On January 2, Roy Cohn is added as chief counsel for Senator Joseph R. McCarthy’s investigating subcommittee. He is referred for the position by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, who befriended Cohn because of his performance in the Rosenberg trial.
Cohn quickly becomes the mascot of the investigations as he brutally accuses and interrogates government employees he suspects are Communists. Only three weeks pass between Cohn being added to the committee and Cohn threatening government officials.
Cohn is often referred to as the architect of McCarthyism for his purging of federal employees based on unsupported claims. In some cases, suspects were even accused of being atheist as evidence that they supported communism.
According to Wikipedia, McCarthyism is used today to refer to “aggressively questioning a person’s patriotism, making poorly supported accusations, using accusations of disloyalty to pressure a person to adhere to conformist politics or to discredit an opponent, subverting civil and political rights in the name of national security, and the use of demagoguery.”
Where’s My Roy Cohn? (Documentary)
Photo: Altimeter Films/Sundance Film Festival