Howard Rushmore was born into poverty on a farm in Mexico, Missouri, in 1912. He worked for local newspapers. He was converted to socialism after witnessing a lynching. He later joined the American Communist Party and contributed articles to the The Daily Worker and eventually became the newspaper's film critic.
In 1939 he reviewed Gone With the Wind. He liked the film and praised the film’s technical achievements. This upset Benjamin Davis, a black member of the editorial board. Rushmore was instructed to rewrite the review and when he refused he was sacked. After the killing of Leon Trotsky he left the party.
Rushmore wrote was known as a "red-baiting" column for New York World Telegram. Millard Lampell said that he was often around picking up evidence against left-wing entertainers. Later he moved to the New York Journal American where he specialized in writing smear stories. Cederic Belfrage claims that he was as important in this role as Westbrook Pegler, Frederick Woltman and George Sokolsky in creating a blacklist. Pegler described himas "one of the most effective enemies of treason in American journalism."
Rushmore met Harvey Matusow, a former party member and a FBI spy. Rushmore agreed to pay Matusow $750 for a four-part article on his activities. On 6th February, 1952, Matusow testified in front of the House of Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). Matusow later admitted that he used his testimony to get headlines in the newspapers. For example he told the HUAC that "Communists would use intellectual as well as sexual weakness to recruit people." The following morning the New York Daily Mirror stated: "The Matusow revelations about Communist use of intellectual and of sexual appeals to rope young people into the party's lower echelons pose a new light on the brutishly immoral and completely conscienceless strategies of the red traitors."
Joseph McCarthy described Rushmore as "one of the greatest living Americans". Rushmore left the New York Journal American in 1953. Officially he lost his job for "economy reasons". However, Rushmore told friends said it was because he criticized Roy Cohn, the close friend of McCarthy. Rushmore now began working for Confidential Magazine. Cederic Belfrage, the author of the American Inquisition: 1945-1960 (1973), has pointed out: "He moved on to exposing citizens' sexual deviations in the peephole magazine Confidential with the same enthusiasm he had brought to exposing their political ones, but when one of the exposed sued Confidential an old habit returned: he turned informer against his employers. He then began writing for 'girly magazines,' a task in which he was only disturbed by his wife, who claimed that he beat and threatened to kill her."
Howard Rushmore became an alcoholic and when his second wife, Frances Everitt, also a journalist, left him in December, 1957, he tried to kill himself by throwing himself into a river. On 3rd January, 1958, he got into the same taxi as his wife in New York City. According to the taxi-driver, Edward Pearlman, they had a heated argument in the cab. Pearlman decided to take the couple to the nearest police station. A few minutes later he heard the woman scream “Oh my God!” He then heard several shots. Pearlman turned round to discover that Rushmore had shot his wife in the head and neck and then turned the gun on himself.
Rushmore had backed the wrong horse while in McCarthy's camp as "research director": McCarthy had estimated him as "one of the greatest living Americans," but he had fallen out with Cohn, who might now have helped him, and was used up as a witness and even as a Hearst red expert. He moved on to exposing citizens' sexual deviations in the peephole magazine Confidential with the same enthusiasm he had brought to exposing their political ones, but when one of the exposed sued Confidential an old habit returned: he turned informer against his employers. He then began writing for "girly magazines," a task in which he was only disturbed by his wife, who claimed that he beat and threatened to kill her. Cvetic was hospitalized early in the year as an alcoholic. Pittsburgh's Foreign Born Committee thought this justified reopening of deportation cases in which Cvetic had testified, but his first engagement after discharge from hospital was to expose another obstreperous steelworker for SISS. He did poorly, for every word he said was denied by the steelworker: the script called for named heretics to refuse to answer. Drawing the conclusion that his work in Pittsburgh was now finished, Cvetic went to open up new fields in the far west where his lectures had not yet been heard.
Or consider the case of Harvey Matusow, who after seven years in the Party and four years as an informer (against various Communist Youth organizations, folk singers, and the Boy Scouts) repudiated his career as a professional witness in a book, False Witness (1955), in press conferences, and before a grand jury. Between 1951 and 1954, he consulted with and testified for the Justice Department (in the second New York Smith Act trial), the Subversive Activities Control Board, the Permanent Investigations Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Government Operations, the Internal Security Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the House Committee on Un-American Activities, the Ohio Committee on Un-American Activities, and the New York City Board of Education. By his own count he had testified in 25 trials and deportation proceedings and identified 180 persons as Communists as he worked his way up from the sticks to the informers' palace-the McCarthy Committee. He also lectured for the American Legion, campaigned for candidates who could meet his fee (he once campaigned for McCarthy himself), wrote for the Hearst papers, and at one point had a radio program with fellow informer Howard Rushmore called Out of the Red. "Pretty good for a mama's boy from the Bronx, wouldn't you say?" he says.
It was his account of his dealings with Senator McCarthy's counsel, Roy Cohn, that got Matusow into trouble. When in 1951 Cohn, then an assistant U.S. attorney in New York, let him know that the prosecution wished to get into evidence at the second Smith Act trial a particularly incendiary passage from Andrei Vyshinsky's Law of the Soviet State, Matusow conveniently allowed as how he not only had read the book but had discussed passages from it with defendant Alexander Trachtenberg - the very one Cohn was after. In his book, Matusow claimed that this was perjury and that Cohn had suborned it.