Report: Rise of the New McCarthyism

For Immediate Release


Drew Courtney or Josh Glasstetter
at 202-467-4999 /

Report: Rise of the New McCarthyism

WASHINGTON - People For the American Way today released its latest "Right Wing
Watch: In Focus" report, "Rise
of the New McCarthyism
."  The document examines the far
right's adoption of strategies pioneered by Senator Joe McCarthy during
his anti-communist witch hunts in the 1950s.

More than 50 years ago, Sen. Joe McCarthy waged a campaign of political
intimidation that was so fundamentally unfair and un-American that we still use
his name to describe abusive demagoguery.  Today right-wing pundits,
activists, and Republican Party officials are taking McCarthyism to new heights
- or depths-and almost none of their fellow conservatives are
speaking out against it.

The report lays out how the characteristics of McCarthyism are
reflected in right-wing attacks on the Obama administration and its allies:

  • Charging that America
    is threatened from within by "elites" who are willing to subvert America's

  • Smearing political opponents as communists/socialists
    who are out to undermine America

  • Using guilt by association to attack the patriotism
    and integrity of anyone who opposes them or their political goals

  • Targeting gays as dangerous and unworthy of public

  • Impugning the integrity and patriotism of military
    leaders they disagree with

McCarthy was only able to do as much damage as he did - and ruin
as many lives as he did - because too many other public officials who
knew what he was doing was wrong were afraid to stand up to him. 
That's what's happening today.  Republican Party officials who
dare to criticize Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh end up apologizing with their
tail between their legs.

"The Right Wing is clearly borrowing from Joseph McCarthy's
playbook," said Michael B. Keegan, President of People For the American
Way.  "And the leaders of the GOP are attempting to gain political
ground from its baseless smears and character attacks.  Americans need to
do to the new McCarthyism what they did to the old one: stand up to the lies
and demand fairness, honesty and decency in our political discourse."

You can read the report online here
or download a PDF version here.


People For the American Way is dedicated to making the promise of America real for every American: Equality. Freedom of speech. Freedom of religion. The right to seek justice in a court of law. The right to cast a vote that counts. The American Way. Our vision is a vibrantly diverse democratic society in which everyone is treated equally under the law, given the freedom and opportunity to pursue their dreams, and encouraged to participate in our nation’s civic and political life. Our America respects diversity, nurtures creativity and combats hatred and bigotry.

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