On May 21, 22 & 23, 2007, I submitted the following 1-Star review (1-Star = Not Recommended) for the documentary about the Army-McCarthy hearings titled “POINT OF ORDER.” My primary point was that it was a poor, misleading documentary because it had been deliberately edited with the intent to make Senator Joseph McCarthy and his assistants look bad. Amazon refused to post it. Here’s how the review read:
“A KIND OF TRUTH”? WHAT KIND IS THAT?
I didn’t vote for George W. Bush in either election (I’m registered as neither a Republican nor a Democrat); I opposed the war in Iraq from the very first day; and I think that “W” should be impeached and then removed from office per Article II, Section IV of the U.S. Constitution in connection with the September 11th attacks as well as for the deception used to embroil us in the Iraq war. OK? So, don’t make the mistake of thinking that I’m some Republican apologist. But when I attempted to watch Michael Moore’s FAHRENHEIT 9/11, I got exactly three minutes into it before shutting it off. I knew that he wasn’t going to present an objective view, but I thought that he would at least have enough respect for the intelligence of his viewers to offer a pretense of being fair and reasonable. FAHRENHEIT 9/11 was a one-sided “documentary” deliberately edited to project strictly an anti-Bush angle. Is Moore the only filmmaker guilty of these shenanigans? Not by a long shot!
In 1980, Nicaragua’s former president, Anastasio Somoza, wrote something about the media’s ability to tweak the truth:
“On Sunday afternoon, SIXTY MINUTES is the most watched network show in the United States . . . I have watched the show and I am familiar with the format. Generally speaking, the show is not complete unless someone is nailed to the cross. Also, the program will invariably sneak in a touch of propaganda. You can be sure this propaganda is slanted to the Left.
“When I was advised that SIXTY MINUTES wanted to interview me, I certainly had misgivings . . . However, I wanted so much for the American people to understand the realities of our situation in Nicaragua and to know what the administration in Washington was doing to us, that I agreed to do the program. All arrangements were made and Dan Rather was sent down to do the program. That interview I shall always remember. . . .
“I didn’t realize what the power of film editing really meant. With that power, Rather cast me in any role he chose. Everything good I said about Nicaragua was deleted. Any reference to Carter’s effort to destroy the government of Nicaragua was deleted. Every reference to the Communist activity and Cuba’s participation was deleted. . . . Rather depicted a situation that didn’t exist in Nicaragua. That show did irreparable harm to the government of Nicaragua and to me. Such massive disinformation also does harm to the American people.”
So, if I said to you that POINT OF ORDER is just another example of liberal media spin dogging the dead anti-Communist Senator Joseph McCarthy, would you believe me? Well, don’t take MY word for it, just listen to the “Commentary” track on this DVD where at the beginning, the movie’s producer and editor, Emile de Antonio, states, “No camera was ever more objective than the cameras in POINT OF ORDER. They were fixed in two parts of a room and they just played from one end of the room to the other, from one speaker to another speaker, and yet the action, the real material was not true, and I felt that it was only by imposing order on that material, only by imposing my beliefs on that material, that you would get a kind of truth.” Well, when he says “a kind of truth” he’s using the word “truth” very . . . uh, liberally.
In the eye-opening book “McCarthy”, the author, Roy Cohn –- the chief counsel for the Senate Investigating Committee under Senator McCarthy, and a principal player in POINT OF ORDER -- had this to say about the “documentary”:
“An important myth-making factor was the ninety-seven minute “documentary” film, POINT OF ORDER, put together from TV kinescopes of the [Army-McCarthy] hearings and nationally distributed in recent years. I sat through this motion picture twice and was amazed. Virtually every incident favorable to our side was cropped, nearly every unfavorable one was included. None of the important points we scored, and they were many, was there. McCarthy came through as the heavy villain, and I as his apprentice in the black arts –- seeking to destroy everything from mere reputations to the armed forces of the nation. It was, I regret to say, a cropped movie.” [page 212]
Quite honestly, even if POINT OF ORDER wasn’t a demagogic attack on McCarthy, it still wouldn’t be very compelling theatre because it is so hacked up and disjointed that the continuity is a shambles and the context is bound to be lost on many viewers who aren’t already as familiar with the serpentine story as I am. For example, why was the photo showing Private Schine with Army Secretary Stevens presented to the committee to begin with? What was it meant to prove? Just what information was in the document that originated from J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI office, and why and how did it come into McCarthy’s possession? I know the answers to these questions, but you won’t learn them by watching POINT OF ORDER.
The big highlight of the proceedings is titled ’The Accusation’ in which POINT OF ORDER’s proposed “hero”, the lawyer, Joe Welch, indignantly asks McCarthy, “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?” This is what the December 5th, 2004 edition of TV Guide called the 39th “Most Memorable Moment” in Television history, adding, “At the Army-McCarthy hearings, the lawyer’s question for the senator finally shows who the real enemy is.” McCarthy was wrong to mention Fred Fisher’s Communistic association with the National Lawyer’s Guild, but not because he was recklessly smearing an innocent man (he wasn’t) and not because he was revealing to a national TV audience an unknown fact (he wasn’t; The New York Times had printed the same information just a couple of months earlier on April 16th). McCarthy should not have mentioned Fisher only because Cohn had made a secret agreement with Welch that the McCarthy team would not reiterate the Fisher information if Welch agreed not to reveal a private matter about Cohn. (If you want to know what that was, read the book, [[ASIN:B000KIR8FC McCarthy, by Roy Cohn.]].) But McCarthy lost his temper when Welch was questioning Cohn mockingly, and he ignored the previously agreed upon condition. In other words, TV Guide’s 39th Most Memorable Moment in TV history was essentially much ado about nothing, but Welch played it up and the liberal media seized it and utilized it to distort the public’s perception of McCarthy.
It is a national disgrace that so few Americans have done any independent research into the facts about McCarthy and “McCarthyism”, and have instead allowed the Edward R. Murrows, the Emile de Antonios, and the George Clooneys of the world to brainwash them with “a kind of truth”, a phrase synonymous with “liberal lies.” But not everyone downed the Kool Aid; in his book “Assassination of Joe McCarthy”, Medford Evans relates the following story:
“In 1955, even after ’censure’, Bobby [Kennedy], who was honored as one of the ’ten outstanding young men of the year’ by the Junior Chamber of Commerce, walked out on a formal dinner – away from the head table – when Edward R. Murrow got up to speak. Returning when the speech was over, young Kennedy, according to Victor Lasky, ’told everyone within earshot that he had no use for that obscenity Murrow after what he had done to his good friend Joe McCarthy, a reference to a famous TV documentary in which Murrow had excoriated the Senator from Wisconsin.’ ” [page 77]
Some recommended titles for genuine research:
McCarthy, by Roy Cohn.
McCarthy And His Enemies, by Buckley & Bozell
Who Promoted Peress?, by Lokos
America's Retreat From Victory: The Story Of George Catlett Marshall, by McCarthy
The publications mentioned above will go a long way toward making the reader cognizant of “the REAL truth” rather than “a KIND OF truth.”
On May 24th, after three days of attempting to get my review to post, I sent the following e-mail to Amazon:
Dear Amazon ~
I have attempted on three different occasions now to post a review for the DVD, "POINT OF ORDER" (ASIN: B000A59PO2) but my review has failed to appear. I submitted a review on May 21, 22, and 23. Will you please check my review of the 23rd (NOT the first two, as I used better product links for the third one), and unless you find something objectionable about it, will you please post the review for me. If, however, you do find anything objectionable about it, please tell me VERY SPECIFICALLY what that is so I know how to rewrite the review. …
I hope to see this review on your website soon, or else to receive an explanation for why you have rejected it. I thank you for your attention to this matter.
Stephen T. McCarthy
On May 25th, I received this reply:
Hi from Amazon.com.
That same day, I sent the following e-mail:
Dear Amazon ~
I would like a supervisor there to review this situation because I believe that the response I got from "P" yesterday regarding why my submitted review for the DVD, "POINT OF ORDER" (ASIN: B000A59PO2) has failed to post was inadequate.
First of all, he implies that the review "MAY" [*Note: I was incorrect; he said “could”*] be over the 1,000 word limit. Well, if it is, then so is about 85% of the 194 reviews I have previously posted on Amazon, as this is one of my shorter reviews. (Has Amazon suddenly decided to START enforcing a rule that is seldom if ever enforced? It wouldn't have anything to do with the "controversial" nature of the subject, would it?) A countless number of Amazon reviews (not just my own) are far longer than this one.
Secondly, he maintains that some of the text of my review does not pertain directly to the DVD in question. This is true, but since when are we not allowed to draw comparisons with other products in order to make a point?
I mention other instances of "deceptive" editing in so-called "documentaries" in order to let the reader know that he/she shouldn't be surprised or incredulous that "POINT OF ORDER" has been deceptively edited in order to present a one-sided (hence inaccurate) view of the Army-McCarthy Hearings. This is not the first time a filmmaker has resorted to these tactics, and I feel this is not just a valid use of comparison, but one that is very IMPORTANT to the overall purpose of my review!
If a new rule has been established stating that other products can't be mentioned in the body of a review now, then why has Amazon recently provided us with product links to other items that we can insert into the text of our reviews?
I hope my review is not being singled out and having restrictions applied to it that are not ordinarily put into force simply because my review takes a contrarian position on a longtime controversial issue!
I respectfully request that a supervisor review this situation and reconsider it. I thank you in advance and hope to hear from you soon.
Stephen T. McCarthy
Later that day, I received this from Amazon:
Thank you for writing to Amazon.com.
Your review was removed because your comments in large part focused on your personal opinions of the subject matter, rather than reviewing this item and due to the extensive use of quotations. We provide our customer reviews section for you to comment on the
merits of the DVD and the DVD style. We ask that you not use it as a place for a discussion of the subject matter.
As such, your review cannot be posted on Amazon.com in its current format. What I can suggest is that you resubmit your review, restricting your comments to critically analyzing the content of the item. Please take a look at our Review Guidelines for information about acceptable review content . . . . .
The next day, May 26th, I resubmitted my review after removing all supposedly superfluous quotations and references to any other documentary or any notable person not directly related to the McCarthy saga. The review was essentially the same as that submitted previously minus the first 5 paragraphs of the former version and maybe a few pieces otherwise edited. For two days, this new attempt was likewise rejected by Amazon.com.
So, on May 28th, Memorial Day, I decided to conduct a little test of Amazon’s credibility. I completely rewrote my review, but this time, I gave it 5 Stars (the highest grade possible). And while I still maintained that the documentary had been deliberately edited in order to make Senator McCarthy look bad, now I was proclaiming this as a positive thing because McCarthy was an evil man who needed to be stopped. In other words, I transformed my “voice” into that of a typical Liberal, and I used all of the totally false accusations that Liberals and the media (oh, but I’m being redundant) have traditionally used to attack McCarthy and his efforts. Other than the fact that the documentary really was deliberately edited to harm McCarthy’s reputation, my review was now a complete LIE . . . and Amazon posted it on their website within 8 hours of receiving it from me! Notice that I am no less opinionated in this phony review than I was in my legitimate review, I’m only much less truthful. Here’s what it said:
MASTERFULLY EDITED TO MAGNIFY McCARTHY’S MALEVOLENCE
The Army-McCarthy hearings in which the demagogic Senator, Joseph McCarthy, and his chief counsel, Roy Cohn, were charged with having attempted to blackmail special treatment from the Army for their partner-in-crime, Private David G. Schine, took a total of 36 days. That’s an awful lot of testimony, and it captured the attention of the American public like nothing before. It would be nearly four decades before the O.J. Simpson trial would equal its theatrics and stir up equal or greater interest among the people.
POINT OF ORDER is a distillation of those 36 days that rocked America, it is a great ninety-seven minute movie, an exceptionally well-constructed documentary in which producer and editor, Emile de Antonio, painstakingly pored over all of the testimony given in the Army-McCarthy Hearings and from that massive collection of old TV kinescopes, he assembled a picture that shall forever stand as an indictment and proof of Senator Joseph McCarthy’s shameful acts, his wicked calumny. Emile de Antonio has selected particular segments of the hearings in order to show McCarthy in his worst light and to expose him as the liar and slanderer that he was; a man who recklessly smeared the reputations of countless innocent Americans, dogging them with false accusations of Communistic involvement, who in the process, created a “Red Scare” in this country that had decent Americans in government and the entertainment industry in fear. No one could be sure who McCarthy would falsely accuse next, and as a result, the American people became fearful of their friends and family members, fearful of all of their associations.
The era of “McCarthyism” was one of the worst in American history, and when it became clear that the malicious McCarthy had to be stopped, the Army Hearings brought attention to the man’s irrational behavior, and shortly afterwards, censure charges were brought against him in the Senate, and his own colleagues found him guilty of acts “contrary to senatorial tradition.” The evil had finally been confronted and conquered!
Emile de Antonio’s masterful editing in POINT OF ORDER gets right to the heart of the matter; utilizing clips of McCarthy’s worst behavior during the Army-McCarthy Hearings, it puts on full display the malevolence that was Senator McCarthy. The big highlight of the proceedings is when the lawyer, Joe Welch, indignantly asks McCarthy, “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?” The lawyer’s question for the senator finally shows who the real enemy is. All Americans should see this documentary and learn the truth about Senator McCarthy, so that an informed vigilance will prevent any future “McCarthys” from terrorizing the country we love.
Well, the cat was now officially out of the bag; Amazon.com’s agenda was perfectly plain to see. So, on May 31st, I wrote to Amazon again, seeking explanations for their bad behavior:
Dear J. (Senior Member of Amazon’s Communities Team) ~
On May 25th, you wrote the following to me in response to my inquiry as to why my review for the DVD, POINT OF ORDER (ASIN: B000A59PO2) had not been posted on the Product Page:
“Your review was removed because your comments in large part focused
on your personal opinions of the subject matter, rather than
reviewing this item and due to the extensive use of quotations.
We provide our customer reviews section for you to comment on the
merits of the DVD and the DVD style. We ask that you not use it as
a place for a discussion of the subject matter.
“As such, your review cannot be posted on Amazon.com in its current
format. What I can suggest is that you resubmit your review,
restricting your comments to critically analyzing the content of the
J., I recognize that for what it is: a very cleverly written policy worded in such a way that when Amazon chooses to apply it literally to whatever review the company doesn’t care for (for whatever reason) Amazon can justify removing or refusing to post the review in question. In truth, if every reviewer was always required to follow this policy to the letter, no "review" of a book or theatrical production would be possible. The "letter of your law" leaves room for a basic "synopsis" only, and excludes a reviewer from offering any sort of personal evaluation of an item's validity or worth. Of course, no product page needs more than a single summary, so Amazon applies this policy selectively, allowing reviewers to offer their individual opinions, but only when those opinions suit Amazon.
According to your explanation above (i.e., “Your comments in large part focused on your personal opinions of the subject matter…We ask that you not use it as a place for a discussion of the subject matter.”) if a person was to submit a review of, say, THE COMMUNIST MANIFESTO by Karl Marx, the reviewer would only be allowed to comment on Marx’s vocabulary, his grammar, the syntax, but not on whether or not the reviewer believes that the writer’s ideas, the social construct he proposes, his economic theory, and his beliefs about the proper relationship of government to the people it governs is well-founded, truthful, or viable. You would be allowing the reviewer to write a synopsis of the Manifesto’s hypothesis, but nothing more. You would deny the reviewer the right to remark on whether or not he or she believed the Communist philosophy was valid or bogus, and whether or not what was presented by Marx represented facts. This wouldn’t be a review, and it wouldn’t be worth anyone’s time to read, either.
J., on May 26th, I edited my previous review, removing all references and quotations not directly related to Senator McCarthy, and I resubmitted it in the following form (which also failed to get posted on your Product Page) :
[*NOTE: Dear Blog Reader, here in this spot, I included my rejected review submission of May 26th, but I see no point in posting here what is very similar to the first review, minus the first five paragraphs of that original version.]
J., as a little test, on May 28th, I rewrote my review, and while continuing to maintain that the documentary had been edited in a way as to deliberately present Senator McCarthy in the worst possible light, this time I stated that this was an admirable thing to do since McCarthy was such a wicked man who had to be stopped. And instead of giving the DVD just one star, I awarded it five stars. Following is a copy of this new review which I submitted on May 28th, and which Amazon saw fit to post on the Product Page about 8 hours after receiving it. (It’s still appearing on the Product Page as you read this.) *It posted under a May 21st date – the same date I submitted my first review for this product.*:
[*NOTE: Dear Blog Reader, here in this spot, I placed a copy of my May 28th review. But I don’t wish to burden you by repeating the entire thing.]
J., I guess I don’t have to tell you how bad this makes Amazon look, do I? I wonder what sort of explanation you have. And while you are explaining, please also articulate for me how my last 1-Star review differs in any fundamental way from the excerpts I am providing below from other reviews currently being displayed on the POINT OF ORDER (ASIN: B000A59PO2) Product Page –- the first is a 1-Star review from June 11, 2004, and the second is the most recently posted 5-Star review … from May 13, 2007.
June 11, 2004
This film is nothing but an attempt by left-wing degenerates to smear a great Senator who had the guts to stand up to communist infiltration of our government. Senator McCarthy used legal means and protected the innocent by giving those questioned an opportunity to meet in Executive Session and anyone found innocent, left without further issue. Sadly, the same can't be said of the treatment that Senator McCarthy received. This film was edited in such a way as to make the Senator look bad.
May 13, 2007
In the view of his supporters and defenders, anything to the left of Joe "Stalin"/"Hitler" McCarthy was/is "Communist" -- an absurity lost only on those of the same credulous ilk as those who actually backed and defended -- and today defend (Ann Coulter) -- McCarthy as a "patriot". He was a demagogue, plain and simple; and one could say he was the inspiration for FOX's fake "news," and the hero of the "likes" of Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly, though McCarthy predates the steroids. The "likes" of those who confuse deceitful swill for "religion" to be worshipped by those who believe reason as substitute for malevolence and hate to be "sin".
Notice how that second reviewer offers plenty of personal opinions, not just on this DVD, but also about Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, FOX News, and even on the unrelated subject of “religion.” His 5-Star opinions were acceptable to Amazon, but my 1-Star opinions submitted just 8 days later were too “focused on [my] personal opinions of the subject matter” to please you.
J., I eagerly anticipate a response from you regarding this matter.
Stephen T. McCarthy
On May 31st, I received the following reply from another Amazon representative:
Thank you for writing back to us at Amazon.com.
In order to help customers make informed buying decisions, we are interested in cultivating a diversity of opinion in our reviews. Part and parcel of that is allowing our customers to air their honest thoughts about items. We do not pull a review due to the star rating,
but only if the review goes against our review guidelines. …
The reviews on June 11, 2004 and May 12, 2007 are two review that don't follow our guidelines. I've removed these comments, and the review should disappear from Amazon.com soon.
We want our review forum to be a place for constructive comments and feedback that may be useful to other customers. We will remove any review that falls outside of our guidelines.
Please continue to send any further reviews that you find that follow outside of our guidelines: … Your feedback helps us maintain the quality of our site. Thank you for
contacting Amazon.com. …
If that didn’t make a lot of sense to you, allow me to explain it:
D. received the e-mail that I had sent to J., and although the e-mail was addressed to J., and although what I sent was crystal clear, D. responded in her place and he played dumb with me. Unless he was a clinical moron (Hmmm… now that I think about it…), he knew perfectly well what my argument was. And yet, he pretended as if the main complaint of my letter was directed at the remarks that others had made in their reviews on the Product Page for “POINT OF ORDER.” So, he went and deleted the reviews that I had made reference to (i.e., destroyed the evidence), and then – just to make sure that I got the message – he went and also deleted one of my own reviews that I had posted some time much earlier for the book “McCARTHY” by Roy Cohn. D. wanted to slyly make sure I understood that if I continued to contest these dishonest actions by Amazon.com, I was in jeopardy of having my own previously posted reviews removed from the website.
And notice how he closed his e-mail with: “To contact us about an unrelated issue, please visit the Help section of our web site.” In other words, THIS discussion is over.
Well, at this point, I’d had my fill of Amazon’s disingenuousness, and I vowed to never again spend my time in helping them to sell products by writing reviews for their website. While I did continue to post “Comments” to friends and to those I debated with, and I did compose entries for the Blog that Amazon later (apparently accidentally) provided me with, I never wrote another review for them.
~ Stephen T. McCarthy