A 1950 ‘meet the press’ style program had 5 reporters talking with Betty Hutton. Atypically the preserved recording is an uncut version, with frequent ‘offstage’ pauses where the reporters try to figure out who goes next, or check with Hutton to see if a question is acceptable. She had an interesting life. Like most reporters in those days, she learned on the job starting at age 7, and got her first big NYC break at 15.
One of the questions was about Senator Johnson’s proposal to license actors. Everyone hated it, and everyone could see that licensing reporters was next on the menu. “It’s certainly an infringement on freedom of expression.” “It’s like licensing a dog or something.” “Well, I just want to get a license to hunt congressmen.”
Who was Senator Johnson? Was this part of the HUAC commie hunt that finally fizzled out with Roy Cohn’s boytoy McCarthy? One online source gives this account:
Famed actress Ingrid Bergman’s adulterous affair with Italian film director Roberto Rossellini caused in international scandal and a civil liberties crisis in the U.S. On this day, Senator Edwin Johnson (D-Colorado) delivered a vituperative attack on both Bergman and Rossellini and proposed a law that would require the U.S. Commerce Department to license actors, actresses, and film producers, and permit the department to revoke licenses if found guilty of a crime involving moral turpitude, or publicly admitting to such conduct.
It wasn’t McCarthy, it was morality. Licensing was presented as an extension of the existing semi-official Hayes Code into official law.
So this is really comparable to today’s #MeToo, not comparable to today’s #FUCKTRUMP.
But in both situations the response of the 1950 actors and reporters was opposite to today’s actors and reporters. Both modern groups are enthusiastic supporters of hunting down political heretics AND hunting down “scandalous immorality”.
Note especially that Johnson was D. Many of the 1950 red-baiters, including JFK, were also D. The reporters wanted to hunt down CONGRESSMEN, not REPUBLICANS.
As fucking always, the Fairness Doctrine worked. It forced reporters to think in terms of power and class, not R and D team labels.
In fact radio reporters were already licensed. Like a hunting license, the Fairness license prevented monopolistic hunting of one species to extinction, and tried to maintain balance. Restriction is not always bad.