Talk:Army–McCarthy hearings

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At the time (1954), actually the NLG was listed in the Federal Register as a Comintern affiliated organization. nobs 04:33, 7 October 2005 (UTC)

Pixies' Relatives[edit]

(Initial & revived thread)[edit]

There's no mention of the pixie dialogue, the other exchange from the hearings that occasionally gets recounted. In connection with a discussion of a deceptive print of a photo that includes Schine, Welch says "...Did you think this came from a pixie?..."

Cohn apparently gets McC to respond: McC asks Welch

Will counsel for my benefit define — I think he might well be an expert on it — what a pixie is?

Most of the public would at the time have not the faintest hint of the fact that Schine and the indispensable Cohn were rumored to be lovers. Cohn may have reasoned they'd just been threatened with exposure; he or McC may have wanted to demonstrate readiness to accuse the other side (in a time when fag-hunting went along with red-hunting) of harboring homosexuals.

Welch replies (see G-srch)

Yes, I should say, Senator, that a pixie is a close relative of a fairy. Shall I proceed, sir? Have I enlightened you?

Welch may have been picking up the gauntlet, and perhaps making it yet clearer that he's willing to out them if that's what it takes to curb McC.

And (tho i may have the events in the wrong order), perhaps by irrelevantly going after the young lawyer Fred Fisher (lawyer), McCarthy had deprived himself of the ability to complain convincingly of unfairness, if and when Welch did the outing.

I am of course not suggesting my impressions as the basis for a mention in the article, but i urge research (the search above is one starting point) on the significance that others put on this otherwise seemingly quizzical exchange.
--Jerzyt 18:35, 26 October 2005 (UTC)

I think the whole exchange was a joke, in an otherwise dull hearing; and it's typical of the humor of that day, when it was impolite to speak openly of homosexuality, especially in a public hearing. And it is in keeping with McCarthy's sense of humor & personality. And reading more into it than is there probably isn't worth the effort. While McCarthy has been trashed as making a gay joke, etc., the context clearly reads, that it was Welch that initiated the joke ("...Did you think this came from a pixie?...") that bares no context to what was being discussed at the time. Welch was simply losing patience in a dull hearing, and offered what today would be considered an inappropriate and politcally incorrect metaphor. McCarthy picked up on it and carried the joke a little farther. nobs 19:23, 26 October 2005 (UTC)
  • Boredom on the part of a thoroly professional star-level atty is not very plausible to me. But my point is not about what was really intended, which i doubt can be established to a degree that would justify our treating it as fact. Rather, we might report what has been made of it.
For example, one page i found has made of it a story that
  1. there was a private understanding reached before the hearings opened, that the committee wouldn't go after the little pinko and Welch wouldn't out the little fag,
  2. Welch broke the agreement when he said "pixie", and
  3. that was why McCarthy made the commie-in-your-own-office statement.
To the extent that it's regarded as accurate, IMO it says a lot about McCarthy's temper and/or poor judgement, and suggests Welch was a master of psychological manipulation. I can't rule out that theory having originated with the site i saw that states it as fact, but if it has currency, that currency should be be described.
--Jerzy•[[User talk:Jerzy|t]] 21:25, 16 November 2005 (UTC)
Yah but remember Welch made the homophobic statement first. nobs 21:40, 16 November 2005 (UTC)
  • _ _ Precisely (tho contrary to the timing in my first speculation on this talk page). I'm not sure what unstated theory the external page that posits the prior understanding was espousing. The idea i am suggesting (and only research beyond the scope of my interests can determine whether it is an influential idea and thus whether it belongs in the article) is that Welch intentionally used the word "pixie" to violate the "understanding", bcz Welch hoped to goad Cohen and/or McCarthy into something that would convince the public that McCarthy had not a scrap of decency left. In fact, if there was a prior understanding, Welch may have proposed it with the intention of later having the option to break it and goad them into some such ill-considered step. (I find it easy to imagine this of a patrician fixer like Welch, a guy who is demonstrably in the position to for instance give a kid the start that turns you into a James D. St. Clair who eventually gets called upon to go to the Supreme Court to make the last ditch effort to save the President of the United States. To Welch, McCarthy should appear to be a bumbling Wisconsin red-neck brute who's terrorizing his betters and crushing a few of them, simply because no one has been brave and clever enough to sneak up and use a feather-weight weapon on the giant's most vulnerable point. Welch should be looking for just such a way to finesse a paper tiger such as McCarthy.)
_ _ (And maybe it's time to make this explicit: i'm not looking for quick support for an edit of the article. If i noticed anyone adding "my theory" to the article, i'd revert unless they present better evidence than i know of, that "my" theory is an influential idea abt the topic.)
--Jerzy•[[User talk:Jerzy|t]] 16:13, 17 November 2005 (UTC)
I think there's something to what your saying; in retrospect the patrician Welch did somewhat goad McCarthy into speaking up which provided some comic relief in a dull hearing. But as to a prior understanding, given cultural norms of the time, etc., do you suppose negotiators really were that politically correct to agree on hiding specualtion and dirt like prior to an open hearing?
nobs 19:40, 17 November 2005 (UTC)
   Editing, and contributing to talk, on WP can be a fascinating experience. Nine years further along a colleague has commented at User talk:Jerzy#Your Army-McCarthy Hearings Notes:
I found all your speculations great fun, all plausible, and I think you were certainly right in most, perhaps all, of them.
A pleasure to read.
Note, though, a general principle: bucolic, drunken brutes are not necessarily stupid, and even when they are stupid they are often still cunning.
David Lloyd-Jones (talk) 23:49, 30 November 2014 (UTC)
(Quoted here by...)
--Jerzyt 12:22, 1 December 2014 (UTC)
   I see i said "McCarthy's temper and/or poor judgement" describing my own guess at Welch's assessment. Then later i explicitly speculated about Welch's attitude and assessment of McC being "a bumbling Wisconsin red-neck brute who's terrorizing his betters and crushing a few of them". But i feel i should emphasize that "bucolic, drunken [brutes]" and "stupid" are not my words, nor in my opinion reasonable paraphrasings of anything i said. (However, i admit "farm-state" would have expressed my intent far better than "Wisconsin" -- since Wisc IMO stands out among agricultural states for its sometimes highly progressive politics and its long and high-quality tradition of higher education.)
--Jerzyt 12:22, 1 December 2014 (UTC)
   (This contrib is in part responsive to others' assertions in the following "(Thread added w/o clarifying which 1.5-to-3-months-previous contribs were being responded to)" section.)
   IMO, most of this discussion has missed a chain involving two nuances that are important for analyzing Welch's intent:
  1. There is a significant association between "pixie" and gay-baiting terms, but that between "fairy" and gay-baiting terms is 15 times as strong, which i would describe as reflecting then-current American usage where (perhaps more than presently) "pixie" meant primarily "small and playful magical being" and "fairy" primarily "protective, feminine, and winged small magical being". My reading of the dialogue is that
  2. Welch goaded McCarthy with a double entendre, so that construing "you've acted like this supposed evidence popped magically out of thin air" was, for most of the gallery, most consistent with the previous direction of the discussion.
  3. He may, however, have intended McCarthy to read more into it than most listeners would, and construe it as likely to be a personal attack on his secret behavior.
  4. If so, he succeeded in pushing McCarthy off balance, causing him to respond in essence "Pixie??", arguably as if threatened by that single detail of the question: McCarthy probably should have ignored the ambiguity (of which the presumably predominantly straight audience would be much less mindful of than he) and responded, say, that the FBI had declassified the image itself, but the circumstances in which it was obtained could not be discussed. Instead, he gave Welch occasion to respond, to his at best rhetorical request for clarification, with a direct but superficially playful response, which some would nevertheless read as "Well, Senator, don't you know lots more than i do, about fairies and who they hang out with?"
   Perhaps it's important to note that where a colleague inferred an opinion on my part that McC was intellectually lacking (which may or not be true), i was not much concerned with that question, nor aware of significant evidence one way or the other. I'm not sure i could have enunciated this in my years-ago contrib, but i suspect he was undermined -- "emotionally" may be the right adverb -- by the discord between his sexual practices and the homophobic attitudes i presume he attributed to those who cast most of the votes he received. And perhaps that was true far beyond the Welch incident.
--Jerzyt 12:22, 1 December 2014 (UTC)

(Thread added w/o clarifying which 1.5-to-3-months-previous contribs were being responded to)[edit]

I do not believe the terms "fairy" and "pixie" had any bearing whatsoever on Roy Cohn. I am totally unconvinced that a seasoned litigator like Welch, during a televised hearing, when homosexuality was very much in the closet, would make such references in public, especially when it could mean his own career. Watch the hearing footage for yourself--Welch was merely exasperated with the answers he was getting while trying to determine the source of a cropped photograph, which he contended changed the context of the image, using terms that commonly described imaginary things. Think about it: what words would you use to describe an imaginary source of something? Not many choices besides "fairy" or "pixie," even today. Perhaps the two words can be stretched to being applied to homosexuality, and thus many have erroneously extrapolated that Welch was making some veiled reference to Cohn being gay. It is absurd to assume there was any sort of gentleman's agreement between anyone, particularly between opposing parties, to keep the topic of Cohn's sexual preferences (if they were even known at the time) secret. I don't think it was ever Welch's intention to go in that direction and far too much attention has been brought to Welch's choice of words to get at the origin of a photograph. Wikipikiliki 17:44, 30 January 2006 (UTC)

I agree as well--that Welch used "fairy" and "pixie" as words to describe an imaginary source, and was not targeting Cohn. Welch delivered them in a sharply sarcastic tone to make his point, which was the cropped photo came from an actual person, not a fairy, and he wanted to know who that person was so it could be determined who had the photo cropped. Welch was a lawyer, this was a legal proceeding, and they were in a discovery process; he was not trying to "out" Cohn! Funny that so many people assumed he was choosing those words to bash Cohn. 19:08, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
In the commentary track to the DVD release of Point of Order, director Emile de Antonio gives his opinion that Welch was definitely making a "dig" at McCarthy's and Cohn's rumored homosexuality with this exchange. It was his belief that the audience laughed because the recognized the joke as a reference to homosexuality. Emile de Antonio (who was no fan of McCarthy's) calls this a "vicious, absolutely a McCarthy-ite tactic" on Welch's part. KarlBunker 01:07, 2 February 2006 (UTC)
Very interesting, although Welch still is the only one who knew his intent and I don't believe he ever spoke on the subject. Unfortunately, I wasn't in the room and couldn't poll people around me on what they thought Welch meant at that moment. From an objective POV, without the gay overtones, the exchange was inherently humorous, and I think Welch's sarcasm was intended to draw a laugh. While it's true some people may have taken it to mean a gay "dig," I would guess most just laughed because it was simply funny. Since you seem to have the DVD, are you able to confirm there is an exclamation point in the opening titles? 18:24, 6 February 2006 (UTC)
Argh, don't get me started on the "exclamation point" debate! :-)
There is no "!" in the opening title of the DVD version. However, it's possible that this was a recent change specifically for the DVD release; there's something suspiciously "clean-looking" about the title sequence. In some materials on the disk, such as the trailer, the title is shown with a "!". My impression is that de Antonio (or someone) has decided that the title is better without the "!", but there's still a lot of stuff around that includes it. KarlBunker 18:49, 6 February 2006 (UTC)
   The edit-history entry clarifies that the two preceding 'graphs are part of the same signed contrib.
--Jerzyt 12:22, 1 December 2014 (UTC)

Senator Ralph Flanders was making similar innuendos about Cohn (and indeed about McCarthy) just days before, so it's not at all unreasonable to assume that Welch was making reference to Cohn's homosexuality. The story of a behind the scenes agreement between McCarthy and Welch is also widespread, though just exactly what Welch had promised not to mention is disputed. Still, it's not hard to believe that an experienced defense attorney, "patrician" or not, would needle the other side to provoke an emotional reaction. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:25, 10 January 2018 (UTC)

Organizational Changes[edit]

KarlBunker, I just want to let you know I appreciate the recent organizations changes to the entry. Things are laid out much better.--CReynolds 16:57, 26 January 2006 (UTC)

"Following the hearings"[edit]

i think a short entry on this topic is appropriate, but I don't think much can be made of Schine being posted to Alaska. One fact that was mentioned in the hearings is that 90% of all servicemen were posted overseas. So it seems fairly unremarkable that Schine was posted to Alaska. Seems like a reasonable middle-ground between the trenches of Korea and the beaches of Hawaii.  :-)

Since the hearings originated from Schine's alleged preferential treatment and the hearings at times very much revolved around Schine, it's a natural progression to ask, "What happened to Schine in the Army following the hearings?" I think this section nicely addresses that question, particularly when McCarthy had voiced wishes to have Schine sent far away. While Alaska may have been better than Korea, it must have been one of the harshest environments possible, short of frontline combat, and is interesting to note, even if nothing can be proved conclusively. It's not as though this entire entry is especially long, in fact, I think more needs to added on the Army-McCarthy Hearings topic, which captivated the whole country for weeks and has been discussed and hashed over ever since. If we keep slicing off things we decide might not be relevant, there won't be anything left! 21:54, 1 February 2006 (UTC)

POV issues[edit]

I just stumbled across this article, and I'm rather startled to see the amount of POV in this article.

It's not that it's not neutral (it is fairly neutral, from what I've read), it's that it's written from the perspective of someone trying to explain why the Army-McCarthy hearings were, rather than what the Army-McCarthy hearings were.

The Why is important, and it should be touched upon, but Wikipedia Is Not A Textbook. When I go to an encyclopedia article about these hearings, I expect to see the dates that it was convened and concluded, a list of witnesses, a list of the senators involved, who testified and who did not, and similar information.

I don't see any of this. What I do see is an article that seems to build up to "the famous exchange," as if there were only one exchange in the entire history of the committee. Yes, certainly Welch's comments are the most famous of the hearings, but they are certainly not the only famous ones.

SOFIXIT? I plan to, but I am busy, and I'm not an expert in this topic. Just be aware that I plan to make some major changes to this article in the near future, and I'd appreciate help. superlusertc 2008 March 26, 06:41 (UTC)

Sounds like you have some good changes in mind. You're certainly right that there's a lot that should be added to the article. The "doctored photo," the J. Edgar Hoover letter that Hoover disavowed, Eisenhower's declaration of executive privilege, maybe Welch's "pixie" dig -- all kinds of fun stuff. I've had it in the back of my head to expand this article for a while now, so if you get things rolling, I'm sure I'll be able to contribute.
BTW, it's a quirk of Wikipedia-speak that "POV" is generally considered to mean the opposite of "NPOV" (neutral point of view), or non-neutral. It ain't correct English, but that's how "POV" is used here-abouts. RedSpruce (talk) 10:29, 26 March 2008 (UTC)

Article rewrite[edit]

OK. So I've mainly rewritten the article as I think it should be. There are, however, some issues. First, I think we may need a new article on the McCarthy hearings that were not Army-McCarthy.There's a little bit in the article on McCarthy, but not enough. I added some background on the hearings here, but it's too much for this article. And second, I've got a bit of a problem with the witness list. The list that I'm seeing gives 44 public witnesses, but that might include some witnesses that were not part of the special Senate investigation. Does anyone know where the 32 number comes from? superlusertc 2008 March 30, 21:09 (UTC)

I should add that I don't think that this revision should be *it*, either. Just that the general layout and tone are what I'd like to see in an article. superlusertc 2008 March 30, 21:57 (UTC)
Some initial reactions:
  • I think the current version gives too much coverage to McCarthy's other hearings. The Army-McCarthy hearings weren't just a continuation of McCarthy's business as usual; rather they were an investigation of McCarthy--of charges against him--as much as they were an investigation by McCarthy. Although one of the purposes of the hearings was to investigate charges made by McCarthy against the army, in the end the hearings are remembered for the damage they did to McCarthy.
  • A related point is that although the Subcommittee on Investigations was McCarthy's committee, Karl Mundt took over the chair of the committee for these hearings, since McCarthy couldn't investigate himself.
  • The "Executive Sessions" section is purely about McCarthy's general practices in hearings where he held the chair; it doesn't seem to have anything to do with the Army-McCarthy hearings.
  • Re the "Cultural impact" section: The Edward R. Murrow See It Now episodes that were depicted in Good Night and Good Luck were aired before the Army-McCarthy hearings. The way this is currently written appears to say the opposite.
RedSpruce (talk) 23:16, 30 March 2008 (UTC)
I think the current version gives too much coverage to McCarthy's other hearings. Agreed. I added them in for the purpose of eventually splitting them off into a separate article on McCarthy's general hearings. I don't have unlimited time, and I was hurrying to get this into some semblance of what I think would be an improvement so that I could move on from there. We don't have any article on the non-Army McCarthy hearings, so I suppose we ought to try to make one of those, too. Say at McCarthy hearings?
The "Executive Sessions" section ... doesn't seem to have anything to do with the Army-McCarthy hearings. I was confused. I thought that McCarthy might have presided over some of the executive sessions, but you are right, it was always Mundt in the executive sessions of Army-McCarthy.
One other note: You've been capitalizing communist. I didn't know whether it was appropriate to do so. I will pose the question, and accept whatever the consensus is. superlusertc 2008 April 05, 00:26 (UTC)
Oh, wait. I see the reason why you did this. Fair enough. superlusertc 2008 April 05, 00:28 (UTC)

Second Rewrite[edit]

I have rewritten the article to reflect what happened in terms the timeline of events and substance. The last version did not really reflect what happened in the hearings themselves. Stanton Evans book is an excellent resource, as are the other books I referenced and the transcipts themselves. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Apbalke (talkcontribs) 15:28, 29 April 2008 (UTC)

In the event of rewriting the text you seem to have deleted a lot of text by mistake. Please be a bit more careful! ;) -- (talk) 17:15, 29 April 2008 (UTC)
M. Stanton Evans' book represents a minority view among historians. The rules of Wikipedia require that its articles present the majority view of authors in the field. I think there's a lot of room for improvement in the current version of the article, but "Blacklisted by History" is not a credible source, and not at all suitable as a sole or major source.
For Wikipedia rules see WP:NPOV, WP:Reliable sources, WP:NPOV#Undue weight and elsewhere. For one piece of documentation showing that Evans' book represents a minority view, see the book itself:
Evans, M. Stanton (2007), Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America's Enemies, Crown Forum, p. 16, ISBN 9781400081059; "defenders of McCarthy in the academic/media world today are so microscopically few as to be practically non-existent."
Evans himself, of course, is one of those "microscopically few". RedSpruce (talk) 18:59, 29 April 2008 (UTC)

Capital H[edit]

This article should be at Army-McCarthy hearings shouldn't it? Why the capital "H"? --Doradus (talk) 12:59, 12 October 2008 (UTC)

Per Wikipedia:Naming conventions (capitalization), I think you're right. The first word is always capitalized, the second word (in this case) is a proper noun, and the third word is not a proper noun. I don't know if it's important enough that we need a move, though. superlusertc 2008 October 14, 07:46 (UTC)
Agree; a Google book search shows that "hearings" isn't usually capitalized in "Army-McCarthy hearings" ...unless of course it's being used as a chapter/article/section title, and for whatever reason, Wikipedia doesn't follow the standard rule about capitalizing all words in article and section titles. Since AFAIK an article-move won't cause any difficulty or "cost" anything, I suppose this should be fixed. RedSpruce (talk) 11:18, 14 October 2008 (UTC)

President Eisenhower?[edit]

The current version of the article doesn't mention President Eisenhower at all. Isn't this a bit strange? --MZMcBride (talk) 23:38, 30 April 2012 (UTC)


Per notice in Talk:Joseph McCarthy, see Wikipedia:Dispute resolution noticeboard#Joe McCarthy.3BMcCarthy Army hearings. Location (talk) 20:14, 28 March 2013 (UTC)

Discussion was given a procedural close as other involved editors were not informed of the discussion. MoFreedom was told that he may relist the dispute with notification to other involved editors. Archived at Wikipedia:Dispute resolution noticeboard/Archive 67#Joe McCarthy.3BMcCarthy Army hearings. Location (talk) 17:43, 1 April 2013 (UTC)

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Wanted: upload of doctored photograph of Schine, Stevens, Bradley and McCarthy Aide Francis Carr[edit]

As noted in the article. During the hearings, a photograph of Schine was introduced, and Joseph N. Welch, the Army's attorney in the hearings, accused Cohn of doctoring the image to show Schine alone with Army Secretary Robert T. Stevens. The photo in question is pictured at [1] and [2]. The originals are presumably part of the Army-McCarthy [Hearings, U.S. Senate, 1954 - Photographs and other Graphic Materials Sound Recordings Textual Records: collection at the National Archives. The National Archives has a wonderful program allowing people to request and scan these materials and get them online, as noted at Wikipedia:Meetup/NARA 4. Is anyone up for doing that, or getting Life or the Stanford Daily to provide licenses to their copies? ★NealMcB★ (talk) 15:41, 17 June 2017 (UTC)