See the extensive bibliography (divided into print, video/audio, and online resources) below the essay.
 Good Night and Good Luck centers on Edward R. Murrow and his historic broadcast against Senator Joseph McCarthy on March 9th, 1954. The movie presents months prior to the broadcast on Murrow’s CBS show See It Now, the broadcast itself, and some of the reactions to it. Bookending the movie is a television and radio awards gala honoring Murrow’s heroism from his radio reports in London during World War II to his public stand against McCarthy’s anti-communist witch-hunt. The film clearly takes a stand against McCarthy, showing the episode only from a pro-Murrow angle, time-warping some of the events, and not giving any perspective on McCarthy. Though the movie is in many ways a noble historical film, the director’s political stance has influenced the treatment of the true history of the clash between Edward R. Murrow and Senator McCarthy. To get a fuller picture of the event, I want to briefly examine both Murrow’s and McCarthy’s lives and the historically correct version of the See It Now episode and McCarthy’s downfall.
 Edward R. Murrow was born on April 25, 1908, in a small Quaker town in North Carolina. He worked on the family farm while growing up, creating plenty of pleasant memories, and moved with his family to Washington in 1925. In Washington, he attended three different colleges, working hard at his academics while majoring in Speech, serving as class president, and excelling in the ROTC program and as a member of the National Student Federation (NSF). He was elected president of the NSF and brilliantly expanded the program, placing an emphasis on international student debates. During this time he began his association with CBS, as he was able to negotiate airing a program “A University of the Air” that turned out to be quite successful.
 Murrow met Janet Brewster through NSF, and they were married in 1934 and had a son, Charles Casey. Soon after, he joined CBS, the company with whom he spent a lifetime of ups and downs. With the onset of WWII, Murrow was stationed in London to make live radio reports to America about the progress of the war, always beginning with his standard “This is London.” He made heroic strides in his broadcasting, which were often done during air raids. He tried his best to give the audience a full, brutally honest picture of the bleakness in bombed London and even the horrors of the Nazi death camps, and he was praised often for his work.
 After the conclusion of the war, Murrow returned to the US and was promoted in the CBS hierarchy. When the Korean War began, he traveled there to broadcast the war efforts through his acclaimed radio program Hear It Now. The advent and popularity of television transformed news broadcasting forever, and Hear It Now transformed into See It Now. His new signature sign off became “Good night, and good luck,” which gives the movie its title. Through See It Now Murrow claimed great success as he set the stage for television news broadcasting. He became a household name and was trusted and often looked to as the United States navigated through the tough waters of the height of the Cold War. Many thought of him as courageous, moving, brilliant, and unpretentious -- a man full of integrity in search of truth. He used See It Now to examine US politics and to educate US citizens, which is how he looked at the March 9th, 1954, episode devoted to openly criticize Senator Joseph McCarthy and his anticommunist investigations. Murrow retired from his long and successful career with CBS in 1961, and he died from lung cancer (because of his infamous chain smoking) in 1965.
 Joseph McCarthy was born on a farm in Wisconsin on November 15, 1908. He worked various jobs as he grew up and his higher level schooling got off to a slow start. Though he entered high school at 21, he finished the entire four years of study in just nine months. He then attended Marquette University, still working various odd-end jobs, and later pursued a law degree. He was elected president of his law school class and graduated in 1935. Though practicing on his own for a while, he joined a law firm and partnered in 1937.
 McCarthy then began his climb in the political arena. Ironically, his first run at office was for a local post as a democrat, and he lost. Recovering, he ran for a judgeship and became the youngest elected judge in Wisconsin. As a judge, McCarthy was dedicated, intelligent, and (most importantly) fair, though the position whetted his appetite for power. In his thirst for power, he later violated one of the ethical codes for his place of duty.
 When World War II broke out, McCarthy took a leave of absence to join the Marines as an intelligence officer. He was involved in bombing missions on the Pacific front, but he was never injured as he later claimed to be. Still on active duty in 1944, he contested for the Republican nomination for the US Senate and was firmly defeated. After the war, he returned to his elected post in the judiciary circuit and set his eyes on the 1946 Senate race.
 McCarthy’s opposition for the Republican nomination, Robert M. La Follette, was the expected winner, for he served as a senator for twenty-one years. Just rejoining the Republican party after serving as a Progressive, however, La Follette fell out of grace with the Republicans, and McCarthy narrowly won the nomination. He was handily elected and was the Senate’s youngest member. McCarthy saw some success his first few years, slowly separating himself from his party line, though always voting conservatively. McCarthy’s rise to anticommunist power and fame began in 1950, when in an address he claimed that communists had infiltrated the US government.
 At that time, the US was deep in the Cold War with the Soviet Union, fearful of both communism and of Soviets. The arms and space race had begun. Although the US was a superpower, it was still vulnerable to both physical (threat of nuclear war) and governmental (threat of communism) destruction by the Soviet Union. Almost paranoid, McCarthy was afraid of communist infiltration in the government and sought to discover all the spies. Many of his original accusations turned out to be false, but he kept naming possible traitors. He was able to find a few communist infiltrators, and his active fight against communism assured many citizens of the safety of the US. Soon he became a household name. However, public approval was ambiguous; many supported his accusations for fear of a communist takeover, while others criticized his tactics. Smear campaigns were spread against him, tarnishing his reputation.
 He continued his accusations and gained enough control to open a Senate investigating committee, angering many Democrats. Though it may or may not have been his intention, his accusations and investigations angrily divided the country into liberal and conservative, left and right. McCarthy and other Republicans charged many Democrats of swaying too far left. His fear of treason and subsequent accusations against suspected traitors became so infamous that his name turned into a term that describes the period: McCarthyism. McCarthyism is used to describe the Red Scare of the 1940s and ‘50s, frantic fear of disloyalty or communism, and unfounded accusations. McCarthyism is a term for the communist witch-hunt that plagued the US in the 1950s.
 As McCarthy’s accusations grew, so did his opposition. He eventually turned off many supporters, who thought went too far and was unethical in his investigations, for he often persecuted without much evidence. Murrow’s March 9th, 1954, broadcast on McCarthy opened many eyes to McCarthy’s overstepping tactics and persuaded many to oppose him. It did not cause the later Army-McCarthy hearings, but it did greatly influence the general opinion of him and broadly open up criticism of the Senator. The Army-McCarthy hearings of Spring 1954 ultimately led to McCarthy’s demise as Senator, as, famously, the Army’s chief council Joseph Welch reflected that McCarthy was void of decency and regard for human dignity. In late 1954, the Senate voted to censure McCarthy and reprimand him for his abuse of power. His drinking increased, and on May 2, 1957, McCarthy died of acute hepatitis.
 With liberal George Clooney as director, Good Night and Good Luck follows Murrow in his journey to broadcasting fame by openly criticizing Senator McCarthy to millions of viewers. Not entirely clear in the movie, however, is the fact that Murrow was not the first to criticize McCarthy. Many other journalists were not afraid to pose their opinions, but Murrow courageously changed the then-neutral television news forever by bringing the criticisms into the houses of millions of citizens. He urged the public to think and formulate their own opinions. The film, however, does distort the view of McCarthy: he is seen solely as a negative, evil figure who didn’t care about US citizens. That does not reflect reality. McCarthy was supported by many citizens who felt that he was protecting them from communism. Furthermore, Murrow did not, as the film suggests, cause McCarthy’s downfall. The program opened the public’s eyes, including the rest of the Senate, to his power and questionable tactics and allowed others to openly criticize him. It was influential in the disapproval of McCarthy, but it was not instrumental in his senatorial demise. Good Night and Good Luck reminds the audience of the twenty-first century of the hysteria of the 1950s, the fight for individual rights and liberties, and the courageousness of a news broadcaster who was not afraid to break tradition.
- Baar, K. Kevyne. "What has my Union Done for Me?: The Screen Actors Guild, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and Actors' Equity Association Respond to McCarthy-Era Blacklisting ." Film History 20.4 (2008): 437-55.
- This article delves into the blacklist consequence of the fear of communism in the 1950s. Despite the prosperity of the time, America was deep in the Cold War, and communism was the enemy. Many feared communist infiltrations in all areas of society, including the entertainment industry: "It its attempt to maintain itself and to demonstrate its commitment to the trends of the time, the movie industry also hewed to a kind of fearful conformity both on-screen and off" (438). Though unions were meant to protect its members, blacklisting caused rifts in the unions. Hollywood was so afraid of portraying America in a negative light that many actors, screenwriters, producers, etc., were labeled subversives and were unable to work. Some government officials supported this blacklisting, including Senator McCarthy. Eventually enough people gained the courage to stand up against the witch-hunt and blacklisting disappeared.
- Bryson, Lyman, and Edward R. Murrow. "You and Television." Hollywood Quarterly 4.2 (1949): 178-81.
- This is an excerpt from an interview between CBS correspondents Bryson and Murrow about the news media's future in television. Murrow asserts that television will diminish the effectiveness and credibility of news broadcasting because "finding either pictorial or animated material to support or sustain the news broadcast is emphasized at the expense of sound news judgment and therefore that television is in some danger of failing to present the news fully and in perspective" (178). Both Bryson and Murrow saw in that beginning stage of television the possibility for false broadcasting and distortion of pictures. This article provides a background to Murrow's style of television news broadcasting and to the movie. Interestingly, Murrow thought that "television is not going to change political fortunes, political oratory, or voting very much" (179). As the potential of television became more apparent through the years, Murrow must have changed his views because he used television to openly and honestly criticize Senator Joseph McCarthy and to persuade viewers of McCarthy's disregard for individual rights. This article can be compared with the speech Murrow gave on television that bookends the film.
- Cloud, Stanley. "The Murrow Boys: Broadcasting for the Mind's Eye." Defining Moments in Journalism (1998): 3-6.
- Cloud provides a short description of the beginning of Murrow's career with CBS. Murrow was sent to London in the mid-1930s, not as a journalist but to direct other broadcasters on the air. As the war grew imminent, however, Murrow's view about his job and about the role of CBS's radio broadcasts changed. He gathered men together whom he thought would be honest journalists and support his broadcasting decisions. Cloud argues that Murrow started "a revolution in journalism" (3). Murrow and his "boys" set out to broadcast the war to the millions of Americans listening to their radios. In order to do so, they had to create simple pictorial programs that would portray the war honestly as they saw it. They wanted the audience to feel and see the war in their "mind's eye" (4). Cloud argues that when journalist broadcasting switched from radio to television "the line between news and entertainment became even more blurry, with devastating effects on quality" (5). Despite the corrupting effects of television, Murrow's broadcasting style had lasting effects for he was simply searching for truth in news journalism.
- Friendly, Fred W. Due to circumstances beyond our control .... New York: Random House, 1967.
- Friendly was Murrow's producer and friend, and this book is one of the sources of the film script.
- O'Connor, John E. "Murrow Confronts McCarthy: Two Stages of Historical Analysis for Film and Television." Celluloid Blackboard: Teaching History with Film. Ed. Alan S. Marcus. Charlotte: Information Age Publishing, 2007. 17-39.
- O'Connor has created two different rubrics with which to analyze film. The first rubric includes the content, production, and reception of the film, and the second rubric assesses the film with relation to history. O'Connor studies both Murrow's "See it Now: A Report on Senator McCarthy" and Clooney's Good Night, and Good Luck. Regarding the episode of See it Now, O'Connor breaks down the report in his first analysis and argues that it loses some credibility historically because it is obvious that the reporters manipulated and edited the footage of McCarthy to make their own point: "[the cutaway edits] also may have helped to focus on certain aspects of what McCarthy had to say—perhaps to be sure to highlight his silly little laugh and his embarrassing emotionalism" (33). O'Connor's analysis of Good Night, and Good Luck finds the film focuses on the same issues as the report (in fact, the report was included in the film), but it is also wider in scope, characterizing the people involved, etc. Furthermore, O'Connor finds that "a half-century later George Clooney and his associates thought the time was ripe for a retelling of the story—actually the first complete telling of the story on the large screen. The response of reviewers and the lines [of movie-goers]…suggests that they were correct" (31).
- Reeves, Thomas C. "The Search for Joe McCarthy." Wisconsin Magazine of History 60.3 (1977): 185-96.
- Though this article is a bit dated now, Reeves considers why there has been little or no meaningful and truthful historical documentation on Senator Joseph McCarthy. He asserts that all historians have followed the liberal example and characterized him as "amoral, insensitive, foolish, dangerous, cruel, reckless, sadistic, even fiendish" and not possessing "charm, wit, and intellect" (188). Another reason for the scarce material on the actual man is that McCarthy's family and friends have not cooperated with nonfiction writers and historians. Though opening up may clear up the falsities, the family has often kept to themselves and they have negative opinions about historians, including Reeves. Even today, over thirty years after Reeves' article, McCarthy remains a man shrouded in mystery and deemed a terrible man who stood for anti-American values, which Good Night, and Good Luck portrays. The film does not build McCarthy as a full character and person and has been criticized for its portrayal of McCarthy as simply an evil demagogue who was defeated by the good Murrow.
- Rosteck, Thomas. "Irony, Argument, and Reportage in Television Documentary: See it Now Versus Senator McCarthy." Quarterly Journal of Speech 9 (Aug. 1989): 277-98.
- Rosteck argues that, although many praised Murrow for the See it Now episode on Senator McCarthy, others question its objectivity. For example, Rosteck claims that "‘A Report on Senator McCarthy' is often cited as a failure. For instance, one study concludes that the program compromised the Senator in its form and its content, and so was ‘unfair;' another, based on interviews with the principles, asserts that Murrow and Friendly never intended to be ‘objective'" (278). Furthermore, Murrow showed bias in his tone of speech; he often used sarcasm and satire to mock McCarthy and prove McCarthy's wrongdoings. Moreover, Rosteck urges the public to examine the text of the broadcast because "I have argued for a reading of the text ‘against' its traditional classification as a ‘news report.' Instead ‘A Report on Senator McCarthy' more properly belongs to another genre—the public accusation" (294). Though a brilliant news program, Rosteck argues that it was not just a news program, that through his speech and rhetoric Murrow intended the broadcast to be so much more. Clooney seems to agree, as he applies Murrow's words and tone to the today's political world.
- Schoeneman, Thomas J. "The Witch Hunt as a Culture Change Phenomenon." Ethos 3.4 (1975): 529-54.
- Schoeneman explores the various aspects of witch hunting and how it applies to different cultures. The Western witch hunt usually consists of social scapegoating, a way to escape the social problems by blaming a specific person or group of persons. It's obvious that McCarthy's anticommunism turned into a witch hunt, for "anti-witch and persecutory movements generally occur in times of social change" (533). In fact, Shoeneman includes a table (Table 2) that describes the "Processual Chronology of the McCarthy Red Scare, 1950-1954" (551-52). As uncertainty and fear permeated the US, certain people (mainly McCarthy) used that fear to streamline the government, to seek out people who could possibly change society or the government, and to maintain the status quo against leftist thinking.
- Wershba, Joseph and Shirley. Papers. Archival material at the University of Texas, Austin.
- "Audio tapes, videocassettes, correspondence, transcripts, printed material, newspaper clippings, notes, scripts and drafts, photographs, motion picture film, press releases, research material, and ephemera document Joseph and Shirley Wershba's careers in broadcast news. The material reflects events and political and social issues in the United States between 1936 and 1993. Much of the collection consists of the Wershbas' program files relating to stories they were producing. Among the many prominent twentieth century figures represented are Winston Churchill and John F. Kennedy. Persons who had a significant impact on the development of broadcast news are included, in particular Edward R. Murrow. Other persons associated with the collection include John Henry Faulk, Walter Cronkite, and Lyndon B. Johnson." The Wershba Papers were one source for the movie script.
- Wiebe, G. D. "The Army-McCarthy Hearings and the Public Conscience." Public Opinion Quarterly 22.4 (1958-1959): 490-502.
- Wiebe conducted a study surveying the public opinion of Senator McCarthy after the Army-McCarthy televised hearings. Wiebe originally thought that the public who had supported McCarthy would drastically flip their opinion of him, that disapproval of McCarthy would be vast, and that the citizens would be very supportive of individual rights and discourage persecution. However, Wiebe found that "our 46 respondents divided as follows: 25 were pro-McCarthy, 20 were anti-McCarthy, and 1 seemed genuinely neutral" (492). Furthermore, his study showed that civil rights values were not strongly held because of the hearings and only a few thoroughly changed their minds about McCarthy after the trial. He compared his findings to other studies and found that they had similar results as well.
- The Edward R. Murrow Collection. New York: Docurama, Distributed by New Video, 2005.
- "Hosted by Mike Wallace, Walter Cronkite, and Dan Rather, this 4-pack set explores the life and groundbreaking work of Edward R. Murrow, America's most esteemed broadcast journalist." Sections entitled "This Reporter," "The Best of See It Now," "The McCarthy Years," and "Harvest of Shame."
- Hollywood on Trial. MPI Home Video, 1989.
- "A courageous and true recording of the story of 'The Hollywood Ten.' who, in 1947, would not cooperate when accused by the United States government of possible communist loyalties."
- McCarthy, Death of a Witch Hunter: A Film of the Era of Senator Joseph R. McCarthy. Oak Forest: MPI Home Video, 1975 .
- "Examines the man whose name has become synonymous with the blacklisting fervor of The Cold War and provides an overview of the 1954 Army-McCarthy hearings."
- "McCarthy-Welch Exchange." American Rhetoric: Online Speech Bank. http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/welch-mccarthy.html
- The complete audio and transcript of the June 9, 1954, section of the Army-McCarthy hearings. The Army was attempting to censure Senator McCarthy and Joseph Welch, the Army attorney, effectively put the last nail in McCarthy's coffin. During the proceedings, Welch got so heated that he famously accused McCarthy: "You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?" A comparison can be done between the entire transcript and the Key Passages of the film.
- Murrow, Edward R. "Response to Senator Joe McCarthy on CBS' See it Now." American Rhetoric: Online Speech Bank. http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/edwardrmurrowtomccarthy.htm
- The entire video and text of Murrow's April 13, 1954, See it Now episode responding to Senator McCarthy's accusations of Murrow on his afforded episode of See it Now. A comparison of this transcript and the Good Night, and Good Luck key passages shows which points screenwriters George Clooney and Grant Heslov thought most important and most applicable for a film of the subject made in 2005.
- Point of Order. New York: New Yorker Video, 2005.
- "A compilation of TV coverage of the 1954 McCarthy-Army hearings, where the Army accuses Senator McCarthy of improperly pressuring the Army for special treatment of one of the senator's aides."
- Widner, James F. "Edward (Egbert) Roscoe Murrow." Radio Days. 2000. http://www.otr.com/murrow.shtml
- Though this site has a short biography of Murrow, the more important and interesting aspects are three audio clips from his radio broadcasting of World War II in London. In the first clip, Murrow is analyzing the days leading up to the war, how both Britain and the USSR are reacting to Nazi Germany's pressure. He argues that war is still inevitable. The second clip took place in London during the blitz; the listener can even hear bursts of bombs overhead. In order to get a good program for the listeners in America, Murrow broadcast on a rooftop. The third clip describes air-raided London. Murrow is outside, and the air raid sirens can be heard. He describes the eerie sound of footsteps as people rush to shelters.
- Appleton Public Library Reference Staff. "Biography: Joseph McCarthy (1908-1957)." Appleton History 21 Apr. 2003. Appleton Public Library. http://www.apl.org/history/mccarthy/biography.html
- A mid-sized biography on Senator McCarthy based on The Life and Times of Joe McCarthy: A Biography by Thomas C. Reeves. The biography highlights his modest beginning and his remarkable intellect, for he finished all of high school in nine months. He won the senatorial position his second try, and he did gain considerable success. He was never "evil" as many describe him; he followed protocol that he thought would secure America's safety and ultimately preserve the freedoms that he sometimes stepped on.
- The Army-McCarthy Hearings. C-SPAN. http://www.c-span.org/special/mccarthy.asp
- "WCSP FM Radio 90.1, aired a special five-day series focusing on the Army-McCarthy hearings, beginning Monday, August 21 through Friday, August 25 at 4pm ET each day."
- Edward R. Murrow -- Army/McCarthy Hearings -- March 9, 1954. http://www.otr.com/murrow_mccarthy.shtml
- Clip from Murrow's closing speech. "AntiCommunist crusader Joseph McCarthy entered the public consciousness on February 9, 1950 when he began attacking President Truman's foreign policy agenda. He charged that the State Department harbored Communists. McCarthy was a spellbinding speaker and critics hesitated to challenge him openly for those under McCarthy's knife faced loss of work and damaged careers. When the Republicans took control of Congress in 1952, McCarthy became even more powerful as head of the Committee on Government Operations. When McCarthy's aide G. David Schine, who had been drafted, was to be posted overseas and the Secretary of the Army refused to intercede, McCarthy went after the Army. Thus began the Army/McCarthy hearings which were televised."
- McCarthy, Joseph R. "Senator Joseph R. McCarthy: Reply to Edward R. Murrow 'See it Now' (CBS-TV, April 6, 1954)." Media Resources Center: Library of University of California, Berkeley. http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/MRC/murrowmccarthy2.html
- The entire transcript from the April 6, 1954, episode of See it Now in which Senator McCarthy was given the time to respond to the criticisms of Murrow from the March 9, 1954, episode. In his response, McCarthy accused Murrow of being subversive more than he disputed the points Murrow had made about his methods. Clooney only used a part of the entire broadcast, as is evident in the Key Passages.
- McCarthyism. Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McCarthyism
- Wikipedia provides an in depth look at McCarthyism, which is the "politically motivated practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence." Obviously, McCarthyism was coined to describe the actions of Senator McCarthy and is most associated with his anti-communist witch-hunt of the 1940s and 1950s. McCarthyism was instituted during that time through such committees as the House Committee on Un-American Activities and the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, and through the new Federal Bureau of Investigation under J. Edgar Hoover. After Senator McCarthy was censured, McCarthyism declined. Today, the term is used to describe unsupported accusations and a disregard for individual rights.
- Murrow, Edward R. "See it Now: 'A Report on Senator Joseph R. McCarthy." The Beat Begins: America in the 1950s. HONR269J. http://www.honors.umd.edu/HONR269J/archive/Murrow540309.html [Archived]
- The entire historic See it Now broadcast criticizing Senator McCarthy and his methods. By comparing this transcript with the Good Night, and Good Luck key passages, the audience can see which parts of the speech screenwriters George Clooney and Grant Heslov chose to include in the film. Most of the passages chosen can be applied to today's political society.
- Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs http://www.gpo.gov/congress/senate/senate12cp107.html
- See S. Prt. 107-84 for McCarthy hearings.
- Vernon, Wes. "Murrow, McCarthy, and enduring myths." Renew America 6 November 2005. http://www.renewamerica.us/columns/vernon/051106
- "The movie 'Good Night and Good Luck' enshrines with a vengeance the myth that the late Edward R. Murrow was a White Knight who came to the rescue of an America engulfed in fear and hysteria, thanks to Senator Joseph R. McCarthy and his investigations of Communist influence (in and out of government) in the United States. The fact is that, far from making "wild accusations," McCarthy really didn't know the half of it. Information from Soviet archives and the "Venona (military decripts), publicized after the fall of the Soviet Union, clearly showed that the U.S. government and many of our non-governmental institutions were infiltrated by Communists prior to and at the time of congressional investigations of subversive activity in the thirties, Forties and Fifties.
- Wershba, Joseph. Edward R. Murrow and the Time of His Time. http://www.evesmag.com/murrow.htm
- An appreciation by a co-worker: "Edward R. Murrow was my last hero. When this nation was drowning in cowardice and demagoguery, it was Murrow who hurled the spear at the terror. The spear was his See It Now television broadcast on Senator Joe McCarthy."