What I didn’t cover yesterday was how important Ed Murrow was for network hard news and what he meant for it. It was almost like the man was physic and could see what network news would look lets say fifty-years later. He could already see news moving in a more tabloid and entertainment oriented direction. And that news being combined with entertainment. He wanted to run and anchor a hard news show that dealt primarily with hard news. Which is exactly what CBS News the gold standard for network news for the next twenty years starting in the early 1960s became.
What Murrow said was that he knew what entertained Americans and what they wanted to see and get entertained. What he was saying was that he wanted Americans to also get what they needed to know. Why their country and world operates the way it does and why that is important to them. That Americans could have their desserts, but that also should have their entrees. Their meat and potatoes before they have their ice cream and cake. Ed Murrow was a hard news man working for primarily an entertainment network. Which is what CBS was primarily in the 1950s. Which of course changed with CBS News and CBS Sports in the 1960s and ever since.
And this whole time period with CBS executives telling Murrow and Fred Friendly that they want entertainment and with McCarthyism going on in the U.S. Senate and other big news stories of that era was the perfect way to show how entertainment competes with hard news at TV networks. Murrow saying that he knows that Americans want to see Ed Sullivan and Leave it to Beaver and whatever else. But you got these big stories going on that affect the future of America that are frankly more important. And they have to be covered and shown too.