“You will get precisely the news that you deserve,” Clooney,the father of actor George Clooney,told a group gathered at the Newseum,Washington's museum dedicated to the news industry. “And we will go down into the dustpan of history as another empire lost.”
It was a serious moment in a lighthearted evening as both Clooney men and Bill Small,the National Television Academy's chairman of news and documentary Emmys,discussed “Good Night,and Good Luck,” the 2005 film about legendary television journalist Edward R. Murrow.
The sold-out event,the second installment of the Reel Journalism series sponsored by the Newseum and the American University School of Communication,also included a screening of the film and question-and-answer session with audience members.
George Clooney – who wrote and directed the film,as well as playing Murrow's producer Fred Friendly – said he made the film because growing up with a journalist father gave him a healthy respect for the media's watchdog role.
“I grew up around news people,” he said,gesturing at his father and explaining that he learned early the necessity of “the Fourth Estate when two of the other estates don't necessarily knock it out of the park.”
And while Clooney said he was careful to keep the film accurate to ward off cynics who have recently been critical of politically involved actors,Small – a former CBS Washington bureau chief who knew Murrow personally – said the film made some minor errors.
The main one,Small said,was in Clooney's portrayal of Friendly,who helped create Murrow's “See it Now” show on CBS. Clooney's version was much more likeable than the actual man,Small said.
“In the unlikely event that anybody ever makes a movie about me,I like George Clooney,” he said.
Jonathan Thompson,media relations assistant for the Newseum,said the museum was able to book George Clooney because his father,a former news anchor and television-show host,is presenting the series,which began in December with “Broadcast News.”
The series will also present “Citizen Kane” Feb. 23 and “All the President's Men,” with former Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward as a panelist,March 16.
Thompson said the Newseum entertains some hopes of securing actors Dustin Hoffman,who played Post reporter Carl Bernstein,and Robert Redford,who played Woodward,for the March event,but nothing has been confirmed.