Anti-communism and Army–McCarthy hearings
In 1952 Schine published a six-page anti-communist pamphlet called Definition of Communism, and had a copy placed in every room of his family's chain of hotels. Although the pamphlet contained many errors, Time magazine called the pamphlet "remarkably succinct." The pamphlet introduced Schine to Roy Cohn through newspaper columnist George Sokolsky, and the two became friends. Cohn at that time was Senator Joseph McCarthy's chief counsel, and he brought Schine onto McCarthy's staff as an unpaid "chief consultant". McCarthy era opponents of Communism sought to stamp out pro-Communist material. Schine and Cohn conducted a much-criticised tour of Europe in 1953, examining libraries of the United States Information Agency for books written by authors they deemed to be Communists or fellow travelers. Die Welt of Hamburg called them Schnüffler or snoops. Theodore Kaghan, Deputy Director of the Public Affairs Division in the Office of the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany and a target of the Committee, called them "junketeering gumshoes."
In November 1953, Schine was drafted into the United States Army as a private. Cohn immediately began a campaign to obtain special privileges for Schine. Cohn met with and made repeated telephone calls to military officials from the Secretary of the Army down to Schine's company commander. He asked that Schine be given a commission, which the Army refused due to Schine's lack of qualifications, and that Schine be given light duties, extra leave and not be assigned overseas. At one point, Cohn was reported to have threatened to "wreck the Army" if his demands were not met. During the Army-McCarthy Hearings of 1954, the Army charged Cohn and McCarthy with using improper pressure to influence the Army, while McCarthy and Cohn counter-charged that the Army was holding Schine "hostage" in an attempt to squelch McCarthy's investigations into Communists in the Army.
The hearings were broadcast live using the relatively new medium of television and were viewed by an estimated 20 million people. Just prior to the hearings, Schine and Cohn appeared on the cover of TIME on March 22, 1954, under the banner "McCarthy and His Men".
Schine and Cohn were rumored to have a sexual relationship, although there has never been any proof of this. More recently, some historians have concluded that the two were merely friends, and that Schine was heterosexual. During this period, Schine was linked romantically with some actresses, including Rhonda Fleming and Piper Laurie. Cohn's homosexuality later became public and he died of AIDS in 1986.
The Army–McCarthy hearings absolved McCarthy of any direct wrongdoing, blaming Cohn alone. The exposure of McCarthy and his methods before a television audience, however, is widely considered the beginning of the end of his career. Roy Cohn resigned from McCarthy's staff shortly after the hearings.
After the hearings, Schine left politics and refused to comment on the episode for the rest of his life, so his view of his relationship with Cohn remains unknown.