PBS American Experience

Retrieving a once-famous chemist

History tends to remember a few rebels and reformers
.They’re authors and politicians, mostly. But then there’s the guy – now semi-forgotten – who was once the world’s most famous chemist
.That’s Harvey Wiley (shown here with his young “poison squad”), subject of a fascinating PBS profile Tuesday. He was an early target in the war against science. He also was also a reason why we know (sometimes) what we’re eating. Read more…

McCarthy: A brash bully demanded attention

It was six decades ago … but in some ways, it seems like now.
There was name-calling, finger-pointing, fact-checking, a televised congressional hearing. There was talk of State Department evil. This was the Sen. Joseph McCarthy era; a PBS documentary takes a fresh look … and dispels some assumptions.
The wrong notion, historian David Oshinsky told the Television Critics Association in July, is that McCarthy was a “slightly moronic, animalistic person. (Instead,) this was one very shrewd politician.
”That comes across in the film. McCarthy is described as affable, talkative, easy to like. “In some ways, he was quite a charming guy,” says Leon Kamin, one of the people McCarthy attacked. Read more…