On the inaugural episode of “Face the Nation”, 67 years ago, the first guest to join the round table was then-Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy, who was embroiled in his own national controversy. It was then that McCarthy, who at the time was leading his own probe against communist sympathizers, was set to be censured by a special session of the United States Senate.
Ted Koop, Washington news director for CBS, was the program’s first host of the program. McCarthy was censured just one month after his appearance on the show.
The day “Face the Nation” premiered crystallized a time in Washington that is not too unlike the one lawmakers find themselves in today. With partisan politics driving policy and debate with an impeachment hearing looming overhead, “Face the Nation” proves it has stood the test of time during oftentimes turbulent climates.
Highlights from the show:
- In an effort to sway public opinion in his favor, McCarthy denounced the Senate’s move in censuring him as ”a lynch party . . . a lynch bee” later calling the prospective proceedings “silly”
- McCarthy incorrectly predicts that the Senate will not move to censure him: “I don’t think the Republican leadership is going to go along with this. I hope not,” he said.
- McCarthy doubles down on his probe of seeking out communists in the federal government: “I will continue to investigate Communists. There will be a sixth [hearing], a seventh, an eighth, as long as I am in the Senate.”
- McCarthy compares Utah Senator Arthur Watkins to a “child” having a “fit of anger” during hearings. Watkins would go on to deliver an emotional floor speech about the dignity of the Senate that brought cheers from the galleries.
Read through the full show transcript here: