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

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

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

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

Synopsis

Through a long public life and short presidency, Herbert Hoover carefully cultivated reporters and media owners as he rose from a relief administrator to president of the United States. During his service to government, he held the conviction that journalists were to be manipulated and mistrusted. When the nation fell into economic disaster, Hoover's misconceptions about the press and press relations exacerbated a national calamity. This book traces the entire history of Hoover's relationship with magazines, newspapers, newsreel organizations, and radio, and demonstrates how an attitude toward the U.S. press can help or hinder a public figure throughout his career. The book draws upon diaries of Hoover aides, oral histories from journalists and other media figures, newspaper and magazine clippings, radio broadcasts, newsreels, public documents, archival manuscripts, and a plethora of published secondary books and articles. This may be the most complete and best-documented study of a single president and the,media.

Excerpt

Each week during the 1970s, in the television series, "All in the Family," Archie and Edith Bunker sang an opening song harkening to their fictitious, stereotyped childhoods. In the song they mentioned that the nation could use Herbert Hoover again, thus suggesting that Hoover would have agreed with Archie's narrowminded attitudes and that Hoover was the embodiment of traditional prejudice and government indifference in the 1920s and 1930s. On the one hand, during the opening credits of one of the most popular programs in the history of modern television, the song, "Those Were the Days," conjured the incarnation of Hoover and a bygone era of tradition and simple, honest relationships. Herbert Hoover was seen as the last vestige of a hard-working, unrestrained, capitalistic society. On the other hand, the silly rhyme also reflected the overall message of the TV series: bigotry of the Hoover era was carried into 1970s society by an older generation, who harbored too many miscreants with values such as Archie's.

Mirroring a long-held caricature of Hoover, the song suggested that the president represented not only intolerance but also lack of charity and indifference to misery. Certainly, social values of the "All in the Family" generation were different from those in 1932, and Hoover would not have been elected in 1972; but Hoover lived 40 years earlier when, for . . .

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