Speakeasy forum: Charlie Chaplin and the supposed "Liberal bias" of the media

by: Ziks511 December 17, 2012 2:10 AM PST

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Charlie Chaplin and the supposed "Liberal bias" of the media

by Ziks511 - 12/17/12 2:10 AM

I'm reading a book called Dead Funny, a discussion of humour in Nazi Germany (yeah, yeah, I can hear the eyeballs rolling already). It is written by Werner Herzog's (the German film director) son, Rudolph.

Apparently when Chaplin released the movie The Great Dictator, which is an acknowledged masterpiece, he was savaged in the American press for his supposedly throwing in his lot with the Communists. In 1940 America, criticism of Germany was uncommon, and opposition was viewed as an indication of Communist sympathies (even though the Soviets were Hitler's allies at the time).

In 1942, Ernst Lubitsch, a German refugee from Hitler's Germany, and a terrific directory made To Be or Not To Be with Carole Lombard and Benny Kubelski, sorry, Jack Benny and a very young Robert Stack. The plot is too complicate to explain coherently here, but it was set in Poland. This film to which held the Nazi's up to ridicule was also savaged in the Press, despite the fact that the US was at war with Nazi Germany by that time. This movie too is recognized as a classic. The Mel Brooks version is nowhere compared to the original.

So that's two glaring instances of journalistic Right Wing sympathies. I don't know how Once Upon a Honeymoon (Ginger Rogers and Cary Grant, with Walter Slezak as a wonderful oily Nazi with the hots for Ginger) also released in 1942 was received.

And don't forget that newspapers were completely on board with the Red Scare following WW2 and very unsympathetic to Harry Truman, and the American Government. Even when Edward R. Murrow very cautiously but tellingly attacked "Tailgunner Joe" (a campaign moniker he used; he never was one) McCarthy. Murrow was removed from the main CBS roster by his long time "friend" and boss William Paley within six months. Then again, Murrow never went to bat for William Shirer when he was attacked in the later 40's and was reluctantly instrumental in his firing. Murrow apologized to Shirer as he lay dying of lung cancer at Sloan Kettering.

From my own observations over 60 years, I have never found television news to be liberal, but to be moderately conservative (except for FoxNews which is an active arm of Republican conservatives). MSNBC is the only station I have ever found to be somewhat liberal, and even it has Joe Scarborough as it's morning show anchor.

Uncle Walter, who spoke out against the Viet Nam war after covering it for years, did so because he recognized it was unwinnable, not because he was liberal, or a Communist sympathizer. He was moved by compassion for American servicemen, and horror at the devastation of Viet Nam.

Rob

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