Wednesday, September 24, 2008

FDR Got on the Television: Who Knew?

Anybody can make a mistake, but this was a big one.

"...When the stock market crashed, Franklin D. Roosevelt got on the television and didn't just talk about the, you know, the princes of greed. He said, 'Look, here's what happened'...." - Joe Biden, in an interview on the "CBS Evening News," as reported by the Associated Press.

I approve of political figures referring to historical events and personalities. It shows a depth of knowledge, and understanding of the world, which is important in leadership positions. Historical references also, I believe, encourage voters to look beyond appearance and style, and consider how current events came to be.

Providing that the historical references are accurate.

Since launching this blog, I've learned that some people think:
  • Nero was working for the Christians
  • The CIA created Al Qaeda
  • Georgia's invasion was an American plot to get McCain elected
("Who Knew? Assertions and Assumptions from All Over" (April 2, 2008))

This diversity of opinion and world view is part of the human condition.

When it comes to national leaders, though, I prefer people who live in my world: the one in which Herbert Hoover was president in 1929, and television was introduced to the American public at the 1939 World's Fair.

FDR's fireside chats, a ground-breaking use of new media, were broadcast by radio. Mr. Biden is right about one thing. The first fireside chat was about banking. But it was broadcast in 1933.

Mr. Biden's alternative history is particularly funny, or embarrassing, since the president in 1929 was a Republican, Herbert Hoover. At the time, and over the years, Democrats and others have blamed Hoover for the stock market crash. "Hoovervilles" isn't a term that shows up very often today, but I would have expected a national-level politician to know about a major American disaster that happened during a rival party's administration.

I saw the interview on television. The 'Franklin D. Roosevelt' remark is available on YouTube:

Biden: FDR Led When Market Crashed
YouTube (September 23, 2008)
video (0:20)

I've posted before about the importance of knowledge. As I quipped, "knowledge is power: and I like power."

FDR's Televised Fireside Chats and Today's News

For some reason, Katie Couric's exclusive interview with Joe Biden, broadcast by CBS News, no longer contains Mr. Biden's little slip about Franklin D. Roosevelt and television.

Here's the CBS News online version of Katie Couric's Joe Biden video:

Watch CBS Videos Online
CBS News
video (5:02)
(From CBS Exclusive: Joe Biden.)

There are many possible explanations for CBS deciding to edit Mr. Biden's alternatively-accurate version of history out of the interview. However, it's hard to shake the suspicion that CBS News is following the 'all the news we feel like printing' editorial philosophy.

The Los Angeles Times, on the other hand, acknowledges that Mr. Biden was "off by 4 years and 1 president." I appreciate this nod to accuracy. The L.A. Times also asserts that Mr. Biden is "otherwise pretty accurate." Which reminds me of the dusty old joke, "aside from that, how did you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln?"

In the news: Joe Biden information: Related posts, on "Who Knew? Assertions and Assumptions from All Over"

1 comment:

Brigid said...

This is one of those things where I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

I think I'll laugh.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.