Army-McCarthy Hearings Facts

Army-McCarthy Hearings Facts
After the dusk of World War II settled, the world settled into the new political reality of the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States. On the American home front, efforts to stop communism from growing domestically led to what is called the second Red Scare, which was largely led by Wisconsin United States Senator Joseph McCarthy. McCarthy made accusations that there were large numbers of communists, communist sympathizers, and Soviet spies working in the United States government. The public was generally sympathetic to McCarthy and his form of anti-communism, which became known as "McCarthyism," but when he attacked the Army, the Army decided to fight back. The Army accused McCarthy's attorney, Roy Cohn, of using his government influence to get a McCarthy staffer, G. David Schine, while he was a private in the Army. The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations called for hearings on the accusations that lasted from April through June 1954. Although McCarthy was the Chair of the committee, he was forced to give that position up for the hearings because he was a witness. The hearings were televised and largely seen as a public relations debacle for McCarthy and a major reason why he was censured by the Senate in December 1954, all but ending McCarthyism.
Interesting Army-McCarthy Hearings Facts:
Republican Senator Karl Mundt of South Dakota chaired the committee during the hearings.
The hearings were covered live by the ABC and now defunct DuMont television networks for the full thirty-six days from April 22 to June 17. More than eighty million people watched at least part of the hearings, making it one of the major American television events of the 1950s.
Schine was from a wealthy hotel magnate family, which is where he got his start in the anti-communist movement. He wrote a short booklet titled Definition of Communism and placed it in the rooms.
During the hearings, accusations of homosexual activity were leveled by both sides against each other. Roy Cohn later came out as a homosexual and died of AIDS in 1986 at the age of fifty-nine.
John G. Adams, a World War II veteran, was the legal counsel for the Army during the hearings and Joseph Welch, a Boston lawyer, acted as chief counsel for the Army.
McCarthy produced a letter that he claimed was written by then head of the F.B.I., J. Edgar Hoover, warning of communists in the Army signal corps. Although Hoover himself never testified, the Attorney General claimed no such letter was ever written.
One of the more dramatic points in the hearings took place when McCarthy implied that a fellow lawyer of Welch's from his law firm had communist sympathies. Welch replied, "Have you left no sense of decency?"
A Gallup poll before the hearings had McCarthy at 50% approval and 29% disapproval. After the well-televised hearings he was at 36% approval and 45% disapproval.
The Republicans lost the majority of both houses of Congress in the 1954 midterm election, which cost McCarthy his chair on the Subcommittee on Investigations.

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