This very well written, well directed and beautifully filmed movie attempts to perpetuate the myths of the McCarthy era while ostensively telling the story of Edward R Murrow. For the knowledgeable viewer however, no case is really made against McCarthy. The rating submitted is for the technical aspects of the movie.
Certainly, George Clooney, as writer and director could not make the case honestly. Surely with all the (supposedly) thousands of victims we are told about is it really necessary to work the bogus cases discussed below into the screenplay?
Milo Radulovich, discharged from the Air Force, is presented at length as a victim of McCarthy, but of course, McCarthy had nothing to do with his case. This was a security issue that was handled by the Air Force itself.
Annie Lee Moss is presented as a victim of McCarthy in her appearance before the committee. Ms Moss was being questioned as a witness in trying to determine who had promoted Ms Moss, who worked in the cafeteria, to a position as a code clerk handling classified messages in the Pentagon. In McCarthy's questioning, he asks her if she's ever been a dues paying member of the Communist Party (no), whether she subscribes to the Daily Worker newspaper (no), has attended Communist party meetings (no), and so on (no,no,no). She's not very convincing in the film clips when giving her testimony, and the folks at CBS try to convince themselves that maybe one of the other Mosses in the phone book is the party in question (false). She is patronisingly presented as someone so simple as to have difficulty reading, but reading her job description reveals that she would have to be very much on the ball to fulfill the duties assigned. Four years later, of course, all the testimony she has given under oath is shown to be false (but not in the movie), and one wonders indeed who did promote Ms Moss, and why.
The case of Lawrence Duggan, journalistic mentor of Murrow runs through the film, with Duggan always looking worried and nervous, until he finally commits suicide.
No wonder: he was a Soviet spy, as revealed later (but not in the movie).
Edward Murrow seems to look very worried a lot of the time, too. What is the meaning of the furtive glances exchanged between Murrow and Duggan? Is Clooney trying to tell us something? Did Murrow know his friend was a Soviet spy?
The release of the Verona transcripts of intercepted Soviet code in 1995 provided the evidence that most all of what McCarthy said was true, and most all of what his detractors said was not.
With this knowledge, it would have been more prudent for Mr Clooney to tell the story in a more ironic tone, and not retell the same old legends for the benefit of those who like to hear them.
Trivia: Check the background in the original film clips of the hearings for Robert Kennedy (yes, that Robert Kennedy) - he was the junior counsel on McCarthy's committee.
Addendum: After reading the meticulously documented book 'Blacklisted by History', it is patently obvious that McCarthy was destroyed by the Administration for 'outing' the practice of giving security clearances to the most egregious spies who then permeated the government and who were permitted to continue in their positions for years or allowed to resign and transfer to another government agency, or perhaps the World Bank or International Monetary Fund or the UN. Even the FBI was helpless; all their warnings and investigative reports were largely ignored or covered up.
Rule #1: do not be a whistleblower: you will be destroyed.
How about a movie that catches up with the now-known facts? Now that would be interesting, but don't hold your breath waiting for it.