Trivia time: Guess where these words about current events came from:
• “We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty.”
• “You can’t convict people by rumor, hearsay, and innuendo.”
• “We can not defeat terror abroad without confronting it here at home.”
• “We must remember always that accusation is not proof, and that conviction depends on evidence and due process of law”
• “We will not walk in fear, one of another”
• “We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine; and remember that we are not descended from fearful men. Not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were for the moment unpopular.”
Did they come from a presidential candidate, or the State of the Union Address? Wolf Blitzer or Anderson Cooper or Larry King or any of the other leaders in the business of 24-hour newscasts? Nope. These all came from a “See It Now” broadcast in the year 1953. Edward R. Murrow spoke these words, CBS News broadcast them, and a future generation of journalists, politicians, and leaders was shaped by them. They’ve been brought to light in “Good Night, and Good Luck,” a Best Picture nominee for which I’ll be rooting. Here’s why.
The black-and-white movie brings living color to the messages of integrity, professionalism, character, and leadership. In the face of situations that sound dangerously close to what’s happening in some areas of our culture today, this movie should be shown in every classroom in America. It’s not only well-made, but it teaches a history that is more accurate than most docu-dramas and sheds light on interpreting what we see today—and why we see it—on CNN, CNBC, Fox News, etc. “Good Night and Good Luck” creates stirring drama around what amounts to a talking head on an ancient television in a time many of us never knew.
It was more than 50 years ago, but even at that time, America was struggling with the rights of the individual vs. the rights of the government to protect us from foreign terror. The media industry, even then, was grappling with the pressures of Corporate Sponsors vs. Journalistic Pursuits. We’d be naive to think that doesn’t happen today at the cable news networks and network news press rooms and corporate offices.
Ethics and character are the kinds of things many companies, individuals, and organizations want to be known for, but practicing such lofty ideals can be highly challenging. “Good Night and Good Luck” is not considered the favorite to win the Oscar for Best Picture, but it has won several other awards already. Still, I am rooting for “Good Night and Good Luck” to take home the statuette when that last, most-coveted Oscar is awarded. It would send a better message to our culture–and it was just a better film–than the others.