Red Channels

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Red Channels: The Report of Communist Influence in Radio and Television was an anti-Communist piece published in the United States at the start of the 1950s. Red Channels_sentence_0

Issued by the right-wing journal Counterattack on June 22, 1950, the pamphlet-style book names 151 actors, writers, musicians, broadcast journalists, and others in the context of purported Communist manipulation of the entertainment industry. Red Channels_sentence_1

Some of the 151 were already being denied employment because of their political beliefs, history, or association with suspected subversives. Red Channels_sentence_2

Red Channels effectively placed the rest on the industry blacklist. Red Channels_sentence_3

Counterattack Red Channels_section_0

In May 1947, Alfred Kohlberg, an American textile importer and an ardent member of the anti-Communist China Lobby, funded an organization, led by three former FBI agents, called American Business Consultants Inc., which issued a newsletter, Counterattack. Red Channels_sentence_4

Kohlberg was also an original national council member of the John Birch Society. Red Channels_sentence_5

A special report, Red Channels: the Report of Communist Influence in Radio and Television, was published by Counterattack in June 1950. Red Channels_sentence_6

Its declared purpose was to "expos[e] the most important aspects of Communist activity in America each week." Red Channels_sentence_7

Red Channels Red Channels_section_1

The three founder members were: John G. Keenan, company president and the businessman of the trio; Kenneth M. Bierly, who would later become a consultant to Columbia Pictures; and Theodore C. Kirkpatrick, the managing editor of Counterattack and the group's spokesman. Red Channels_sentence_8

A former Army intelligence major, Francis J. McNamara, was the editor of Counterattack. Red Channels_sentence_9

The introduction to Red Channels, running just over six pages, was written by Vincent Hartnett, an employee of the Phillips H. Lord agency, an independent radio-program production house, or "packager." Red Channels_sentence_10

Hartnett would later found the anti-Communist organization AWARE, Inc. Red Channels_sentence_11

The 213-page tract, released three years after the House Un-American Activities Committee began investigating purported Communist Party influence in the entertainment field, claims to expose the spread – by means of advocacy of civil rights, academic freedom, and nuclear weapons control – of that influence, in radio and television entertainment. Red Channels_sentence_12

Referring to current television programming, the Red Channels introduction declares that Red Channels_sentence_13

The introduction to Red Channels described how the Communist Party attracts both financial and political backing from those in the entertainment industry: Red Channels_sentence_14

Red Channels served as a vehicle for the expansion of the entertainment industry blacklist that denied employment to a host of artists it considered sympathetic to "subversive" causes, attempted to forestall criticism by claiming that the Communist Party itself engaged in blacklisting, seeing to it that "articulate anti-Communists are blacklisted and smeared with that venomous intensity which is characteristic of Red Fascists alone." Red Channels_sentence_15

Red Channels list Red Channels_section_2

See also: List of women identified as communists in Red Channels Red Channels_sentence_16

Red Channels listed 151 professionals in entertainment and on-air journalism whom it clearly implied were among "the Red Fascists and their sympathizers" in the broadcasting field. Red Channels_sentence_17

Each of the names is followed by a raw list of putatively telling data, with the sources of evidence varying from FBI and HUAC citations to newspaper articles culled from the mainstream press, industry trade sheets, and such Communist publications as the Daily Worker. Red Channels_sentence_18

For example, under the heading for Burgess Meredith, identified as Actor, Director, Producer—Stage, Screen, Radio, TV, the first three of a total of seven data points read: Red Channels_sentence_19

Impact Red Channels_section_3

Jean Muir was the first performer to lose employment because of a listing in Red Channels. Red Channels_sentence_20

In 1950 Muir was named as a Communist sympathizer in the pamphlet, and was immediately removed from the cast of the television sitcom The Aldrich Family, in which she had been cast as Mrs. Aldrich. Red Channels_sentence_21

NBC had received between 20 and 30 phone calls protesting her being in the show. Red Channels_sentence_22

General Foods, the sponsor, said that it would not sponsor programs in which "controversial persons" were featured. Red Channels_sentence_23

Though the company later received thousands of calls protesting the decision, it was not reversed. Red Channels_sentence_24

Many other well-known artists were named, including Hollywood stars such as Edward G. Robinson and Orson Welles (who by then, due to tax problems, was in Europe), literary figures such as Dorothy Parker and Lillian Hellman, and musicians such as Hazel Scott, Pete Seeger and Leonard Bernstein. Red Channels_sentence_25

Ex-leftist and HUAC informant J. Red Channels_sentence_26 B. Matthews claimed responsibility for providing the listings; he would also work for United States Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-WI). Red Channels_sentence_27

By 1951, those identified in Red Channels were blacklisted across much or all of the movie and broadcast industries unless and until they cleared their names, the customary requirement being that they testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and name names, which the vast majority refused to do. Red Channels_sentence_28

Lawsuits Red Channels_section_4

One libel lawsuit was filed against Red Channels, by actor Joe Julian, who charged that Red Channels was responsible for his income plummeting from $18,000 the year it was published to barely $1,500 three years later. Red Channels_sentence_29

The case was dismissed on the basis of the tract's care in not making overt claims about specific individuals and its brief disclaimer: "In screening personnel every safeguard must be used to protect genuine liberals from being unjustly labelled." Red Channels_sentence_30

CBS radio personality John Henry Faulk also sued. Red Channels_sentence_31

Faulk was a favorite target of Hartnett, who proudly proclaimed himself a coauthor of Red Channels. Red Channels_sentence_32

In 1953, Hartnett started AWARE, Inc., an anti-Communist organization with its own bulletin focused on the entertainment industry. Red Channels_sentence_33

The bulletin said that, in the 1940s, Faulk had sponsored a pro-Communist peace rally, entertained at pro-Communist clubs, appeared at Communist front activities, and addressed a "Spotlight on [Henry] Wallace" event in "'the official training school of the Communist conspiracy in New York'" (p. 232). Red Channels_sentence_34

CBS fired Faulk a bit over a year after he filed his lawsuit. Red Channels_sentence_35

In 1962, a jury awarded Faulk $3.5 million in damages. Red Channels_sentence_36

Although the award was later reduced, the verdict marked the effective end of the blacklisting era. Red Channels_sentence_37

See also Red Channels_section_5

Red Channels_unordered_list_0

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: Channels.