Date of Award

Spring 1979

Document Type




First Advisor

Donald Roy

Second Advisor

Robert Swartout

Third Advisor

Dennis Wiedmann


Joseph Raymond McCarthy inspired, during his four year odyssey, an impressive volume of headlines. Whether out of intellectual curiosity, a need for revenge, or simple morbid fascination, various contemporary writers have puzzled over Joe with volumes of posthumous script. The interpretations of the McCarthy era range, to coin a phrase, from the sublime to the ridiculous. Several of the explanations stand above the rest. In fact, the more plausible arguments wisely synthesize the more restrictive texts into more believable wholes. It would be foolish, for instance, to blame the rise and maintenance of McCarthyism on a lethargic, or intimidated, press. However, the attitudes and cowardice of the press, when coupled with McCarthy’s amazing flair for exploiting that printed medium, weave a reasonable theme. Essentially, the truth—that ever-elusive and controversially abstract alignment of facts—must be found somewhere among a mass of several sub-truths. This is especially true when dealing with the complexities of McCarthyism, the roots of which merit an explanation which transcends simplicity. It was from this framework that I, too, ventured for the truth.