And I want to say something also a little bit about the McCarthy book and what I learned in doing the McCarthy book. “You’ve been working on this McCarthy book,” I think Don [Irvine, Chairman of Accuracy in Media (AIM)] said, “All your life?!” I said, “Well, not yet.” But it feels like it sometimes.
I’ve worked on it a long time. Lew [Uhler, U.S. Term Limits], you were back there. He and I were in school together back when McCarthy was active back in the early 50s, so we’ve been on this case for a long time.
What I’ve found in doing my research is that not only is the story that’s out there—the accepted narrative of McCarthy—wrong, it is an almost exact inversion of the truth, and the only way we now know this is because records that were not available back then are now available: particularly from the FBI, the so-called Venona papers—which were transcripts of messages exchanged between the Soviets and their agents over here that were intercepted back in the forties—were kept secret for fifty years; Information from the Soviet archives; and other documentation that was not available fifty and sixty years ago now is available.
But you have to do a lot of digging to get it, and this is the point that I guess I want to stress most of all to some of the younger folk here who perhaps want to go into journalism, or research, or become writers, or even academics and scholars, that a huge amount of work needs to be done on all of this stuff. Going back for decades and to generalize beyond that, a huge amount of work needs doing on continuing stories—just as Wes Vernon mentioned, and Don mentioned.
An accepted narrative on almost everything, and on almost everything is wrong because it is generated by people with an agenda who are trying to sell a story that is not necessarily factual, and, in many cases, is not factual at all. And when you look into this, again picking up on some earlier comments, as Reed Irvine found, often it exemplifies what I call ‘Evans’ Law of Inadequate Paranoia’ which basically says, that no matter how bad you think something is, when you look into it, it’s always worse. And that is certainly true in the case of the McCarthy story, but it’s true in many others that I won’t inflict on you right now.
What is needed—urgently needed—is not reporters who sit and pull stuff down off the internet and recycle it and try to make a story out of what’s already up there because what’s up there is often already recycled error—ignorant. You cannot write a book about Joe McCarthy based on what’s on the internet; it’s impossible. You have to go to the National Archives, you have to go to the FBI, you have to go to the records of the participants, papers of McCarthy himself, of Senator [Millard] Tydings [D-MD], who was his main antagonist—Senator [William] Benton [D-Conn.] and other antagonists. You have to get these original, primary sources and not just recycle what’s up there on the internet.
We need young scholars and writers and researchers, academics, journalists who will do this. It ain’t easy. It’s hard work, but it needs doing if the truth is to be told. And that is the lesson Reed Irvine taught by precept and example. It’s what Reed Irvine did, and I’m very honored to be the recipient of this award in Reed’s name.
Reed was a great, great journalist himself. He wouldn’t call himself a journalist, he was not by profession a journalist before he started AIM, but he was a very great journalist. Because he did exactly what I’m talking about on a regular basis and he wrote two—he had to write two stories every time that he dug in on one of these issues.
He had to write the story of what the major media were saying, and then he had to write the true story. So every issue of the AIM report was the false story that was out there and then the true story that Reed Irvine dug up.
It reminds me of—some of you may remember Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers; they were the dance partners during the 30s and 40s, and its always said of Ginger Rogers that she had to do everything that Fred Astaire did, but she had to do it while wearing high heels and moving backwards. And I’ve often said that about Barney Frank—that he has to do what all the other Congressmen do, but he does it while wearing high heels and moving backwards. And it’s not easy.
Doing these two things at once is a difficult thing and so those who can do that—walk, chew gum at the same time, many other examples—are doing something that is more difficult than the routine tasks of whatever profession they’re in. Reed Irvine did everything that a good journalist should do and more because he wrote the real story and then he put it up against the wrong story, and that was the great value of Accuracy in Media and still is today.
I am truly honored to receive this reward in his name and in the name of Accuracy in Media. I thank you, Don. I thank everybody at AIM. My time is up and I very much appreciate your giving me yours. Thank you.
The former editor of The Indianapolis News, M. Stanton Evans is the founder of the National Journalism Center as well as the author of more than a half dozen books including Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America’s Enemies.