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America’s scariest book? Red Channels

Red Channels

I’ve come across a copy of Red Channels and frankly it is one of the most scary pieces of publishing that I’ve ever seen. Published in 1950 by Counterattack, Red Channels is “The report of Communist Influence in Radio and Television.” It’s an incredible piece of history from the absolute height of McCarthyism. The book, complete with a scary red hand about to grasp a microphone, is basically an industry blacklist of America’s media and entertainment types.

Counterattack was established by a group of former FBI agents dedicated to exposing Communists. This book ‘exposes’ 151 people. Flicking through the pages, there are many famous names – Larry Adler, Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, John Garfield, Dashiell Hammett, Lena Horne, Burl Ives, Gpysy Rose Lee, Burgess Meredith, Arthur Miller, Zero Mostel, Dorothy Parker, Edward G Robinson, Pete Seeger, Sam Wanamaker, Orson Welles.

Pete Seeger’s entry

Some of their alleged crimes….attending civil rights meetings, attending a stop censorship meeting, speaking at a teacher’s union meeting, attending a council on African affairs meeting.

The introduction quotes J Edgar Hoover: The (Communist) Party has departed from depending on the written word as its medium of propaganda and has taken to the air. Its members and sympathizers have not only inflitrated the airways but they are now persistently seeking radio channels.”

Red Channels goes on…”Those familiar with show business are already sickeningly aware of the manner in which Red Facism has exploited scores of radio and TV stars at pro-Soviet rallies, meetings and conferences.”

This book is merely 59 years old.

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Richard Davies

7 Responses to “America’s scariest book? Red Channels”

  1. Danielle Butler July 17, 2009 at 9:28 pm

    Yes, very scary- We would appreciate if you can check to see if there is a listing in Red Channells for our family members: Hugo Butler and Jean Rouverol (his wife). They ended up in Mexico with the Trumbos. If you can provide a scan we would really appreciate it. Thanks.

  2. have been looking for this book for some time now.. Do you know of anyone, anywhere, who sells copies of this?

  3. I, too have been furtively trying to obtain a copy of Red Channels. I have not seen any response to a similar query listed above, so if you have any leads, please contact me at hirschjj@optonline.net

    Thank you.

  4. Steven Kasell May 13, 2016 at 1:22 pm

    I hate to be Un-PC, but a lot of those meetings the blacklistees went to were held by Communist front organizations. I’m not pro-Blacklist, but one has to see things in their historical perspective.

  5. I, too would like to get my hands on a copy of this in either hardcopy or digital print. My great uncle John Brown is listed in it and I’m curious of his indictments. brownjt7@lycos.com


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