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Joseph McCarthy and the Red Scare: Part 1

2012-09-19 | 🔗

Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy had a lackluster career - at least, that is, until he claimed the U.S. government was riddled with conspiratorial Communists. In this episode, Sarah and guest host Ben explore the hysteria-fueled rise of Joseph McCarthy.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
loser episode is brought to you by maloney cookies work sometimes that longs in yoga classes just now in the cards so maybe a cookie is peppered farm olano believes you should make some time for yourself once in a while i know i have a particular space in my sewing room that i like to just take a few minutes every day sit there i think about things it's kind of like meditation and munching at the same time being it that yummy beautiful cookie flavour it makes it luxurious and delightful and i always feel recharge mulatto cookies are truly a treat worthy of your me time their delicate and crispy with luxuriously rich chocolate in the middle you really want to keep these just for you so remember to save something for yourself with peppered farm olano this is danny shapiro post of hit i cast family secrets here to tell you that the new season of my show starts february sex
you'll join us for some incredible conversations about family identity and why to both when the secret kept from us and the secret we keep finally come to light and subscribe honey i aren't radio out apple pie cast are you listen to your favorite broadcasts welcome to stuff you missed in history class from housetop works the low and welcomed the package unfair daddy and i am here today with another special guys to run out of work hi sir i've been calling i am a co host of stuff they want you to know and a whole host of car stuff fell ban seem like a natural person to have during this little september theories wilder billina star on maternity leave and because then does cover two subjects cars
conspiracy that sort of a task up what i wanted you to come on the show and talk about but i mean conspiracies really your specialty i don't know if you're gonna know that's that's fine think so much i am really happy to be here and a woman i tinfoil had on for this episode at least because well first kiddo spoiler alert i think maybe we'll have a pike ass from scott a little later if you re wrong on cars and and famous figures than auto history yes and we have that's look forward to so today let's take a look at a conspiratorial episode in u s history today were going to talk about a senator call joe mccarthy and little period called the right
scare you may have heard of it before and we're just gonna thirty go over the background in the lead up to mccarthy's rise to power as you might call it in this first episode and then because this is such a huge story we're gonna keep on going and take it into a second pie cath where we cover more about mccarthyism where we talk about hollywood blacklist all of the sort of better known fight of mccarthyism and this is a good where it because it's got all the perils you know it has everything a good story usually has except for romance no romantic varies me now as far as we know joe didn't really have that i had a similar play out but going to see how conspiracy theory republic panic kin swear get into the public consciousness and sweep the nation along which is so what
in here but to really understand how this crazy situation could we do as you say i have to go back to the beginning right what what were people afraid of their were freed of communist they were afraid of communism i mean that's the simplest way to put an american postwar policy so post world war two policy was one of containment so trying to contain this threat of communism a bride but by the late nineteen forty that seem like things were being contained that while the soviets had the bomb china had become communist and people were were becoming concerned without except that they were also already concerned with communism at home and that was a really big part of that yeah because there was a genuine communist party in the eu
it states in an had been there since nineteen nineteen as well as a funding aside the red scare we're talking about today is actually the second red second wave which is so which is so strange that we ve had this red scare this widespread fear of communism not once but twice in their nations history there again genuine communist party is organised nineteen eighteen in the united states this doesn't necessarily mean though that every single member of this party is some sort of extremists to retire from aid right re asleep or agent of real life is just not that they might have different political inclination but to combat this perceived threat of communism at home the government had been investigating these groups investigating suspicious activity for a number of years really
yes and through several committees now we're going to talk about the house on american activities committee fairly frequently in parts of this pie cast and will probably just called the hiv see ya think that'll make it easier on asked pressure yes it's also important to remember that the eight you ac did not come out of the blue now lay comes from instead swerve lineage of other
or committees that preceded it and then investigated suspicious groups how will we say suspicious at this point in time this is pre nineteen thirty's linking forties we're not just talking about communism we're talking also about perhaps a fascist groups were talking also about hate groups such as the complex clan and from these committees the one directly in front of the hiv c is called the dice committee is named after the congressmen who was heading this committee the
we see becomes a permanent committee nine to forty five and with interesting about that is the sort of predecessor of the hiv before i became a permanent committee at least it wasn't very popular with lawmakers because it was low which anti was expensive and folks sort of thought that once dies retired it might just go away by surprise surprise a representative mississippi named john rang can really got into the thin and work to make sure that the committee that standing status and many lawmakers they might have not been thrilled with the idea of this unpopular committee continuing let they felt compelled to vote for it because not voting for it could easily be perceived as doing something on american if he's out there stating that its mission is gonna be to investigate communist that might be hidden in the government yes
evidently people don't want to look like this where communism this is a situation where maybe bad policy is good politics if that makes sense make thanks man have this new committee it doesnt have a very popular path and they ve got a name for themselves and so that each usc really kicked off its investigations by focusing on hollywood in the entertainment industry at first and that was good publicity because it would stir up fear that hollywood was just about the biggest best highest budget propaganda machine that you could have a mean if communism their hollywood would be it would seem like a great place to in hollywood already sort of had a love hate relationship with the federal government because it is very easy if you wanna value vote to paint hollywood as this just ten of the battery and sin and on american values so this is a natural progressed
it's also a very shrewd choice either because you know his in hollywood and big stars in the laboratories people who if you order them to come talk to your committee it's gonna make the news and and that's exactly what happened the investigations a motion picture industry started in eighteen forty seven and at first they really did focused on big stars and some of these were friendly witness as though they weren't as go much accusing these people of anything but they wanted to get them out there talking and an example of this is gary cooper asked if the communist party should be outlawed in the united states and he answered gee i don't know i haven't read marks i don't really know much about communism but what i have heard i don't like it you know just a good sound by a good thing for the newspapers to cover gary cooper before this house committee it was a good way to get news about what they were doing out to the public and also a way to go
the public on your side at this point it seems as though the witnesses friendly it seems as though everybody could win the committee looks good the celebrity mike chance the plug their upcoming fill all talk more about that later not everybody was getting the stockpile question right but of course these investigations by these groups did turn out some evidence of real espionage eventually not them attali wide but real possible spies were uncovered enter that conflict prediction button flexible looks discuss this issue will be able to go in a little bit of death about why these were why were choose your words so carefully we see evidence of alleged espionage need still a matter for debate our number one person would probably be considered alger hiss
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contacted lorry seem at me and i really lap and apple pie cabins or wherever you get your pipe cast in nineteen forty eight the ended mitted ex communist seem whittaker chambers tells the tells the committee that this his fellow who works for the states partner used word for the state department is a communist and what's more says he's a communist spy now currently his at this time is not the kind of guy you think of as a spy he's first off he's from an established american family he worked for the state apartment he's president of the carnegie endowment for international peace hardly a shifty carriage he's got a lot of friends who even come forward and say no way there's no way that this could be true yes absolutely that's a good point no of course his is not the only person the chamber's accuses he also names of people like ward pigman julia widely other
other people that may or may not be spies and here's the thing with his his is actually convicted in nineteen fifty but he's not convicted by now because during his hearings in front of the hiv he comes across this very polished level headed especially compared to chambers who doesn't come across that way even though there are still some pretty suspicious evidence that comes out in these hearings namely the vast named papers ever the pumpkin papers
apparently stored by chambers in a hollowed out pumpkin in his pumpkin patch even though some of that seems pretty question of all sure for his innocence the hearing is considered inconclusive it's when he decides to few chapters for libel that he finally is convicted of something yes he is convicted of perjury in nineteen fifty again this is not a conviction that the committee gives him but this this more this conviction of perjury sir it affects the way people think about his cakes and we you made such a good point earlier sir about star power about how using celebrities will sort of legitimize the age you
see i somebody else caught onto this very quickly in their person was richard nixon he was involved yes richard nixon was one of the driving forces in the his case and you can make a fairly strong argument that this made him prominent enough on the national sphere i mean certainly contributed to him later run the president certainly elevates his recognition nationally i missed the bathroom anna scott bakery ellie and this is the peat and sebastian pod catches a show of beaten i talk about our personal private lives just two guys
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did he do and the reason behind that is because papers do you continue to be just declassified some suggesting pretty strongly that he may have really by and then he also hers as it has a group of historians who say that for me reason or another he was not a spy that he was just being caught up in the moral panic that we're we're going to see coming out here but the thing is as these documents were declassify most notably the villona papers they contain some from the cap be that we had not heard of we being the american public and you know i'm not being a kgb spy mass myself
i guess you one thing either either way definitively other than there is still a surprisingly vigorous debate over which of the people chambers accused spine were actually spies fat yeah we can we can debate every that only want of course at the time it seems like this is a fairly successful casey against
a possible spy the next big case came in march eighteen fifty one and that's when julius and ethel rosenberg went to trial for quote conspiracy to commit asked the energy and this is another case that is debated endlessly how much involvement they had how much involvement especially ethel rosenberg had they were found guilty though they were sentenced to death electrocuted at things in prison on june eighteen nineteen fifty one so we're going through all this just to give you via a good picture of what the world is like this time so we have carry cooper testifying we have people being sentenced to death for for conspiracy to commit espionage
and a lot of folks very scared about the state of communism in the world and as workers chamber says this is a very important remembers we go forward their rights they were some communist subversives this was not a completely fabricated pan it's important remember that there's a grain and i emphasise a grain of truth to to the the story and i think now it's and introduce our protagonist or is he a protagonist anti here one senator joseph mccarthy and around this time around this time that we ve been discussing recurring coming america's number one communists hunter and he was not involved in the trials that we discussed
he did eventually model his cases on hiv cases but he was not a chair of hiv see he really focused his work more on the armed forces more in the state department not so much the celebrities in these really high profile spies but we're gonna give you some background on mccarthy to cause he really does can come out of nowhere on yeah it's strange because he didn't have the best reputation as you said before he became involved with these searches for communist subversive snow enough not at all i mean that's why he got involved in the first place the mccarthy had run for senate as they with constant republican and nineteen forty fact than he had done some work before then he had worked as a lawyer as a judge he had served in world war two even though he exaggerated his war record a bear in order
you win his election he claimed he was a tale gunnar he had a totally normal war record nothing to be concerned about but pumped it up a little bit so he won his senate feet and then he didn't have a great reputation among his senator paine from the start grier i read one article by richard condition in history today who said that his colleague considered him unscrupulous which i think is a pretty that word might come to mind later a second episode he so he wasn't who popular and he only ended up getting one committee appointment didn't seem like a real up and coming kind of senator right he wasn't exactly someone they thought would be president later now or even get a second term to be fair this begins to change eyes shortly after the his convention joseph mccarthy
one of the most important speeches of his career and in this speech i he's talking to a republican women's wheeling west virginia this is nineteen fifty february in this speech which which we ever conscript of here he begins by commemorating abraham link and railing against the growing communist threat to the united states now remember this is this is happening as the his case is closed and as the rosenbergs are still in the process getting sentenced to death so this fears here and then in front of this crowd he claims to have proof of depending on who you ass he blames approve of either two hundred and five individuals employed at the state department
or fifty seven individuals who are either communist or sympathetic to communism now this speeches crazy because he literally is waving this piece of paper at these people he says he has this list he's exposing if you will a conspiracy theory that there is not only in just one or two communist subversives or soviet agents in the government but that the state department especially riddle for a whole was worthwhile here's the thing after this you could look at this one the beginnings of the mccarthy ere long the number that he quotes changes when he rehash is this speech sometimes
not exactly fifty seven sometimes it's not exactly two hundred and five and there is one other thing about this list it doesnt actually exists there were no less there was a piece of paper but that that nobody even now what we ve on that piece of paper though that is our dramatic cliffhanger for today we will pick up next time and discuss what we can about this mystery less and how mccarthy's career really skyrocket factor has because clearly it is they fantastic piece of stagecraft you gotta talk about what but he is most scared of and have a real list in your and waving around the knows who could be on the me talking about all of that next time end
in the meantime if you want to know about maybe the first read scare other things that you'd like to talk about whatever it may be you can email i fear history podcast discovery dot com were after went with her at missed in history and we are in facebook and i was trying to think of an article further thin one that seems for the first part is how communism works right so everybody could go check that one out get a primer figure out what people were so concerned about in the first place and tune in next time when ben and i pick up the story of mccarthyism you can buy by searching the home page for how communism works that w w w house network doc furthermore on this and thousands of other topics as a house i foresaw com
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Transcript generated on 2020-02-04.