CBS’s Don Hollenbeck

An Honest Reporter in the Age of McCarthyism

Loren Ghiglione

Columbia University Press

CBS’s Don Hollenbeck

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Pub Date: April 2011

ISBN: 9780231144971

352 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $32.00£25.00

Pub Date: October 2008

ISBN: 9780231144964

352 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $95.00£74.00

Pub Date: October 2008

ISBN: 9780231516891

352 Pages

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List Price: $31.99£25.00

CBS’s Don Hollenbeck

An Honest Reporter in the Age of McCarthyism

Loren Ghiglione

Columbia University Press

Loren Ghiglione recounts the fascinating life and tragic suicide of Don Hollenbeck, the controversial newscaster who became a primary target of McCarthyism's smear tactics. Drawing on unsealed FBI records, private family correspondence, and interviews with Walter Cronkite, Mike Wallace, Charles Collingwood, Douglas Edwards, and more than one hundred other journalists, Ghiglione writes a balanced biography that cuts close to the bone of this complicated newsman and chronicles the stark consequences of the anti-Communist frenzy that seized America in the late 1940s and 1950s.

Hollenbeck began his career at the Lincoln, Nebraska Journal (marrying the boss's daughter) before becoming an editor at William Randolph Hearst's rip-roaring Omaha Bee-News. He participated in the emerging field of photojournalism at the Associated Press; assisted in creating the innovative, ad-free PM newspaper in New York City; reported from the European theater for NBC radio during World War II; and anchored television newscasts at CBS during the era of Edward R. Murrow.

Hollenbeck's pioneering, prize-winning radio program, CBS Views the Press (1947-1950), was a declaration of independence from a print medium that had dominated American newsmaking for close to 250 years. The program candidly criticized the prestigious New York Times, the Daily News (then the paper with the largest circulation in America), and Hearst's flagship Journal-American and popular morning tabloid Daily Mirror. For this honest work, Hollenbeck was attacked by conservative anti-Communists, especially Hearst columnist Jack O'Brian, and in 1954, plagued by depression, alcoholism, three failed marriages, and two network firings (and worried about a third), Hollenbeck took his own life. In his investigation of this amazing American character, Ghiglione reveals the workings of an industry that continues to fall victim to censorship and political manipulation. Separating myth from fact, CBS's Don Hollenbeck is the definitive portrait of a polarizing figure who became a symbol of America's tortured conscience.
A valuable reminder of the tragic story of Don Hollenbeck—a brilliant journalist crushed in the horror of McCarthyism. Walter Cronkite
Don Hollenbeck's significant presence at CBS News was at least acknowledged by George Clooney in his recent film Good Night, and Good Luck, but Hollenbeck deserved better and more. He gets both in this wonderful and elegantly written book. Hollenbeck, a man of unwavering principle and conscience, took his own life in l954. A life worth remembering? And how! How lucky we are that Loren Ghiglione undertook the task of reminding us. Ted Koppel
This is a story that should have been told a long time ago. Thankfully Loren Ghiglione not only tells it but tells it well. This is a skillfully written, meticulously researched account of a real-life tragedy that reads like a fast-paced crime novel. Bob Schieffer
A compelling portrait in journalistic courage. As one of the Murrow boys, I hope it will inspire the journalists of a later generation to stand up in the face of repressive forces. Daniel Schorr, senior news analyst, National Public Radio
Loren Ghiglione's book is thoroughly researched, gracefully written, thoughtful, and thought-provoking. It is a pleasure to read. Anyone attempting to understand the evolution of the postwar American state, and the role of the press in it, needs to consider Hollenbeck's life. In Loren Ghiglione, Hollenbeck has found the ideal biographer—passionate but judicious, thorough but concise. Evan Cornog, author of The Power and the Story: How the Crafted Presidential Narrative Has Determined Political Success from George Washington to George W. Bush
Loren Ghiglione not only recounts more than one would have thought possible of Hollenbeck's personal life, but, drawing with great insight on his own broad experience, recaptures the nuances of Hollenbeck's work as a newspaper, radio, and television journalist-and, of course, a press critic. Ghiglione shows how such an unbending figure as Hollenbeck could uphold journalism's best standards, even under the most unfavorable circumstances. James Boylan, University of Massachusetts-Amherst
[A] well-written and clear-eyed portrait of a crusading newsman. Kirkus Reviews
[An] engrossing biography. Booklist
[A] wonderfully researched tour of Hollenbeck's dramatic life. Lincoln Journal Star
Ghiglione's attention to detail and use of numerous personal interviews make this both a compelling biography and a rich contextual history of the McCarthy era. Highly recommended. Library Journal
CBS's Don Hollenbeck is a solid piece of media history, enthusiastically recommended. The Midwest Book Review
This splendid biography serves both Hollenbeck and media history well... Highly recommended. Choice
A compelling biography. Mike Conway, Journalism History
A captivating tale of journalistic good versus political evil. Edward Alwood, American Journalism
An excellent read for any journalism scholar. Robert A. Rabe, Jhistory
Introduction
1. The Boy from Lincoln
2. Working for William Randolph Hearst in Omaha
3. The Founding of PM, a "Newpaperman's Ideal"
4. Politics at PM: Commies and "Good Liberals"
5. Covering World War II from Home and Abroad
6. Getting Fired by NBC and ABC, Then Hired by CBS
7. The Invention of CBS Views the Press
8. Jack O'Brian: Buffalo Dock-walloper to Broadway Drama Critic
9. Press Criticism: From Name-calling to Nuance
10. Jack O'Brian: Championing Decency, Fighting Soft-on-Communism Liberals
11. The Obsession with Subversives and Communist Spies
12. Jack O'Brian: Traveling with the Conservative, Anti-Commie Crowd
13. The Hearsts Versus Hollenbeck
14. Jack O'Brian: Attacking the Communist Broadcasting System
15. Loyalty Oaths, Blacklists, and Joseph McCarthy
16. The Walking Wounded
17. The Sermon in the Suicide
Epilogue
Acknowledgments
Notes
Bibliography
Index
Web Features:

Winner, 2017 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

About the Author

Loren Ghiglione, a journalism professor at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, owned and edited New England newspapers for twenty-six years and served as president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors from 1989 to 1990. Following a five-year term as dean of Medill, he was president of the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication from 2006 to 2007.