Ed Scherer, 68, Director-Producer

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From the Washington Post

Edward J. Scherer, 68, a retired television and video director and producer whose early work included broadcasts of the 1954 Army hearings of Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-Wis.), died of cancer June 22 at the Hospice of Washington. He lived in Kensington.

Mr. Scherer was a native of Philadelphia who served in the Coast Guard. He began his broadcasting career in Philadelphia in 1949 and joined WMAL-TV in Washington as a director in 1952.

While he was working for that station, ABC put him in charge of pool coverage for all networks of McCarthy’s hearings into alleged Army complicity in Communist activities. The 36 days of hearings were a first for the relatively new medium of television and went a long way toward exposing McCarthy’s bullying ways with witnesses and his tenuous grasp of facts.

Mr. Scherer said his approach to covering the hearings was to treat them as he would a baseball game, with one camera on the batter, one on the pitcher and a third “on the fellow making the play.” He kept one camera on McCarthy at all times and trained others on the rest of the committee and the witness table, getting quick reaction shots of the principal participants.

The hearings led to Senate censure for McCarthy’s contemptuous actions toward Army Secretary Robert T. Stevens and others and ultimately resulted in McCarthy’s downfall.

Mr. Scherer received the Headliner’s Club Award for his work on the hearings. He received the Sylvania Award for his broadcast direction for WTTG-TV of Senate labor racketeering hearings.

Mr. Scherer taught a course in television production at American University in 1954 and directed an early panel show, “At Issue,” at WMAL.

He was a sports director in Cuba in 1959 and 1960, then worked for WGBH-TV in Boston and as producer of an NBC program for children, “Exploring.” The show won a Peabody Award and other honors.

Mr. Scherer returned to Washington as a independent producer in 1966. His work included documentaries, commercials and educational films, among them a series on the history of space exploration and “On the Case,” about the Poor People’s Campaign of the 1960s.

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