May 28, 2010

(Drew Pearson - blowing whistles, making enemies)

The name Drew Pearson is probably not remembered at all these days, but in the 1950's, when the Red Scare and the Joe McCarthy witch hunts were going full speed ahead, Pearson was one of the few commentators (Murrow probably being the most noteworthy in history) to take McCarthy to task for creating mass paranoia. His daily radio broadcast and newspaper column Washington Merry Go Round did much to expose the underlying corruption and hypocrisy on Capitol Hill. His methods were a little questionable and, like many "commentators" today, made things up at times. But the bottom line was, he shed light on areas of political life that were often conveniently ignored by the rest of mainstream media.

Of course it didn't endear him to a lot of people. Even his allies at times were taken aback by his allegations. Eventually, pressure was put on ABC Radio, his network outlet via his advertisers, to drop his daily show. And on March 29, 1953 he aired his last broadcast for a radio network.

Drew Pearson: “When Senator Nixon, now the vice-President, used a private fund for his expenses he apparently started a trend. For Homer Jameson, a Fresno sawmill operator is raising another so-called Nixon Fund for Congressman Allen Hunter of California, also a Republican. Jameson has collected over $2,000 to help pay Hunter’s political expenses. He assured my office that he is not accepting more than ten dollars from any single contributor. However, other Congressmen still think this private fund idea is bad. For a Congressman must represent his entire district, not just the people who put up a private fund for him.”

Although his show went into syndication for a while, he spent more time on his column which was eventually taken over by Jack Anderson, a Pearson protege who took over after Pearson's death in 1969.

But muckraking on the radio was alive and well and kicking in 1953.

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