Hal Crowther Awtt Portrait

Hal Crowther

Journalist, Essayist : b. 1945

“Swollen corporations rule more or less unchallenged. When a big one falls as Enron fell, it’s like a missing tooth in the blinding corporate smile that mesmerizes America. For a moment anyone who cares to look can see all the infection and corruption in the hungry mouth that threatens to swallow us whole. Expect a brief glimpse, before the Big Smile is repaired by the best oral surgeons money can buy. But what we see, and the way we respond to what we see, is more critical to America’s survival than the fate of a million Islamic terrorists.”


Hal Crowther has been the film and drama critic for the Buffalo News, media critic for Newsweek, and a writer for Time magazine. From 1984 to 1989, he was executive editor for Spectator magazine in Raleigh, North Carolina. He has written for both film and television, and pens columns for The Independent Weekly and The Progressive Populist.

Crowther’s wide-ranging essays have touched on such topics as the Enron scandal, living conditions in Cuba, and the 2006 rape charges against the Duke University lacrosse team. His trips to Prague and Cuba shed insight on the way Americans, and America as a whole, are perceived by other people. An article recalling the myth of Robin Hood points out the disparity between America´s haves and have nots.

He wrote powerfully against the war in Iraq, pulling no punches in passages like this: “If there ever was a deal-breaker, a faith-breaker between a president and the people who elected him (or, in this case, allowed him to take office when his election was in question), it’s this bloody-minded travesty of a war that Bush concocted out of far-Right obsessions and cooked intelligence, lied flagrantly to legitimize and then pursued to such a tragic, pitiful cul-de-sac. Such poor judgment yoked to such abysmal incompetence is unprecedented in all presidential history known to me.”

Crowther’s own profession, journalism, is not beyond his critical lens. He wrote, “As Murrow demonstrated in 1954 and Moyers is telling us now, any journalism of substance has a moral, judgmental component. Two sides, sure–but rarely two sides of equal merit. And at the point when the side with the power begins to ignore the facts, the laws, and other people’s rights–a point Bush passed years ago-–anyone with special knowledge, access or influence is ethically obligated to tell the public what he knows and what he thinks. No matter who proclaims it, ‘objectivity’ that ducks this responsibility is a contemptible sham.”


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