His pronouncements sold papers. He had all the headlines he could wish, though he lied repeatedly to reporters.. Flooded with requests for interviews, he now had all the publicity he craved. Pressed for details, he promised to check his files and mention some names. But he had, in fact, no names and there was no list.
Delivering lies of this kind for the rest of his career caused no problems for him. By the time reporters had run themselves ragged checking on a story, their source would be delivering a sensational new one.
No, not Trump, though the comparisons do send shivers down my spine. This is a review of an upcoming PBS documentary about McCarthy. Also mentioned Trump's hero - Roy Cohn:
What, for instance, was the response of McCarthy’s party, and of the nation’s political institutions as a whole, to this senator who prided himself on indifference to rules; who leveled charges of treason, however unfounded, at anyone he wished? How was he able to operate in complete freedom and preside alone—the sole authority—over a creation called the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, with only his invaluable assistant, Roy Cohn, at his side? In 1953, the high point of his powers, he could, in this role, subpoena, interrogate and threaten anyone he cared to, while pursuing penetrating inquiries like “Are you writing now under the direction of the Communist Party?”
The documentary’s footage is haunting in its picture of people ordered to show up for interrogation over some radical group they once belonged to or perhaps still did. The Permanent Subcommittee could call a Harvard graduate student—and also the editor of the New York Post, at the time a middle-of-the-road liberal paper that regularly criticized McCarthy. Summoning a journalist to undergo questioning as Post editor James Wechsler was forced to do was, one of the film’s commentators notes, a new level of intimidation. Not even the House Un-American Activities Committee—whose inquisitorial investigations had taken place before those of McCarthy—had done that.
It would take McCarthy’s two clashes with the U.S. Army—proceedings the film delivers in riveting detail—to loosen his hold on the loyalties of Senate Republicans, who were awed by his popularity as a nationally beloved leader in the fight to save America from communism.
https://www.wsj.com/articles/mccarthy-r ... 1577401168 (paid subscription)
On PBS Jan 6, but check local listing.