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February 14, 2006
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v2.1 Reference

Maurice Rosenblatt and the Fall of Joseph McCarthy

Maurice Rosenblatt was one of the principal behind-the-scenes engineers of the 1954 overthrow of Senator Joseph McCarthy, the rabidly anti-Communist chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Veteran journalist Shelby Scates tells the story of the rise of McCarthy’s power to destroy careers and livelihoods with his allegations of subversion, together with the story of Rosenblatt’s role in effecting McCarthy’s eventual censure by the Senate. Lobbyist Rosenblatt joined with colleagues to form the McCarthy Clearinghouse, dedicated to stopping the demagogue’s assault on civil liberties. Operating out of Rosenblatt’s suite in the Carroll Arms Hotel near Capitol Hill, Clearinghouse staff lent their support to the Republican senator from Vermont, Ralph Flanders, who introduced the successful resolution to censure McCarthy and remove him from his committee chairmanship.

Drawing on interviews with Rosenblatt and other actors in the drama and on previously unresearched collections of papers, Scates tells a tale of excess and intrigue in an engagingly salty style. Passages quoted from the transcripts of McCarthy’s closed-door hearings -- not released until 2003, fifty years after the fact -- reveal in the participants’ own words how McCarthy grilled, cajoled, and threatened his witnesses and how they responded. Rosenblatt’s words and records offer the counterpoint, revealing the opposition’s strategy: “the way to defeat an extremist is with the conservative establishment.” In telling the story, Scates gives Rosenblatt the acknowledgment he deserves for having helped end a fearful episode in American political history.

About the Author

Shelby Scates is the author of Warren G. Magnuson and the Shaping of Twentieth- Century America and War and Politics by Other Means. He lives in Seattle, where for many years he was a political columnist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.


"This book sounds a wise warning about the price we pay when a free press fails to live up to its mandate. It also provides a much-needed reminder that a focused, bipartisan opposition to bad government is a very powerful tool."—The Seattle Times

"This in-depth look at the man who brought down Joe McCarthy brings the ugliness of that era back into sharp focus. But Scates also rewards us for reliving all of that by introducing us to a real American hero: Maurice Rosenblatt, the lobbyist who ended McCarthy's reign of fear."—Jim McDermott, U.S. Congressman, Washington State District 7

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