The BBC World Edition has a commentary
from former Sunday Times editor Harold Evans
that begins ostensibly as a review of the new film about Edward R. Murrow called "Good night, and good luck". But it quickly evolves into a brilliantly insightful commentary on the state of the U.S. media, particular in the medium where Murrow worked when he took on Senator McCarthy, television news.
He puts this event into historical perspective, particularly given where American TV news now finds itself, when after the Murrow broadcast was aired, it met with:
a chorus of critical acclaim, yet a few years later, in the spirit of Monty Python, Paley and his CBS Network opted for something completely different: the $64,000 quiz . Its immediate success produced a tectonic shift in America's TV culture as commercial rivals copied. Paley first shunted See It Now to an unfavourable time slot, and then killed it altogether. The golden era of documentary television was over.
Harold Evans knew Ed Murrow personally, and can offer a unique perspective upon the events described in George Clooney's film. He seems to like it, although Clooney's portrayal of another friend, Fred Friendly, seems to be slightly off from the reality of that man, to say the least.
But the commentary is wonderfully biting in its assessment of American news. Evans works his way into the subject using his knowledge of Edward Murrow's view in later life of what CBS news was becoming:
Murrow nursed his wounds at CBS until a memorable banquet in Chicago in the spring of 1958. The film pointedly opens not with a McCarthy scene but Murrow on stage telling television's merchant princes that they had they had given over their medium to "decadence, escapism and insulation".
He even predicted what the consequences might be for our willfully ignoring the real news of the rest of the world:
So by 2001, the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, the consequences of the Taleban's capture of Afghanistan, the insidious growth of global anti-Americanism, came as terrible shock to its insulated world. Murrow had warned it would happen: "If we go on as we are then history will take its revenge and retribution will not be limp in catching up with us."
It's a good commentary, please give it a read. Mr Evans is a longtime admirer of the United States who is genuinely worried about us. This is a man who knew the great journalists when the world of journalism wasn't run by the ratings and the next quarter's revenues. And he knows the reality. He did, after all, resign from the Times one year after it was purchased by Rupert Murdoch, because he felt the owner was attempting to exert undue influence over the content of the paper.