George Clooney: CBS Bashing McCarthy, Vietnam War "High Water Marks" of TV News

Just as he did a few weeks ago to the Village Voice, George Clooney appeared on NBC’s Today show Monday to promote his CBS-glorifying film "Good Night and Good Luck" and insisted "we double-sourced every, every single scene in the film happened and that was important to us." See my earlier item to see one example of an inaccurate scene.

When Matt Lauer asked Clooney why he made the film, Clooney said Murrow’s anti-McCarthy blast and Walter Cronkite’s declaration that the Vietnam War was lost were historic highs for TV news: "My father's an anchorman, I grew up with the idea of how great the Fourth Estate is and how important it is, especially in broadcast journalism. And this was the high point, one of the, probably the high water marks, this and, and when Cronkite came back from Vietnam were two times that you could point directly to a policy change and sort of an attitude change on the country. And I thought it was a great time to talk about those things again. I don't, uh, I don't think it's necessarily the same issues anymore but I think it's always a good time to talk about responsibility."

Although Clooney tried to claim it wasn’t his job to tell journalists to straighten up (he has suggested they’ve been completely intimidated by Team Bush in other interviews), he told Lauer: "I would argue that over the past couple, three years we do this, you know, every, every 30 or 40 years we get a little scared. You know we get a little beat up by somebody and or something and we start to worry if it's unpatriotic to ask tough questions and I find that I don't know a journalist that doesn't want to ask the tough questions, it's usually the issues. My father's fights were never about, with reporters to ask tough questions. He asked tough questions of the Carter administration and he asked tough questions of the Ford administration. His job was to question power. That's what the Fourth Estate does."

His father, Nick Clooney, was an anchorman in Lexington, Kentucky and Cincinnati, in case the movie star made it sound like his dad was in the White House press corps. (He also lost a 2004 race for the House of Representatives, as a Democrat.) Clooney was more specific in his claims in an interview with the New York Press: "My dad, who went after OPEC for raising gas prices and Gerald Ford for pardoning Richard Nixon, believed it's your responsibility—not just your right—to question authority."

(Transcript from MRC's Geoffrey Dickens.)

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