Bylines in Despair: Herbert Hoover, the Great Depression, and the U.S. News Media

By Louis W. Liebovich | Go to book overview
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epilogue

One of Herbert Hoover's troubles, remembered Associated Press bureau chief Byron Price, was that he was "quite inept at politics." 1 that, Price meant that Hoover was a political neophyte, who found it difficult to negotiate distasteful but necessary compromises and to perpetuate the usual daily deceptions endemic to public office. Hoover was a businessman and an organizer, whose true genius lay in his quiet ability to succeed at arduous tasks where others failed. He developed an engineering career and a record of accomplishment in government on his own, accepting challenges that others brought to him but never pursuing public power and prestige to satisfy his own ego.

But, as Price recognized, presidents in the twentieth century need to persuade just as successfully as they organize and analyze, and if Hoover gained popularity because he was not a politician, he lost favor for the same reason. For all his superior intellect, Hoover could not see that the world was changing and that he could not persuade an entire country by romancing publishers and by releasing a swarm of cooperative journalists to mold public opinion according to his dictates. To get his message to the country, he needed to be a politician, to influence and to persuade. This translated, in part, to getting along with the press corps and to using radio and newsreels effectively. That FDR could do this and

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