With Television in its infancy, the scramble was on to fill the airwaves with new and interesting programming. Because the "Meet The Press" format was successful (not to mention easy to pull off), it spawned a whole genre of programs centered around political discussions with at least one of the major players of the day.
The most visible was a series that, even though it was comparatively short-lived, had undergone a number of name changes but it's centerpiece was still the same - a talk show centered around former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. It was a fascinating show that covered a wide range of bases and, because of who she was, Mrs. Roosevelt was able to get some of the most prestigious guests in the world at the time to drop in.
One such show ran on this day (May 28th) in 1950. The subject was Post-War Germany and the guests included Congressman Jacob Javits, writer Dorothy Thompson, former Nuremberg Trial prosecutor Telford Taylor and Senator Guy Gillette.
Since Korea was weeks away, the topic of conversation was still the post-war climate in Europe and its reconstruction of rebuilding of Germany. The opinions on what was to become of the former enemy ran the gamut, with Taylor giving the most telling of the climate at the time.
Telford Taylor: “I regard the de-Nazification program as a most unfortunate failure in most of its important respects. For that there are a number of reasons, and we could go into that but I’m inclined to think that it’s more important now that we face the facts rather than examine into that failure. I think, while it’s most important that we see Germany in the light of present day conditions, that we mustn’t try to see Germany as it isn’t. That that gets into the realm of wishful thinking. And I think it’s important to realize that de-Nazification hasn’t been a process which has radically changed the underlying frame of mind in Germany. If I don’t however go from there along with some people who want to start up and do the whole thing over again, because I don’t think that’s the way to deal with it now at all. And it seems to me that from now on, in that particular field, it’s most important that we have adequate publicity about the problem which I think Senator Gillette’s resolution offers an excellent opportunity to procure and that is the most effective thing we can do now, instead of starting up again with all the administrative machinery and all the delicate problems which made the problem very difficult to solve before.”
At the beginning of the program announcer Ben Grauer reads a news report about Communist demonstrations in Berlin. And even though it was under the guise of late breaking news, it still pointed out the deepening Cold War atmosphere that permeated most topics of discussion during that period. That the rift between East and West was getting wider. And when the shooting war started in Korea, Germany took a back seat for a few years but never quite left the table completely. It was another aspect of the Cold War we'd all be getting used to for a long time.
Here is Today With Mrs. Roosevelt, as it aired live across the East Coast on May 28th 1950.