Would Eye Lie to You?: Reexamining CBS’ Reported Phone Response to “Murrow versus McCarthy”


  • Ian Punnett Kansas State University




This exploratory, historical study collects firsthand knowledge from two veteran broadcasting executives and two telecommunications experts regarding the night Edward R. Murrow devoted his March 9, 1954, TV program to “taking on” Sen. Joseph P. McCarthy. Using the elite interview methodology, never before revealed firsthand testimony of a CBS affiliate phone operator challenges the accepted story of massive public phone response to CBS in the four hours after See It Now aired. Also, a novel technological approach reveals how an investigation of telecommunications capacity can play an important, but previously unrecognized role in determining the truth of a long-accepted event even 60 years later. For the first time, this inquiry introduces critical new testimony into the public record with regard to CBS’ claim that 2,365 viewers called the network during a four hour timespan, mostly in support of America’s most respected journalist, and the role that CBS would have played in the subterfuge.


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