. So you're really writing about now as well as then, aren't you?

Fred J. Cook I am, Studs, I think the same thing is there. You know one of the things in the Vietnam War that so infuriated me was Nelson Rockefeller for example, who was supposed to be a liberal.

Studs Terkel Was he?

Fred J. Cook Well, he was supposed to be. He was saying, "Well, I don't know about [it?]," they tried to get him to comment on the Vietnam War. "Well, I don't know about this, only the president can know, only he has the information." This isn't what our country was founded on.

Studs Terkel I'm thinking of the people who challenged him in the very early days, there was a woman, by woman's lib would like this, one of the earliest was Judge Dorothy Kenyon, who called Joe McCarthy "An unmitigated liar, a coward," and she devastated him when he accused her of being subversive. She destroyed him. You would you would think this elderly woman then would have had some support.

Fred J. Cook No, nothing. The significance of the Dorothy Kenyon thing was that he was before the Tydings Committee, he was supposed to support his charges of 81 communists of which he'd come down to now in the government. Now you'd think that the first name he brought out, the prime case would be a strong case. And who does he name? He names Dorothy Kenyon, who was a city magistrate in New York, who had never had any close connection with the State Department at all. She served on a United Nations Commission for the welfare of women or something like this, which is not a policy-making thing of any kind, and he denounced her. Well, she charged down to Washington, and she was a very gutsy lady, and she took the stand and Joe conveniently was not there. I mean

Studs Terkel He wasn't there when she

Fred J. Cook Oh, no, he didn't show when she when she came and denounced him, and she put her record on the line. And there was no answer to this. The Republicans on the committee themselves admitted after they had heard her

Studs Terkel Then comes the horrendous. We think of Senator Robert Taft as a man of ethics, indeed he relatively speaking ethical, yet he said to McCarthy, what's the phrase he used?

Fred J. Cook "If one case doesn't work, try another."

Studs Terkel And that was it.

Fred J. Cook That was it. And so if one case didn't work, you tried another. You went to something else. The Dorothy Kenyon thing didn't work, so you accuse someone else, and it went on this way, and McCarthy had a genius of always topping the story that folded with a more sensational headline, you know?

Studs Terkel Even though he was the bully boy, it's the respectables who used him.

Fred J. Cook That's right. Exactly. Exactly. Studs, one thing I've said here and which I don't think you'll find anywhere else, is the fact that he was not alone when he went to Wheeling in February 9th, 1915 [sic - 1950] peddling this line. Guy Gabrielsen, who was then chairman of, the national chairman of the Republican Party, made a similar speech in West Virginia on the same Lincoln Day tour. The national -- the Republican National Committeeman from West Virginia made another speech in Charleston, West Virginia on the same lines. The only difference between these people and McCarthy was that McCarthy was the only one who had the nerve to stand up and say, "I have here in my hand a list of 205 names."

Studs Terkel Before we go to the most celebrated of all the cases, and this concerns us today and China and the Pentagon Papers, the case of Owen Lattimore, using that as one case though of many but that's the most celebrated. We think of Hyannis Port, Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, the home where the young Kennedys would meet, where Camelot came into being, it was Hyannis Port where Joe McCarthy visited Joe Kennedy

Fred J. Cook Yes. Yes. And Joe Kennedy admired McCarthy immensely and poured a lot of money into his early campaign against communism. Thought that Joe was really going to go places. Poured money into his re-election campaign in Wisconsin in 1952, and after McCarthy's death, Joe Kennedy, whenever he was mentioned, Joe would have tears in his eyes that he thought of his dear friend and what had happened to him.

Studs Terkel Well, I think just to the record straight, you know, as this applies to some extent to Jack Kennedy and to Bobby Kennedy,

Fred J. Cook Well, Bobby Kennedy too always seemed to feel more sympathy for Joe than he did for the victims of Joe. I mean, this I think is very clear in what Bobby said about him.

Studs Terkel The patriarch of Kennedy clan, this is when who came to visit them? Someone came to visit -- Gardner Jackson.

Fred J. Cook Gardner Jackson, yeah.

Studs Terkel Gardner Jackson as a Washington employee came to visit Joe Kennedy Hyannis Port with dope about McCarthy not being that great a guy, and stormed Joe Kennedy, "You're trying to ruin Jack."

Fred J. Cook This was in the congressional campaign when Jack was running for Congress. And Gardner wanted him to take a stand. He said, "Look, you know, you want liberal you want liberal support and union support, but now take a stand on this," and Joe Kennedy blew

Studs Terkel "You and your sheeny friends trying to ruin my son's career." It's like, shall we say a slight touch of anti-Semitism here.

Fred J. Cook Slightly,

Studs Terkel And so we come to Bobby as the attorney for McCarthy committee during the hearings, and when McCarthy died this is Bobby's tribute, why he got so involved in all the publicity, talking about Joe McCarthy. The number one thing in his life is on a toboggan, was so exciting and exhilarating as it went downhill. It didn't matter if he hit the tree at the bottom. I felt sorry for him, particularly the last year of his life when he was such a beaten, destroyed person. I liked him, yet at times terribly heavy-handed." It's a most unusual use of phrase. He's very thoughtful as a friend, yet could be cruel to others. And as you point out, Bobby showed few signs of equal compassion for the victims.

Fred J. Cook No, he didn't. He, his sympathy was all with McCarthy,

Studs Terkel I suppose in fairness your own observations now, there were, were there changes taking place? This is a question continuously asked in the two young Kennedys.

Fred J. Cook Well, yes, Studs. I think that the remarkable thing about the Kennedys is the tremendous capacity they showed to change and to grow. For instance, you take Jack Kennedy's presidency. I thought the first year was a disaster. And I thought the third year before he was assassinated showed great signs of his advancement of his being a great president in the end. I think the handling of the missile crisis in November 1962, if it hadn't been handled the way he and Bobby handled it, we probably wouldn't be sitting here today.

Studs Terkel And yet wasn't the missile crisis political rather than military?

Fred J. Cook It was, yes, but it was probably military too. And if he had followed the advice of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and charged in and blown everything in Cuba apart, Lord knows what would have happened.

Studs Terkel 'Cause the big thing is, would there have been, that's the question of course. We know the Pentagon Papers indicate that there was a role here, not too good one, played by the Kennedys. So we have to, we have to come, don't we, not a question of heroes now or archetypal villains. Not that at all. It's a question now, isn't it, of the psyche of a land, what can happen to a people when hysteria takes over. It's a study of hysteria really, isn't it?

Fred J. Cook It is. And you know, Studs, one of the things to me, I got a little footnote in the book. One of the remarkable things to me was the role of the Hearst newspapers in this thing. You know, they supported McCarthy, they masterminded some of his moves throughout this period, and then 20 years later looking back, the Washington bureau of the Hearst papers ran a story written by the chief of the Washington staff, with the help of his staff, in which they looked back with horror upon this whole episode and said that it must never happen again, that McCarthy was a demagogue who had forced an entire nation into panic and hysteria by looking for communists under every rock. And they quoted William Rogers as, Secretary of State William Rogers, as saying that the State Department was just now recovering from the damage that he had done it 20 years before.

Studs Terkel I want to come to that very point, the irony, the incredible irony of now and then and the role of the press too at the time and the case of Owen Lattimore and China and now in a moment. We'll pause for a moment. Fred J. Cook is my guest, his book is "The Nightmare Decade: The Life and Times of Senator Joe McCarthy," Random House the publishers and it's, to me this is absolutely must reading if we're to know anything about our country, how we think and how we fear and perhaps how we can recover, too. In a moment we'll continue. [pause in recording] So we pick up the conversation -- conversation. Conversation. I haven't had any booze yet, but I'm drunk with reading your book. Fred J. Cook, it's "The Nightmare Decade: The Life and Times of Joe McCarthy." Some generation ago, and yet is it a generation ago? And so we come to the newspapers, the time today. We see happily "The New York Times" and "The Washington Post" and "The Boston Globe" and "The Los Angeles Times" and perhaps Chicago papers, perhaps taking a stand. What was the position at the time when McCarthy was in [flower? power?]?

Fred J. Cook The decision at the time when McCarthy was in power, Studs, was -- well, I can only describe it as tape recorder reporting. He was a senator, whatever he said made a headline. There was no tendency to look beyond the -- behind the headlines, there was no tendency in the press to analyze this man, to explain what he was. He went on for about almost two years before any of the media began to really take a look at him, and "The Progressive" out in Wisconsin, his home state, did a real take-out piece on him. "Time" wrote an unflattering piece about him. Then gradually a few of the newspapers began to examine this, but for so long, for so desperately and tragically long until the damage was done really and this myth of the of the man had been created, there was nothing except what I call tape recorder reporting.

Studs Terkel This is interesting. Tape recorder and [something?], and that's called objective reporting.

Fred J. Cook Yes, that's objective, you see, where I get criticized for is they say, "Well, Cook isn't objective enough. He -- you know, he --" Well, how can you, you know, I try to get my facts straight and I try to make them accurate. But the facts tell a message, and I think it's a job of a writer to tell the message, too.

Studs Terkel This a point -- this set of Fred J. Cook, of Nicholas von Hoffman, of reporters of this sort whom I happen to admire, whom I call advocate journalists, because everyone has a point of view no matter who or what he says. You were a police reporter for many years, by the way, Fred Cook won the Heywood Broun Award for tremendous series in New York. And as police -- most police reporters used to get the stuff from the police blotters, didn't they?

Fred J. Cook That's right.

Studs Terkel That's objective reporting.

Fred J. Cook That's objective reporting, because there it is, you can pick it up, and that's it. But to me the job of a journalist is to dig into the roots of things if possible, and then to find it, follow that trail of truth as far as you can follow it, and then when you find it, present it as hard as you

Studs Terkel So we come to McCarthy's most, perhaps the most glorious moment, in quotes. And that's the case of Owen J. Lattimore. Suppose you begin, and talk about that. That concerns now us in China at this moment.

Fred J. Cook It does concern us in China very much. Let's preface it this way, Studs, the Far Eastern bureau of the State Department at this time, before the McCarthy era was adjudged by most governments, not just on our own, but other governments around the world, to be one of the most expert bureaus that existed. Many of these people, and Owen Lattimore was one, were sons of missionaries or businessmen in China. They'd been born in China. They had, knew the language, they knew the people, and their knowledge of China and Southeast Asia was invaluable. One of the amazing things to me, I went back and read one of the books that Lattimore wrote at this time, I think it was in 1949 it was published, in which he said, right at the beginning, "All Asia is in revolt. And this is something that we are not going to be able to fight with conventional weapons, because these are people who live off the land who can, who can fight in their own way." You know, a perfect description of what happened in Vietnam over 20

Studs Terkel Here's Owen Lattimore calling the shot 20

Fred J. Cook Calling the shot way ahead of time, you see. All right, now we get into the Tydings hearings in which McCarthy has to put up or shut up, and he brings in various names and he's not really getting anywhere with them. Like Dorothy Kenyon case, it collapsed, but he begins to whisper mysteriously off, away from the hearing room, off record that he has -- that's he's going to name the Number One Soviet spy in America. He's very cozy about it at first, he's not -- he won't give the name, you know. But of course as soon as you begin to whisper this, the newspapermen "What is the name, Joe? Give us the name." So finally in confidence of course, he confides that the Number One Soviet spy is Owen Lattimore. Well, once you confide this to a room of newspapermen, even though it's off the record and in confidence, you know somebody is going to find a way of using it. So they go around and make an in play, and they suggest that the man that McCarthy is describing, his career fits what is known about the career of Professor Owen Lattimore, you see. Eric Sevareid gets on CBS News and uses this rather cozy approach among other things, so Lattimore's name suddenly gets into the paper by hook or by crook as a number one Soviet spy in America, and then McCarthy now is riding the crest of new headlines, the fact that his previous charges have been discounted makes no difference, because he now has a number one Soviet spy that he's trading on. Well, Lattimore was not a man to take this lying down as so many did. This law professor charged back full of fire and brimstone, and he tangled with McCarthy, you know

Studs Terkel

Fred J. Cook The average American can do very little insofar as digging Communist espionage agents out of our government is concerned. They must depend upon those of us who might [stand?] down here to man the watchtowers of the nation. The thing that I think we must remember is that this is a war with a brutalitarian force as one to a greater extent than any brutalitarian force has won a war in the history of the world before. And you can talk about communism as though it's something 10,000 miles away. Let me say it's right here with us now, if we, unless we make sure that there is no infiltration of our government then just as certain as you sit there, in the period of our lives, you will see a red world. Anyone who has followed the communist conspiracy, even remotely, and who can add two and two will tell you that there is no remote possibility of this war which we're in today, and it's a war, war which we've been losing, nor a remote possibility of this ending except by victory or by death for this civilization. "It was a time of national paranoia, in which the greatest power on earth expended its energies hunting for Communists under every bed, in which millions of average Americans looked fearfully over their shoulders, wondering whether they would be tapped next to explain themselves before the grand inquisitors. It was a decade of upheaval in the world. Age-old colonial dynasties were crumbling before a new wave of nationalism. Ancient regimes were toppling in revolution. And so it was a period when the experts and government were needed as never before, and it was precisely at this time in America that many of these experts were exiled from government. Two voices. The first, a celebrated one some 15 years ago, celebrated in the most nightmarish, horrendous ways. Senator Joe McCarthy, whose voice, whose nuance, whose lifted eyebrow terrified a nation. A cowardly moment. The second voice that of Fred J. Cook, one of the best investigative journalists in the country, reading the first passage from his book, "The Nightmare Decade: The Life and Times of Senator Joe McCarthy," Random House the publishers. In hearing Senator Joe's voice, Fred, I know you spent two years on this -- Mr. Cook by the way is remarkable. He's written a book -- "The FBI Nobody Knows, "The Warfare State," has won national newspaper guild awards, Heywood Broun Awards, for his very gallant and might I say very courageous work and, too little rewarded and recognized. So we come to "The Nightmare Decade," hearing the voice of Joe. These are the Army hearings in '54. The first thoughts come to your mind. Well, the thoughts of this, you know, of this voice, the menace in it in a way, the timbre of the voice itself, I think explains something of the effect that this man had on the, on a whole nation. He made a nation believe what he wanted, what he wanted the nation to believe really. But didn't he come though at a certain time, the right time for him. Isn't this the point? Oh, he did, yes. He came at a time when you know, when everything seemed to be going wrong, Studs. After World War II we had thought we could live in peace for a generation or more. Russia seemed to menace Western Europe. Russia suddenly had the atom bomb, which we thought we could keep our own secret for 10 or 15 years, and then China fell to the Communists, and it seemed that everything was going apart in the world, everything was going wrong, and many people who thought that this great powerful nation could not possibly suffer these defeats unless there was some explanation, unless we've been sold out. We've been betrayed. We have been sold down the river by subversives in our midst. Somebody had sold out China. It's ironic that this conversation taking place now as President Nixon is about to visit Peking and of course we think of the 25 years exposed by the Pentagon Papers. McCarthy used something of his way, 20 years of treason, meaning the FDR years. That's right. He called the [junta? hunter?] Truman and Roosevelt administrations 20 years of treason, and even capped that at one point by saying that every member of the Democratic party bears with him the stain of a historic betrayal. I mean, this is, we were all traitors if we were Democrats. But Fred, don't we have to go deeper into this? How come McCarthy did it. Don't we have to go into the death of Roosevelt and the beginning of the Truman administration -- I think you As the PENTAGON, your, particularly your book is connected with the Pentagon Papers directly. Studs, I think you have to go back beyond that. As a newspaperman, a young newspaperman, I remember very vividly the reaction in 19-- after the election in 1936, when Roosevelt carried every state in the nation except Maine and Vermont, and the very wealthy industrialists, the powers of the old order, the shock to them I think was incredible. It's hard to visualize. Immediately after this they began a great propaganda campaign to try to tar the Roosevelt administration with the red dye of Moscow. It was a campaign against what they call foreignisms, which was a catchword of that day. And this went on, it went on unceasingly. Millions of dollars were poured into this campaign. Some of the wealthiest people in America backed this kind of propaganda, and it went on through the entire period of World War II. Until finally, in the aftermath of the war while Roosevelt lived, little of it caught on. He had a matchless gift of ridiculing his opponents, making him look like pygmies, telling a joke about his little dog Fala, as if this was the only thing that they could criticize him for, you know, and so they could get nowhere while he lived. But after he died, and in the disillusion of the post-war era, then the fires began to catch, and the climate was built for McCarthy. I think we should point out the Truman administration played a role itself in the building of McCarthyism. Yes. You see, the elections in 1946 were really pivotal elections. They were the election in which Richard Nixon ran the pink sheet campaign in California against Jerry Vorhees to elect -- and was elected to Congress. Karl Mundt was elected. There were some very strong right-wing people who were elected named in this election, and the cry of communism in government was being constantly raised. So in 1947 Truman instituted a loyalty program in which his purpose was to try and show that he was more vigorous than anybody else in chasing communism. This is the attorney general subversive list, and this include -- I don't know how many organizations that would Oh, anybody, any organization that the attorney general in his infinite wisdom decided was not was not entirely patriotic or was subversive in some way went on the list. And there was no legal recourse to this. There was no arguing with this order. In your book, Fred J. Cook my guest, and the book is "The Nightmare Decade," the story of Joe McCarthy, Random House published this. In your book you point out a very interesting conversations between President Truman and the then the FCC commissioner who was appointed by Roosevelt, a man I know, Clifford J. Durr, one of the few who stood up to McCarthy, and he says you're playing his game and it's not going -- see, Truman's excuse was it would stop Parnell Thomas, head of HUAC at the time. That's right. And Durr's reply was -- Durr went to the White House and saw as he wrote in a letter to me, he went to the White House and he saw Truman, he protested against this because he said, "Look, you're opening the door to all kinds of things here," and Truman said, "Well, if it gets out of hand at all, I'll stop it. But I just don't want -- I want to take it -- the play away from the opposition" in words. But as Durr wrote to me, he said after the -- of course after the 1948 election in which the cry was being so constantly raised and which he, it was raised to a new level, then there was no turning back. It just went on and on, and Then you make McCarthy respectable. That's the very point. That's right. Then you're in his ballpark. You're right in his ballpark. You play his You see, as soon as you, as soon as you take the other guy's ammunition and you try to, you try to, you try to out-gun him with his own broadside, you're destroying yourself. You're admitting that there's some basis in what he's saying, you know, in essence this is what you're doing. It seems to me that your book, "The Nightmare Decade" is so directly connected with Pentagon Papers. It's remarkable, but it's direct connection. Yes. At the loss of China, as though -- Owen Lattimore, who if anybody knew China it was Owen Lattimore, who was considered one of the number one spies for Joe McCarthy, we'll would come to that in a moment. But we listened to Lattimore. [Unintelligible] Isn't that the point? Yeah. You know, Studs, when the Pentagon Papers came out, the question was raised, well how could our leaders have been so wrong, how could they have -- but another, the -- I think Carey McWilliams of "The Nation" answered this very well in a recent editorial in which he said, "How could they have done anything else?" They had created a climate in this country in which facts did not matter, in which experience and knowledge did not matter, in which the only thing that mattered was how strongly anti-communist you were, so we were boxed into a situation in which you dare don't go and only one direction. I think there's something that Fred Cook, you point out in your book that's terribly important. Just to pinpoint McCarthy as the villainous old villain is of no meaning whatsoever. No. And you, you quote R.H.S. Crossman, the British journalist who became an M.P. I believe in 1954, and this is Mr. Crossman writing of America at the time: "It is only the joiners and opinion framers who supported the New Deal, Republican Spain and the Russian alliance that get it in the neck, when the Americanism of yesterday becomes the treason of today. Those who suffer are the civil servants, journalists, radio and television commentators, and trade union officials in exposed positions. And for them it was the Hiss case, not the activities of Joe McCarthy, which are the real disaster. Hundreds of thousands of American liberals felt themselves on trial along with Hiss, and all of them apart from the few who still believe [his? he's?] innocent share a sense of guilt now that he's been proved guilty, which inhibits not only free discussion, but free thought as well. This sense of guilt may partly explain the eagerness with which so many have jumped on the anti-communist bandwagon. Since they're no longer certain that their previous views were right, why not seek safety in conformism?" And then Crossman points out that leading liberal Democrats adopted the tactic of trying to outdo McCarthy, that Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey upstaged McCarthy introducing a bill -- we should point this out -- to outlaw the Communist Party, and that Sen. Paul H. Douglas, the Illinois Democrat who had fought so many valiant battles on behalf of the common man had given the measure of his fullest support to McCarthyism in a sense. Crossman interviewed Douglas, and here is the remarkable comment by the grey eminence of Illinois liberalism, quoting Douglas. Quoting Crossman: "When I asked Douglas about this measure, he replied very fiercely that the Republican Party does not really want to destroy the Communist Party. 'They keep it in existence,' he said 'And used it to smear Democrats like myself. We liberals must destroy the Communists if this dirty game is to stop.' And asks Crossmen, "Is it unfair to suggest that his attitude is not unlike that of the Germans in the late '20s who tolerated Jew-baiting order to preserve the Weimar Republic?" Yeah. This is the point, Studs. And you know you come into the McCarthy era. After he spoke at Wheeling after he took the floor of the Senate on February 20th, 1950 -- Suppose you give us the historical basis. Wheeling, West Virginia. Wheeling, West Virginia, February 9th, 1950. Joe McCarthy was a little-known junior senator from Wisconsin. He had a very poor record in his first term in office, which was almo-- which was going to be over in two years. He'd become known as the lobbyist boy in Washington, the water boy of the real estate lobby, the boy from Pepsi-Cola. They called him the Pepsi-Cola kid, didn't The Pepsi Cola kid. You point out also his war record was a phony one. His war record was not -- you know, he was in the war, but his war wound was not a war wound, it was -- occurred in an accident on shipboard. And so he needed an issue if he was going to be reelected in 1952, and in a conference in Washington, a dinner with some friends they latched on to communism, he said, "That's it." So he went off to Wheeling, West Virginia and he made this speech in which he said, "I hold here in my hand the names of 205 communists who are still active in making policy in the State Department." Well, this was a shocking figure and it was so specific, you see, 205 communists who are still active in making policy in the State Department. That seemed incredible that a senator of the United States would make it if he did not actually have in his hand. You know, 205 names. Of course McCarthy had nothing of the kind as became apparent, he didn't have any 205 names, he didn't have any list of names. Of course, your book becomes -- it's revelatory but horrifying. This issue right here, when he was in Wheeling with 205 and later on he said 57. No, a couple of days later changed to 57, then he changed to 81. A horrible part is, nobody said, "You are an unmitigated liar and scoundrel." NO ONE said it! By this time, the anti-communist fears and psychosis overwhelming. Studs, one of the most revealing things to me was the scene in the floor of the Senate on February 20th, 1950, when after the Wheeling speech. Now, the Democrats had had time, they'd had over 11 days in which to bring themselves abreast of what he had said. And he took the floor, and he said that he had 81 names. Well, he was all, he fumbled up his papers. He apparently had never really read what he had before he repeated some cases, some cases he said specifically were not communist cases. It was the most disorganized, you know, diatribe that was ever put on, but not a Democrat except the late Senator Brien McMahon of Connecticut really challenged him. McMahon challenged him on a real point, he said, "Look. I have, I was in the Justice Department. I read these records of informers and so forth, and it's perfectly easy to get the greatest garbage against an individual and then when you check it out, there's nothing to it. Isn't this possible that this is what you've got, you see?" But no one else. No one else really challenged him. Sit there in silence. You can turn to almost any page of Mr. Cook's book and you're just overwhelmed with shame of course. We'll come to the present moment too, toward the end of it now, whether it can be a recurrence of McCarthyism, but throughout he was -- in the early days in Wisconsin his buddies in the Army was considered something of a buffoon, didn't take him seriously. But on the psyche of a land of such, a buffoon becomes the mentor of our culture than the arbiter of our morality then. Yes, Studs, unfortunately providing that buffoon has behind him the pressures of powerful money and powerful newspaper publicity, both of which McCarthy had. And with this kind of public relations gimmicks, you can you can you can you can change a buffoon into a statesman almost overnight. See, what's remarkable about your book is in the very beginning when you go into early days of McCarthy as being elected judge and as judge running for senator, which he could not do legally but did, you point he was able to play upon the cowardice of others, blackmail continuously, but even in his local campaigns, Wisconsin campaigns, and then and then later he was able to do this. This is the point, was it Yes, it is. The point -- well, I think I've made the point that we Americans like to think we're a great nation of stand-up guys, the courageous people. But when you when we start -- when you come up against a thing like this, we find all of a sudden that there are very few people who are willing to stand up, and I think Joe Rauh made that point, the Washington attorney who handled a lot of the loyalty cases of this period. He said, you know, you -- he said, "People tell me that the Germans were terrible for not having stood up to Hitler," and he said, "I find that very few people stood up to McCarthy when McCarthy could do a lot -- couldn't begin to do to them what Hitler could do to the Germans, but few people here stood up." Ed Murrow of course was -- Ed Murrow was terrific. Was the exception among commentators and you say McMahon among senators, though I noticed later on after the army hearings there, a 54 to one vote to renew funds for McCarthy, only one dissenting vote. Only one man stood up, and that was Senator Fulbright. It was Fulbright. And this was in '54, you know, after the -- after he had done so much damage. But going back to the early days of McCarthy, and again this connected with our feeling of fear of the moment, the fear of that that menace, he's running for judge, and one of his opponents was a divorced guy, and McCarthy goes to him and says in this voice quite sincere, he says, "Divorced men make poor male candidates." Sorry he would have to heat of the campaign to bring up the details that matter, to have it spread over press and radio. He wouldn't want to do it, really. And of course the guy withdrew. Sure. This is the basis -- This is the basis of so much. And yet we have to come to our country and that time. The opposition to McCarthy was on the defense now. Completely on the defense throughout the period. And so instead of challenging him and calling him a liar, there's no wait a minute, let's -- and they backtracked. And here you have a speech. This is before Truman appointed Senator McGrath as his attorney general, and McGrath loved this speech in 1949. Perhaps you should read this, by the president, the new president of Georgetown University. Yes. This is a speech that you know, you know, if you believe in the Bill of Rights and you believe in the what do I call the American system, then the thing like this horrifies you. He said, "It is not surprising to note that states have found it necessary to control opinion exactly as they found it necessary to control economics. The state's thinking in this matter is much sounder than that not of the resentful individual whose opinion is controlled. Despite the dramatic but pure old dictum of Helvicius, that there is nothing essentially sacred about an opinion. In fact, in the field of religion, where God has been merciful enough to reveal the truth to mankind, opinion can be blasphemous. At best, opinions are blind groupings for the truth. At worst, they are stubborn, stubborn vaporings of ignorance. Actually, an opinion is grounded on nothing but the limited experience and personal interests of the individual. It is not supported by universal eternal immutable law as is truth. The state's opinion then, is just as good, just as sacred, and just as accurate as the individual citizen's opinion or the majority opinion of all citizens. With man's normal aspirations reduced by university training from a thirst for truth to the spawning of opinion, there is every reason to expect that the state for its own preservation will be forced to establish an opinion control bureau. There are definite forewarnings of such a necessity." That's pretty terrifying comment. You know, Studs, this is, I mean, good Lord, I think the framers of the Constitution would have to be whirling in their graves that a man This particular comment, though, was inserted in the Congressional Record by Senator Howard McGrath, who liked it. Who liked it, he approved it. And that's when Truman appointed him Attorney General. Truman appointed him Attorney General. To show that he could what, out-McCarthy McCarthy. Yes. So obviously McCarthy could not have got as far as he did alone. No. This is the point, isn't it? The point is that he was, that the -- McCarthy, a junior senator from a little state like Wisconsin, state of little political clout, could not have done this unless he had powerful support across the spectrum of American establishment and American politics. And the irony is, McCarthy as a senator, I'm thinking of him as the lobbyist, the boy, the errand boy for Lustrun, you mentioned Allied Molasses, or the sugar lobby, and [Toby?] was furious with him, and his speculation, and no one challenged him, they were afraid because he could use the other technique. You see, they -- all of this was on the record. And yet no one, no one took it up, and no one -- not on either on the Senate floor or even in political speeches they didn't attack today, they didn't attack him on these things. And come to his sources, as he held up those papers is of course a celebrated phrase, "I have in my hand." "I have in my hand," he used that time and time again. "I have in my hand." By the way, that's a phrase it's -- just a moment ago you read that speech of that president of Georgetown University in '49, not to remove him -- General Maxwell Taylor saying as certain as we know, the public need not know. That's right. And "I have in my hand" recently an Illinois senator used the same phrase, says "Welfare clients who do not merit welfare," he has in his hand the names of thousands of these clients. So you're really writing about now as well as then, aren't you? I am, Studs, I think the same thing is there. You know one of the things in the Vietnam War that so infuriated me was Nelson Rockefeller for example, who was supposed to be a liberal. Was he? Well, he was supposed to be. He was saying, "Well, I don't know about [it?]," they tried to get him to comment on the Vietnam War. "Well, I don't know about this, only the president can know, only he has the information." This isn't what our country was founded on. I'm thinking of the people who challenged him in the very early days, there was a woman, by woman's lib would like this, one of the earliest was Judge Dorothy Kenyon, who called Joe McCarthy "An unmitigated liar, a coward," and she devastated him when he accused her of being subversive. She destroyed him. You would you would think this elderly woman then would have had some support. No, nothing. The significance of the Dorothy Kenyon thing was that he was before the Tydings Committee, he was supposed to support his charges of 81 communists of which he'd come down to now in the government. Now you'd think that the first name he brought out, the prime case would be a strong case. And who does he name? He names Dorothy Kenyon, who was a city magistrate in New York, who had never had any close connection with the State Department at all. She served on a United Nations Commission for the welfare of women or something like this, which is not a policy-making thing of any kind, and he denounced her. Well, she charged down to Washington, and she was a very gutsy lady, and she took the stand and Joe conveniently was not there. I mean -- He wasn't there when she showed? Oh, no, he didn't show when she when she came and denounced him, and she put her record on the line. And there was no answer to this. The Republicans on the committee themselves admitted after they had heard her -- Then comes the horrendous. We think of Senator Robert Taft as a man of ethics, indeed he relatively speaking ethical, yet he said to McCarthy, what's the phrase he used? "If one case doesn't work, try another." And that was it. That was it. And so if one case didn't work, you tried another. You went to something else. The Dorothy Kenyon thing didn't work, so you accuse someone else, and it went on this way, and McCarthy had a genius of always topping the story that folded with a more sensational headline, you know? Even though he was the bully boy, it's the respectables who used him. That's right. Exactly. Exactly. Studs, one thing I've said here and which I don't think you'll find anywhere else, is the fact that he was not alone when he went to Wheeling in February 9th, 1915 [sic - 1950] peddling this line. Guy Gabrielsen, who was then chairman of, the national chairman of the Republican Party, made a similar speech in West Virginia on the same Lincoln Day tour. The national -- the Republican National Committeeman from West Virginia made another speech in Charleston, West Virginia on the same lines. The only difference between these people and McCarthy was that McCarthy was the only one who had the nerve to stand up and say, "I have here in my hand a list of 205 names." Before we go to the most celebrated of all the cases, and this concerns us today and China and the Pentagon Papers, the case of Owen Lattimore, using that as one case though of many but that's the most celebrated. We think of Hyannis Port, Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, the home where the young Kennedys would meet, where Camelot came into being, it was Hyannis Port where Joe McCarthy visited Joe Kennedy often. Yes. Yes. And Joe Kennedy admired McCarthy immensely and poured a lot of money into his early campaign against communism. Thought that Joe was really going to go places. Poured money into his re-election campaign in Wisconsin in 1952, and after McCarthy's death, Joe Kennedy, whenever he was mentioned, Joe would have tears in his eyes that he thought of his dear friend and what had happened to him. Well, I think just to the record straight, you know, as this applies to some extent to Jack Kennedy and to Bobby Kennedy, too. Well, Bobby Kennedy too always seemed to feel more sympathy for Joe than he did for the victims of Joe. I mean, this I think is very clear in what Bobby said about him. The patriarch of Kennedy clan, this is when who came to visit them? Someone came to visit -- Gardner Jackson. Gardner Jackson, yeah. Gardner Jackson as a Washington employee came to visit Joe Kennedy Hyannis Port with dope about McCarthy not being that great a guy, and stormed Joe Kennedy, "You're trying to ruin Jack." This was in the congressional campaign when Jack was running for Congress. And Gardner wanted him to take a stand. He said, "Look, you know, you want liberal you want liberal support and union support, but now take a stand on this," and Joe Kennedy blew his "You and your sheeny friends trying to ruin my son's career." It's like, shall we say a slight touch of anti-Semitism here. Slightly, And so we come to Bobby as the attorney for McCarthy committee during the hearings, and when McCarthy died this is Bobby's tribute, why he got so involved in all the publicity, talking about Joe McCarthy. The number one thing in his life is on a toboggan, was so exciting and exhilarating as it went downhill. It didn't matter if he hit the tree at the bottom. I felt sorry for him, particularly the last year of his life when he was such a beaten, destroyed person. I liked him, yet at times terribly heavy-handed." It's a most unusual use of phrase. He's very thoughtful as a friend, yet could be cruel to others. And as you point out, Bobby showed few signs of equal compassion for the victims. No, he didn't. He, his sympathy was all with McCarthy, and I suppose in fairness your own observations now, there were, were there changes taking place? This is a question continuously asked in the two young Kennedys. Well, yes, Studs. I think that the remarkable thing about the Kennedys is the tremendous capacity they showed to change and to grow. For instance, you take Jack Kennedy's presidency. I thought the first year was a disaster. And I thought the third year before he was assassinated showed great signs of his advancement of his being a great president in the end. I think the handling of the missile crisis in November 1962, if it hadn't been handled the way he and Bobby handled it, we probably wouldn't be sitting here today. And yet wasn't the missile crisis political rather than military? It was, yes, but it was probably military too. And if he had followed the advice of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and charged in and blown everything in Cuba apart, Lord knows what would have happened. 'Cause the big thing is, would there have been, that's the question of course. We know the Pentagon Papers indicate that there was a role here, not too good one, played by the Kennedys. So we have to, we have to come, don't we, not a question of heroes now or archetypal villains. Not that at all. It's a question now, isn't it, of the psyche of a land, what can happen to a people when hysteria takes over. It's a study of hysteria really, isn't it? It is. And you know, Studs, one of the things to me, I got a little footnote in the book. One of the remarkable things to me was the role of the Hearst newspapers in this thing. You know, they supported McCarthy, they masterminded some of his moves throughout this period, and then 20 years later looking back, the Washington bureau of the Hearst papers ran a story written by the chief of the Washington staff, with the help of his staff, in which they looked back with horror upon this whole episode and said that it must never happen again, that McCarthy was a demagogue who had forced an entire nation into panic and hysteria by looking for communists under every rock. And they quoted William Rogers as, Secretary of State William Rogers, as saying that the State Department was just now recovering from the damage that he had done it 20 years before. I want to come to that very point, the irony, the incredible irony of now and then and the role of the press too at the time and the case of Owen Lattimore and China and now in a moment. We'll pause for a moment. Fred J. Cook is my guest, his book is "The Nightmare Decade: The Life and Times of Senator Joe McCarthy," Random House the publishers and it's, to me this is absolutely must reading if we're to know anything about our country, how we think and how we fear and perhaps how we can recover, too. In a moment we'll continue. [pause in recording] So we pick up the conversation -- conversation. Conversation. I haven't had any booze yet, but I'm drunk with reading your book. Fred J. Cook, it's "The Nightmare Decade: The Life and Times of Joe McCarthy." Some generation ago, and yet is it a generation ago? And so we come to the newspapers, the time today. We see happily "The New York Times" and "The Washington Post" and "The Boston Globe" and "The Los Angeles Times" and perhaps Chicago papers, perhaps taking a stand. What was the position at the time when McCarthy was in [flower? power?]? The decision at the time when McCarthy was in power, Studs, was -- well, I can only describe it as tape recorder reporting. He was a senator, whatever he said made a headline. There was no tendency to look beyond the -- behind the headlines, there was no tendency in the press to analyze this man, to explain what he was. He went on for about almost two years before any of the media began to really take a look at him, and "The Progressive" out in Wisconsin, his home state, did a real take-out piece on him. "Time" wrote an unflattering piece about him. Then gradually a few of the newspapers began to examine this, but for so long, for so desperately and tragically long until the damage was done really and this myth of the of the man had been created, there was nothing except what I call tape recorder reporting. This is interesting. Tape recorder and [something?], and that's called objective reporting. Yes, that's objective, you see, where I get criticized for is they say, "Well, Cook isn't objective enough. He -- you know, he --" Well, how can you, you know, I try to get my facts straight and I try to make them accurate. But the facts tell a message, and I think it's a job of a writer to tell the message, too. This a point -- this set of Fred J. Cook, of Nicholas von Hoffman, of reporters of this sort whom I happen to admire, whom I call advocate journalists, because everyone has a point of view no matter who or what he says. You were a police reporter for many years, by the way, Fred Cook won the Heywood Broun Award for tremendous series in New York. And as police -- most police reporters used to get the stuff from the police blotters, didn't they? That's right. That's objective reporting. That's objective reporting, because there it is, you can pick it up, and that's it. But to me the job of a journalist is to dig into the roots of things if possible, and then to find it, follow that trail of truth as far as you can follow it, and then when you find it, present it as hard as you can. So we come to McCarthy's most, perhaps the most glorious moment, in quotes. And that's the case of Owen J. Lattimore. Suppose you begin, and talk about that. That concerns now us in China at this moment. It does concern us in China very much. Let's preface it this way, Studs, the Far Eastern bureau of the State Department at this time, before the McCarthy era was adjudged by most governments, not just on our own, but other governments around the world, to be one of the most expert bureaus that existed. Many of these people, and Owen Lattimore was one, were sons of missionaries or businessmen in China. They'd been born in China. They had, knew the language, they knew the people, and their knowledge of China and Southeast Asia was invaluable. One of the amazing things to me, I went back and read one of the books that Lattimore wrote at this time, I think it was in 1949 it was published, in which he said, right at the beginning, "All Asia is in revolt. And this is something that we are not going to be able to fight with conventional weapons, because these are people who live off the land who can, who can fight in their own way." You know, a perfect description of what happened in Vietnam over 20 -- Here's Owen Lattimore calling the shot 20 year Calling the shot way ahead of time, you see. All right, now we get into the Tydings hearings in which McCarthy has to put up or shut up, and he brings in various names and he's not really getting anywhere with them. Like Dorothy Kenyon case, it collapsed, but he begins to whisper mysteriously off, away from the hearing room, off record that he has -- that's he's going to name the Number One Soviet spy in America. He's very cozy about it at first, he's not -- he won't give the name, you know. But of course as soon as you begin to whisper this, the newspapermen "What is the name, Joe? Give us the name." So finally in confidence of course, he confides that the Number One Soviet spy is Owen Lattimore. Well, once you confide this to a room of newspapermen, even though it's off the record and in confidence, you know somebody is going to find a way of using it. So they go around and make an in play, and they suggest that the man that McCarthy is describing, his career fits what is known about the career of Professor Owen Lattimore, you see. Eric Sevareid gets on CBS News and uses this rather cozy approach among other things, so Lattimore's name suddenly gets into the paper by hook or by crook as a number one Soviet spy in America, and then McCarthy now is riding the crest of new headlines, the fact that his previous charges have been discounted makes no difference, because he now has a number one Soviet spy that he's trading on. Well, Lattimore was not a man to take this lying down as so many did. This law professor charged back full of fire and brimstone, and he tangled with McCarthy, you know Yes,

Studs Terkel -- The From China [as I recall?].

Fred J. Cook In the midst of this, before Lattimore even got home, Drew Pearson broke the story that there were anti-communists Tibetans whose lives had been endangered, and Lattimore had helped to get them out and was even then sheltering them in his home in Baltimore. I mean, and sponsoring them in this country. This was a deed of a man who was -- was this a deed of a man who was a communist, a dedicated communist? No, I mean, the fact was there, the action was there.

Studs Terkel I'm thinking of two kinds of reportage there is in your book here is very interesting. Drew Pearson, flamboyant, and who publicly on radio at times said he defended Lattimore, challenged McCarthy, and the intellectual Sevareid who was very cautious and safe who in -- ironically enough is the narrator of the McCarthy film, the end of that -- D'Antonio did the McCarthy army hearings, "Point of Order." He's the narrator of that. This guy never loses.

Fred J. Cook No.

Studs Terkel Because he's an objective journalist.

Fred J. Cook But this is, you know, this is, this takes a kind of skill, Studs, and I guess I don't have.

Studs Terkel I know you don't, fortunately. So I want to come to China, they -- that that this is so directly -- James C. Thompson, you point this out in the footnote of your book, Mr. Cook's book, the chapter, the case of Owen Lattimore, the book "The Nightmare Decade" in "The Atlantic Monthly" of '68, how could Vietnam happen? And writes Professor Thompson, it was the legacy of the '50s, by which I mean the so-called quote unquote loss of China, the Korean War, the Far East policy, of Secretary of State Dulles, and the whole man and of course the attack on men who were given the real dope, that Asia is not the Asia of the 18th century, that colonialism is dead, and these are -- and that they can, the guerrillas can live off the land," and this is the quote and of course McCarthy took care of all those people offering this information, and Felix Greene later on, another footnote, Felix Greene points out, the people who are backing as a result of all this, continuous with Chiang Kai-shek, the others, [Ozyem?], goes right down the line. Pearl Buck speaks of Greene's book as very revelatory, but that's so related again, is it not, to McCarthyism?

Fred J. Cook Well it is, because you see, again we come back to the point that there was nothing left. Nobody dared speak out or offer a dissenting view. Now, I swear you cannot get sound policy in this country unless you can get a free interplay of ideas and knowledge, unless people feel free to speak. One thing I have cited in the book, Studs, Professor Paul Tillet of Rutgers University who has since died made a survey of this time, and one official of the State Department told him in 1960, one high official, that for eight years the State Department had not received a single opinion from a foreign mission that disagreed with policy. In other words, we were being told by the State Department and Washington what the people in the field knew would be palatable. But we were not being given any dissident view at all.

Studs Terkel So I'm thinking there was also a survey taken, [this is interesting?], thinking about ourselves, now we come to the man on the street. There an Elmer Davis story that's pretty terrifying. Before that, the surveys: in 1951 15 percent were pro-McCarthy, 21 anti, 63 percent no opinion. That of course is -- 63 so not to have an opinion.

Fred J. Cook Yeah. And then you see the -- another shocking thing. You know, several newspapers did this. They went out on the streets with quotes from the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights and they asked people, "Would you sign, you know, would you sign these, subscribe to these sentiments?" And people were horrified. You could ask a hundred persons, and maybe one of them would subscribe to these sentiments, the rest of them thought they were communist propaganda. All this -- you know, it's a horrifying thing.

Studs Terkel So people would not sign the Bill of Rights.

Fred J. Cook No, they wouldn't sign the Bill of Rights. They wouldn't -- they wouldn't, there's quotes from the Declaration of Independence they didn't.

Studs Terkel So this is, this was called, we call this period the silent '50s, the Silent Generation as a result. Sixty-three percent no opinion. Horrendous. Elmer Davis tells a story helps explain it. Where is it? Elmer Davis was in -- it was after the war, and Elmer Davis who was a man of undoubted courage. Reading his story. You want to read that? Houston, the Houston story. Yeah.

Fred J. Cook Yeah. This is, this is -- I think typical. This is Elmer Davis writing: "In Houston a man and his wife, she a radio writer, were sitting in a Chinese restaurant talking to the proprietor about a radio program which they hoped he would sponsor, a program dealing with recent Chinese history. A man who overheard them rushed out and telephoned the police that they were talking communists. So they were promptly arrested. What they were said to have said, whether they did say it or not is not clear, was that Chiang Kai-shek was fighting a losing battle. That may or may not have been true, especially depending on whether it means his hanging on in Formosa or reconquering the mainland. But true or false, there was no evidence of communism. Yet this couple spent the night in jail, fourteen hours in jail, before the police finally concluded they had nothing on them and let them go."

Studs Terkel So here, so the 63 percent "no opinion," the incident, the trauma of this couple and then how people can become suspicious of one another and inform, indeed inform on one another, too.

Fred J. Cook Yeah.

Studs Terkel This is the horror of it.

Fred J. Cook This is another evil which still goes on. The whole informer system, the whole informer syndrome, Studs, the idea -- one of the horrible [finding?] things that goes through this whole period, was the way the government protected its informers. This was sacred. This -- national security depended upon guaran-- guarding their identity. If you were accused in your job whether you're a butcher or an electrician or a plumber or whatever, you had no right to know who accused you, you had no right to see any of the evidence against you. You had to defend yourself boxing in fog as it were, because the informer was protected. Now, this is contrary again to all American traditions, it's contrary to all -- to any sense of justice because you know, the malicious neighbor, the guy who doesn't -- who is jealous or doesn't like the way you comb your hair or whatever, can tell any story he wants and he is protected.

Studs Terkel So the only reason McCarthy really lost is that he overshot his hand. He attacked the army.

Fred J. Cook Oh yeah, he could have gone on probably forever, but he began to collide with elements of the establishment. And this is when he got into trouble. He collided first with a Protestant clergy. When J.B. Matthews, whom he had brought to Washington and made his chief investigator, wrote an article in which he said that the Protestant preachers were agents of Moscow. This was the first time he collided with an element of the establishment. And then he collided with the Army, and of course when you collide with the Army, you're really colliding with a power complex.

Studs Terkel You talk about ironic overtones, the Army then, the Army now. It's remarkable. McCarthy never telling where he got the dope, and General Maxwell Taylor saying now -- he just -- it was a boner tactically speaking. It doesn't do with ethics and morality, that has nothing to do with the case at all. But tactically speaking it was a boner, and of course he met Joseph Welsh there in a contest, and we come now to perhaps what the book is all about, the legacy of Joe, the legacy of McCarthy today. The Pentagon Papers of course relate to that. We come to now, the question naturally to ask Fred Cook, because he was one of the best investigative journalists in the country, and observer of the scene, is could it happen again?

Fred J. Cook Studs, I think it could. But I think the -- I think the man and the hour as they say would have to meet and at the right juncture as they did when McCarthy spoke in 1950. If we had a terrible depression in which everything seemed to be going apart, if we're -- if we had some as we did done some great foreign menace which seemed to be about to engulf us and people, people were scared and paranoid, and then you had a man like this, yeah I think it could happen again, because -- and the reason I say this is that when Vice President Agnew spoke at Des Moines in November 1969, the first attack he made on the media, people I knew became wild-eyed. I walked into the news store where I'd been getting my papers for 20 years, and the proprietor said, "Did you see that last night? Did you see that? Wasn't he terrific? There is your next president, buddy boy." And all of a sudden the feeling erupted, the legions of -- that McCarthy had are still with us. The well can be tapped at the right time.

Studs Terkel Perhaps it would have to be a different form, though. I think -- I don't -- what would the young today accept the name-calling as being the sign of that person's disloyalty as then people

Fred J. Cook No, probably not. I think probably not. But there is, there are these great tensions in our society, there are the tensions of the blue-collar worker, there are the tensions of people who feel threatened by the thrust of the Negro into the cities, the middle-class person who is just about making it who feels himself menaced, these are the kind of people who are, who are open to this kind of propaganda.

Studs Terkel We haven't mentioned the professors, it's rather interesting. Professor [Kohlroll? Might need to see Cook's book] of Northwestern became one of the intellectual supporters of McCarthy and we, naturally think of [Rostow?], we think of Kissinger, we think of what went on in Vietnam, and just as you speak of the irrationality of it, too, of the fear, you point out the reaction to the Chicago convention, that people saw things on television, they did not believe what they saw, but rather what they wanted.

Fred J. Cook That's right.

Studs Terkel That too.

Fred J. Cook Yes, you see, it was all turned around. What they saw on television did not, did not convince them.

Studs Terkel But you know what perhaps is the most significant passage in your book? This could surprise you. The most frightening is young Tricia Nixon's comment about Agnew. And here we come. "The Evil That Men Do . . . " suspension points is the chapter, the last chapter of the book of Fred Cook, and the young girl is quoted, the young daughter of the president: "The mood at the top was perhaps most frankly expressed" -- this is after Agnew's attack.

Fred J. Cook Yeah, after Agnew had been

Studs Terkel "Was expressed by Tricia Nixon. In an interview with United Press International, she exulted. 'The vice president is incredible. I feel I should write him a letter. He's amazing. What he has done to the media, helping it to reform itself. I'm a close watcher of the newspapers and TV. I think they're taking a second look. You can't'" -- and here's the phrase: "'You can't underestimate the power of fear. They're afraid if they don't shape up.'" The power of fear. A young girl says this, "The power of fear." And she says it glowingly.

Fred J. Cook Yeah.

Studs Terkel "Afraid if they don't shape up." And so we come to the one emotion, don't we, that pervades this book, pervades almost any society when hysteria takes over, that is fear,

Fred J. Cook Fear. Yes. The fear, the refusal of people to stand up and be counted, Studs. This is what makes a man like this possible, an age like this possible.

Studs Terkel The fear also being called a name if you do stand up.

Fred J. Cook That's right.

Studs Terkel And the question is who authorized him. That's a question Joe Welsh asked I think to the Army, "Who authorized him?" That's another one too. This book has farcical overtones in a macabre sort of way throughout. We speak of this clown figure, a clown figure. And yet the clown figure becomes this horrendous overwhelmingly terrifying figure.

Fred J. Cook Yes. And the shocking thing that a whole nation ran scared, and then persons' lives, innocent people, their lives were damaged, ruined at times.

Studs Terkel This is the aspect, we haven't touched on our conversation the scores of thousands of lives as well as reputations that were ruined, whether it be teachers or whatever they might

Fred J. Cook People in every walk of life. This is the thing, the thing went down to everyone who was in a defense industry, everyone who worked in any -- connected in any way with anything having anything to do with the government, whether they had any access to secret information or not. If their job was just putting in plumbing or electric wiring or carving up meat on the ship at sea, if they were accused of this kind of thing, they could be out of their job and you know, on relief practically.

Studs Terkel There's another part we haven't touched, the celebrity aspect of it. The beautiful people courting them in certain circles just as I noticed Agnew parties on the coast whether with Sinatra and with Reagan and with John Wayne and the beautiful people are all there, you see, and here it was Mrs. Bazy Miller of the "Washington Times-Herald," this was Bazy Patterson Miller [sic - there is no proof that she used "Patterson" as a name; she was born Ruth Elizabeth McCormick, married and divorced Peter Miller, then married Gavin Tankersley], the charming -- when she had a column called "The Charming People" [sic - "These Charming People"]

Fred J. Cook "Charming People."

Studs Terkel And among them there was, there were the, there was the fading of Joe because in a sense he was celebrated, was he not?

Fred J. Cook Oh yes, he was, and he was fawned on by these people and he was admired by these people. This was what they wanted. He was the, he was the, he was the man they could use to get what they -- to get back into power, to get what they wanted.

Studs Terkel Well, perhaps you should end with your reading the last paragraph, which is about now. Fred J. Cook is my guest. The book is "The Nightmare Decade," Random House the publishers, and as the subtitle "The Life and Times of Senator Joe McCarthy," might I add, the life and times of my and Fred Cook's generation, and of course young people -- a lot of young people don't know who McCarthy was.

Fred J. Cook You know, when I wrote the book, some of the younger generation you say, "Senator McCarthy," they think at once of Eugene McCarthy, in the campaign of 1960; 1968. But this is another Senator McCarthy.

Studs Terkel You have here in that foreword to your book, "There is a new generation of young Americans, many of whom will have only the vaguest idea about Joseph R. McCarthy, what McCarthy in the '50s represented, and they think of Gene. And then when you ask, 'What about Joe?' 'I don't know much about him." But the last paragraph, it's following the 1970 elections and the attempt again to use a slight touch of it, and didn't quite work out, you're happy about that, but then you end.

Fred J. Cook Yes. "If there was cause for congratulation in this," I'm talking about the result of the 1970 election, "There was also cause for worry. What was appalling was that the old and discredited tactics of Joe McCarthy had been trotted out and tried again with frenzy and desperation by the highest officials in the land. And in the aftermath, there were no signs of shame, only the spurious claims of victory. There was no guarantee that the same techniques would not be tried again and again until through some fortuitous combination of circumstance and crisis the spark caught and rekindled the flames of the nightmare decade. Had our leadership learned so little? Could it all happen again? 'Hell, yes!' said Joseph Rauh, and that possibly in itself is enough to make any American shudder."

Studs Terkel So the question is, can it? This is of course -- as we say in World War II, "situation fluid." Very fluid indeed.

Fred J. Cook Yes. I think, you know, the combination has to be right. But what makes me fear is that the kind of passion that this man tapped still exists, and the hate syndrome that this propaganda built up in the nation exists, and anytime you -- the Kennedy assassinations for instance. The reaction to this in some quarters absolutely horrified me. People who were decent-appearing American citizens leading solid and respectable lives will tell you about the assassination of Jack Kennedy, "Well, it was a tragic thing of course. But if that was the only way we could get rid of him, it was a good thing."

Studs Terkel You heard there were a ton of -- Fred Cook was doing some

Fred J. Cook That is terrible.

Studs Terkel Some remarkable reportage at that time too, so you talked about that aspect of our psyche which neighbor is pitted against neighbor and the fears are there. Fear of that stranger, we come to that again, fear of that outsider, fear of that alien thought, fear of that which is different, and out of it could come a Joe, but need not, that is the aspect of it. That's why a book of this sort is of such importance. It's sort of, it sort of describes the symptom of an illness, and it analyzed the illness and it's clinical and dramatic and powerful in its description. That's the work of the journalist in an open society. Fred Cook fits that description beautifully. "The Nightmare Decade" is his book, subtitle "Life and Times of Senator Joe McCarthy," Random House the publishers, and it's quite available. Thank you very much, Fred.

Fred J. Cook Thank you,