See It Now

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See It Now
Genre Newsmagazine
Documentary
Created by Fred W. Friendly
Edward R. Murrow
Presented by Edward R. Murrow
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
Production
Running time 45–48 minutes
Production company(s) Columbia Broadcasting System
Broadcast
Original channel CBS
Picture format Black-and-white
Audio format Monaural
Original run November 18, 1951 (1951-11-18) – July 7, 1958 (1958-07-07)

See It Now is an American newsmagazine and documentary series broadcast by CBS from 1951 to 1958. It was created by Edward R. Murrow and Fred W. Friendly, Murrow being the host of the show. From 1952 to 1957, See It Now won four Emmy Awards[1][2] and was nominated three other times. It also won a 1952 Peabody Award, which cited its

simple, lucid, intelligent analysis of top news stories of the week on television … a strikingly effective format for presenting news and the personalities involved in the news with humor, sometimes with indignation, always with careful thought.

Synopsis[edit]

The show was an adaptation of radio's Hear It Now, also produced by Murrow and Friendly. Its first episode, on November 18, 1951, opened with the first live simultaneous coast-to-coast TV transmission from both the East Coast (the Brooklyn Bridge and New York Harbor) and the West Coast (the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and San Francisco Bay), as reporters on both sides of the North American continent gave live reports to Murrow, who was sitting in the control room on CBS' Studio 41 with director Don Hewitt.

One of the most popular of the See It Now reports was a 1952 broadcast entitled "Christmas in Korea", when Murrow spoke with American soldiers assigned to the United Nations combat forces.

See It Now focused on a number of controversial issues in the 1950s, but it is best remembered as the show that criticized the Red Scare and contributed to the political downfall of Senator Joseph McCarthy.

Murrow produced a number of episodes of the show that dealt with the Communist witch-hunt hysteria (one of the more notable episodes resulted in a U.S. military officer, Milo Radulovich, being acquitted, after being charged with supporting Communism), before embarking on a broadcast on March 9, 1954[3] that has been referred to as television's finest hour.

By using mostly recordings of McCarthy himself in action interrogating witnesses and making speeches, Murrow and Friendly displayed what they felt was the key danger to the democracy: not suspected Communists, but McCarthy's actions themselves. As Murrow said in his tailpiece:

No one familiar with the history of his country can deny that Congressional committees are useful. It is necessary to investigate before legislating. But the line between investigating and persecuting is a very fine one, and the junior senator from Wisconsin has stepped over it repeatedly.

The broadcast provoked tens of thousands of letters, telegrams and phone calls to CBS headquarters, running 15 to 1 in favor of Murrow. Friendly later recalled how truck drivers pulled up alongside Murrow and shouted, "Good show, Ed. Good show, Ed."

The show's probe of the McCarthy-led anti-Communist era is the focus of the 2005 film Good Night, and Good Luck.

Murrow's hard-hitting approach to the news eventually cost him influence in the world of television, although his celebrity talk show Person to Person remained a top-rated program with much better numbers than See It Now ever had. See It Now occasionally scored high ratings (usually when it was approaching a particularly controversial subject), but in general it did not score well on prime-time television.

When the quiz show phenomenon began and took the world of TV by storm in the mid-1950s, Murrow realized the days of See It Now as a Tuesday-night fixture on CBS were numbered. The weekly version of See It Now ended in 1955 (after Alcoa pulled out its sponsorship), but the show remained as a series of occasional TV special news reports that defined documentary news coverage.

During the years See It Now was an occasional series of specials [mostly appearing on Sunday afternoons at 5:00pm(et) by 1957], Murrow became upset by the network repeatedly granting (without consulting Murrow) equal time to subjects who felt wronged by the program. After CBS granted another such request—regarding a See It Now show on whether or not Alaska and Hawaii deserved statehood—Murrow complained to CBS head William S. Paley he could not continue doing the program if CBS continued to accede to such equal-time requests under those circumstances.

Eventually, according to co-producer Friendly, Murrow and Paley had a blazing showdown in Paley's office. The CBS chairman told Murrow that he was tired of the constant "stomach aches" the program caused when it covered controversial subjects. That marked the beginning of the end of See It Now, the last episode of which aired on July 7, 1958.

The show lives on in its spiritual successors, such as the CBS News broadcasts Sunday Morning, 60 Minutes (created by Hewitt and once also featuring former See It Now producers Palmer Williams and Joe Wershba) and the recurring documentary series CBS Reports.

In September 2006, "See It Now" became the slogan for a relaunched CBS Evening News with new anchor Katie Couric.[4]

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